20 Under 20 – The Ones to Watch

Just when you thought every possible reality TV show concept had been done -and overdone – a new show is announced with an entrepreneurial twist. The show, 20 under 20, will be aired on CNBC in the US and will follow 20 young hopefuls as they chase the prize of a $100,000 investment in their start-up scheme.

The show is backed by Silicon Valley veteran Peter Thiel, he was one of the first investors in Facebook, so he clearly knows a thing or two about spotting a visionary entrepreneur and winning idea. Thiel was also a co-founder of PayPal, and was an angel investor for some of the today’s biggest tech companies, including Yelp, LinkedIn and Quora.

The aim of the show is essentially to find the next generation’s Mark Zuckerberg, who is arguably one of the most successful individuals of his generation. A coding prodigy from a young age, Zuckerberg started The Facebook in 2005 while he was studying at Harvard University. In 2010 Facebook had over 500 million registered users worldwide, and in 2012, it was valued at $104 billion.

With Thiel holding a 2.5% stake in Facebook, he added an additional $1.5 million to his net worth. Proving that it certainly pays to have faith in the start-up culture. Hence his search for the next generation of start-up superstars.

Although not all under 20, here are some of the most successful movers and shakers on the Silicon Valley/ Palo Alto scene, their success will make you green with envy – proceed with caution!

1. Dan Porter

The man who made a mint from selling his company OMGPOP to Zynga for $210 million. OMGPOP is famous for its social drawing app Draw Something, which is available for both iPhone and Android. What’s humbling about Porter’s story is that he wasn’t content taking all the money for himself. It is rumoured that Porter hired back every employee he’d had to let go due to financial difficulties before the Zynga sale went through, ensuring that they got their fair share of the OMGPOP pie.

2. Nate Drouin

Prepare to get jealous! Drouin is only 20 years old, and already he has raised $1.2 million for his online donation site Fundraise.com. After starting the website with an initial investment of $250,000 from his father, the teen has now raised $1.2 million in investment and forecasts $2 million revenue in his first year.

3. Brian Wong

Brian Wong is the CEO of Kiip.me, an mobile advertising platform that bridges the gap between gaming and mobile. He started the company when he was only 19 years old and received $200,000 in investment from venture capitalist Phil Black.

4.  Jessica Mah

At the age of 20 Jessica Mah received $1 million of investment into her banking start-up inDinero. A ‘graduate’ of the Y Combinator class of 2010, Mah is on the fast-track to success. A definite one-to-watch.

5. Sahil Lavingia

One of the original Pinterest design team, Lavingia branched out to start Gumroad , an e-payments platform which received $7 million in funding from Kleiner Perkins.

It’s certainly refreshing to see the next generation being ‘disruptive’ in a positive way.