From Zero to Millions
We’ve all heard stories of resourceful entrepreneurs who received a large capital investment that they parlayed into a billion dollar career, but this is not a realistic goal for most visionaries. Instead, the average entrepreneur starts with next to nothing financially, but this makes it all the more impressive when they are able to turn a brilliant idea into a prosperous business and a personal net worth in the millions.
There are many compelling prosperous entrepreneurial stories worth learning about, even if just for the sake of inspiration. You may also get a few ideas on how you want to go about chasing your dream. Here are five entrepreneurs and how they went from concept to reality:
1. Sean Belnick (Founder of BizChair.com)
In 2001, Sean Belnick was a mere 14-years-old when he launched an e-business that would allow him to achieve a net worth of $42 million in only eight years. Belnick’s story is even more impressive when you learn that he turned a $500 initial investment into a successful business that makes millions of dollars every year. In fact, Belnick was able to move his business from his bedroom to a 40,000 square-foot warehouse space before he was even legally considered an adult.
BizChair.com sells a variety of office, medical, school, church, home and restaurant furniture, and it was able to catch on quickly because it was created long before the online furniture market became oversaturated. The e-retailer now employs approximately 75 people and features a catalog of more than 250,000 products.
2. Bre Pettis (Co-Founder of MakerBot)
Bre Pettis is an artist and entrepreneur who has been involved in a wide variety of projects, ranging from MakerBot to filming a pilot for the History Channel. Until 2006, Pettis worked as an art teacher in Seattle. Less than a decade later, Pettis’ net worth is now at least $134 million.
In 2009, Pettis was one of three entrepreneurs to launch MakerBot Industries. The initial purpose of this company was to offer 3-D printing at an affordable price for people with basic technical knowledge. After the company was first started, they began shipping do-it-yourself printer kits that were designed to be as easy to put together as IKEA furniture. As the company became more popular, they branched out into a larger business model that was worth $403 million by 2013. Last year, Pettis made the decision to step down from his position as CEO of MakerBot but he is still involved with the company and has started investing in new start-ups.
3. Adam Hildreth (Founder of Dubit & Crisp Thinking)
Adam Hildreth is the second entrepreneur on this list who entered the business world at the age of 14. Only two years later, Hildreth’s first company, Dubit Limited, became so popular that Coca-Cola and other large companies around the world began using the social networking site for youth focus groups. Hildreth is another example of a young visionary who was able to take next to nothing and turn it into a major company from his bedroom. He was honored in 2010 with an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year UK award. At this point, Hildreth’s net worth is estimated at $40 million.
Dubit Limited was founded in 1999, but Hildreth was not content to stop there. His second company, Crisp Thinking, was launched in 2005. This venture was a wise business choice, as well as being socially conscious. Crisp Thinking creates software aimed at helping parents and schools protect children in their online environment. It has been deemed more than 98% effective at protecting children from conversations with pedophiles and other criminals lurking on the internet.
4. Michelle Phan (Founder of Ipsy)
In 2005, Michelle Phan started writing a personal blog that often contained makeup tutorials. By 2007, Phan had received enough requests for additional information that she began posting video tutorials on YouTube. Within three years, she was working as a makeup artist for Lancome, and she was able to launch her own subscription service for beauty products in 2011. This service was initially called MyGlam, but is now known as Ipsy. Phan’s popularity was expanded in 2013 when a cosmetic line featuring her name was released by L’Oreal. The YouTube star’s most recent venture is a music label entitled Cutting Edge Music.
In only nine years, Phan has gone from merely writing about makeup for fun to being the co-founder of a company that brings in approximately $84 million every year. Phan currently has 6.7 million subscribers to her YouTube channel, and her personal net worth is valued at $3 million.
5. Nick D’aloisio (Founder of Summly)
At the age of 18, Nick D’aloisio was named by the Wall Street Journal as the Innovator of the Year partly because of his app, Summly. The original version of the app was named Trimit, and D’aloisio created it in his parents’ home at the age of 15. The purpose of the app was to condense large amounts of text into more readable bits of information that are easily accessible to smartphone users.
Trimit was so popular that it attracted the attention of billionaire Li Ka-shing, and D’aloisio used Ka-shing’s $300,000 capital investment to tweak the app and relaunch it as Summly. The new version of the app was hailed as a breakthrough for mobile news, and this led to Yahoo purchasing Summly in 2013. As a result of this sale, D’aloisio now has a net worth of approximately $30 million.
Building Your Prosperity
Many people convince themselves that they could never turn a good idea into reality because they “don’t have the money to get it off the ground”. The truth is that you need not wait for a massive capital investment that may never materialize. What you do need is ingenuity, initiative, passion and determination. The bold entrepreneurs I’ve just described were able to make a real mark on the world, and inventions such as Crisp Thinking make the internet safer for kids.
There is no shortage of great ideas out there. What can be missing, however, is the perseverance and expertise to turn an idea into a reality. But you shouldn’t let that, or anything else, stop you. You may not be the next great tech genius. You may not know Instagram from Instamatic. You may lack knowledge and experience. The thing to do is get going anyway, stay alert and receptive, and acquire know-how as you plow ahead and build your prosperity. So dust off your dreams and get started!