Past, Present, and Future Models of Startup Success

There are many talented people, there are many hard-working people, and there are many people who grow businesses to impressive levels of success and notoriety. Then, there are the members of an elite group of entrepreneurs who have built empires with from a relatively modest beginnings. Let us take a closer look at some success stories from yesterday, today, and those who are poised to do great things in the future. We’ll learn how and where they began, some of their struggles, and ultimately the state of their empires today .Hopefully, a budding entrepreneur or two will find a bit of inspiration in the following paragraphs.

  1. Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus — The Home Depot

Today, The Home Depot is an internationally known home improvement mega-empire that is worth multiple billions of dollars. The foundation of The Home Depot begins in the late seventies when Arthur and Bernie were unceremoniously bounced from their comfortable positions as well paid executives. As they were licking their wounds, a friend reminded them that they had actually been handed a great opportunity. Realizing that their friend was correct, Arthur and Bernie teamed up with two other men. Together, the quartet began that would become what is arguably the most well-known home improvement store in the world.

2. Paul Allen — Microsoft Corporation

When the name Microsoft is uttered, a certain name comes to mind, and it is not Paul Allen. That is perfectly fine with the notoriously private Mr. Allen. So, who is Paul Allen? Paul Allen is the childhood friend of Bill Gates who not only helped to co-found Microsoft, but also helped develop the world’s first programming language for the personal computer. Paul Allen took his exit from Microsoft many years ago, but his influence on the organization cannot be denied. What has he done since his departure? Paul has participated in several important projects relating to both space travel and mapping of the brain.

3. Blake Mycoskie — TOMS Shoes

In the late 2006, Mycoskie paid a visit to South America. While he was there, he discovered that many of the poor children in the region were in desperate need of shoes. He returned to the United States inspired. He created a unique business model in which a for-profit business would make implementing social change a primary business goal. In the case of TOMS shoes, the idea was simple yet brilliant. Every time a consumer purchased a pair of his colorful and comfortable shoes, another pair would be donated to a child in need. Today, not only is the shoe company thriving, it has served as inspiration to many other startup ventures that combine a quest for profit with a quest for social change.

4. Brian Morgan — Adventure Life

In 1998, Brian Morgan founded Adventure Life, a company that is dedicated to providing unique and exciting travel experiences for their customers. Typical consumers include those who are interested in eco-tourism and engaging directly with people of the areas in which they are traveling. In forming this business, Morgan bucked the trend of resort based travel in order to create deeply personalized travel that focuses on personal experiences over enrichment. Amazingly, it only took Mr. Morgan a year from his inaugural sale to break even. Currently, Adventure Life is still a huge name in the boutique travel industry.

5. Clayton Christopher — Sweet Leaf Tea

Clayton and his business partner David Smith formed Sweet Leaf Tea in 1998 for an investment of less than ten thousand dollars. The Austin based company produces bottled iced tea based on Christopher’s grandmother’s own recipes. Within a decade, Sweet Leaf Tea was generating more than ten million dollars in revenue annually. All of this is in spite of the company struggling with government red tape during its formative years. Great things appear to be on the horizon for Mr. Christopher and his venture.

6. Richard Branson — Virgin Group

Mr. Branson formed what would become Virgin Group in spite of the warnings of others. In fact, during its early years, the company’s operating practices were associated with a catchphrase: ‘Oh Screw It! Let’s Do It!’ Branson’s venture took off amazingly. These days, the brand is associated with air travel, mobile phones, many other ventures, and perhaps most famously, the daring and adventurous lifestyle of Branson himself. Richard Branson remains one of the globe’s premier business leaders.

7. Tariq Farid — Edible Arrangements

It’s hard to believe that this company that now is a dominating force in the holiday-based gift giving industry was formed only sixteen years ago. The story of Edible Arrangements is one of unprecedented success. While most companies take years to begin showing a profit, Tariq steered Edible Arrangements to profitability in only six short months. In spite of having to navigate the red tape that is inherent in a franchise-focused enterprise, Edible Arrangements continues to grow today.

8. Barbara Corcoran — The Corcoran Group

Ms. Corcoran founded The Corcoran Group, a real estate firm, in 1973. The sole source of funding for this venture was a thousand dollar loan fronted by her business partner/boyfriend. Barbara successfully nurtured her business into a billion dollar enterprise. She has since sold her real estate empire. Today, Barbara can be seen on the hit television show ‘Shark Tank’ where she is known for her shrewd yet compassionate investing decisions.

9. Tom Colicchio — Craft Restaurants

This enterprise began in early 2001 with the opening of one simply named restaurant, ‘Craft’. In the years following, Colicchio opened several other restaurants. Not one to rest on his laurels, Tom has also ventured into the world of television. He serves as producer and flagship judge on the amazingly popular show, ‘Top Chef’. In addition to this, he has also successfully defended his brand in many legal wranglings over the rights to use the word ‘Craft’ as a leading word in the name of a restaurant or other food venture.

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