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18-year-old Londoner awarded $100k to start tech business

An 18-year-old has become only the second Brit to be awarded the Thiel Fellowship, pocketing £65,000 to start his own tech business.

An 18-year-old Brit has been awarded a $100,000 (£65,000) fellowship to move to San Francisco and start his own tech business, the BBC reports.

Andrew Brackin, from London, is one of 20 young business people to receive the Thiel Fellowship from Peter Thiel, the co-creator of PayPal and one of Facebook's first investors. Brackin will use the money to develop Bunchy, which lets charities and other organisations raise money through social networks and websites.

Brackin was selected from thousands of applicants from across the US and 48 other countries. Along with the other finalists, he had to present his ideas on stage at the Yerba Buena Centre in San Francisco, where Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPad.

"I got through the semi-finals where there was a Skype call and interviews and then the finals where they flew us out to California and we had to present our ideas on stage in front of all these important people from Silicon Valley," Brackin said.

"It was essentially The Apprentice on steroids."

The only catch is Brackin will have to forego university or any other kind of further education for at least two years. Thiel is notoriously critical of higher education, dismissing it as a waste of time and money.

But that doesn't seem to phase Brackin, who'll use the £65,000 for business costs and living expenses. "I feel that many people go to university without really thinking about what they want to do," he said. "There are other options for people who know what they want and don't necessarily need a degree to get there."

The Thiel fellowship (originally named 20 under 20) was set up 20 years ago to help teenagers to stop studying and start a businesses instead. Brackin is only the second Brit to be awarded it.

Do you think young people should be encouraged to start up their own tech businesses rather than go into higher education? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.

Image credit: BBC