How to Make the Forbes 30 Under 30 List

From Elizabeth Holmes, to Sam Bankman-Fried, to Charlie Javice, the Forbes 30 Under 30 List is a who’s who of budding white-collar criminals. If you’re college-aged, convinced of your own genius, skilled at holding grudges, and meandering towards sociopathy, you may have what it takes to scam a bunch of boomers out of millions and look really hot while doing it. Just follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Be rich, be white

Come from wealth. It doesn’t have to be extreme wealth. Just enough to make you feel entitled to things you shouldn’t feel entitled to. You should probably be white, too. If you find you cannot be white, know how to play up your non-whiteness to woo investors and media people eager to prove they’re an ally by supporting “founders from non-traditional backgrounds.” Really though, you’ll have a lot more leeway if you can just be white.

Step 2: Develop a bogus backstory

Remember that summer between junior and senior year of high school when you volunteered at a homeless shelter in Indonesia and it inspired you to dedicate your life to helping the less fortunate? Of course not, because you were actually on a family vacation in Bali. But deluding yourself into believing you serve a greater purpose is an important part of the process. It’ll help you rationalize a lot of illegal activity in the future, and investors LOVE a good origin story.

Step 3: Make sure this isn’t your first ‘startup’

A fraudulent startup runs on lots of hype and very little revenue. Show some experience with the latter by rewriting your entire resume. That lemonade stand you had as a kid was actually a “beverage distribution company serving the greater metropolitan area.” Your college dating app idea for people with ulcerative colitis? You know, the one you bribed your roommate with Adderall to code for you, just so you could get a C- on the comp sci final? It’s now a “global lifestyle / health and wellness brand with thousands of daily active users.” The only reason you walked away from it is that you’re convinced THIS startup—the one you’re raising funding for at a unicorn valuation without a minimum viable product—is the one that will change the world….of enterprise B2B SaaS.

Step 4: Be wildly charismatic

VCs don’t invest in startups—they invest in founders with a vision for how the world should work. This is a terrible investment philosophy that any 30 Under 30 aspirant can exploit with a strong social media presence and a few contrarian quotes in an article on a popular tech news website. The more pro-hustle culture nonsense you can vomit onto your Twitter feed, the better. This type of behavior serves as a sort of aphrodisiac to VCs, enticing them to open their checkbook while at the same time rendering them incapable of performing any due diligence whatsoever.

Step 5: People are mad you’re so much better than them

Keep telling yourself that as the walls start to crumble around you. The investor that had the gall to ask why you leased a private jet when you’ve yet to generate any revenue is close-minded and incapable of seeing the bigger picture. Ex-employees who told the media you’ve burned through $100M without shipping a functional prototype are jealous and don’t have the vision to try and build something themselves. The SEC agents that raided your parent’s house are conducting a witch hunt because they can’t stand to see another rich, white person who was always given the benefit of the doubt make good. They’ll all be fodder for the tell-all book you write in 2 years once you sell the company for billions.

Step 6: Make sure nothing is in writing

“How many subpoenas is a lot?” is a question you might be asking your new high-priced lawyer—paid for with money from investors who are actively suing you for fraud. Your confidence may be starting to wane at this point. If that’s the case, simply refer back to Step 2 and re-delude yourself into believing you serve a greater purpose, and that god gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. Reflect on the crucible moments of other famous tech moguls for inspiration, such as when Adam Neumann was forced out of his own company, or Elon Musk at any point in the last 6 months. “Things turned out just fine for them, and they will for me as well” you say while you shred financial documents and wipe the company hard drive.

Step 7: Make it harder for everyone who comes after you

Well, things didn’t work out quite as you planned. Your face is plastered on every major business publication in the country, and people from middle school are tweeting about how they always thought you were a piece of shit. You respond with an unapologetic tweet thread, saying you “took a big swing and it didn’t work out” and “it was a great learning experience and I’ll come back stronger next time.” At your sentencing, the judge gives you a sanctimonious lecture about how you not only failed your employees, investors, customers, and every young tech founder that comes after you—but also every member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list who wants to be taken seriously as a founder and not suspected of criminal activity. “I’m no criminal,” you think to yourself as he sentences you to 5 years in a minimum security prison.

Step 8: Open a startup consultancy

Write a memoir in prison with your whitewashed version of events. Release it when you get out and do a bunch of media interviews. Use it as a platform to launch your “startup consultancy” for founders looking for “viral marketing techniques” from a grifter ex-convict. Charge $1.8k per hour. Put “Forbes 30 Under 30” in your bio.

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