As a kid, most of have dreams of becoming a millionaire when we become an adult, but only few have the ability to turn it into reality.
Meet, Erik Finman, an 18-year-old high school dropout from Idaho, U.S., who is a bitcoin millionaire and is the owner of a reported 403 Bitcoins. Currently, per bitcoin is valued at $2,622, which puts Erik’s bitcoin amount to $1.06 million, at the time of writing, which could rise or fall in mere hours due to the currency’s extreme unstable nature. He also holds smaller investments in other digital currencies, including litecoin and ethereum.
The story of Erik, a successful businessman and a popular figure in the cryptocurrency world, started in May 2011 when he decided to invest $1000 gifted by his grandmother on Bitcoin when he was 12-years-old. Erik who was frustrated with his high school teachers had asked Ph.D-holding, Stanford-educated parents to permit him to leave school at the age of 15. He made a bet with his Ph.D-holding, Stanford-educated parents, that he would not go to college if he became a millionaire by the age of 18.
“(High school) was pretty low quality,” Erik said. “I had these teachers that were all kind of negative”. Even his teachers at school too didn’t see his potential. “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,” he added. He actually did not want to go to college, either.
“I can proudly say I made it, and I’m not going to college,” Erik said after winning the bet.
Erik’s received the fruits of his first bitcoin investment at the end of 2013 when his investment of $1,000 grew to $1,00,000. At that time, bitcoins were valued at $1,200 per piece. He then sold everything and used the proceeds to start Botangle.com, an online video tutoring service that “allows students and tutors access to a diverse array of resources that just do not exist in a normal classroom setting”, according to its official website.
He then made a team consisting of more than 20 workers, including designers, programmers and animators. Due to his age, potential employees would not take him seriously, he said.
“Whenever I interview a potential candidate for a job, I always ask if being part of a team with a 15-year-old bothers them,” Erik said. “Sometimes that’s the end of the conversation right there, and other times people lie — and that shows later on. It’s pretty easy to tell when it happens, but the team I have now are super supportive, and they don’t treat me any differently than anyone else.”
Erik also used some funds to move to Silicon Valley, meet Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and travel.
“I really liked Colombia,” he said. “It was fun, but a little sketchy. Some interesting stuff happened. I was held up at gunpoint there, which is pretty scary, but I have this emergency button I programmed in Android that puts you on speaker but turns off audio automatically and dials [a local emergency number].”
Recalling a particular incident, Erik said that an Uber executive had tried to discourage him by not listening to his Botangle pitch and told him that he go and pursue college rather than racking up millions. However, in January 2015, Erik was able to successfully sell Botangle for a cool price of 300 bitcoins. He reportedly turned down the investor’s offer of $1,00,000 and opted for 300 bitcoins instead with the belief that his bitcoins would become the next big thing in the coming years due to its appreciation in value.
Within a span of one year, bitcoin prices increased more than 300%, with the majority of the gain coming during May and June. While some analysts claiming that bitcoin may reach $1,00,000 in a decade, Erik thinks its best days are still ahead. “Personally I think bitcoin is going to be worth a couple hundred thousand to a million dollars a coin,” he said.
Erik who has been managing his own bitcoin investments denies the necessity of education.
“I never got my GED, and I don’t see the value in it,” Finman said. “The purpose of that would be to get another education level and get a job. I had to learn through running a business. Instead of writing essays for English class, I had to write emails to important people.”
Erik who is happy learning about the real world from experience still has no plans to go to university. Instead, he believes the internet offers a better education for free. “The way the education system is structured, I wouldn’t recommend it. It doesn’t work for anyone. I would recommend the internet, which is all free. You can learn a million times more off YouTube and Wikipedia,” he added.