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Success Has No Age Limit: Eight CEOs Who Made Their Fortune Before 30

Does success have an age limit? For previous generations of successful entrepreneurs and business moguls, the road to success has been long and hard-fought. In fact, according to Warren Buffett and the rest of the old guard, it’s the slow and steady approach that wins the race.

But for young entrepreneurs hoping to turn innovative ideas into a success, fame and fortune simply can’t wait. Young, ambitious and driven, they want it all – and they want it now.

In the latest infographic from Essay.Expert, we see eight startup CEOs who did just that – amassing fortunes before they turned 30. By this point, everyone is familiar with Mark Zuckerberg’s story – creator of Facebook and now commanding a net worth of $34.8bn at the ripe old age of 30 – but what about the other young CEOs revolutionizing business?

In this infographic, we’re shown the road to success for SpaceX and Tesla boss Elon Musk, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey, Tumblr founder David Karp, clothing store Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso, Mashable founder Pete Cashmore, Summly founder Nick D’Aloisio and CEO of ipsy, a subscription-based cosmetics company, Michelle Phan.

From tech futurists to fashion moguls, the next generation shows how successful entrepreneurship is becoming more democratic – covering new sectors and more industries.

Here come the girls

The infographic also shows that young female CEOs are breaking into the upper echelons of business – helping to break from the lingering stereotype of the old white male CEO.

Michelle Phan, although bottom of the list in terms of net worth, is expected to generate $120m in revenue for the 2015 fiscal year from her new startup, ipsy, a subscription based makeup and beauty community.

Originally an amateur blogger on YouTube, an innocuous question from two readers about her makeup routine and the subsequent tutorial video helped turn her into an overnight internet celebrity. With over 40,000 views a week on her video channel, Phan saw an opportunity to cash in on her makeup skills and turn her passion into an online empire.

Of particular note is NastyGal’s CEO Sophia Amoruso, whose story couldn’t be more different from the likes of Zuckerberg and other CEOs. Beginning her rise to the top as a high school drop-out turned anarchist shoplifter, before going from a small-time eBay seller to CEO of a company with 110 employees.

Amoruso has never been one to toe the line. Taking that rebellious streak and funneling it towards improving her business, she’s transformed Nasty Gal from a little know eBay store to an internationally acclaimed fashion brand.

Elon Musk – the real life Tony Stark

Of course, no infographic on young CEOs changing the world would be complete without mentioning the futurist entrepreneur, Elon Musk. Although he’s a little greyer around the temples than the others on the list, it’s easy to forget that he’d already struck gold long before PayPal, Tesla Motors or SpaceX came along.

In 1995, at the age of 24, Musk dropped out of his Ph.D. at Stanford after just two days to pursue fame and fortune as an entrepreneur. He quickly founded his first company Zip2 – an internet software venture – with his brother, Kimbal Musk.

After a scrappy start to the business, Zip2 came out punching well above its weight – developing and marketing an internet “city guide” for the newspaper publishing industry. Rapidly attracting the attention of major newspapers and publications like The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, Zip2 was bought up by Compaq for $307m in cash and $34m in stock options.

At the age of 28, Musk had become a multi-millionaire. Today, his net worth sits at $11.9bn – placing him firmly at the top of this list. Never one to sit on his laurels, Musk is putting his wealth behind cutting edge technologies to transform the aviation and transport sectors with one eye fixed firmly on humanity’s future beyond Earth.

Nick D’Aloisio – the face of generation Z

Also of note is the youngest CEO featured on the shortlist, British entrepreneur Nick D’Aloisio, creator of Summly and the newly appointed Product Manager for Yahoo News Digest. While D’Aloisio might not be as much of a household name as others on the list, he’s tipped to become one of the next big players among the Silicon Valley’s tech elite.

At 16 years old, D’Aloisio developed his first piece of proprietary software on his bedroom computer. The resultant content condenser TrimIt – an analytic tool for condensing content down into digestible summaries – attracted the attention of Hong Kong-based billionaire Li Ka-Shing, who provided the young tech mogul with $300,000 in venture capital funding. This also makes D’Aloisio the youngest person in the world to get venture capital funding.

Using the lessons learned from the initial round of user feedback, D’Aloisio began tinkering with his product in order to ensure it could compete as a game changer. Rebranding his product as Summly, he relaunched the software in December 2011 and managed to attract 200,000 downloads of the initial version. With buzz growing around his software, November 2012 saw D’Aloisio attracting another round of venture capital funding – to the tune of $1m – from Li Ka-Shing and celebrities like Yoko Ono, Ashton Kutcher and Stephen Fry.

Yahoo were quick to recognize the market potential for D’Aloisio’s software, and in March 2013 they purchased Summly from the young CEO for a reported $30m. As part of the deal, D’Aloisio will oversee Yahoo News Digest – a direct evolution of Summly’s content condensing function – and continue to draw a significant salary on top of residuals.

Committed to self-improvement, D’Aloisio began studying at Oxford University in 2014, while fulfilling his obligations as Product Manager for Yahoo News Digest around his studies. At the tender age of 20 years old, he has a reported net worth of £23m.

All of these CEOs show that, if you’re innovative and committed to realizing your ambitions, it’s never too early for success to come calling. For more inspiring tales of the young startup entrepreneurs made their fortune before turning 30, make sure to read the rest of the infographic

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[Image credit: Essay Expert]

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Megan Batchelor
Executive features editor at The CEOWORLD magazine and lover of reality TV. I eat cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
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