One night in the fall, then-junior Akilah Releford took her beauty insights to Twitter, creating a thread of her favorite beauty hacks and tricks. After hitting send, she headed to bead. When she awoke in her dorm room at Howard University, she glanced at her phone in shock. Her tips had been retweeted more than 30,000 times. Hundreds of messaged filled her DM’s.
As she told Grow, “That’s when I realized that my love of makeup wasn’t just a hobby — I could turn it into a business.” Today, Akilah is the owner of a skincare company that specialized is vegan, cruelty-free products. As for revenue? She expects it to top $1 million this year.
Akilah’s is not the first success story set in a college dorm room. Far from it, in fact.
In entrepreneurial folklore, there are two sources for all brilliant ideas: garages and dorm rooms. This year, as social distancing redefines campus living, quarantining in your dorm room may not only be mandatory, but profitable, too. Need some inspiration? You’ve come to the right place.
Dorm dwellers: Shawn Fanning, Sean Parker and John Fanning
School: Northeastern University
In 1999, digital music was in its infancy when three friends at Northeastern disrupted the entire industry with their (illegal) downloading platform. Some music labels were destroyed by their piracy, but the concept gave way to the legal digital wave that followed.
Dorm dweller: Michael Dell
School: UT Austin
One of the most recognizable computer brands in the world was launched from a UT dorm room in 1984 using just $1000 in seed money to build his first computers.
Dorm dwellers: Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little
School: University of Houston
On the off chance you haven’t heard of WordPress, you’ve certainly been among the 15.5 billion pageviews the platform’s sites produced. But in 2003, the blogging and web building tool was just an idea between two friends at the University of Houston. The internet has never been the same.
Dorm dweller: Mark Zuckerberg
Perhaps the most famous of all dorm-based billionaires, Mark Zuckerberg’s college startup was even the subject of an Academy Award-Winning movie (The Social Network). Zuckerberg’s dorm room was the setting for hacking, partnership disputes, and yes, the platform that started as a directory for Harvard students and became the international force it is today.