A young man by the name of Erik Finman has received a fair amount of news in the recent weeks after it came to light that he made a six-figure profit on a bitcoin investment, and then opened his own business. In 2012, Finman received $1,000 from his grandmother and invested it in bitcoin. Mashable.com reports, nearly 18 months later, he sold his investment for $100,000 “and used the earnings to launch Botangle.com, an online tutoring service that runs on video chat.”
In a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), he said, “I’m Erik Finman, a 15-year old entrepreneur from Idaho… I owe a lot to my older brother. He told me about Bitcoins and help me get set up with 0.2 bitcoins that he gave me. And my grandmother just out of the blue gave me a $1000 check for Easter… And I just said screw it, let’s buy bitcoins with this money so I can trump my brother in how many bitcoins he had at the time.” Adding, “With my earnings I decided to address some of the negative experiences I had in the educational system. Tutoring that is focused and student-centric and engages students in ways responsive to needs and available technology became my passion.”
Finman said he didn’t think of Botangle as a company when he first started the site; rather, he simply wanted a better learning experience than he was getting from his school. He now manages a 20-person team of programmers, designers, animators, and other professionals from all over the world, not including the experts who teach classes on the site. During the AMA, he said, “I am generating money. Just not profit.” Though, I’m fairly certain things will soon change for this young man, who has big dreams and a deal with his parents. “If I make a million dollars before I turn 18,” he said, “I don’t have to go to college. I’m going to do it or die trying.” He is currently continuing his education via homeschooling.
While this story, on the one hand is a success story about how people can turn a check from grandma into a six-figure profit, and use that money to start a business; on the other hand, this is a story about how public school is failing the students. This young man was not learning what he wanted to learn, nor was it being offered by the one-size-fits-all government school. He also wasn’t able to find what he was looking for on sites like Khan Academy. In an “interview” on Yabbly, Finman said, “Kahn Academy only has videos that only help to a certain extent. With Botangle you’re connected to a live person that you can talk to. You can tell the teacher your specific problem and he can help you solve it.”
Finman told Business Insider, “I think of it (Botangle) as an online institution. I’m working on making Botangle the best website on the web for someone to completely leave the status quo education system and learn completely through the web!”
When it comes to the free market, education and starting a business, Finman has found that “you can create anything you want with no barrier to entry on the Internet.”