More than a dozen students at Stanford University have put their degrees on hold to join a new startup, in one of the largest-ever departures from the university’s computer science program, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Their destination is a new mobile payments company called Clinkle, which has yet to launch. Clinkle's website is currently little more than a waiting-list prompt, but according to reports, the company is developing a new way for people to ditch their wallets and pay for goods and services directly from their smartphones.
It's still unclear if the idea is tech bubble hype or something real. Small and large tech companies, like Google, have promised to deliver a decent e-wallet for consumers in recent years, but cash and cards still rule.
What is new is the volume -- and young age -- of the entrepreneurs who are are leaving behind dorm-room life to start all kinds of dot-com companies. Last month, Nick D’Aloisio, an 18-year-old computer programming whiz, sold his news aggregating tool Summly to Yahoo for $30 million, making him one of the youngest software millionaires to date.
And investors are tempting college kids to actively pursue startups with the promise of money. First Round Capital, one of the biggest venture capital groups, last fall established the Dorm Room Fund explicitly to give money to collegiate entrepreneurs. Reality TV is also looking to get in on the college-engineers-gone-wild trend: A reality-show casting company called Dorm Biz is looking for people to star in a new series.
Not everyone thinks the blurry line between an academic career and the tech gold rush mentality is such a great idea. In a New Yorker profile last year, Stanford president John Hennessy appeared to worry that too many students were preoccupied with getting rich and less interested in actually getting a decent education.
But it seems even that concern has taken something of backseat to the allure of a potential payday -- or perhaps a donation to the university. According to the Journal's story, Hennessy is also an adviser to (though not an investor in) Clinkle.
CORRECTION: The Dorm Room Fund was initially cited as an example of investors luring students away from classes. The fund is restricted to full-time students.
50-Foot-Long Mechanical Snake
This crew wanted to raise $10,000 to build a realistic 50-foot-long mechanical replica of a "Titanoboa," a giant snake species that lived about 60 million years ago. <strong>Money Raised: $10,560</strong>
Armband Solar Generator
A solar power source for your phone, tablet or laptop strapped right to your arm. <strong>Money Raised: $1,210</strong>
Lucid Dreaming Mask
This mask will help you lucid dream, enabling you to control and be fully aware of what's happening while in your dream. Pretty wild stuff. <strong>Money Raised: $572,891</strong>
Floating Pool In A River
+Pool is an eco-friendly swimming pool that would float in a river in New York City. These guys are trying to get to $100,000 in order to cover all the costs of testing all the filtration materials. <strong>Money Raised: $41,647</strong>
Zombie-Based School Curriculum
This education initiative would create an online curriculum network based around teaching geography skills through a zombie apocalypse scenario. <strong>Money Raised: $11,886</strong>
Videogame History Museum
This project will provide a place to preserve, archive, document and display classic video game hardware. <strong>Money Raised: $50,266</strong>
A $50,000 statue of RoboCop in Detroit? Sure, why not? <strong>Money Raised: $67,436</strong>
This talented high schooler is raising money to build a full-size, wearable monster costume. Based on his other work, this thing is going to look amazing. <strong>Money Raised: $3,620</strong>
Build An Animatronic Character
Just $8,000 and he will be able to build a life-sized android. Pretty cool. <strong>Money Raised: $4,800</strong>
World's Largest Jockstrap
The Guinness Book of World Records has accepted this proposal for a jockstrap 10 times the size of a normal one. <strong>Money Raised: $854</strong>
Now your smartphone can bring you soda. <strong>Money Raised: $114,796</strong>
Replica Face Of The Statue Of Liberty
A 1:1 replica of the Statue of Liberty's face sinking into the ground on Liberty Island? Yes. <strong>Money Raised: $1,555</strong>
If your face is cold, just grab a hand-knitted beard mask and warm right up. <strong>Money Raised: $413</strong>
This school would teach students how to brew their own beer. <strong>Money Raised: $3,735</strong>
Postcards From A Stranger
This guy is traveling through the midwest, and if you donate, he'll send you a custom postcard from his travels. <strong>Money Raised: $467</strong>
Also on HuffPost: