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Famous and Successful Entrepreneurs List - Page 2

  • Berry Gordy – Founder of Motown Records

The Motown story is the story of Berry Gordy, Jr., who was born in Detroit, Michigan on November 28, 1929. His father ran a plastering contracting business and his mother sold insurance and real estate. When Berry got out of the Army 1953, he opened a jazz-oriented record store called the 3-D Record Mart that was financed by the Berry family. By 1955, the store had failed and Berry was working on the Ford automobile assembly line. While working on the line, Berry constantly wrote songs, submitting them to magazines, contests and singers. Gordy decided to take total control of his songs, so on January 12, 1959, he borrowed $800 from his family's loan fund to start his own record label (not Motown). In 1959, Berry started his 2nd record label called Motown. Motown went on to become a stable in American music.

  • Ingvar Kamprad - IKEA

IKEA is still one of the largest, most successful privately held companies in the world, with over 200 stores in 31 countries, employing over 75,000 people and generating over 12 billion in sales annually. At an early age, he learned that he could buy matches in bulk from Stockholm and sell them at a fair price, but a good profit. He reinvested his profits and expanded to fish, seeds, Christmas tree decorations, and pens and pencils. At age 17, Kamprad's father gave him a nice reward for doing well in school. What did he spend it on? He founded IKEA.

  • Wayne Huizenga - Blockbuster

Wayne Huizenga is a man of distinction. He's the only person in history to build three Fortune 1000 companies practically from scratch: Waste Management, Blockbuster Entertainment and AutoNation. He is the only person to have developed six NYSE-listed companies. He also owns the Miami Dolphins. At one time he owned the Florida Marlins baseball team and the Panthers hockey team as well.

  • J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling was once living on public assistance in a tiny Edinburgh flat with her infant daughter, Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone at a table in a café during her daughter's naps - and it was Harry Potter that rescued her. The Harry Potter series is known around the world. Each release breaks sales records around the world. On success, author J.K. Rowling stated that the fact she can say she is a published author was the fulfillment of a dream she wished upon since she was a child.

  • Jeff Bezos – Amazon.com

Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon.com. Amazon is consistently ranked as one of the top retail sites on the Internet and offers over one million titles via its Web site, located at http://www.amazon.com. After graduating from Princeton summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1986, Bezos joined FITEL, a high-tech start-up company in New York. Jeffrey showed intense and varied scientific interests at an early age. He rigged an electric alarm to keep his younger siblings out of his room and converted his parents' garage into a laboratory for his science projects. After coming up with the format of a book selling website, Bezos first tried to get his employers at the time to do the site. They turned him down. At that point he knew the only to get his idea into reality was to go into business for himself which meant leaving his secure job. The rest shall we say is Amazon history.

  • Ervin “Magic” Johnson – Magic Johnson Enterprises

After retiring his jersey from basketball, Magic Johnson has went on to develop many enterprises across the United States. Some of his ventures include: a record label, a movie production company, coffee houses, restaurants and entertainment complexes. Magic also started a foundation called the Magic Foundation. Magic Johnson gives a new meaning to the word entrepreneur. His legacy being defined more off the court than on the court.

Munson Steed - Steed Media

Publisher of the Atlanta-based magazine Rolling Out focusing on mainstream reviews of celebrity, entertainment, movies, politics, and society. Distributed throughout Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Newark, N.J., Miami, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, and Memphis. Employs over 400 people nationwide.

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Kirk Perron - Jamba Juice

A visionary from the start, Kirk Perron – founder of Jamba Juice, had a passion for health and fitness that led to the creation of Juice Club. Kirk left a 10-year career with Safeway and Vons grocery stores to create a place where good nutrition is synonymous with great-tasting, fast food. His commitment to providing the best possible experience for all Jamba Juice customers guides the company’s growth. A popular speaker on Entrepreneurship, Life Balance, and Customer Service, Kirk founded his company on his passion for healthy living and his belief that customers come back based on their experience – and the experience at Jamba Juice is not only healthy, but FUN!

Dineh Mohajer - Hard Candy

Not long ago, Dineh Mohajer was a pre-med student. In class, while others concentrated on the blackboard, she focused on such matters as whether her nail polish matched her purse. Then one day in 1995, the fashion-crazy Mohajer (mo-HA-zher) was wearing pale blue sandals and couldn't find nail polish to match. She decided to concoct a batch in her bathroom sink. She wore it, strangers noticed, and soon her racy nail polish company, Hard Candy, was born. She now has 40 employees churning out 60 provocatively named shades like Trailer Trash (metallic silver) and Sushi (aqua). Stars like Madonna and Winona Ryder seek out their favorite colors.

Kermit Heartsong - Word Origin
President and founder of Word Origin, a San Francisco puzzle and game company, make games out of words; he knows words are no game. In 1987 while supervising a neighborhood program for latchkey kids, he asked one 13-year-old to spell ladder. "He began with an S," Heartsong recalls. "And when I showed him the word, he still had no idea what it was. He was completely illiterate."
Heartsong, 37, decided to develop Articulation Family, a game that makes vocabulary skill-building fun. Word Origin, launched in 1990, is 30 games strong and valued over $5 million.

John and Kim Puckett - Caribou Coffee

Caribou Coffee is an American success story. Founded by John and Kimberly Puckett, Caribou Coffee began with two small shops in Minnesota and currently has over 130 stores in six states. Caribou Coffee has marketed itself as "the best neighborhood gathering place," serving the highest-quality coffee. As a result, Caribou coffeehouses are located primarily in neighborhoods, designed to be warm and comfortable with plenty of seating, and staffed by enthusiastic servers. In order to be a leader in coffee quality, the company invested in state-of-the-art roasting and packaging equipment. Caribou Coffee is the official coffee served on Delta Airlines flights and is the on-the-shelf gourmet coffee of Target stores.

Greg Maples - High Tech Burrito

Greg Maples, fresh out of the U.S. Marine Corps founded High Tech Burrito. Maples found the inspiration for his business in memories of his high school hangout - popular for its tasty burritos but with one unpleasant catch: “We called them 'gut bombs' because you'd eat them and then feel bad,” Maples says. Determined to create a burrito that would satisfy taste buds and rummy alike, Maples began serving international-style burritos using low-fat ingredients. “It's been neat to see an industry [of wrap burritos] created from a part of my menu,” says Maples. Today, his San Rafael, California-based High Tech Burrito boasts 275 employees in 15 locations throughout the Bay Area and a menu-topping Godzilla Burrito that weigh in at 1 1/2 pounds.

John Pasmore and Eddison Bramble

John Pasmore and Eddison Bramble Company: New Image Media Inc. Started in 1994

A passion for fashion - that's the inspiration behind a New York City magazine publishing house, founded by John Pasmore and Eddison Bramble. Pasmore, a magazine publisher, and Bramble, a photographer, combined their talents to launch New Image Media. Their magazines strive to uncover the chic and the vogue. They've come a long way since their first release, a magazine showcasing the work of professional hair stylists. Today, the partners' smart, glossy magazines include Elite Hair and Modern Hair and Style, featuring hairstyles and ethnic beauty supplies, and one world, targeting multicultural Generation Xers with articles on art, music and fashion.

Jennifer Barclay - Blue Fish Clothing

In 1985 at the age of 17, Jennifer Barclay started a company called Blue Fish clothing in the garage. At the time, she was attending Temple University in Philadelphia. For one hundred dollars she bought the first T-shirts, creating the Blue Fish label. Barclay answered the mediocre offerings in the stores with art-influenced colors and design combinations worked into the dyed shirts she sold. A true entrepreneur, in 1986, Barclay borrowed $4,000 from her parents to set up a booth at a New York wholesale trade show. From that show she wrote $110,000 in orders. In 1987, the first of several stores was opened. This flagship store is in Frenchtown, NJ, which has a selling space of 1,267 square feet.

successful business owners

Jasmine Lawrence - Eden Body Works

Jasmine Lawrence lost all of her hair at age 11 after a bad relaxing perm. Jasmine vowed to never use harsh chemicals on her hair again and started researching how to create her own all-natural hair products. In less than a year, Jasmine found the perfect mixture of hair products. After attending a camp for young entrepreneurs, Jasmine had another big idea—to start her own business. She found ingredients and learned how to import them all on the Internet! Now at age 15, Jasmine is CEO and founder of Eden Body Works, named for the Garden of Eden where everything was pure and natural. Under Lawrence's leadership, EDEN Body works has experienced tremendous growth with a rapidly expanding customer base. Her products, such as the jojoba all natural hair oil spray, are currently being sold in seven states.

Christopher Paul Gardner - Pursuit of Happiness

Christopher Paul Gardner is a self-made millionaire, entrepreneur, motivational speaker and philanthropist who, during the early 1980s, struggled with homelessness in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco California while raising his toddler son, Christopher. Gardner's personal struggle of establishing himself as a stockbroker while managing fatherhood and homelessness is portrayed in the 2006 major motion picture The Pursuit of Happiness, starring actor Will Smith. Christopher Gardner is the CEO of his own stockbrokerage firm, Gardner Rich, based in Chicago, Illinois where he resides when he is not living in New York City.

Reginald Francis Lewis - Beatrice

Reginald F. Lewis (December 7, 1942 - January 19, 1993), an African American born in Baltimore, Maryland, was one of the most successful business leaders during the 1980s. He grew up in a middle class Baltimore neighborhood. He won a football scholarship to Virginia State College (now Virginia State University), graduating with a degree in economics in 1965. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1968.Upon graduating from law school, Lewis went to work for the prominent New York City law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Two years later, he struck out on his own, founding one of Wall Street's first African American law firms, Murphy, Thorpe & Lewis. The firm later evolved into Lewis & Clarkson and specialized in venture capital.Reginald F. Lewis was best known for his unprecedented leveraged buyout of Beatrice International Food Companies in 1987, creating TLC Beatrice. The deal was notable both as the biggest acquisition of overseas assets by any American company and because it rendered TLC Beatrice the largest African American business in the United States. Lewis was also a well known philanthropist, and his hometown of Baltimore honored him posthumously with the 2004 opening of a cultural museum bearing his name.

John Davison Rockefeller, Sr - Standard Oil Company

John Davison Rockefeller, Sr. (July 8, 1839 – May 23 1937) was an American industrialist and philanthropist who played a pivotal role in the establishment of the oil industry, and defined the structure of modern philanthropy. Rockefeller strongly believed that his purpose in life was to make as much money as possible, and then use it wisely to improve the lot of mankind. In 1870, Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company and ran it until he retired in the late 1890s. He kept his stock and as gasoline grew in importance, his wealth soared and he became the world's richest man and first billionaire.

Alvaro Z. Gallegos - Z-Coil

Alvaro Z. Gallegos is the founder and the inventor of the Z-Coil shoe.Mr. Gallegos was an avid runner for many years. And like many runners, he eventually began to experience knee and back pain from the impact associated with running. Runners typically deliver 3 to 5 times their body weight to the striking heel, and even the impact of walking is 1 to 1.5 times a person's body weight. Little wonder that impact is commonly regarded as a major cause of foot, leg, and back pain. Realizing that he needed some sort of protection against this type of pain and injury, Al embarked on a mission to develop a shoe that would not only protect against impact, but could also be adjusted to compensate for other foot, leg and back problems. After years of research and experimentation, he created Z-Coil® footwear—and launched a whole new industry of Pain Relief Footwear TM.

David M. Overton - Cheesecake Factory

David M. Overton, the founder of the first Cheesecake Factory opened his first restaurant in Beverly Hills, California, in 1978. Overton's goal was to showcase a model dessert specialty restaurant for prospective foodservice customers of the wholesale bakery. The restaurant established the future chain's pattern of offering an eclectic menu, big portions, and signature cheesecakes, and the chain became a multi-million-dollar sales performer. The company went public in 1992.Cheesecake Factory restaurants are well known for their extensive menus, custom lavish décor and large portions. The company was the first restaurant chain to reach a billion dollars in revenues with fewer than 100 restaurants in operation.The Cheesecake Factory, Inc. is the ninth-largest restaurant company in the United States measured by market capitalization. The company operates 123 full-service, casual dining restaurants under The Cheesecake Factory name in major metropolitan areas in the United States.

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Jerry Yang and David Filo - Yahoo

The pair responsible for Yahoo! are the imaginative and brainy team of David Filo and Jerry Yang. While the two were students at Stanford's graduate school in engineering, they discovered a shared obsession with making lists of their favorite web sites. In 1994, they decided to consolidate their lists and make them available to the public on the Web. (Their data was kept on their Stanford computers, "Akebono" and "Konishiki," legendary Hawaiian sumo wrestlers.) Soon, the extracurricular project was taking up so much time that the pair dropped out of school and converted Yahoo! into a customized database, using specially-designed software. In 1995, they moved their operation onto larger computers at Netscape Communications. Almost immediately after Filo and Yang officially founded Yahoo!, they were able to get funding for their pet project from venture capitalists eager to see the Web turn a profit. Another Stanford engineering grad, Tim Koogle, spearheaded the effort to make Yahoo! turn a profit, and it has since August 1995.

Michele Hoskins - Michele Foods

Michele Hoskins is owner and founder of Michele Foods, Inc., a multi-million dollar company that produces Honey Creme Syrup, Butter Pecan Syrup, and Maple Creme Syrup, as well as other fine food products. The company’s products can be found in more than 10,000 food stores nationwide, including Stop & Shop, Super Wal Mart, Albertson, Kroger, Publix, Super Target, Cub Foods, H.E. Butt Grocery, Jewel Foods, Safeway and Dominick’s Finer Foods. Michele was awarded the 2002 “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Women’s Foodservices Forum. Her success has been legion.

She took a generations-old family recipe and turned it into a multimillion-dollar corporation that produces Honey Crème Syrup. The tradition in her family, as set by her great-great-grandmother, America Washington, was to pass down a syrup recipe to the third daughter of each generation. Hoskins, the only girl born to her parents, persuaded her reluctant mother to give her the recipe for her own third daughter, Keisha. This beloved family recipe would become Hoskins’s saving grace. In the midst of a bitter divorce, a custody battle, and a part-time teaching career that left her financially strapped, Hoskins decided to create a business around her great-great-grandmother's syrup recipe.Michele Hoskins is the president and CEO of Michele's Foods, Inc. she believes people should have a passion for what they want to do, be willing to persevere, and have the patience to let it happen. She cites those "three P's" as cornerstones in her success at starting her own business.

Andreas von Bechtolsheim - Sun Microsystems

German-born electrical engineer invested $200,000 in a quirky search engine in 1998. Google returned the favor—and $1.5 billion. Andy co-founded Sun Microsystems as a graduate student at Stanford. Launched network-switch outfit Granite Systems sold it to Cisco for $220 million. Seeded a few computer design tool firms, such as publicly traded Magma Design Automation.Andreas von Bechtolsheim also invented the "Stanford University Network workstation" that eventually became the Sun-1 Workstation and was instrumental in launching other successful Sun products, including the SparcStation 1.

Kathy Ireland - Kathy Ireland Co.

Whose modeling heyday ran from 1984 to 1994. Today her company—Kathy Ireland Worldwide—employs 37 and sells everything from window blinds to sofas. Annual sales run to $1.4 billion, and Forbes estimates Ireland's annual take at $10 million."I never felt comfortable earning a paycheck off of how someone perceived how I looked," Ireland told NEWSWEEK.

Nolan Bushnell - Chuck E. Cheese

A Utah inventor brought the world new kinds of fun: computer games and family-friendly restaurants with game facilities. His work on electronic entertainment led to a multibillion-dollar industry.Bushnell founded a company, Atari, to market it and other products, like Asteroids. In 1975, Atari released a version of Pong that could be played on television sets, in partnership with Sears. The following year, Bushnell sold his company to Time Warner for $28 million. By 1982, it was a $2 billion cash cow.Bushnell himself founded the Chuck E. Cheese's "entertainment restaurants," a nationwide chain of pizza parlors with video gaming for children and their parents.Since the mid-1980s, he has been involved with more technology start-ups; his latest venture, uWink, is an entertainment software company that develops games for a range of platforms, from cell phones to amusement parks.

Lisa Hammond - Femail Creations

Lisa Hammond founded the now multi-million dollar company Femail Creations in 1996. The mail order catalog and website was born out of a passion to empower and inspire women. Lisa didn’t want to let the fact that she had no prior direct marketing experience stop her—and she didn’t. Femail Creations focuses on supporting women artists and women business owners.“Attitude is so important - That is the key to success! Most of the skills you need can be learned, but a positive outlook is hard to teach.”

Tomima Edmark - Topsy Tail

An inventor-entrepreneur left a successful career in marketing in 1989 when she launched her blockbuster hair accessory, the Topsy Tail. This extraordinary product earned her instant fame among the nation's small-business set and put Edmark on an entrepreneurial path that continues as of this 2007 writing. She has since developed a series of additional consumer products, written several successful books and created a variety of e-commerce Web sites.

Robert T. Kiyosaki - Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Born and raised in Hawaii, Robert T. Kiyosaki co-founded an international education company that operated in seven countries, teaching business to tens of thousands of graduates. Now retired, Robert does what he enjoys most: investing. Concerned about the growing gap between the haves and have-nots, Robert created the board game Cashflow, which teaches the game of money, only previously known by the rich. With Sharon Lechter he is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Rich Dad, Poor Dad, as well as the national bestsellers Cashflow Quadrant and Rich Dad's Guide to Investing. Robert Kiyosaki a financier, author and teacher says "that the main reason people struggle financially is because they have spent years in school but learned nothing about money. The result is that people learn to work for money...but never learn to have money work for them."

Billy Blanks - Tae Bo

Billy Blanks is the creator of Tae Bo®, the revolutionary total body fitness system that has helped millions of people around the world get in shape and feel great! His extraordinary achievements as a world karate champion, actor, author, motivator, philanthropist and humanitarian continue to earn him acclaim. Born the fourth of 15 children to Isaac and Mabeline Blanks, he had few opportunities on the mean streets of Erie, Pennsylvania. In 1990 he opened a one-room studio where he taught Kaerobics (he later changed the name to Tae Bo due to a trademark dispute) to a small group of clients that included singer Paula Abdul, Farrah Fawcett, Ryan O'Neal, and Rebecca De Mornay. Billy Blank’s Tae Bo grew into a huge success and the rest is history.

More Famous and Successful Entrepreneurs - Coming Soon


The Little Entrepreneur - Takes Flight Part 1


Michael H. and Jay Arrington


This is a very motivational and empowering story about kids learning how to work towards their dreams. This book encourages skill building and goal setting that kids will need as they grow up and become adults. Ages 8 and up. This is an inspirational book that the whole family will enjoy.

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