Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales visits school in Wembley

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales delivered a speech at the school in Wembley

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales delivered a speech at the school in Wembley - Credit: Archant

The founder of one of the world’s most popular website visited a secondary school in Wembley to speak about the secret of his success.

Jimmy Wales (second from left) poses besides Annabel Bates (third from left) by the newly applied Ar

Jimmy Wales (second from left) poses besides Annabel Bates (third from left) by the newly applied Ark Elvin symbol - Credit: Archant

Jimmy Wales, who established Wikipedia, met pupils from Ark Elvin Academy in Cecil Avenue, where he discussed his online encyclopaedia which came from a ‘dumb idea’ following a series of failures.

Since Wikipedia was set up in 2001 it has gone on to be the fifth most visited website globally.

Mr Wales talked about the various businesses that he had tried to set up beforehand including an online food ordering business, a search engine and even an initial online encyclopaedia called ‘Nupedia’ which all failed to take off.

Telling students his message is ‘Failure – Jimmy Wales is good at it’, he said: “I spent about $250,000 just on the first twelve articles. I keep all twelve of them printed out and by my bed and I read them every night – so someday I’ll get my money’s worth. It was a failed business idea. It didn’t work. ”

“Then I had a really dumb idea. A free encyclopaedia for everyone. Just open up the website and let anybody come and edit. No advertising. No sane business plan of any kind.”


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He also discussed some of the challenges of a male-dominated business and the impact of technology including Wikipedia in education.

The event yesterday was live streamed to more than100 schools to mark the launch of a series of events to promote the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.

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“It’s very important that we get students interested in STEM subjects, “Mr Wales said.

“I studied maths and finance, which gave me a strong platform to move into technology and start Wikipedia.”

Annabel Bates, Principal of ARK Elvin Academy, which was formerly known as Copland Community School, said “It was great to welcome Jimmy to our school. We try to build a sense of resilience and determination amongst our students.

“We believe mistakes are learning opportunities, and a chance for students to build their strength for future life.”

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