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The TOP Businesses Started In College (PHOTOS)

Huffington Post     First Posted: 06/02/10 03:46 PM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 05:40 PM ET

One of the funny things about college is that students tend to think their careers start after they graduate -- even though some of the most successful business pioneers got going while they were still in their dorm rooms. Here are some entrepreneurs that didn't need to wait for their diploma to conquer their industries.

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  • Google, Stanford University

    While computer science grad students at Stanford University in 1996, Larry Page and Sergey Brin kept busy working on their Ph.D project, a search engine called "BackRub." After running the site on Stanford servers for a year, Page and Brin renamed it "Google."

  • TIME Magazine, Yale University

    Henry Luce and Briton Hadden first conceived of the newsweekly while seniors at Yale. They founded the magazine when they were 23.

  •, University Of Virginia

    In 2005, 22-year old Alexis Ohanian was <a href="" target="_hplink">at the Alderman Library</a> at the University of Virginia when the phrase "reddit" came to mind. This became the name of a startup that evolved into a leading <a href="" target="_hplink">social news website.</a> Ohanian teamed up with fellow student Steve Huffman, and in 2006, <a href="" target="_hplink">the company was bought by CondeNast. </a>

  • Insomnia Cookies, University Of Pennsylvania

    As a University of Pennsylvania junior in 2002, Seth Berkowitz decided to bake cookies to cope with hunger attacks resulting from late-night cram sessions. Soon, word got out about his cookie operation and he decided to turn his extracurricular activity into a business. Insomnia Cookies now exists at campuses around the country. (The Philadelphia City Paper published a <a href="" target="_hplink">great story</a> in 2004 about the evolution of the operation, including its repeated late-night calls for "special" cookies.)

  •, Williams College

    In 1992, Williams College classmates Bo Peabody and Brett Hershey knew there had to be some business in the newfangled place called the worldwide web, so they joined up with their economics professor, Dick Sabot, to sell web server space through a company called <a href="" target="_hplink"></a>. It became one of the first big dot-com companies before the mid-90s boom. In 1998, the site was <a href="" target="_hplink">bought by search engine company Lycos for $58 million.</a>

  • Napster, Northeastern University

    Shawn Fanning was a Northeastern University student who wanted to share music with friends. So in 1999, he created a file-sharing service he called Napster, sharing the business responsibilities with his uncle and forever changing how music is sold and consumed (not to mention <a href="" target="_hplink">irking Lars Ulrich</a>).

  • FedEx, Yale University

    While Frederick W. Smith was at Yale University, he wrote a term paper on how he dreamed of an overnight delivery service. Legend has it Smith received a 'C' for the paper (though he <a href="" target="_hplink" target="_hplink">claims otherwise</a>). Regardless, the service blossomed into a business with upwards of $37 billion in revenue.

  • Microsoft, Harvard University

    In 1973, Bill Gates persuaded his friend Paul Allen drop out of Harvard with him to launch their own computer software company, otherwise known as Microsoft. Not too long after, Gates's Harvard pal Steve Ballmer joined them.

  • Dell Inc., University of Texas

    Michael Dell didn't waste time fretting about finding a job after college while a student at the University of Texas-Austin. Instead he launched his own company out of his dorm room in 1984, selling IBM PC computers. In as a little as a year, Dell created its own computer called the "Turbo PC." By 1992, Dell was the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

  • Facebook, Harvard University

    Before Facebook became a $3.75 billion-plus social networking corporation, founder Mark Zuckerberg was blogging about girls in his college dorm room as a Harvard sophomore. Evidently, he redirected his energies to starting Facebook -- again, from his dorm room -- in 2004.