Companies that started with a loan from the founder’s parents

Maybe they didn’t inherit the family business like Donald Trump did.

They built successful empires through hard work, perseverance, and…a hefty investment from their mothers and fathers.

What follows is a list of companies started by founders who got start-up money from their parents. There’s no guarantee that any of these companies would exist today if these parents didn’t have enough money to invest in their ambitious kids.

The perpetuation of wealth takes many forms. This is one of them. If your parents don’t have money to invest in you, I’m sorry.


Amazon.com: Founder Jeff Bezos got a $100,000 investment from his parents to start the famous online store.

American Apparel: Founder Dov Charney borrowed $10,000 from his father to start manufacturing clothing.

Chipotle: Founder Steve Ellis opened his 1st restaurant outside the University of Denver with an $85,000 loan from his dad.

CompuServe Corp: Pioneering online service provider was founded on $1 million from co-founder Jeff Wilkins’ father-in-law.

Spin Magazine: Bob Guccione Jr. is son of the publisher of Penthouse Magazine who loaned him $2 million to get started.

GoPro: Nick Woodman’s parents, (father is co-founder of investment bank Robertson Stephens), lent him $235,000 to get started.

Poundland: The UK’s massive dollar store chain began with a £50,000 investment from founder Steve Smith’s father.

SpaceX/Tesla: Elon Musk’s first company Zip2 was founded with $28,000 of his father’s money. That sold to Compaq for $307 million and $34 million in stock options and set Musk on the path to creating X.com/Paypal, SpaceX, and Tesla.

Squarespace: Founder Anthony Casalena received $30,000 from his father in 2003 to build his all-in-one web publishing suite.

Xmission: Utah’s oldest ISP was founded in 1993 based on an undisclosed investment from founder Pete Ashdown’s father.

Vente-Privee.com: French e-commerce site was built by Jackques-Antoine Granjon with $3,000 he received from his father, a real estate developer.

Applebee’s: In 1980, husband and wife restaurateurs Bill and TJ Palmer received $5,200 from their parents to construct the first Applebee’s restaurant in Atlanta.

Friendly’s Ice Cream: Brothers Prestley and Curtis Blake opened their signature ice cream business in 1935 with a $500 investment from their parents. In 2015 dollars, that investment is worth $8,679.

Jimmy John’s: Founder Jimmy John Liautaud accepted a $25,000 loan from his father to start his chain of sandwich shops.

Enso Capital Management: Founded by Joshua Fink with a “minority investment” from his father Laurence Fink, a co-founder of BlackRock Inc.

Cobalt Capital Management Inc: Founded by Wayne Cooperman with a starting investment from his father Leon Cooperman, founder of Omega Advisors Inc.

Chatroulette: The popular-for-a-second video chat site was built on a $10,000 investment from 18-year old Andrey Ternoviskiy’s parents.

Motown Records: The most successful African-American business in the United States was founded in 1959 with $700 from Berry Gordy’s father. Correcting for inflation, the investment would be the equivalent of approximately $6,000 today.

Greenlight Capital: Famous hedge fund manager David Einhorn opened his first fund in 1996 at age 27 with a “significant investment” from his parents.

*This list is far from comprehensive, however I’d like to keep it growing. Please contact me on Twitter (@timconneally) with noteworthy additions.