List of 16 Biggest Dropout Entrepreneurs in the World

List of 16 Biggest Dropout Entrepreneurs in the World

The saying "Winners never quit, and quitters never win" is true, but it seems ironic in the case of entrepreneurs who have quit their academics to pursue their goals instead. Guess what, though? They have accomplished much more than getting good grades from school or university.

People continue to question the decisions that were made by dropouts, asking, "Will they thrive as successful contributors to society?" But trust me when I say that going from being a dropout student with nothing in their pocket to becoming one of the most successful millionaire entrepreneurs in the world has greatly increased respect for determination and commitment to one's aims.

Biggest Dropout Entrepreneurs in the World
Bill Gates
Mark Zuckerberg
Henry Ford
Steve Jobs
Larry Ellison
Larry Page
Jan Koum
Evan Williams
Jack Dorsey
Amancio Ortega
Orji Uzor Kalu
Michael Dell
John Mackey
Azim Premji
Kunal Shah
Ritesh Agarwal

Biggest Dropout Entrepreneurs in the World

Dropping out of school or college is considered one of the biggest mistakes in one's life. However, there are certain people who have proved this notion wrong by turning this mistake into huge achievements. The following is a list of the biggest entrepreneurs in the world, who dropped out of their education in the middle.

Bill Gates

Name Bill Gates
Net Worth $114 Billion (2022)
Source Microsoft Corporation
Dropout From Harvard University
Bill Gates
Bill Gates

Bill Gates is known to be the inventor of the college-dropout billionaire trope in 1975 when he left Harvard to start his career in establishing Microsoft. At the age of 13,  he wrote his first software program to get admission to a private Lakeside school, which revealed his affinity for programming.

Whilst at Lakeside school, Gates earned the title of National Merit Scholar, in which he scored 1590 out of 1600 on the SAT. To support his father’s dream of making him becoming a lawyer, he enrolled at Harvard as a pre-law student in 1973, and aced mathematics and computer science courses.

After dropping out of Harvard, in 1975 Gates founded 'Microsoft' with his friend Paul, and produced the first-of-its-kind programming language BASIC for the MITS Altair 8800 'Microcomputer,' an early personal computer. He had chosen the path, which he is good at, not the path his parents wanted him to choose.

Mark Zuckerberg

Name Mark Zuckerberg
Net Worth $70 Billion (2022)
Source Meta (formerly Facebook)
Dropout From Harvard University
Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg

One of the famous media magnates is the CEO of Meta Platforms- Mark Zuckerberg. He attended his schooling at Ardsley High school before transferring to Phillips Exeter Academy. He started using computer and software programming in middle school, where he built a program that connected wireless communication between his and his father’s dental office.

In 2002, Mark got into Harvard to study Psychology and Computer Science and was already known as a ‘programming prodigy’. At that time, Mark came up with a new code for his new website- Facebook, however, faced a lot of problems in establishing it, so he decided to quit Harvard in 2005 to focus on building his dream, Facebook.

Henry Ford

Name Henry Ford
Net Worth $190 billion, (1947, adjusted for inflation)
Source Ford Motor Company
Dropout From High School
Henry Ford
Henry Ford

The automobile ruler created a revolutionary movement in transportation and the automobile industry. Ford completed his eighth grade at a one-room school and instead of attending sophomore, he enrolled in a bookkeeping course at a commercial school.

Contradictory, Ford was much more interested in building something big than sitting at a desk & bookkeeping. When he was 12 years old, that was the first time he found a purpose in his life when he witnessed the operation of a Nichols and Shepard road engine from a watch gifted by his father. In 1882 Ford returned to his family farm after working as an apprentice machinist in Detroit.

While he was working on the family farm, he became adept at operating the Westinghouse portable steam engine, whereby he completed his first gasoline car powered by a two-cylinder, four-horsepower engine and eventually built three cars in his home workshops, which was a stepping stone to the development of the renowned brand ‘Ford’.


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Steve Jobs

Name Steve Jobs
Net Worth $10.2 billion (2011)
Source Apple Inc.
Dropout From Reed College
Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, the innovation king, was also once a problematic child during his school times, where he played a lot of pranks on teachers and never showed a slight interest in studies.

He even skipped 5th Grade and transferred straight into 6th grade at Crittenden Middle school, where he became a victim of the bully. In fact, his family moved to Los Altos and joined Homestead High school for a better life, which was surrounded by an environment of engineering families.

In 1971, Steve Jobs decided to join the electronics club with his best friend Wozniak, who got into the University of California, Berkeley. At that time, Wozniak designed a low-cost digital ‘blue box’ to manipulate the telephone network, by allowing free long-distance calls.

In 1971, Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College after the very first semester, because he didn't want to waste his parent’s money on an education that seemed meaningless to him and worked as a technician at Atari, Inc. in 1972. In 1976, Jobs, and fellow college dropout Steve Wozniak, built the Apple I in his parent's garage.

Larry Ellison

Name Larry Ellison
Net Worth $91 Billion (2022)
Source Oracle Corporation
Dropout From University of Chicago
Larry Ellison
Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison was once a dropout student, but now he was listed as one of the wealthiest people on the planet by Bloomberg Billionaires Index in July 2022. Larry Ellison attended South Shore High school and later enrolled as a pre-med student at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

At the University, he was rewarded and named ‘Science student of the year. Unexpectedly, he hadn’t appeared for his final exams as his adoptive mother passed away. In 1966, he attended the University of Chicago for one term, where he learned computer design and technology, and later dropped out of it.


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Larry Page

Name Larry Page
Net Worth $83 Billion (2022)
Source Google
Dropout From Stanford University
Larry Page
Larry Page

Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, found himself attracted to computers when he was 6 years old and even became the first kid in the rudimentary school to turn in an assignment from a word processor.

At the age of 12, he wanted to start a company by inventing new things and eventually developed an interest in technology and business. Larry Page was a radiant student in schooling as well as an undergrad. He did his schooling at Montessori Radmoor and  East Lansing High School.

Page received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan and a Master of Science from Stanford both in the field of computer science. After joining his: Ph.D. and he started his research in Computer Science at Stanford University and pursued his full-time interest in building the World Wide Web. However, in 1999 Larry couldn’t complete his Ph.D. degree and dropped out of college to focus more on his main aim.

Jan Koum

Name Jan Koum
Net Worth $13.3 Billion (2022)
Source WhatsApp
Dropout From San Jose University
Jan Koum
Jan Koum

The co-founder of Whatsapp Jan Koum enrolled at San Jose State University because he was interested to learn to program. At the same time, he worked at Ernst & Young as a security tester. In 1997, He left his studies mid-way, because he was hired by Yahoo as an infrastructure engineer.

Evan Williams

Name Evan Williams
Net Worth $1.8 Billion (2022)
Source Twitter
Dropout From University of Nebraska
Evan Williams
Evan Williams

In Clarks, Nebraska, Evan Williams was raised on family property. Before quitting, he spent three semesters enrolled at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Williams worked as a contractor writing software for Hewlett-Packard and Intel and then also secured a position at Google. Later, he left his position at Google to start his entrepreneurial journey of establishing Twitter.

Jack Dorsey

Name Jack Dorsey
Net Worth $4.2 Billion (2022)
Source Twitter
Dropout From New York University
Jack Dorsey
Jack Dorsey

A 1999 New York University dropout is the co-founder of Twitter and Square, two of the most talked-about firms in recent memory. Jack founded Twitter along with Ev Williams, Biz Stone, and Noah Glass after briefly working as a masseur and a fashion designer. At this time, Dorsey is valued around $5.6 billion.

The above graph shows the percentage of Forbes Billionaires by their educational institute type. The graph is made as per the data shared by entrepreneur.com and the study conducted by Wai & Rindermann.
The above graph shows the percentage of Forbes Billionaires by their educational institute type. The graph is made as per the data shared by entrepreneur.com and the study conducted by Wai & Rindermann.

Amancio Ortega

Name Amancio Ortega
Net Worth $61.6 Billion (2022)
Source Inditex
Dropout From School
Amancio Ortega
Amancio Ortega

Amancio Ortega, dropped out of school at the age of 14, because his father was a railway worker and couldn’t afford much to pay. So, Amancio Ortega joined a local shirtmaker named ‘Gala’, which actually taught him how to make clothes by hand and inspired him to build one of the largest clothing retailer companies, Inditex, known for its chain of Zara and Bershka.


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Orji Uzor Kalu

Name Orji Uzor Kalu
Net Worth $1.1 Billion (2022)
Source SLOK Holding
Dropout From Nigerian University
Orji Uzor Kalu
Orji Uzor Kalu

Orji Uzor Kalu was 19 years old when he was dismissed from the Nigerian university after being found instigating a series of student riots. In order to start trading goods like rice, sugar, and palm oil, he requested $35 from his mother.

By diversifying his investments, he became a millionaire by the age of 20. He was ranked by Forbes as the 49th richest person in Africa in 2015. He originally established SLOK Holding, a West African company with profit shareholding in shipping, banking, manufacturing, etc.

Michael Dell

Name Michael Dell
Net Worth $56.1 Billion (2022)
Source Dell Technologies
Dropout From University of Texas
Michael Dell
Michael Dell

In 1983, Michael Dell was a student at the University of Texas, although he occupied much of his energy in his college dorm room updating and hawking devices. Dell founded PCs Ltd. at the age of 19, which eventually grew into Dell Computer Corporation in 1987.

He then obtained a license from the State of Texas to submit bids for big contracts after starting to sell upgrade modules for personal computers from his hostel. At the age of 27, Michael Dell was the youngest CEO on the Fortune 500 list. He currently has a net worth of almost $20 billion.

John Mackey

Name John Mackey
Net Worth $85 Million (2022)
Source Whole Foods Market
Dropout From Texas University
John Mackey
John Mackey

John Mackey studied Philosophy and Theology at Texas University, Austin in 1978. Renee Lawson Hardy and he first met when he enrolled in a vegetarian co-op at the university.

The couple dropped out of school and founded SaferWay, the first vegetarian supermarket in Austin. It ultimately paved the way for Whole Foods, the 30th leading retailer in the United States measured by revenues in 2014.


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Azim Premji

Name Azim Premji
Net Worth $9 Billion (2022)
Source Wipro
Dropout From Stanford University
Azim Premji
Azim Premji

Azim Premji is another biggest entrepreneurs on the list of dropout entrepreneurs. is the son of a very famous businessman, who is also known as the Rice king of Burma, Mohamed Hashem Premji. Azim had to drop out of his education at Stanford because he had to take care of his family's oil business after his father's sudden demise.

Subsequently, Azim Premji became solely responsible to look after his father’s business in India. He completed his studies to get a Bachelor of science in electronic engineering degree from Stanford University after 30 years.

Kunal Shah

Name Kunal Shah
Source CRED
Net Worth $809 Million (2022)
Dropout From Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies
Kunal Shah
Kunal Shah

Kunal Shah graduated from Wilson College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. He then enrolled at the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies for an MBA degree, which he ultimately left. His initial business was PaisaBack, which provided kickbacks from merchants. Among many of the top college dropout Indian entrepreneurs, Kunal Shah is one of the most well-known names.

He is a founding member of FreeCharge, a reputable internet recharge service. 2012 saw the launch of the business, which Snapdeal soon bought. With its first three recharges and matching-value incentives, FreeCharge completely changed the way that internet recharges work. He is currently known best for being the founder of one of India's unicorn startups CRED.

Ritesh Agarwal

Name Ritesh Agarwal
Net Worth $1.1 Billion (2020)
Source OYO Rooms
Dropout From Indian School of Business & Finance, New Delhi
Ritesh Agarwal
Ritesh Agarwal

One of the youngest Indian Billionaires, Ritesh Agarwal, the founder of OYO Rooms. He was from a middle-class family. He completed his higher schooling at St. John's Senior Secondary School and moved to New Delhi for college in 2011.

But, shortly, he quit as his project idea of Oravel stays Pvt Ltd was selected by the Thiel Fellowship program in 2013, which granted 100,000 USD, with which he launched OYO rooms.


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Conclusion

These are some of the most successful entrepreneurs who have found greatness despite not having the appropriate education. They serve as the best illustration that what you study doesn't define you. It is your hard work and determination and passion that speaks for you.

FAQs

Who is the most successful dropout?

Bill Gates is the most successful dropout in terms of net worth. He possesses a net worth of $110.5 billion as of July 2022.

How many billionaires have no college degree?

As per the billionaire census by Wealth X (2015), about 3 out of the 10 billionaires have no proper college degree. Some of the most popular names who became successful without a proper college degree include Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Amancio Ortega, and more.

Who is a famous Harvard dropout?

Some of the famous Harvard dropouts are:

  • Bill Gates
  • Mark Zukerberg
  • Robert Frost
  • David Foster Wallace
  • Matt Damon

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