In May this year, 19 year old Diwank Singh Tomer joined 19 other young and exceptional youngsters from around the world to become a Thiel Fellow. The Thiel foundation’s fellowship comes with a $100,000 cheque and access to some of the greatest mentors of our times not least of whom is the legendary Peter Thiel – PayPal co-founder and Facebook’s first investor.
Tomer is now working on a platform to create interactive lessons in basic sciences in the mecca of technology– the Silicon Valley.
It isn’t often that a youngster–schooled in the hills of Mussoorie and a college dropout– makes it that far at 19. Tomer’s journey is both fascinating and inspiring.
It all started when he was eight when his mother took him to a summer coding camp.
“I also turned out to be pretty good at it and had a small article about me in the local newspapers when I was 8,” says Tomer, who was hailed as an “exceptional hacker,” by the Thiel foundation.
Born in small town India, he was sent to boarding schools by parents who wanted him to get better education. In 10th standard, he scored 98% marks, studying at the Wynberg Allen School.
“I really picked up a good hold on spoken English there as well,” says Tomer, who completed high school in Delhi Public School in R K Puram, New Delhi. This is where he really started to learn coding.
After school, he joined a premier engineering college in Goa and dropped out in just a month, last September. “It was probably the most rewarding (and the most frightening) decision of my life and I don’t regret it at all,” he said and hastens to add that he has nothing against the institute.
“Just that, spending 4 years of my life getting a degree rather than working on things that I am passionate about seem like a poor investment of my time.” Dropping out of college to become an entrepreneur has been an incredibly exciting and humbling experience for him because of his love for building things.
Tomer is the first technology entrepreneur in his family so it took some time to explain what he was up to, but his family has been supportive of his journey.
“The worst case scenario would have been that I failed, learned quite a bit and went back to college,” he said. After dropping out, he flew to the bay area where he met like minded people.
“Dropping out is definitely a bit more acceptable here (US) exponentially more so in the Silicon Valley where it’s even encouraged to some extent,” he says. In the US, he adds, that many schools have options to take a gap year or rejoining college within a few years.
In the months to come, he has plans to prototype his idea, hire a team and raise funds to support his venture.