How to make $ 9 Billion out of Fear Of Needles


Meet the youngest Billionaire on the Forbes 400 list for 2014: Elizabeth Holmes, all of 30 years old. She is the Founder and CEO of Theranos, a company that is set to revolutionize laboratory testing of blood.


None of the factors that went into the making of this Med-Mogul seemed like they would do her any good. For starters, she dropped out of Stanford. What next- she pumped every last penny from her college fund into a research project. All this, when she was 19 years old.


“I think a lot of young people have incredible ideas and incredible insights, but sometimes they wait before they go give their life to something,” she said. “What I did was just to start a little earlier,” she said in an interview to CNN Money.


To Holmes, the needle is no less than an instrument of torture. There’s gotta be a better way, she thought. She feels strongly about the need for active health care in day to day life, and through her technology, she overcomes both barriers that generally come in one’s way of getting themselves routinely checked- the time consumed and the pain administered.


[Picture Credits: Wired]


In the same interview, she reflects, “My father worked in disaster relief and so I grew up in a house that had pictures of all these little children in really tough parts of the world. I was absolutely convinced that was what I was going to do. Then when I started realizing that a company could be a vehicle for having very direct impact over a change that you are trying to make, I started thinking about the concept of what could I build that could impact a lot of peoples’ lives?”


The $76 Billion laboratory industry has not witnessed a state of the art touch since the 1960s. Holmes’ initiative was the much needed pinprick that it required- quite literally.  With their relatively pain free pin-prick method, the one drop of blood extracted can be tested for over 70 conditions.


For the first leg of her business, she raised$ 400 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Larry Ellison, among others. Until their services were legitimized, she operated Theranos in absolute secrecy, to avoid potential competitors or investors who could fund a competitor.


And now, 11 years down, this company has been valued at $9Billion Dollars, with Holmes having held 50 percent of the stakes. And she’s not stopping any time soon: her aim is to have this service available to every American within 5 miles, or even every 1 mile for her big-city friends. She has given up her social life, does not date, doesn’t own a television and hasn’t taken a vacation since longer than she can remember. This very dedication has made her America’s youngest Billionaire.