How to become a millionaire: 5 brilliant young prodigies

how to become a millionaire
British Nick D'Aloisio found the way on how to become a millionaire through the creation of his app, Summly. Source: AFP

The world we live in today says money is everything.

Everyone wants to know how to become a millionaire and gain enough riches to buy whatever they desire.

What’s more, there was once a television show called “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”

It was one of the show’s longest-running and most successful international variants, airing in over 120 countries and produced in over 80 languages.

The show tested contestants’ wits and general knowledge in a series of multiple-choice questions, where each stood a chance to take home US$100,000.

ABC’s season finale of this show drew 6.56 million viewers in June 2020.

Some people cheered the contestants on, while others scorned them for not knowing the answers to the questions.

Whatever their reasons for watching the show, it was popular and exciting. 

Why do people want to become millionaires?

Have you ever wondered why people aspire to become millionaires?

Perhaps it’s because they want to help others. Others grew up poor and wanted to change the course of their life.

Or maybe they wish to live like royalty — globe-trotting in private jets to islands where they can soak up the sun and enjoy the breeze.

But more often than that, the urge to become a millionaire has not been all-encompassed by the lure of money.

Many had ideas that were worth pursuing. Almost all faced challenges, from family drama to finances to design fails — but they continued.

Why? Here are some reasons we think gave them the determination and emotional courage to see their ideas and dreams through:

  • They had good ideas
  • They found their niche or gaps that needed to be filled
  • Despite being young, they had a strong work ethic
  • They were able to adapt or be flexible when needed
  • They weren’t afraid to fail-resilience was key

All the under ’20s on our list experienced hurdles and difficulties at every juncture, but they didn’t let those stop them.

As a result, they’re all millionaires today and enjoying the fruits of their hard labour.

How to become a millionaire: 5 brilliant young prodigies

how to become a millionaire

SuperJam founder Fraser Doherty holds his Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) medal. Source: AFP

1. Fraser Doherty

Fraser Doherty is a Scottish entrepreneur known as “Jam Boy”.

Guess what he created? That’s right, jam. It’s made entirely from fruit.

Doherty started his business at 14 after his grandmother taught him how

to make marmalade using her top-secret recipe in her kitchen.

After that, he began making jams as a hobby — selling them to neighbours, giving them away at church fairs, and selling them at the local farmers’ markets.

Doherty’s most expensive pot sold for US$1.78 — a sale he made 12 years ago.

Within years, he had perfected and founded SuperJam — but he wanted something more than just selling it locally.

He wanted to see his jars of jam on shelves in supermarkets.

Then, Doherty’s big break came.

Waitrose & Partners, a supermarket chain, planned to open two stores in Scotland and were sourcing local products to be stocked on their shelves.

They promptly contacted him to begin mass-producing his jams after tasting them.

In an interview with SchoolSpeakers, Doherty mentioned that he had four months to take his product from concept to supermarket shelf. Many thought he was over-ambitious, but he enjoyed the challenge. 

Hitting a bump with the labels and design would not stop him, and he persevered until they agreed.

His most surreal experience? Being on the BBC News channel while the presenters sat there, eating his jam.

Today, Doherty is worth more than US$5 million. He co-founded Beer52, founded Envelope Coffee, and is a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

how to become a milionaire

P&G bought over Miss O & Friends, making Blake a millionaire. Source: AFP

2. Juliette Brindak Blake

Juliette Brindak Blake enjoyed drawing ever since she was a young girl.

The idea that led her to become rich came from doodling pictures of “cool girls” on paper in the car on the way back from vacation one day.

Her mother, a designer, turned the drawings into actual characters. She would print them out, blow them, and mount them on Styrofoam pieces.

She and her sister, Olivia, spent many hours playing and creating fictional stories with those characters.

When Blake turned 16, she realised a few things. 

Girls had formed cliques. Some, as young as eight, didn’t want cake for fear of gaining weight. This struck Blake as odd.

She saw the need to create a safe space akin to social media where they could connect and interact. And so, Miss O and Friends were formed.

On this platform, young girls could play games, share stories, and get inspired by each other; this was a hit with many teens.

Two years later, in 2008, Miss O attracted Procter & Gamble, better known as P&G.

The giant beauty corporation invested in and valued Miss O at US$15 million.

Three years in, Blake’s project had a steady stream of three million users a month.

That didn’t stop Blake from furthering her education, despite earning a good income.

“I went to Washington University in St. Louis and studied Anthropology and Public Health. I loved college and had an incredible four years in St. Louis,” she shared in an interview with Teen Vogue. 

She even produced her own television show, Hyperlinked, based on her life story that aired on YouTube Red.

how to become a millionaire

The Cook siblings aimed to create a platform where people could connect with each other. Source: AFP

3. Catherine and David Cook

The Cook siblings — Geoff, Catherine, and David — were born with an entrepreneur streak. 

Geoff, who was the eldest, started a business while attending Harvard University. 

He edited resumes and essays before launching and, which he sold.

Soon, the family moved to New Jersey and both Catherine and David were starting at a new high school. She was 15, he 16.

They recalled looking through the local school’s yearbook and were surprised at how little information there was.

Catherine wondered what it might be like if they put the whole book online.

“I’d always looked up to my brother Geoff. He’s 11 years older than me and has already launched a successful start-up. I thought if he started a company, I could, too,” she shared in an interview with Inc.

MyYearbook was established in 2005. Their main mode of marketing was the t-shirts they wore to school every day for weeks.

By mid-2006, the social platform has one million users. They soon needed a second round of financing.

“Our selling pitch was that we were MySpace for high school. We got $4.1 million in 2007,” Catherine shares.

In 2011, they were approached by Quepasa Corporation, a tech company, for a merger.

It was a huge deal, and they announced a new name. 

“It was a US$100 million deal — US$18 million in cash, the rest in stock. We introduced MeetMe. And with that, we plan to make our social discovery platform span the world,” Geoff shares. 

how to become a millionaire

Graphic designing is what led Qualls on her path how to become a millionaire. Source: AFP

4. Ashley Qualls

Ashley Qualls might not have known how to become a millionaire from the start, but she certainly did it by the time she was in high school.

She was born in Michigan and grew up in a lower-income family, where she shared one bedroom with three other siblings.

Qualls had one passion that kept her going — she enjoyed designing and taught herself how to use graphic design software.

It was 2004 and Qualls was only 14, but she started as a hobby.

She wanted to show her friends her designs and offer free MySpace layouts to them.

What stood out about her creation was that Qualls’s layouts had an edge; they were also free.

Each month, Qualls had more than seven million viewers and continued growing in popularity. 

In this, she saw an opportunity to advertise and began making money through that. By 2007, her revenue stood at roughly US$800,000. 

She had also expanded into giving free graphics tutorial lessons.

When Qualls turned 17, her website was valued at US$8 million.

Media outlets like Forbes, CNN, and New York Times interviewed her while other kids her age marvelled at her ability to create so much wealth for herself.

Contented with what she created, she sold in 2008 for an undisclosed sum and ventured into other facets of the design industry.

how to become a millionaire

Nick D’Aloisio successfully sold off both the apps he created for millions. Source: AFP

5. Nick D’Aloisio

Nick D’Aloisio has the perfect answer on how to become a millionaire.

He was a teenager when he picked up “Coding For Dummies” and dreamed of creating his own app for Apple’s App Store.

At 12, he taught himself how to code, dabbling with the online world in his free time.

One day, D’Aloisio was at school writing for history labs when an idea hit him. 

“I was using Google and other search engines. The issue was you have all this info, but there’s so much, it’s hard to comprehend it, so summaries are perfect,” he said.

At 15, he founded Summly in November 2012. 

Within the first two hours of its release, Summly placed ninth in the App Store. It was also awarded one of Apple’s “Best Apps of 2012”.

The app grew so popular that it attracted the attention of billionaire Hong Kong investor Li Ka-shing.

Celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Yoko Ono, Stephen Fry and Mark Pincus joined the billionaire in investing in the genius idea created by D’Aloisio.

Three months later, Yahoo snapped the app up for US$30 million, making the young teen an instant millionaire.

Surprisingly, he didn’t spend much of that money. 

Instead, he bought himself some new trainers and put the rest away in a trust fund.

Despite selling off the app, D’ Aloisio still had plenty to show for it. He continued his love for coding and creating software.

In 2016, he co-founded an app called Sphere with Tomas Halgas.

Sphere aimed to connect strangers interested in the same topics and had about 500,000 users by the end of 2018.

What was interesting was that people were talking so often throughout the day, he says.

“It wasn’t just talking to their friend on Facebook, but someone they had not met before about something they were interested in.”

In 2021, he sold this app to Twitter for an undisclosed sum.