Once upon a time, being a nerd wasn’t so cool. You got stuffed into lockers and spent weekends playing video games in your mother’s basement. Okay, so that last part may still be true, but nowadays, engineers/developers/scientists/etc are at the top of the food chain and ‘nerd’ is the new cool.

This rebranding of nerd into goddess or stud is perhaps due in part to TV shows like The Big Bang Theory, where dressing up in superhero undies and knowing the mathematical probability of solving a Rubik’s cube makes you a grade-A babe. But in the real world, the cool factor nerds now enjoy has more to do with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Evan Spiegel, Garrett Camp, and countless others whose soaring IQs and boundless innovation have earned them a status previously reserved for rock stars.


Once teeth chattering fraidy-cats, tech nerds are tenaciously taking on the world, aiming for the stars, and swimming Scrooge style through billions in cash and valuable stock options. Sure, each newly anointed billionaire stands atop the smouldering ashes of failed wannabes; but that’s just consequential damage en route to rock star status, and ultimately, the cost one pays for changing the world. Let’s just hope these power-wielding nerds never forget Spiderman’s cardinal rule: with great power, comes great responsibility.

Not everyone will be lucky enough make it to rock star status in the app world. It takes a killer idea, backed up by extreme amounts of hard work, tireless perseverance, thick skin and the ability to hunt out opportunities like an ant to food. However for those that get there, the reality is ironically, unreal.

Take Ben Silbermann, one of Pinterest’s original founders for example. The idea for this popular photo sharing site came to him one day while pinning dried insects to cardboard!

Yes, you read that right.

Yet that simple, super geeky, marginally grotesque hobby, has netted this unassuming guy turned rock startup, a cool $1.57b.


Another good example of nerd gone rock star is Jack Ma, rejected by Harvard 10 times and couldn’t even land a job selling greasy chicken for KFC (for real). He went on and founded Alibaba, one of the world’s most successful companies. It would be fair to say that Jack Ma is winning at life these days and could buy the entire KFC franchise many times over.

In true rock startup form, we heard that Ma also likes to entertain his employees by performing as celebrities, like Lady Gaga. Oh, the things you can do when you’re an eccentric billionaire! You’re a rock star to us Ma!

One thing we assume a lot of tech entrepreneurs have in common, is that none of them likely felt like the cool kids in school. As Snapchat’s co-founder, Bobby Murphy, told Forbes,

“We weren’t cool, so we tried
to build things to be cool.”

Ah, so that’s how billion dollar apps are born.

Success means different things to different people and it isn’t always about the money. However these particular people have reached extreme heights and earned subsequent fortunes, so we can only praise them for what they’ve done. Like rock stars, it takes years to become an ‘overnight sensation’.

So what’s your story? Are you the next rock startup waiting backstage for your moment?

Here’s a few take-aways to ponder while you’re dreaming about your big idea. Most tech entrepreneurs share these qualities, and you’d do good to emulate them too:

  1. Take action & be fearless – tech entrepreneurs are mere mortals, just like the rest of us. A lot like rock stars, they got where they are by taking chances and giving it everything they’ve got. You’ve got to get up and give it a go. Don’t wait for opportunity to come knocking.

  2. Hard work – a common misconception about billionaire tech entrepreneurs, is that they live life on Easy St. That might be true in some respects, but by and large, none of these rags to riches success stories were born with a silver spoon in their mouth. They worked hard from day one, and that didn’t stop once they hit it big. On the contrary, the hungry days are just the beginning, and real work goes hand in hand with playing in the big stadiums.

  3. Seek help – no one is an island. Behind every successful entrepreneur are angel investors, advisors, customers, friends, family and of course, your team… your manager, band or entourage. Dapper plays on your side of the stage and can help ensure your show goes on without a glitch.
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