7 Millionaire Lessons From Whatsapp Founder Jan Koum

7 millionaire lessons from Jan Koum

What are the millionaire lessons in the rags-to-riches story of Jan Koum?

How did a poor immigrant boy who barely-spoke English manage- to accumulate a $7 billion fortune?

What do you have to do to have  entrepreneurial thinking that can propel you from…living on food stamps to becoming a self made millionaire


These  are the $16 billion questions that I have been thinking about ever since…

I heard Jan Koum signed the agreement to sell Whatsapp to Facebook .

I am sure that  you’ve never have heard of Jan Koum…

That is until Facebook Inc. made the record-breaking offer to buy Whatsapp for $18 billion


The truth is  Jan Koum started sowing the seeds for this historic feat  20 years earlier.

Why? Because his biography read like the rags-to-riches story of  successful individuals who achieved the American dream.


Just in case you don’t know him…

Jan Koum immigrated to the United States with his mum at a young age.

His family moved to Mountain View California where they lived off food stamps for a number of years. Because they could not make ends meet.

He developed an interest in computer programming at a young age. He taught himself how to write codes without any formal schooling.

He then went on to work at Yahoo Inc. as an IT engineer.

It was during his career stint at Yahoo that he made friends with Brian Acton.His friendship with Brian Acton led to the founding of Whatsapp.

And the rest they say is history

There are 7 lessons from Jan koum’s rags-to-riches journey that are important for becoming a self-made millionaire


Lesson #1 be a lifelong learner

Jan Koum had a passion for learning. When he arrived in California he had an interest in information technology

As a result, he began studying and practicing what he learned about software programing.

He studied and practiced software programing up to the point that-he gained confidence to start writing-software codes.

He became very skillful at writing codes that Yahoo Inc. hired him as an IT infrastructure engineer .

He then gained more experience in computer programming that he was able to start his own business.


The greatest mistake you can ever make in starting business is to start a business you have no insider knowledge about.

The question to ask before you start a business are:

Do you have an interest in starting business in a particular industry?

If so how much experience and knowledge of the business you want to start do you have?

If you are unable to answer yes to any of these  questions…

then you need to reconsider your decision to go

Why? Because the main reason majority of start up businesses fail is lack of knowledge  of the industry.


But you can reduce-the risk of failing in business-if you have knowledge of the business.

All you need is a desire to learn-the critical business skills-you need to succeed in the industry you want to do business.

The motivation you need  to learn the skill you need-comes from becoming a lifelong learner.


Lesson #2 be your own boss

Another important trait I found in Koum’s story that made him a millionaire is that- he chose to work for himself.

He started the idea of starting his own business in his spare time at the same time he had a daytime job at Yahoo.

According to his biography he was bored and frustrated at Yahoo after some years. So he quit his job to start his own business.

You may not have the courage to quit your job.

But you can still start your ideal business in your spare time


Most great companies started out as part time businesses whose founder had a regular job or was a student.

The roll call of businesses that started as  part-time ventures include:

  • Dell computers: started in Michael Dell’s Dorm room
  • Hewlett Packard: started in a one car garage by William Hewlett and Dave Packard in Palo alto
  • Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in his dorm room at Harvard
  • Microsoft Inc.: Bill Gates and Robert Allen founded Microsoft after spending their term holidays writing software at the university of Seattle

Motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, says, “When you work at your job you make a living. When you work on yourself you make a fortune.”

The moral of Rohn’s statement :  in other to become wealthy you must be willing to become self-employed.

You must be willing to get rid of the 9-5 attitude  that most working class Americans have towards their jobs.

The best way to develop a work-for-yourself attitude is: you must see yourself as self-employed.


Lesson #3 Develop specialized knowledge

Jan koum had specialized knowledge of computer programming.

He built his business with his -specialized knowledge of software apps -that allows smartphone users to connect with each other.

Studies have shown that individuals that have specialized knowledge in a particular niche earn on the average higher income than their peers in the same industry.

In his book think and grow rich, Napoleon Hill identified the possession of specialized knowledge as one of the steps in the attainment of riches.

The more specialized you become in your business the lesser the competition you’ll have in your industry. The more you’ll earn than your peers.

Koum’s company had specialized knowledge of Information technology . This  made it a desirable target for acquisition by Facebook Inc.