This Teenage Bitcoin Millionaire is Too Cool for School

Journalist:
June 21, 2017

Erik Finman has a fascinating life story. He grew up in Idaho, and was reportedly frustrated with his high school teachers – so much so he begged his parents to drop out. According to reports, one of his teachers even told him to drop out and work at McDonald’s, because that’s all he would be doing for the rest of his life.

When he was only 12 years old, in May 2011, his older brother Scott introduced him to bitcoin when one coin was worth about $12 by sending him 0.2 bitcoins so he could use the cryptocurrency.

Later on, his grandmother gave him $1,000 as a gift in Easter and, instead of buying tons of toys or putting it all in a savings account, Erik bought himself some bitcoins. A few years later, in late 2013, when one bitcoin was worth $1,2000, Erik decided it was time to sell, and turned his $1,000 gift into $100,000.

According to Mashable, then 15-year-old Erik used his earnings to launch an online tutoring service dubbed Botangle. At the time Mashable caught up with him, his business had 20 employees and over 100 active users who were presumably part of his target audience: frustrated students to find teachers to video chat with.

At the time, Erik Finman made it clear he wasn’t planning on going to college by betting with his parents:

I actually have a deal with my parents that if I make a million dollars before I turn 18, I don’t have to go to college. I’m going to do it or die trying

As reported by CNBC, he also used part of his money to move to Silicon Valley. There, he met interesting people including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, was mugged at gunpoint and got away thanks to an emergency button he created for his Android phone, and met an unnamed Uber executive who discouraged him and told him he was going to lose his bet.

Eventually, the young entrepreneur sold Botangle’s technology in early 2015. The investor gave him two options: 300 bitcoins (each worth little over $200 at the time) or $100,000 in fiat. Erik took bitcoin because he believed in its future. From that point on, most of what Erik has been doing is managing his bitcoin investments and working on various projects, such as NASA’s ELaNa project.

Finman managed to win the bet with his parents, as he now owns 403 bitcoins (worth about $1.09 million), and has small investments in other cryptocurrencies, including litecoin and ethereum. The young entrepreneur believes bitcoin’s best days are still to come. He stated:

Personally I think bitcoin is going to be worth a couple hundred thousand to a million dollars a coin.

College No Go

Erik Finman dropped out and never got his GED. According to his own statements, he doesn’t see any value in it as its purpose would be to later on get a job. He learned how to run a business on his own, and was quoted as saying: “Instead of writing essays for English class, I had to write emails to important people”.

His brother Scott, who introduced him to bitcoin when he was 12, now has an enterprise software company, after going to Johns Hopkins Universty at 16. His other brother Ross, who went to Carnegie Melon for robotics, is now pursuing a Ph.D. at MIT.

Nevertheless, Erik doesn’t see a lot of value in the current educational system.

The way the education system is structured now, I wouldn’t recommend it. It doesn’t work for anyone. I would recommend the internet, which is all free. You can learn a million times more off YouTube and Wikipedia.

Featured image from Erik Finman/Twitter.

Tags: Bitcoin
Francisco Memoria @FranciscoMemor

Francisco is a cryptocurrency writer who's in love with technology and focuses on helping people see the value digital currencies have. Twitter: https://twitter.com/FranciscoMemor