When bitcoin was created in 2009 by a person going by the online alias “Satoshi Nakamoto,” it was met with skepticism. No banks? No middleman? That was actually one of the things that drew Erik Finman to bitcoin, and it’s what made him a millionaire at the age of 18.
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Both of Finman’s parents have a Ph.D from Stanford. His two brothers were accepted to top-tier universities at the age of 16. So Erik was probably a disappointment to his parents when he dropped out of school at the age 15.
But Finman made a bet with his parents that if he was a millionaire before 18, he wouldn’t be force to go to college. Thanks to the all-time high valuation of bitcoin, “I can proudly say I made it, and I’m not going to college,” he told reporters.
For anyone who doesn’t know what bitcoin actually is, in layman’s terms, it’s money that isn’t locked by a region, a bank, or your name. Bitcoin makes international purchase easier becase it’s not tied to a region.
Bitcoins are not held in banks and are not insured by the FDIC. Instead, they are held on a cloud server or on one’s smartphone or computer.
In the cryptocurrency’s most recent valution, one bitcoin is $2,700 and Finman has 403 of them, putting his funds at $1.09 million. Some finnancial analysts believe bitcoin will soon callapse upon itself in the near future, but others think it could break $100,000 (per coin) valuation by the end of the decade.
Finman’s road to a millionaire started in May 2011 when he was 12. His grandmother gave him $1,000 for his birthday, and his brother Scott told him about bitcoin.
Finman then decided to drop out of high school as he said he was receiving a “low quality” education. “(High school) was pretty low quality,” he said. “I had these teachers that were all kind of negative. One teacher told me to drop out and work at McDonald’s because that was all I would amount to for the rest of my life. I guess I did the dropout part.”
After dropping out, Finman sold his first bitcoin investment in 2013, when the currency was valued at $1,200. With the $100,000 earned from his investment, Finman created an online company called Botangle in 2014. The company was made for students like Finman who found traditional classes boring. Students would now be taught by teachers via webcams.
By the age of 15, he was in the market to sell the business he’d created. He told CNBC that he met with some “really, really high-up” executives from all over, including Uber. In January 2015, Finman finally found a buyer after being turned down by multiple potential investors.
The investor gave Finman a choice, take the $100,000 or 300 bitcoins. At that time, bitcoin was only at $200 a coin. To the surprise of his parents and others, Finman took the bitcoins, looking at it as an investment that could possibly become “the next big thing.”
Now, Finman spends his days working with NASA to launch a rocket through the ELaNa project. He’s made it clear that he has no intention to ever go back to school.
“The way the education system is structured now, I wouldn’t recommend it,” Finman said. “It doesn’t work for anyone. I would recommend the internet, which is all free.”