How A Student Made Three Million Dollars With A Free CliffNotes Website.
Sam Yagan's first successful business idea came to him in the middle of an all-nighter during his senior year at Harvard. His paper on Hamlet was due the next day, and he was kicking himself for not buying the CliffsNotes version of the play before the bookstore closed. "Why can't a student get a study guide at midnight?" he asked himself, and SparkNotes was born.
The series of free online study guides acquired by Barnes & Noble in 2001 for $3.55 million. At Stanford Business School, a different question, "Why can't online dating be free?" led him to his latest project, OkCupid.
His advice for would-be entrepreneurs: Instead of spending a lot of time waiting for a great business idea to suddenly materialize, get out in the world and ask questions. "If you look at things with a quizzical approach, you're going to uncover a lot of opportunities. A lot of times the answers you come up with are going to be wrong, but if you keep asking questions, eventually you'll hit on the little thing that's not quite right, and go from there."
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