Some people are born into money but the path to riches is a long seemingly impossible one for most of us. We shouldn’t forget however that there are plenty of businessmen out there who managed to get to the top despite starting with next to nothing. Such success stories bear witness to the strength of entrepreneurship and to the real value that can be generated from undying vision and determination on the part of the committed entrepreneur.
Not only does this bunch run their own empire today and enjoys the admiration of the business world but they have succeeded in overcoming some of the hardest challenges imaginable to do so. The five examples below can encourage the entrepreneurs everywhere, showing that with a lot of hard work and the right idea there is no reason your company couldn’t graduate from the big business leagues.
Jan Koum founder of WhatsApp
A lot of eyebrows were raised when the popular mobile messaging service Whatsapp was acquired by Facebook in February 2014 for a record $19 billion. Even more so when device maker Jan Koum history came to light.
Koum was born in the suburbs of Kyiv, Ukraine, a small village where his father works as a labourer and his mother was a housewife. Their house apparently often without hot water was struggling to make ends meet. At the age of 16, Koum and his mother emigrated to California.
Whereby sweeping a grocery store floors and collecting food stamps he would support them. In his free time, Koum studied hardware and became a highly skilled computer hacker by the age of 18. He took up a job at Yahoo as a network developer in 1997. He is said to have bought an iPhone in January 2009 and have quickly realized the potentially lucrative software industry it could spawn. He incorporated WhatsApp Inc. in California on his birthday 24 February 2009. As they say, the rest is history.
Oprah Winfrey: Media Moghul
Oprah Winfrey is now a widely recognized global entertainment icon, but it was far from glamorous, to begin with. Oprah spent much of her childhood living with her grandmother who was so poor that she could only afford to clothe her with potato sackcloths. Winfrey then fled an abusive home aged13 and her newborn child died shortly after birth when she was just 14 years old.
She then returned for a brief time to live with her mother, before being sent to live with her father. It was here that Oprah got her life turned around. First by sealing a full university scholarship and then winning a beauty pageant (where a radio station discovers her). The name Oprah developed into an empire from there. She is now worth $3 billion, Forbes reports.
Founder of Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad
As Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad grew up on a farm in rural Sweden, he showed a passion for entrepreneurship in his early years with a wide range of short-lived projects. He was well known locally for selling anything he could get his hands on to his neighbours from matches and pens to decorations for Christmas and fish.
He decided soon to start a mail-order business(his father used the money to reward him for good grades) which would eventually become Ikea. Early on furniture emerged as one of Kamprad's best selling products as a result of using it to keep production cost and customer prices low from local manufacturers. Once one of the richest men in the world, its worth has significantly shrunk but it still stands at an impressive $3.8 billion.
Forever 21 founders Jin sook & Do-won chang
IN 1981, husband and wife Do Won Chang and Jin-sook moved to America from Korea. With little to their name, Do-won has worked as a concierge, gas station attendant and in a coffee shop to support them in three low paid jobs. They opened their first clothing store in California in 1984 then called fashion 21.
The one store turned over $700,000 in its first year and the forever 21 brands have grown into a multinational empire of 480 stores worldwide, producing revenue of up to $3 billion a year. Forbes estimates the net worth of the pair to be around $5 billion.
Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich
There are many conflicting reports surrounding the enigmatic oil and football tycoon RomanAbramovich's early business endeavour. Nonetheless, one thing all this report agree on is that Abramovich's upbringing did not make his path to a luxury life straightforward.
Both Abramovich's parents died when he was just four years old and his uncle and grandmother raised him. He is said to have started his business career when he received a costly wedding gift from his in-laws, which he sold for money. Throughout his time studying in Moscow, a number of entrepreneurial schemes reportedly range from the sale of toys, designer clothes and even rubber ducks. He made the majority of fortune in the 1990s from a series of contentious oil export transactions and is now estimated to be worth about $9 billion.