College Can Wait
By Phaedra Hise

(FORTUNE Small Business) – Ryan Allis, 22 Broadwick Corp. Durham, N.C. (

IN HIGH SCHOOL I HAD worked for an online health-products company, and I was fascinated with online marketing. When I enrolled at the University of North Carolina, I joined the entrepreneurs' club, where I met Aaron Houghton, a senior who had created a web-based e-mail marketing tool. In 2004 we launched our company based on his technology. Broadwick started out slowly, but sales took off after we figured out how to get to the top of Google for competitive search terms. We did just over $1 million in 2005.

I took a leave from UNC my sophomore year. My school friends and mom were supportive, but it was difficult for my father to understand that I could create a company without a degree. He grew up in an age where you went to school and got a degree and a job. I explained to him that in the corporate world I could maybe make $200,000 a year, but I wanted the chance to make $20 million or more. I told him that I wanted to use that money to give back to society. A year or so after I left school, I was making more money than he was, so he understood that it wasn't a terrible decision.

Today Broadwick has 40 employees and more than $4 million in sales. I still intend to return to school to finish my degree. But for right now, running Broadwick is a big responsibility—and a great education.