My name is John Accardi. I’m 25 years old, I live in Washington, DC and 5 months ago, I dropped out of the Neuroscience PhD program at Georgetown University.
Not only was I on a full scholarship, but I was being paid to attend. So why did I drop out? It’s very simple. I didn’t enjoy what I was doing. A PhD program in the biological sciences is more like a job than it is school. I was required to attend classes occasionally but the majority of my time was spent in the lab. I would do things like implant fiber optic cables in rats’ brains or illuminate and observe the structure of proteins and cells in thin slices of brain tissue under the microscope. While it sounds cutting-edge and exciting, there was a limitation that came along with it. I had to work for someone else, read what they told me, work how they told me, when they told me. I wanted more freedom and I wanted to make more money! As these thoughts churned in my head, I found myself counting down the minutes each day to escape from the lab and work on other projects.
PartyHouse Pong is an online store that sells beer pong tables. I got the idea from my college days when 3 friends and I shared a house. There was a beer pong table in our living room and we played almost every night. We would fill the cups with water, so that we didn’t have to drink alcohol and we’d just play it like a sport. With time, I mastered all the game’s rules, tips, and tricks. So when deciding what to sell online, I thought beer pong tables would make a great product. Not only would I showcase the tables but I could share my knowledge as well.
CollegeBox is a business that sells college care packages. These are boxes full of snacks and treats that parents can send their children at college. I came up with this idea because in college, I had received care packages from my parents. They would buy the packages that were offered by the school. The school either made the packages themselves or sourced them from a 3rd party vendor. I was shocked at the poor quality of these packages and my friends weren’t impressed either. I figured I could do a better job.
I had only just begun working on these projects when I started thinking about dropping out of Georgetown. I took a good look at practical things like savings, cost of living, health insurance, and my ability to find another job if the businesses didn’t work out. After some analysis, I worked up the courage, dropped out of grad school, and started chasing my dreams full-time.
Now, 5 months later, I couldn’t be happier with the decision I made. Every day is unique and exciting. I feel like every minute of work that I do is important and meaningful. I think it’s amazing that I was able to start these 2 businesses with next to no startup capital. And better yet, they’re already profitable! PartyHouse Pong is consistently selling tables and CollegeBox is the official care package provider for The Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, Louisburg College, and has many more agreements in the works.
I tell people that if you’re in a job you don’t enjoy, make plans to get out. Being successful in business has less to do with capital and connections and more to do with effort.