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Aaron Levie Thinks Outside the Box to Harness the Cloud

Sometimes leaving your mark on the world doesn’t mean doing something new. It just means doing something better than anyone has before, and that’s why Aaron Levie has been honored on lists naming the Most Creative People in Business and Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30. Levie is the co-founder and CEO of Box, a cloud storage company that simplifies the way businesses store their most important data.

You don’t often hear of extremely successful industry leaders making a name for themselves by not going to college, but in 2005 Levie took a chance. Not the kind of chance that most of us take, like guessing that we have enough milk in the fridge on our drive home, only to find the carton empty. He took a life-changing chance that would have had major consequences had it not worked out.

After spotting a gap in cloud services for businesses during a college project in 2004, Levie thought he could operate a better service. The next year, as a junior at University of Southern California, he put his studies on hold to launch what would become a leader in the explosive industry of cloud storage.

Levie and a friend from Duke University launched Box in April 2005, offering businesses an easy, convenient way to store their data in the cloud. After presenting his idea to investor Mark Cuban by email, Levie received a check for $350,000 at his college dorm. That funding helped get Box off the ground. From there it soared.

Today, “the cloud” is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and Box is one of the biggest names in the industry. Both personal accounts and businesses can use Box cloud storage from just about any smartphone, tablet, or computer on the market. The company’s revolutionary business storage solution is used by more than 200,000 companies, including those with huge names, such as Procter & Gamble, Panasonic, LinkedIn, and Nationwide.

Box reported this year that 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies are paying customers. Not bad for an inventive college student with the guts to go after an industry in need of spark.

E*TRADE and Box are separate and unaffiliated companies and this article does not represent a recommendation by E*TRADE to buy any specific security.