19 Year old Indian Gets $7 million Funding
Bangalore: We keep hearing about tech entrepreneurs who made it big when they were just in their teens, and Sahil Lavingia is no exception. What is astounding about this 19 year old though is the fact that he turned down an opportunity at Turntable.fm, left Pinterest just before it got big on the internet, and set out to become a CEO in Silicon Valley.
And if the road he’s taken isn’t interesting enough, this week had his company, Gumroad, (which has three full-time employees) raising $7 million in a Series A round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
Gumroad is like PayPal of social media, according to a report on Business Insider. “If you can share it, you can sell it. We want to democratize the ability to sell stuff online,” says Lavingia about the idea behind Gumroad. Lavingia believes there’s no need to use a site like Amazon or eBay to reach a network of shoppers when they have their own networks on Facebook and Twitter. Users can share a “buy” link to buy a particular product with their friends and when they click on it, the transaction begins. What’s unique about this proposition is the fact that when users share links, they don’t give up a percentage of the sales.
At present, you could do the same thing via eBay or Amazon or any other shopping site, but the procedure is longer. Gumroad “is a lot faster, simpler, and cheaper,” according to Lavingia, since the company takes 5 percent of sales plus $0.25 compared to eBay’s 9 percent. Amazon’s cut is way higher since it takes 50 percent after which users have to account for insertion fees (which could amount from $0.10 to $2); Apple’s iTunes too seem a lot costlier compared to Gumroad’s offering-- it gets a 30 percent cut, according to Mashable.
And considering all this growth for someone who started coding just four years ago, Lavingia’s story is pretty inspiring.“I started designing five or six years ago, but got bored making pretty pictures,” says the 19 year old who took a fancy to the iOS and eventually caught the attention of Seth Goldstein (the CEO of Turntable.fm), who got Lavingia to create the company’s iPhone app. “He’s a great coder, thoughtful, strategic,” says Goldstein. “I tried to hire him, but he wanted to start his own company.”
Says the teen: “Building a company is better than working for someone else. I wanted to see if I could do it. This was the best way to find out.”
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