By Zachary Laubernds,
Money and Investing Writer
Imagine if you were to drop out of college right now with the hopes of making millions with the money you’ve saved for school.
Seems extremely unlikely right? Well that’s exactly what Elizabeth Holmes did, and eleven years later she has become America’s youngest female billionaire.
Holmes was a sophomore at Stanford University in 2003 when she decided to drop out and use the money she had saved for college to start a business.
What was going through this 19 year old engineering school dropout’s mind? Blood. Holmes’ company, Theranos, has revolutionized phlebotomy.
Phlebotomy, the science of extracting blood, has been around for nearly 3,000 years and has gone pretty unchanged, that is until Theranos.
They have developed a technology that allows for more extensive testing on less of a sample for a smaller cost than that of commercial labs.
This idea of doing more with less and faster, comes from Holmes’ desire to give everyone the opportunity to keep an eye on their own health and that of their loved ones.
The technology that Theranos is utilizing also eliminates the use of needles, with just a small prick on the finger Theranos has all the blood they need to do tests (up to 70 tests with a sample the size of a dime).
So far Theranos has climbed to a worth of about $9 billion, Elizabeth Holmes’ 50 percent ownership values her at about $4.5 billion.
Both of those numbers are expected to rise astronomically in the coming years following an announcement made by Walgreens, the largest retail pharmacy chain in the U.S., that they plan on introducing Theranos health centers in their 8100 pharmacies nationwide.
Holmes’ was able to grow Theranos through the investments of venture capitalists like billionaire Larry Ellison. She also has assembled a “super board” comprised of former statesmen, including George Schultz and Henry Kissinger.
Although the company has already grown exponentially since it was started in 2003, Holmes has bigger goals.
She hopes that one day there will be a Theranos wellness center within 5 miles of ever American and 1 mile for those living in big cities.
Holmes wants to be able to provide an affordable and painless experience for all that need it.
“It’s bringing the testing closer to where people live and also changing the hours of operation, so that on a weekend or late at night you can get access to these tests.
You don’t have to leave work, leave your job during the day,” Holmes said. Where did a 19 year old get the drive and desire to create such an amazing technology? Well the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, Elizabeth’s father, Christian Holmes IV, has spent his life as a humanitarian and has held several executive positions at USAID.
It is clear that money was not the driving force behind this company though and that’s clear in many aspects of Theranos.
For example, the price of all 1000 tests that Theranos offers are listed on their website due to Holmes’s support of transparency in health care.
Elizabeth Holmes had an idea she felt strong about, and went as far as to drop out of college to realize that idea and now she has successfully grown it into a $9 billion company; so who knows, maybe you could be the world’s next youngest billionaire.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 21st print edition.
Contact Zachary at