How many of us at one time or another have either had a great idea for a business plan or thought up some kind of contraption to invent that would make our lives better? How many of us didn’t have the guts, money, know-how, or all of the above, to pursue the American dream and follow through with those ideas? Those are all major deterrents to making plans or taking some kind of step to bring those dreams to fruition.
In most cases it’s just too easy for us to sit back and enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor. For instance, most of us like gum. You’ll learn about the sticky situation that led Wrigley to create his famous gum business. How about how Larry Page created the search engine Google, which is how you probably got to this article in the first place?
The famous founders you are about to learn about were all extremely different, but they had one thing in common, they made their dreams into reality. From an old, broke Colonel to a morphine addict, to even a kid, these founders pressed on and gave us some of the most famous companies of today. Those companies are some that we now can’t live without and have made the world a better place for all of us.
15. Victoria’s Secret
Roy Raymond was a 30-year-old married guy who wanted to buy his wife some sexy lingerie. When he went to buy some, the store clerk made him feel very uncomfortable. When he told his friends the story of his trip he realized that he wasn’t the only one this had happened to. He came to the realization that there was a market there with no competition, so he got a loan for $80,000 and got to work.
With a passion for tuning up race cars, Soichiro Honda was a garage mechanic who started a manufacturing company that made piston rings for Toyota. In 1944 when the United States bombed Japan, his plant was destroyed so he sold the plant’s salvageable parts to Toyota. With the money generated from that sale, he founded the Honda Technical Research Institute that made motorized bicycles.
Honda expanded his company into the billion dollar company we know today by adding motorcycles into the lineup and by 1964 they were the world’s largest manufacturer of them. Mini pick-up trucks and cars were eventually added to make his empire complete. Honda is now one of Toyota’s biggest competitors and without the interference of the United States that might not have happened.
13. Yankee Candle Company
With absolutely no money in his pocket and Christmas on its way, sixteen-year-old Michael Kittredge was at a loss as to what he could give his mother for a Christmas present. It was at that moment in 1969 that Michael Kittredge started to live the American dream by melting some crayons and making his first scented candle.
He never gave that candle to his mom though, because he sold it for a profit to a neighbor who wanted to buy it. With that profit, he made two more candles and his mom got one of those, and the other was of course sold for profit. Just like that, a business was born.
12. Under Armour
University of Maryland football player, twenty-three-year-old special teams captain Kevin Plank, hated how often he had to change out of the sweat soaked tee shirts he wore under his jersey when he practiced or played a game. During one practice he wore some compression shorts and was amazed at how dry they stayed.
In 1996 he decided to create a shirt using the same material and he got to work on it in his grandmother’s basement. His clothing line really took off when Jeff George, then Oakland Raiders quarterback, was featured on the front page of the USA Today wearing the brand. His creation of apparel that is moisture-wicking has changed sportswear forever.
Larry Page knew by the age of twelve that someday he would start a company, and boy was he ever right. As a young boy he recollects how messy his house was, filled with computers and technology and science magazines. Taking everything in the house apart to see how it worked was what he did for fun. Those magazines and computers played a major role in that.
Intrigued by the World Wide Web and how it was structured, he learned how pages on the web were linked and felt if he could create a way to track and count backlinks “The web would become a more valuable place.” I better Google that to see if he was right!
10. Trader Joe’s
Joe Coulombe, the “Joe” of Trader Joe’s, owned a chain of 7-Eleven type convenience stores called “Pronto Market.” He wanted to make them different because being in competition with 7-Eleven wasn’t working out so well for him. While he was on vacation in the Caribbean he got the idea to give his stores an appearance overhaul with a South Sea’s motif.
From his travels, Joe realized that more Americans were traveling and that these tourists would bring home different wines and foods that they could not get back in the States from their regular supermarkets. In 1967 the very first Trader Joe’s opened and it’s been Two Buck Chuck ever since.
John Pemberton was stabbed in the chest by a saber during the civil war in 1865. To ease his pain he was given morphine and he quickly became addicted. His new goal in life was to come up with a cure for his addiction to morphine. He experimented with opium-free things like coca wines, coca and the kola nut and eventually concocted his recipe for kicking addiction.
He called his medicinal elixir “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca,” boasting about its calming abilities. It’s not a big surprise to see how it can be relaxing as it was alcohol based. With all the public concern about alcoholism back then he was forced to produce a non-alcoholic alternative. The results obviously worked out well for him. He then sold his recipe because he needed money to feed his morphine addiction. So maybe it didn’t work that well for that after all!
Frederick Smith was a student at Yale who once wrote an economics paper that described an idea to make shipping packages more efficient in the United States. His research discovered that most shippers transported large packages mostly by trucks and planes. He figured it would be a good idea to ship the more essential, smaller items by plane.
Federal Express was launched in 1971, but due to rising fuel costs within three years it was almost bankrupt. With only $5,000 left in the company, Smith spent the weekend in Las Vegas playing blackjack with the last of the company’s money. He got lucky and come Monday, FedEx had $32,000 to allow the company to continue to run. The money was obviously put to good use.
When you graduate with a BS in Engineering from Princeton University with the highest honors, you expect nothing less than a complete success story. Meet Jeff Bezos who accomplished both. While working for a hedge fund company in New York City on business opportunities enabled by the internet, he couldn’t help but notice how fast the use of the internet was growing.
While driving across the country from New York to Seattle in 1994, he came up with the business plan for Amazon and quickly started it up in his garage. Without a brick and mortar store he did not have to collect sales taxes and Amazon grew to be the largest online retailer in the world.
6. Marriott International
When J. Willard Marriott was 19 years old he became a Mormon and was assigned to do church work in New England for two years. After finishing his missionary work he headed back home, going through Washington D.C. during the sizzling summer months. He spent hours watching sweaty crowds clean out lemonade, ice cream and soda pop push carts, so he decided to open up a root beer stand there.
Marriott expanded from a nine-stool root beer stand, to multiple restaurant chains and then hotels. Throughout the years his interests kept growing and he was the creator of in-flight airline food. To this day, providing airlines food services is a big part of the company. I’ll bet you didn’t know that, did you?
5. General Motors
William C. Durant dropped out of high school to work in his grandpa’s lumberyard. When provided with an opportunity he ended up partnering in a company that would become the world’s number one leading manufacturer of horse-drawn carriages. When the horse was ditched for gasoline-powered carriages, Durant was extremely skeptical because he felt they were too dangerous to ride in and he wouldn’t even let his daughter get in one.
The outcry from the public to have government regulations on the safety of these automobiles was becoming significant. Knowing they were smelly, noisy and unsafe, he saw an opportunity to make them better instead of counting on the government to do it. It ended up becoming one of the biggest companies in the world.
A Yale dropout, William E. Boeing got into the lumber business by purchasing acres of timberlands in the state of Washington. Shipping the lumber by way of the Panama Canal to the east coast became a successful business venture and made him a lot of money. That money would be used later for a new business.
Fascinated with manned flying machines, he became a pilot and bought a plane from his flying school. After cracking the plane, he was told replacement parts would not be available for months. Boeing thought that was crazy and that he could make a plane faster and better, so he did exactly that. He and a friend built a seaplane which launched the Boeing we know today.
Ferruccio Lamborghini became one of the wealthiest men in Italy by starting a very successful tractor manufacturing company. Not at all bad when you consider he was the son of grape farmers. With all the wealth he achieved he bought a lot of expensive cars like Ferraris.
The problem was his Ferraris always had clutch issues and they were never repaired properly. He was so angry that he spoke personally to Enzo Ferrari about it, and was told, “Lamborghini, you may be able to drive a tractor but you will never be able to handle a Ferrari properly.” Lamborghini told Ferrari “Your cars are rubbish,” and that’s when he set out to build the perfect car. I’d say that he did it.
At 29 years old and with just $32 in his pocket, William Wrigley moved to Chicago from Philadelphia to start a soap business in 1891. To stimulate soap sales he would give his customers free baking powder as an enticement. Surprisingly the baking powder was more lucrative than the soap so he changed the business. To motivate people to buy the baking powder he threw in some gum, and found the same problem he had before.
1. Kentucky Fried Chicken
Who doesn’t instantly begin salivating over the thought of fried chicken when they hear those recognizable initials, KFC? In terms of sales, it is the second-largest chain of restaurants in the world, behind McDonald’s.
Colonel Sanders was 65 years old when he got the idea to start selling his “finger-licking good” chicken, because his friends always told him how delicious it was, and more importantly, he was flat broke. He told over 1,000 restaurant owners he made great chicken, but none of them wanted his recipe. Finally after 1,009 tries, he got a yes and the rest is history. Pretty impressive for a guy who was 65 years old and told “No” over a thousand times.
- Ad Free Browsing
- Over 10,000 Videos!
- All in 1 Access
- Join For Free!