This founder quit his 6-figure job to start a business: How he went from making $0 to paying himself $97,000

Source | | Jennifer Liu

This story is part of CNBC Make It’s Millennial Money series, which details how people around the world earn, spend and save their money.

When Jason Y. Lee was a kid growing up in Kansas, he thought earning $100,000 a year would make him rich. His parents had immigrated from South Korea to the U.S. to attend grad school, and they were still students earning very little for a lot of Lee’s childhood.

So when Lee graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009 and began earning six figures as a consultant at Bain & Company in New York City right after college, he wasn’t prepared for the shock of feeling immediately flush with cash.

“To make that much as a 21-year-old was a surprise,” Lee, now 33, says. Though he refers to the experience as an immense privilege, especially since his parents paid off his student loans, he also realized earning and spending that much money didn’t fulfill him the way he thought it would.

In the decade since, Lee has gone from earning six figures to leaving it all behind in 2012 to launch a nonprofit with his brother and friend, called the Jubilee Project, with zero take-home pay. When the company evolved and its founding members disbanded, Lee launched a new for-profit company called Jubilee Media in 2017.

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