Yesterday was an incredibly hectic day, but I just HAD to take time to see this guy speak. His name is Robert Sek. I first met him when he came to judge a Texas Entrepreneurs idea competition last year.
I think all the entrepreneurs out there would love to hear a condensed version of his story:
- His parents immigrated from Poland to the U.S. in hopes of making a better life for their children.
- He started his entrepreneurial career and the young age of 5 by selling bubblegum in kindergarten, mowing lawns in middle school and developing web sites in high school etc. to make a buck.
- At 15 he researched during one summer break for 3 months about the legality of f ake I D’s vs. n.ove lty I D ‘s, finding that nov e1ty ID’s were 100% legal to sell because of a loophole he had found in the federal laws pertaining to ID cards.
- With this information in hand, he knew there was a legal way to make the ID’s. He then researched the in’s and out’s of starting a business.
- In his freshman year of college at the University of Texas in the Jester dorm (Same place where I lived!) he started his online n0v elty I D business.
- He went around the campus door-to-door trying to sell them with no success and a lot of discouraging words from friends.
- He then received his first order online. He charged $120 for an ID that cost him $.25 (yes, a quarter)
- Everytime he checked his mailbox he got more and more orders, sometimes 50+ at a time.
- In his freshman year he pulled in profits of $500,000! The next year he broke $1,000,000.
- The next year, the Senate held a sub-committee meeting on F a k e ID’s and the internet to close the loophole Robert had discovered. As the current largest player in the online ID business, the government went after Sek’s business just 20 days before he was about to shut it down himself. They went into his West Campus condo and confiscated everything they could find.
- No laws were broken and he decided to shut the business down.
- With his new found wealth he became an angel investor for several startup dot com’s (This was during the internet boom in Austin).
- He started a number of companies, some of which were bought out, some of which failed.
- He lost a lot of money in the dot com bust, but then made it back through other ventures such as international trading, high-tech startups, online dating sites and much more.
- He is currently the founder of an upcoming company ThermaCode which has patented a barcode technology that reports when changes in temperature have occurred. With a great technology and Robert Sek at the helm, I don’t think this company will have any trouble making untold fortunes!
The guy is a great speaker, extremely successful in his 20’s and mentors many college students on starting their own companies. It’s always great to hear him speak.