We have all heard the tales of success from such names as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and others, but there are many successful entrepreneurs who remain virtually unknown. Some of these men and women have struggled to make diamonds out of the dust, and create a business which thrives under their leadership. Let’s take a look into the lives of some of these entrepreneurs.
Meet Josh Kopelman
According to Forbes.com, Josh Kopelman is an entrepreneur who has crossed over to venture capital. He is the managing director at First Round Capital, where he uses his former experience of running Half.com, an ecommerce website. He can also boast of running TurnTide, an anti-spamming site which created the first ant-spam router, as well as Infonautics.
Josh was just a sophomore in high school when he started the latter, a for-profit precursor to Wikipedia. In the year 2000, he sold Half.com to eBay for the sum of $350 million and stayed on with eBay for three years, growing their media marketplace to about $500 million dollar annual income. TurnTide was sold to Symantec within 6 months of his creating it.
A website for First Round explains that Josh “has been an active entrepreneur and investor in the Internet industry since its commercialization.” He founded the company in 2004 with the purpose of reinventing seed-stage investing. Over 200 startups in technology have been invested in by First Round since its beginning. This makes it one of the country’s busiest venture capital firms.
Introducing Michael Rubin
Forbes also shares the story of Michael Rubin, who was running three ski shops in his home town before he had even graduated high school in Lafayette Hill, Pa. He opened his first ski-tuning shop in the basement of his parents’ home when he was only 13 years old. He soon created KPR sports, an athletic company that he named after his parents’ initials.
At the age of 23, Michael bought forty percent of the shoe company known as Ryka, and by the time he was 25, he was the head of a public company worth $131 million dollars. He then sold GSI Commerce to eBay for the sum of $2.4 billion. Later, he purchased parts of the company back from eBay and formed Kynetic. It was with this company that he became a self-made billionaire before he was 40 years old. In October of 2011, Michael, along with many other investors, bought a minority share of the Philadelphia 49ers.
The Unlikely Success of Wayne Huizenga
Like Steve Jobs, Wayne Huizenga’s tale is the unlikely success story of a college dropout. The 74 year old tycoon has created three companies which grew to be worth several million dollars each. Wayne started off with just a trash truck back in 1968, but had soon built Waste Management into a Fortune 500 company. He began by purposely buying small trash hauling companies, and had taken over 133 of them when he went public in 1972. By 1983, it was the biggest trash disposal company in the US.
In 1987, Wayne took his business success and experience, and opened a small number of video stores, turning them into the nation’s largest movie rental chain, Blockbuster Video. His next venture was to buy out a number of auto dealerships, and do the same thing, turning them into AutoNation, the biggest automotive dealer in the country.
Last But Not Least, Steve Blank
Steve Blank was born in 1953 to immigrant parents who had never even been to college. Like Steve Jobs’ birth parents, Blank’s mom and dad badly wanted him to graduate. Also like Jobs, Steve Blank had other dreams, and dropped out of college after just one semester. He hitchhiked to Miami, Florida and began to work at the Miami International Airport, where he soon became interested in avionics. This lead to his joining the Air Force in the early 1970s, where he ended up in Thailand during the Vietnam War.
While in Thailand, at the age of 20, Blank managed a team of fifteen electronics technicians. Upon leaving the military in 1978, he moved to Silicon Valley, then known as Palo Alto, where his career in startups began. He describes his entrepreneurial career as, “Two large craters, one dot-bubble home run, and several base hits.” (Forbes) Quite a simple way to describe such successes as Ardent Computers and Rocket Science Games. He also founded E.piphany, which later sold for $329 million. These are just a few of his many successes.