Best Student Startups of All Time

All of us have at least once heard of projects originated in high school or college that transformed into an impressive enterprise. Most of these projects nowadays are associated with detailed business plans and unheard technological innovations. Back in the days, when such projects were not so common, they were mostly organized within college campuses.

It might surprise you, but most of the successful companies right now were once ambitious ideas envisioned by a few ambitious schoolers. We bet that you’ve heard of such companies as Google, WordPress, Facebook, or Microsoft. We will now shed some light on some of these great startups imagined by students. Stay tuned!


Believe it or not, but Microsoft was once a project of two ambitious students, namely iconic Bill Gates and Paul Allen. This startup itself was founded on the basis of Harvard University, alongside developing its technological capacities. Later on, Microsoft progressed into becoming one of the most impressive technology companies with its MS-DOS and Windows products.

A notable aspect that undoubtedly fueled the success of Microsoft was the combined talent of two college students with remarkable technological vision. After all, who could realize that a student startup of two students could transform into a successful business without which we can’t imagine technologies today?


When it comes to another tech-giant, Google deserves its attention. It is quite common for Internet users to associate a search engine and online advertising with Google. The hot take regarding this company relates to its start. Back in 1998, the years when Larry Page and Sergey Brin were Ph.D. candidates at Stanford University, the idea of Google was born. The IPO of Google took place in 2004 after two ambitious masterminds cooperated tightly in their academia. It is now tough to imagine the Internet without Google, which was once no more than a project of Stanford schoolers. Impressive, don’t you think so?


Alright, when it comes to another premier and a top project named as one of the greatest startups ever, Facebook is an impressive example. Have you ever realized that Facebook, the greatest American social network, was founded by a bunch of creative minds at Harvard? This project originated thanks to the shared efforts of Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, and Chris Hughes.

Harvard students drastically changed the way Internet users in the United States and worldwide. In the year of 2004, the idea of creating a global network took place, eventually progressing into one of the popular websites in the twenty-first century. We find it noteworthy to mention that the project was initially intended to create a network between Harvard students. The scale of Facebook increased dramatically, becoming a great example of how schoolers changed an entire era in the domain of the Web.


Even though WordPress might not be of the same excitement and recognition as Facebook, Google, or Microsoft, its concept is worth mentioning. WordPress is a content management system that combines MySQL and PHP to recreate the template system and continually updated plugin architecture. In other words, Matt Mullenweg from the University of Houston created a smart system suitable for Web content.

This idea of an undergraduate allowed users to incorporate technologies to work with various types of web content, including media galleries, online stores, forums, and blog spaces. The invention was quickly noticed by dozens of companies and websites, eventually adding WordPress technologies to their stacks. A notable feature is that WordPress began as a sole effort of a single grad.


Undoubtedly, Reddit is an impressive website that works as a forum platform uniting millions of readers in specialized subreddits. These forums allow users to post, comment, and interact with other publications and other users. Although the idea of Reddit is fairly simple, its functionality, design, and innovation made it one of the most popular social sites in the world.

Even more impressive might be the fact that this company began as the idea in the minds of two grads of the University of Virginia in 2005. Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian were people who first struggled with monetizing and maintaining the operations of Reddit. Luckily for these two masterminds and the Internet we know today, this concept was funded by Y! Combinator, giving a chance for such an ambitious project to succeed.


Even though Yahoo is a bit on the decline in 2020, the concept invented by two grads, namely Jerry Yang and David Filo, is too innovative. Yahoo was first launched as the directory of favorite websites, eventually transforming into a search engine we know today. These schoolers launched this website in 1995, three years before Google managed to do so. Despite certain struggles on the market, Yahoo is still the case of success paved by drastic measures of grads with fresh minds, but not entrepreneurs. Solely thanks to the innovative features of Yahoo back in the days, we believe that this project deserves more recognition and respect today.


Time is a great example of what cooperation between grads can lead to. This corporation is an American weekly news magazine and a website that was founded back in 1923. Briton Hadden and Henry Luce from Yale University had a concept of transforming news magazines in a unique way. Not only did it become the first-ever weekly news magazine in the United States, but it had also begun progressing into the world’s most popular news magazine.

Add that to the fact that Briton Hadden and Henry Luce from Yale were working full time to let their idea develop and expand. This example is a great case since most of the ideas nowadays are concerned with technological applications. In contrast, the efforts of Hadden and Luce have certainly changed the industry of the press as we know it today.

Other Notable Examples

Although the mentioned cases are the greatest examples of how grads can change their niches and industries, a few other cases might be interesting. For more information, consider reading about the history of Napster, Dell, or Tripod. We are confident that they will also illustrate that schoolers can change our world for the better.


This article was written by Timothy Lyall, a professional tutor in the IT sphere from PapersOwl. Timothy Lyall is a respected professional with a long-standing experience in mass media, IT, and communications. He worked in both tabloids, news magazines, and online news websites. In addition, Mr. Timothy has experience of working as an editor and scriptwriter. Right now, Timothy Lyall is dedicated to tutoring talented students interested in journalism, research paper writing, and STEM subjects.

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