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Ear to the Ground

Progress Report: PayPal Founder’s College Dropouts

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Posted on Aug 10, 2012
Fortune Live Media (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Peter Thiel.

Facebook investor and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel gave 24 young would-be entrepreneurs a two-year $100,000 grant each to drop out of college and pursue the business plans of their dreams. One year on, financial returns are in short supply.

Thiel announced the “Thiel Fellowship” in the fall of 2010, arguing that expensive, debt-producing university education is holding back bright young minds that could ignite the next technological revolution.

“You increasingly have people who are graduating from college, not being able to get good jobs, moving back home with their parents,” Thiel recently told The New York Times. “I think there’s a surprising openness to the idea that something’s gone badly wrong and needs to be fixed.”

Although Thiel is right about the dim prospects for finding a job after graduation, advocates of a liberal education that teaches students to think critically and develop a broad understanding of the world might disagree with the titan investor.

Inc. magazine spoke with five of the Thiel fellows about their experiences in trading school “for the startup lifestyle.” Only one of them had found any sort of income.

Check in with one Thiel fellow below before clicking through to read about others.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Inc. magazine:

Sujay Tyle

Progress report: Tyle is the VP of business development at a mobile social gaming company called Scopely.

Any revenue yet? None.

Best takeaway: Grow yourself, not just your company: “I’ve matured significantly through the fellowship. I’ve learned how to build and manage a team, and handle relationships in a business.”

College thing he doesn’t miss: “The structure. I think that structure can pigeonhole creative minds and put a limit on your ambition.”

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