Hundreds of yellow, red and blue specks quickly appear every April in the valley below the 18,000-foot summit of Kala Patthar, one of Nepal’s most popular hiking destinations. The spots are clustered on a rocky field at the edge of the snow and ice that lies in the shadows of the world’s greatest monolith, Mount Everest. They are tents that make up a temporary village known as Everest base camp. In the spring of 2008, Michael Kobold hunkered down in one of these tents and, under the curious gaze of Ang Namgel Sherpa, assembled a mechanical watch.
The owner of Kobold Watches, Michael hatched his scheme to start a watch company a decade earlier during a class project at Carnegie Mellon University; he decided to continue the venture after the class ended, essentially because he didn’t much like college and was bored. He founded the company with $5,000 when he was 19, working out of his apartment in Pittsburgh. It proved to be successful beyond expectation — in the first year he grossed $85,000. His watches now sell for as much as $10,500 each and can be found on wrists ranging from Bill Clinton’s to Bruce Springsteen’s.
“I’m still sort of amazed,” Michael says. “I didn’t think I’d be running my own watch company for more than two semesters.”
Whales for sale: How cap-and-trade could finally save Flipper. Podcast interview with Dr. Leah Gerber
Published in Grist
What ever happened to “Save the whales”?
In the 1970s and ’80s, it was the quintessential environmentalist cause, the one that anyone who cared about the earth could unequivocally rally behind. It was the topic of international negotiations and treaties, and endless campaigns from environmental groups. (“Uh-oh, that guy down the street with the long hair has a clipboard, and is that a Greenpeace T-shirt he’s wearing? Quick, act busy!”)
These days, we’ve got bigger things to worry about — climate change, mass extinction that could wipe out half of the species on the planet by mid-century, and a human population rocketing toward 9 billion.