Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs all dropped out. Does that mean you should too? We staged a debate between two successful young entrepreneurs—one who left school, the other who is adamant about staying enrolled. Who won? You be the judge.
A Messaging System for All Smartphones
Tyler McIntyre got an iPhone in 2009. It didn't change everything, but it did frustrate the University of Miami freshman. He found himself waiting for somebody to implement Blackberry Messenger on the iPhone. He said to himself, "Y'know what, I'll just go ahead and do it."
It wasn't an outlandish claim. McIntyre, 19, became a Microsoft certified professional at age 16; by the end of high school, he had already created and sold two start-ups: a VoIP telecom service called Vigor Tel, and a Web hosting company called TMcProHost.
"I was always interested in this field of work," McIntyre says about growing up in New Jersey. "I really like technology and computers, and I kind of have a knack for how they connect and flow together."
To fund his new project, Tyler dug into his own pockets. He took the money he made from Vigor Tel and TMcProHost and used it to buy his own servers and hook up his network. Then, with his friend Sam Stern, he brainstormed names.
"Lucid came up, and we were like, 'That's a great name,'" McIntyre says. "It's easy to use, clear, and transparent."
McIntyre entered and won the University of Miami's Elevator Pitch Contest and about $40,000 worth of prizes and services for his company. McIntyre opted for $10,000 worth of legal work, as well as some Web development, Web design, and logo design from several local companies.
One month later, McIntyre launched Lucid Messenger—a cross-platform messaging application for Blackberry, iPhone, and Android—with four employees. Responsibilities were clear: Each employee was developing Tyler's software for a different phone platform.
Now, thanks to an inexpensive network overhead and the fact that Tyler owns all his own servers, Lucid is taking off. The company has about 20 employees—all working virtually from the Punjab region of India—developing various projects, including one to help students make schedules, a game for the iPad, and intelligent voice-recognition software that allows users to make restaurant reservations.
Balancing his company, his ambitions and his schoolwork—Tyler is triple-majoring in entrepreneurship, marketing and finance—has been no easy task.
"If you talk to people who know me," McIntyre says, "I'm a very good time-manager, so I always make time for myself, time for work, and time for school."
While McIntyre admits his schoolwork always comes first, he says is satisfied about the state of his business. In fact, McIntyre just recently started two other venture-backed companies.
About a quarter of a million people around the world use Lucid software. "We are pretty successful," says McIntyre. "We are probably going to be in the six-figure range this year, in 2011."