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Make a Million Before 30: A Young Entrepreneur Shares Five Secrets to Success

Alex_MoazedLet’s face it: There’s a certain allure to achieving the status of millionaire, especially if you can hit the mark before age 30.

The trouble is, no matter how many times we’ve heard it in songs (by rich rock stars, to be sure), money can’t buy happiness. There’s a big difference between making a living and making a life — especially one that measures wealth, in part, by what one gives back, or staying true to one’s passion and calling.

That’s what makes Alex Moazed so special. At 24, he’s easily worth millions on paper, as his company Applico is one of the world’s leading mobile application strategy, design and development firms. Headquartered in New York City, and with offices in Santa Monica and Boston, Applico has a combined staff of more than 100 people and counting.

That’s not bad for a company that began with one just guy in 2009. Moazed started developing mobile applications at Babson College, and at age 20, used his personal credit card to fund the NYC Transit BlackBerry app, one that changed the way New Yorkers use public transportation.

With regard to financials, Applico brought in more than $7.5 million over the last year, up from $2.5 million the year before — and is set to double in the year ahead. Yet when you talk to him, Moazed sounds as idealistic and positive as the kid who tinkered with apps in a dorm to see what he could accomplish.

Here are some of the pointers he provides to young entrepreneurs hoping to follow in his footsteps.

1) Love what you do more than you love money.

Sounds obvious, right? But it’s also easy to be passionate about making money while getting mired in a career that feels empty. Moazed began his entrepreneurial career by asking himself what he loved to do — then taking a deep dive to get specific. “I loved tech, and I saw a huge opportunity in mobile,” he recalls. “At first, I didn’t know apps were my passion, but they became my passion as a result of building this company that I love and adore.”  His advice? Act on your hunches rather than overthinking them: “Go try a bunch of stuff, and if you find you like something, you’ll do it a little bit more.”

2) Respond to needs that you see.

Moazed isn’t big on abstract theories of what makes for a good business. He’s producing apps to help people, based on what will improve their lives. That’s a core principle that traces itself back to his first app of the New York transit system. “If you see an area where you can effect change, why wait?” he says. “You only have more responsibilities and commitments as you get older, so find some fun stuff and get to it.”

3) Educate yourself for success.

Many young entrepreneurs dream of a business that will set them up for life, but don’t take time to learn the ins and outs of turning an idea into an entity that generates income and growth. “I really am an advocate of finishing school, and I took classes that interested me: marketing, business law, entrepreneurship classes,” Moazed says. “I found myself interested in school, because I was developing a skill set to help me build my company. There was a lot of value in me staying and getting my degree.” (He graduated with a B.S. in Business Management.)

4) Clear the decks of distractions.

If you’re living like many young adults under 30 — playing volleyball three times a week, going to lots of parties, watching every episode of “Mad Men” — you may not be ready to create a successful business just yet. Moazed is not a workaholic, but he’s big on getting laser focus to make dreams come true. Thinking back to the beginning of Applico, he notes: “In the back in my mind I knew that I had no expenses, no distractions and all this free time. I had a year and a half to work on this thing and get enough momentum, to grind at it and push it as far as I could before May 2010, when I had to go out into real world.” (And he did the grunt work while staying in school and graduating, too.)

5) Define and live by your values as you grow your business.

Moazed gets enthusiastic when he talks about how Applico embodies certain ideals he’s treasured from the beginning. “If you’re working with great people, you’re making great products,” he says. “I want to build a company that’s going to be around for a long time. I want to have amazing people, a strong value system, and a great culture. You hear so many stories about companies that have gone public, and the value system changes entirely.”

He adds: “We have no external pressures to go public in the near future. It’s an amazing thing we’ve built.”

About Lou Carlozo

Based in Chicago, Lou Carlozo is a personal finance contributor for Reuters Money, a columnist with DealNews.com, and a former managing editor at AOL's WalletPop.com. Contact him with story ideas for Money Under 30 at feedbacker@aol.com, or follow him via LinkedIn and Twitter (@LouCarlozo63).

Comments

  1. Awesome success story! … especially at such a young age. I think if you want to be a millionaire before 30 you’ve got to either start your own business, or become a celebrity. Otherwise – it’s pretty much impossible!

  2. I love my job but I am at the top wage for my health care profession (less than 50k yearly).

    I can’t imagine doing a job I hate all day to make money but I am struggling to eliminate debt and more money would be life altering.

    I am not really qualified to do anything that pays more though and I understand why so many peoples’ financial dreams are tied to big lottery win or big inheritance.

  3. This is exactly what I heard at the business conference I recently attended for my company. There are no shortcuts to being successful, and many people will become worn out on their way to success, that’s why it’s so important to love what you do! And those who dream of owning a business but can’t miss an episode of mad men, well, your dreams are gonna be just that: dreams, however beautiful they may be… Jane savers, there are opportunities out there, just keep your ears and eyes and heart open. If you want me to share one with you, please email: citrusfrost@gmail.com. If you win a lottery but can’t manage money, you will be back to square one in no time, same with inheritance…

  4. I think “millionaire success stories” like this one are misleading. Inspiring? Yes! Worthy of attention? Yes! But misleading nonetheless, because people see these stories and think, “Man, if he could do it, I can too!” The reality of it is that for every millionaire success story out there, there are 10,000 failure stories. But we don’t hear those stories. It’s not just a matter of hard work and cash flow and brilliant ideas… there’s a whole lot of luck and external factors involved too. Some people just happen to be in the right place with the right ideas and the right resources at the right time.

    • Lou Carlozo says:

      Thanks Mattie. I understand and applaud your points. Maybe this is the source of another blog post–do stories like this give readers a roadmap, or a set of unreasonable expectations?

      In reporting Alex’s story, we stuck to rule number one of journalism: Tell the truth. Alex’s story as we relate it is 100 percent true. I wouldn’t expect anyone to replicate his story in any way, and yes–luck is a key part of any business adventure. But to the extent that readers (and even the writer) can learn something from this young entrepreneur, I’m willing to take my chances.

      A future column will address the topic of money mentors. We all need someone to show us the ropes, and I know Alex at Applico is trying to grow others to share in his success.

  5. I’m not totally sold on stories like this being misleading. I’ve read many stories about people being successful at various points in life and they’ve all got commonalities. Eliminating distractions, focus and work ethic, loving what you do…Statistically, sure, there are probably more people out there who have ended up as a failure story but what’s the point of focusing on statistics when there are at least as many factors, arguably more factors, within one’s control, than without such as luck and being in the right place at the right time.
    I, for one, will read articles like this solely for the inspiration and motivation.