I remember the night before my A-level results, twisting and turning in bed whilst the butterflies in my stomach refused to let me sleep. I also remember, the following morning, waking up to hundreds of Facebook statuses from the smug people who got their desired grades, all feeling the need to thank everyone who ‘helped them achieve their success’.
But if you woke up yesterday and hadn’t quite achieved your predicted grades, don’t worry. Although right now it may feel like it’s the end of the world, it’s not. As the saying goes, ‘there are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading to the same place, so it doesn’t matter which path you take’.
And, whilst we’ve seen yet another increase in the number of university admissions this year, these five entrepreneurs have proved that the path to success doesn’t always pass through university.
Jamal Edwards MBE
At the young age of 15, Jamal Edwards was given a basic video camera for Christmas and began recording rappers and singers on his estate in Acton, West London. Unaware of the universal appeal of what he was creating, Jamal began uploading his videos to Youtube to make it easier for his friends to view them – and this lead to the creation of SBTV.
SBTV is a broadcasting company that makes music videos, typically of the rap genre, then uploads them to Youtube. Today, Jamal, now 25, is worth an estimated £8m, however he insists that he is not motivated by money and preaches that you shouldn’t start a business with the sole purpose of making a fortune, you should start a business because you have real passion and drive behind you.
Sir Richard Branson
Many of you will be familiar with Richard Branson’s story. Having left boarding school at the age of 16, Branson’s journey to the top began when he created Virgin Records in 1972. The Virgin Group now comprises more than 400 companies and has earned Sir Richard a cool £4.9 billion. Not bad for a school dropout.
Branson is a firm believer that schools should offer more support for entrepreneurs, stating that many people leave education in order to focus on business rather than being offered support in school. Branson offers this guidance through Virgin Start Up Loans, a branch of his empire dedicated to advising entrepreneurs and funding new ventures.
Steve Bartlett, 23, is the mastermind behind Social Chains, a global marketing agency founded in 2014. Social Chains focuses on influencer marketing and uses online platforms, such as Twitter, to advertise its clients’ products through various social media accounts.
Having just expanded into Germany, Social Chain has become Europe’s largest social influencer with a projected £6m turnover for the 2016. Granted, Bartlett did attend Manchester Metropolitan – however he lasted all of one lecture before dropping out to follow his business dreams. In 2013, Bartlett received the Lloyds Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for his success in creating a web design platform aimed at students.
Sir Alan Sugar
Similar to Richard Branson, Sir Alan Sugar left school at 16 and began selling car aerials from the back of a van he had purchased for £50. Sugar then founded Amstrad in 1998, an electronics company – and sold it for £125m in 2007.
Amstrad’s success came from selling electronic goods at prices which very slightly undercut its competitors and, thanks to this savvy marketing strategy, today he is rumoured to be worth £1.4billion.
Pete Cashmore, 30, is the founder and CEO of the popular blog Mashable, which he founded in 2005 aged just 19. Mashable is a must-read blog that targets new developments in the field of gadgets and computer technology.
Voted in the top 25 blogs in 2009, the technology trendmaker not only placed Cashmore in the top 100 most influential people of 2012, but has netted him a £60m fortune.