Some of the most successful and innovative people in the world never finished college. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are both dropouts of Harvard University for example.
They both quit early to create Microsoft and Facebook, respectively. Likewise, although he’s no longer with us, Steve Jobs was also a dropout, leaving Reed College prematurely to build the Apple empire. Is dropping out of college the pathway to greatness?
Traditional thinking tells us that we need to finish college in order to get anywhere in this world. Yet, these men made billions by pursuing their dreams instead of following the pack.
Not only that, they have created companies that have completely changed the way we live. Simply put, they have had a palpable and positive impact on the world.
Perhaps this is precisely why billionaire Peter Thiel now encourages young people to forgo college and follow their passions. Recently, another college dropout joined the ranks of innovative billionaires, and she’s barely 30.
Meet Elizabeth Holmes
When Elizabeth Holmes was a 19-year-old sophomore at Stanford University in 2003, she decided to drop out and start her own company, Theranos. She felt strongly that her tuition money could be used for a greater and more benevolent purpose: revolutionizing healthcare.
When she first told Channing Robertson, her chemical engineering professor, what she planned to do, he was concerned about the implications of Holmes leaving her degree unfinished. He asked her why she wanted to risk everything in order to pursue this plan. Holmes replied:
I want to create a whole new technology, and one that is aimed at helping humanity at all levels regardless of geography or ethnicity or age or gender.
The fire in Holmes’ eyes convinced her professor that she would succeed, and she received his blessing.
Making Medical History
Holmes wanted to create a technology that would make blood tests easier. She hates needles, and wanted to make blood tests simpler, cheaper and more accessible for all people. For a decade, she quietly worked on a technology that would make blood tests nothing more than a painless finger prick.
Holmes has created hardware and software that allow for blood tests to be done by pricking someone’s finger and storing the blood in a tiny vial called a nanotainer.
Some people are so afraid of needles and blood, they would rather avoid getting blood tests than obtaining potentially life-saving medical information. Surprisingly, about half of all Americans do no comply when their doctors ask them to get blood work done. Holmes’ technology eliminates that fear, and makes it easier and more likely that people will get necessary blood tests.
Not to mention, traditional blood tests typically involve sending multiple vials of blood to separate labs for evaluation. This takes weeks for the results to come through, and also leaves a lot of room for error.
With the single prick of a finger, the technology Holmes has created can provide a wealth of information with exceptional efficiency. The new tests can be done at a pharmacy without going to a doctor or lab, and the results only take about four hours. Furthermore, the same drop of blood can be used for multiple tests with this technology.
Blood work can also be very expensive, depending on your insurance coverage. This new test, however, is much cheaper, which was always one of Holmes’ goals when she started Theranos.
It’s painless, more accurate, cheaper and quicker. Simply put, this technology is revolutionary, and it will save lives.
Holmes’ company, Theranos, is now worth $9 billion. She owns 50 percent of it and is worth $4.5 billion, making her the youngest female and third-youngest billionaire on the recently released list of the 400 richest Americans from Forbes. She is the youngest woman to become a self-made billionaire.
Her company has also partnered with Walgreens, and it seems that it will only continue to grow. Yet, Holmes did not create her company to get rich, she sincerely wanted to make a change in the world. As she puts it:
We’re successful if person by person we help make a difference in their lives.
Our purpose is to give people access to the basic right of being (blood) tested when they need to or want to. If we can do that, then we will have made a difference.
She believes that affordable and efficient healthcare is a human and civil right. Elizabeth Holmes is proof that greatness is achieved by combining passion, innovation and the desire to better the lives of those around you.
Photo Courtesy: Facebook