Not every young entrepreneur is destined for the success of the Mark Zuckerberg's of the world, but he, and those like him have changed the way young innovators are treated.
Abigail Seldin and her husband created a one stop shop for pricing college called CollegeAbacus.com. It did for finding the right college what Kayak did for finding the right flight. While not on the level of Facebook Seldin and her husband sold the business in a seven figure deal at the ripe old age of 26.
Seldin credits Zuckerberg and his ilk for paving the way. “You have more credibility as a millennial,” she told Yahoo Finance, “starting a start-up than you would say twenty years ago.”
The idea for her business came from her mother-in-law, a college president who lamented the lack of a user friendly place for students and their parents to find the true price of a college education.
The story of College Abacus is similar to many other tails of entrepreneurial success. Seldin and her husband initially funded the site themselves before embarking on a small round of fundraising among family and friends.
What sets them apart, is how they differ from the coding savants behind Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram. They have a very limited background in computer science. “We chose to find a firm that would work with us to build the website rather than a co-founder,” Seldin admits, “So we outsourced it.”
While every new project is unique Seldin did have some advice to offer her fellow Millennials who have designs at following in her footsteps. For starters, she says, focus on the idea. “Is your idea actually unique and does it fill a need in the market? Then two, are you passionate enough about it to wake up every morning and work on it. Even on the days that are really horrible.”
If you have those two things she says map it all out and, if you can, finance a basic idea of the project yourself before you bring it to people who can finance its growth.
College Abacus has grown as a division of the Education Credit Management Corporation. Part of the buyout deal was that Seldin would continue to run the project as a Vice President of Innovation.
Seldin has one more nugget of advice she learned through her experience with College Abacus and her position at ECMC. “It doesn’t matter really if you’re going in the right direction or the wrong direction,” she says. “The most important thing is to pick a direction and to continue toward it.”