Young Internet Millionaires Harnessing The Power of the Web: New Age Entrepreneurship

Vipin Labroo
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We have all heard stories about obscure teenagers turning into huge celebrities overnight. They are children who, by the time they came into their teens turned their  everyday hobbies and passions into multi-million dollar enterprises; all by reaching out to vast numbers of like-minded individuals on the Internet.

Before we begin to understand what it takes to bring about these tremendous transformations, let us begin by going ahead of us and taking a sneak preview into what sort of lifestyle changes a (formerly) regular person experiences, as a result of becoming an online celebrity.

Somebody like Marck Zuckerberg, the billionaire founder of Facebook cannot step out onto the street without attracting a crowd of photographers, journalists, tourists, autograph hunters and possibly a posse of policemen for their security. Then there are others like dating columnist for Times Out New York, Julia Alison, who even if not in Zuckerberg’s league, has more than 10000 people devouring her blog every day..What’s more, she has been profiled by New York Times and the New Yorker crowned her with the epithet-the most famous young journalist in the city.

You become an internet millionaire at a young age and the world is your oyster. The best cars, snazzy mansions, incredible holidays, and the best people to date-you will get all that and more. If you are really at the top of the heap every newspaper and magazine, worth their salt, would like to feature you, and there will be offers to write books (perhaps your autobiography which can be turned into a book). Large multinational corporations would like to sign business deals with you and you will be a youth icon and role model for the young of the world.

Successful Online

There are a number of people who have made a mark for themselves by skilfully using the internet to promote themselves or their business models. You will find that a great many of them started off fairly young, sometimes in their teens. All of them shared a strong belief in their conviction that they had the right product and service for which there existed a healthy market, and they gave their all in its pursuit.

If one were to look for examples, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of social networking site, Facebook , is easily at the top of the heap. Founder and CEO of his company, Mark has a personal fortune of about $6.9 billion dollars! And to think that he started off in Middle School and boy, has he grown! Today he is one of the most widely known human beings in the world and, recently, there was a Hollywood blockbuster that documented his rise.

This is an example of a rare and unprecedented growth, but there are many many others who may not count among the world’s richest folk, but still have grown exceedingly rich and famous by any standards of the world. The success story of immigrant boy, Gurbaksh Chahalais, who was born in India and raised in California is quire inspiring. Dropping out of school at 16, he set up gWallet, and is today personally worth more than a hundred million dollars.

Quite honestly, the examples are far too numerous, but what is striking is that most of these individuals began with an original idea at a very young age and made their millions while still under 30 years of age. Never in the history of mankind, since the advent of civilisation, have so many young people made such prodigious amounts of money at such a young age.

The influence of young, happening and vivacious people with an attitude, who have the ability to influence vast numbers of their peers is borne out by the success of blogs like Missmalini where irreverence, fun and a devil may care attitude are the defining flavour.

At the same time, a highly creative and competent team that contributes to the blog, disseminates information greatly in demand by hordes of young people across the country-in the shape of real time blogs, photographs, guest write-ups, fashion and Bollywood content etc. And to think that this was started as a lark by radio DJ and gossip columnist, Malini Agarwal, who is, today, feted by film stars and revered by Huffington Post which calls her India’s most famous blogger.

It is the power of the internet which has given wings to the imagination of these new age entrepreneurs and given them the ability to soar. Truly the invention of the internet must rank as highly as the invention of the wheel, the electric bulb and the automobile, in as much that it's impact has been epochal.

What is in it for me?

What can success on the internet give you? This is a question which has many parts and you may wonder as to what it is that becoming an internet success would hold of special significance for you? Is it about the money, the fame, the adulation, the popularity, the convergence with likeminded people, or is it about notoriety?

Well, the fact of the matter is that the internet and internet millionaires are a recent phenomenon and the judgement is yet to be out as to whether it is all good, or whether it is a mixed blessing, and, no doubt as the years go by and the golden boys of this era add a few grey hairs to their temples, sociologists and psychologists will write their theses and treatises on the subject but right now it suffices to say that the internet provides unprecedented opportunity, but along with it comes the pitfalls, which are really part of the territory if you are looking at a blazing a trail and making a name for yourself.

Consider this. The internet is a vast ocean of information which you can harness and put to use to further your own objectives. Now, your objective may be something as simple as help in your homework assignment, or you may want to run an online pizza delivery business. You may even want to write your autobiography and try to make it reach as many people as possible, across the globe. The internet empowers you to go ahead and accomplish this.

The internet will let you communicate with whoever you want, anywhere in the world. This means that you can work and be entertained with likeminded people, when you want and where you want, without being at a disadvantage because of your age, sex nationality, religion or geography. Now, this can be a tremendously liberating thing. You are free to choose who you want to work with, at what time and on what terms. The same applies to recreation and entertainment.

What this means is that the very paradigm of living life as we know it has changed. For the first time in the history of mankind, one has the truest personal freedom of choosing one’s career, where you choose your own schedule and give full rein to your creative imagination.This does not, of course, mean that there is no flip side. Of course there is, just as it is there in everything in life. There is danger of spamming, identity theft, pornography and vicious virus attacks.

But these are illegal activities and you should take all measures to protect yourself against them. If you indulge in such activities yourself, you do so at your own peril as you are breaking the law. Then there are other pitfalls, not the least among them being Internet addiction. The internet is a tool that you can use to get ahead in life and also indulge in for some harmless entertainment. If you make it the be all and end all of your life, then you will have no life to talk about.

Your online friends can never fill in for real, physical contact and interaction. Neither can online gaming take the place of a game of basketball. You have got to put things in perspective and you will be alright. Take the case of Facebook- a great way to socialise and re-establish contact with long lost friends. But you know what? Don’t be the fool who lives to update his or her status on it. Who wants to know what you had for breakfast today? Try Facebook to launch your business career or for finding employment. It lends itself very nicely to such things thanks to its vast reach.

The internet can empower you like nothing else, but you've got to be focussed on your goals and not get side-tracked by its many distractions. It’s like life itself. The choices you make decide where you go. You can use the internet to sell your skills and get rich. If fame is your thing, the internet gives you access to a vast audience, and if you are up to no good and indulge in dirty tricks and sleaze- well, the internet can provide notoriety too. As they say: to each his own.

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