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Guy Cimbalo

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The Whiz Kid and the Pink Slip

Posted: 08/16/2012 12:41 pm

Getting laid off at 19 sprung Kiip's Brian Wong

Plenty of 19-year-olds have gotten canned from their posts as fry chef or bus boy. Few at that age lose their full-time jobs at an Internet star and parlay it into launching their own company. Meet the rare exception: Brian Wong, co-founder and CEO of Kiip.

Graduating from college at the tender age of 18, Wong started working in business development at Digg in 2010. "My job was to integrate the Digg button with as many publishers as possible," he told us. "But no one really knows what biz dev does, so it was a ticket to be nosy everywhere. " Soon enough, Wong had learned about nearly every aspect of operations.

Unfortunately, those were dark days for Digg -- heavy competition from Facebook's Like button and a buggy new release led to layoffs, including Wong, in May of 2010. "It wasn't easy," he recalled, "a sheltered Asian child being fired at the age of nineteen."

But that's where Wong's curiosity -- and network -- paid off. Wong quickly began building Kiip which offers real world rewards in mobile games and apps (think beat a Level 4 boss, win $5 off at Best Buy), with an ex-Digg colleague and another co-founder. Investors took note, and made Wong one of the youngest entrepreneurs in history to raise venture capital ($15 million to date).

The company has quickly become a major player in the mobile advertising market and now has offices in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and London. And Wong? He's just turned 21.

Kiip is currently hiring two people for its New York offices.

Now go forth (and save the princess).

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