7 Top Startups Launched in College You Didn’t Know About


Though Mark Zuckerberg and Evan Spiegel have become the role models for millennials around the world, they are not the only successful young entrepreneurs that created their startups in college.


Founders: Alex Peterson, David Barrett
School: California State University
When two undergrads in English Language and Literature spent hours with their noses in the books, they wanted no other career but a teacher. And maybe they would teach students now if they hadn’t launched their small start-up. Barrett was good in essay writing. Once, his roommate asked him to write an essay instead of him. Barrett was very busy with a book review and simply couldn’t help him. The roommate was persistent, he even offered Alex 20$. He offered him to give this money to some essay writing service.

When David discussed this situation with his friend Alex, they came up with an idea to write an essay for money. In 2010, it was just two of them who wrote and edited papers on literature. In 2017, they have a staff of 500 freelancers who produce all types of academic essays in different subjects.
If you believe you have a great idea and have enough passion to bring it to life, you’ll likely succeed more than you’ll fail. Whether you’re in college or out of school, it’s possible to launch a startup at any phase of your life.


Founder: Anthony Casalena
School: University of Maryland
In 2003, Anthony Casalena built the first version of Squarespace in his dorm room. It wasn’t even called that way then. He didn’t even set out to start a business. Casalena wanted to build his own website, but couldn’t find the service to satisfy his needs. He wanted an all-encompassing website development toolkit. As a result, Casalena began to work on a platform that would function as a one-stop solution.
When one of Casalena’s friends offered a few hundred dollars for using this tool, he understood he was onto something. So, he got a $30,000 investment from his father and set about launching a business. In 2004, the company called Squarespace appeared. Today it drives over $100M in annual revenue.

Insomnia Cookies

Founder: Seth Berkowitz
School: University of Pennsylvania
In 2003, Seth Berkowitz was a Penn junior majoring in economics. Burning the midnight oil, he hadn’t many late-night meals options. So he decided to bake some cookies on his own.
In 2004, Berkowitz started a cookie-delivery business in his off-campus house on the Beige Block. Initially, he created the recipe with his girlfriend and handed out free cookies to advertise the product. After that, a young entrepreneur started to bake the cookies to order and deliver them to student’s doors.

He kept testing new recipes and started delivering cookies off-campus apartment with the help of friends. There are over 100 locations as of 2017. Most are situated by university campuses.


Founders: Susan Gregg Koger and Eric Koger
School: Carnegie Mellon
These two high school sweethearts started what’s now a major e-commerce fashion website when they were still teenagers.
The story of ModCloth begins in 2000. Eric and Susan went to Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. Susan was amazed by pre-worn items at vintage sales. And Eric who had necessary technical skills helped her launch an e-commerce site to sell those gems. They found it a good way to earn some cash and pay for books and cover a part of their living expenses. And ModCloth really supported them throughout college.

In 2005, the number of orders at the site reached 70,000 a day. The pair realized that it could be their full-time job after graduation in 2006.
The business kept growing. When it surpassed $100 million in sales, ModCloth opened offices in California in 2010. It is still considered one of the top e-commerce fashion sites.


Founder: Paul Orfalea
School: University of Southern California
One day, Orfalea fixed his eye on a huge line of people waiting to use the university’s copy center. Applying the knowledge he gained from a marketing course, he came up with a business idea.
With a $5,000 loan, Orfalea leased an 80-square-foot stand near the campus, rented a small Xerox copier and started making copies for four cents a page. Together with his friends, he also sold about $2,000 a day worth of school supplies out of the makeshift store. It was in 1970.
By the time Orfalea sold a majority stake in his business in 1997, the chain of copy centers had annual revenues of more than $1.5 billion.


Founder: Lucas Duplan
School: Stanford University
Duplan joined a study abroad program and spent his freshman year in London. There he decided to work on mobile payments. When he was 19, Duplan rented a house using money from his parents and a summer program. He begins gathering up a group of Stanford undergraduate and graduate students to work on the company. He worked on his startup full-time and managed to graduate a year earlier.
The mysterious app wasn’t even launched when Duplan’s 50-person team raised the entire $25 million. And it’s the largest seed round in Silicon Valley history.

Warby Parker

Founder: David Gilboa
College: University of Pennsylvania
The company was founded as a rebellious upstart to tackle the problem of expensive eyewear in 2010. When Gilboa lost his glasses on a backpacking trip, he couldn’t afford to replace them as a grad student. He did some researched and was shocked to discover that glasses were generally marked up 10 to 20 times the production cost. Gilboa met his fellow classmate Neil Blumenthal and they teamed up to launch a more affordable eyewear company. Warby Parker has raised over $200M in funding and sold over 1 million pairs of glasses.