How do Silicon Valley entrepreneurs become so succesful at such a young age? NBC Bay Area speaks with the founders of the Bleacher Report, Milkshake Labs,and T3 Apps. Stephanie Chuang reports.
Sitting in the stands, three friends from the Menlo School in Atherton, are living their dream. They’ve got seasons tickets to their favorite sports team, the San Francisco Giants, and they’re raking in millions. By the way, they’re in their 20s. We’re talking about the three co-founders of The Bleacher Report.
It’s a media network of sports bloggers and reporters, serving a worldwide audience of sports fans everywhere. The three, believed there was a huge hole in local sports coverage, as they tried to find news about their Bay Area teams while they were away in college.
“As a fan of the San Francisco Giants and 49ers, it was really hard to find fresh content on a daily basis ,” said Bryan Goldberg, one of the co-founders.
So in 2007, when they were 23 and 24, Goldberg, Dave Finocchio and Dave Nemetz quit their day jobs.
Goldberg added, “None of us could code, none of us were traditional geeks. None of us had even worked in a web company before.”
But after five years, The Bleacher Report has become the fourth most visited sports website after ESPN, Yahoo Sports and Fox Sports, attracting virtually every male-dominated brand from Gilette to Chrysler to Nike. The BR was dominating the market so much that Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting bought the company for a price of – ballpark – 200 million dollars.
And from those in their twenties, to the teens. When Connor Zwick was 12-years old, the furthest thing from his mind was playing baseball or video games.
“I would write tutorials on how to do things cause I learned them, and then I would sell them to websites for a couple hundred bucks and so that was really good money at the time.”
The now-19-year-old has been innovating ever since. At 16, he created an app to help kids study by using flashcards. To date, it has had two million downloads. Zwick, on a “hiatus” from Harvard, is focusing on his latest project, the “Coco.” It’s a case made for phones that allows gamers to press actual controls like they would on a real video game controller. Zwick’s company “Milkshake Labs” has been backed by a Y-Combinator investment and a two-year, 100-thousand dollar Thiel Fellowship.
Zwick said, “It’s nice that you don’t have to really worry about money.”
Money had been a serious concern to Chad Mureta just a few years ago. At 28, he almost lost his left arm in a bad car accident. Facing 100-thousand dollars in medical bills and dealing with the loss of two real estate companies, he suddenly had that “ah-ha” moment in the hospital bed. The idea stemmed from his experience after the car accident.
“I had all these people from the hospital going basically through my stuff,” Mureta recalled. “ That’s when the fingerprint security app was born.”
The app requires a fingerprint scan to unlock a smartphone. It got him 27-thousand dollars in the first month of Apple downloads. That was three years ago. Since then, Mureta has sold three companies, netting him more than seven figures.
While the details are different, all these success stories have a common thread: capitalizing on a hot internet and mobile market. These guys say they’re absolutely living it up.
“I haven’t been to France, really, since I’ve been a kid. So I wanted to do that,” said Goldberg of Bleacher Report. “I’ll probably have to get a girlfriend first.”
With millions under his belt under the age of 30, he’s well on his way.