No sudden billionaires you hear about on the news got there in a instant. They aren’t lucky and they did not get that money by taking the easy route.
Let’s look at the life of one man who created the most popular messaging app.
He lived in a house in Keiv, Ukraine with no hot water and his family was to afraid to use any electronic devices in fear of them being tapped. He migrated to Mountain View and swept floors to make ends meet.
Jan Koum is one of the founders of WhatsApp. A messaging app that was purchased by Facebook for $19,000,000 (ya, take a look at those zeros again). He didn’t just make an app and get a big check. He had to work hard, cumulate skills, take action, and take really big risks.
As Koum went through high school he picked up some programming skills. He taught himself computer networking and joined a hacker group called woowoo to further increase his skills.
While studying at San Jose University he moonlighted as a security tester. It was there he met his future co-founder, Acton.
Afterwards, he interviewed for a job to work at Yahoo and later dropped out of college to work full time.
In 2000 Koum lost his mother to cancer. He lost his dad only 3 years before. He would’ve have been alone here if it wasn’t for Acton who was there to support him through those hard times. For nine whole years he worked at on unfulfilling projects at Yahoo. He and Acton both felt they weren’t making an impact on society.
Finally in 2007 Koum left Yahoo and began coming up with an app to put in Apple’s 7 month old app store at the time. As he worked on the app and traveled he was losing a lot of money. He took really big risks. The original concept for the app was very different then what we have today with WhatsApp.
Over the time of development Koum worked day in and day out on the app. He was not earning any money and he somehow had to pay a developer to work on the app. Koum was ready to quit and get a day job at some point. I mean, he was losing money, the app kept crashing — he was nearing bankruptcy — it seemed he had no other choice. It is thanks to his friend Acton that he hung in there.
Please stop and take note. Koum is working hard at this point. He is not even getting paid, so he is taking a big risk. He could have ended up homeless.
That is what I call taking a risk.
After many different series of events led to Koum getting really large loans and funding and building up a team of over 100 now. Six years of hard work, risky payroll, sketchy loans, and seed funding later he came to be founder of an app that has 250 million users (now there are close to a billion users). Its value was placed at over a couple billion dollars.
It wasn’t until 2014, Koum went to the building where he used to stand in line for food stamps to sign Facebook’s $19,000,000 agreement.
That is a true story of hard work. It is a true story of risk. And I hope it shows you things don’t just happen. The instant billionaires aren’t actually instant billionaires. It took great planning, skill (natural or accumulated) to get to that point.
Koum started working on WhatsApp in 2007. During that time he lost money. But his determination and confidence kept him going. He knew he had something good on his hands and was willing to take a risk to create it.
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