Photo: Flickr – ben howes
So just what does it take to be a billionaire these days? According to the latest list compiled by the indexing website PeekYou.com, the world’s youngest billionaires tend to either make their money in tech companies (specifically Facebook), or they inherit it from their families. In the site’s top 10 list of billionaires under age 35, the top four are connected to Facebook and five come from money.The leaves one, Robert Pera, 33, founder of the wireless company Ubiquiti Networks.
With the exception of Pera, the billionaires’ success formula doesn’t exactly offer much advice for the rest of us. Sure, we could try to get in early on the next Facebook, but the chances of that are slim at best. Two of Mark Zuckerberg’s early partners knew him from college—you can’t exactly plan that sort of serendipity.
Pera’s story, though, does hold some valuable lessons. It might not make us billionaires, but his story can at least suggest how to earn more than our traditional jobs offer. Pera, after all, worked as an Apple engineer before leaving to start his own company. While Pera has a relatively light online footprint, a few lessons, gathered from publicly available sources, stand out:
1. Pera took risks. He could have stayed at his job as an Apple engineer, earning a healthy salary, until the day he retired. Instead, he opted to leave his full-time job to start his own company, and that decision is what turned him into a billionaire. His idea, to create hardware and software that allows for various forms of wireless communication, from surveillance systems to Internet access, turned out to be highly in-demand all over the globe.
2. He does things differently. Pera opted to run Ubiquiti without a traditional sales force team, the typical model for companies like his. Instead, he created an online forum that allows customers to speak directly to the engineers and other employees creating the products. His method appears to be working: In addition to saving on costs by avoiding a large sales team, over 100,000 have signed up to use the forums.
3. He lives frugally. According to Forbes.com, Pera lives in a one-bedroom apartment, despite his wealth. That penny-pinching mindset translates into how he runs his company, too, and has helped him build impressive profit margins.
Pera is somewhat of an enigma; his lack of public presence on online social networks and his own company’s website makes it hard to know more about him as a person. But if Ubiquiti continues with its current rate of success, he probably won’t be able to keep such a low profile for long.
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