10 of the World’s Richest Entrepreneurs and How Their Brands Got Started

When you think of the most famous entrepreneurs in the world, it’s easy to feel like they don’t deserve that much wealth – not when you, who have been working so hard day and night, haven’t been able to make a dent in the bucket when it comes to your finances.

But instead of looking at these people and seeing money signs, we should be looking at how they got started. Believe it or not, most, if not all, of them hit rock bottom before they could rise up. These successful entrepreneurs got to where they are today through hustling and their stories can provide a lot of insight into helping others similar to them achieve their dreams.

Here are 10 entrepreneurs with crazy high personal net worth and the stories of how they got started:

1. Jeff Bezos, Amazon

The richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, has a net worth of over $100 billion. This business genius got his first taste of the hustle when he worked at McDonald’s when he was only a teenager. He went on to get his college degree and started a job at Fitel, a telecommunications startup, where he worked on debugging code. Throughout this time, Bezos kept dreaming of bigger things. In 1994, he quit his job to start Amazon out of his garage – and the rest, as they say, is history!

2. Bill Gates, Microsoft

Bill Gates joins the ranks of Jeff Bezos on the list of the world’s richest people – in fact, Gates topped this elite list long before the CEO of Amazon surpassed him. Before he came into his multi-billion-dollar fortune, Bill Gates was just a regular college student who created software in his dorm room during his free time. His first major achievement came when he sold software to MITS Altair, the company that made the first personal computer. Inspired by the success, Gates dropped out of Harvard to start his company, which is, of course, the global technology giant, Microsoft.

3. Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway

While a lot of the wealthiest people in the world today have some connection to the tech industry, Warren Buffett is an entrepreneur who made his billion-dollar fortune through the finance industry. He may be the CEO of one of the world’s largest conglomerates today, but it all began when he was just a young boy who was fascinated by the workings of his father’s stock brokerage shop in Omaha, Nebraska. Buffett made his first investment at the age of 11, spending $114 to buy 3 shares of Cities Services Preferred.

Having developed an interest in the finance industry, Buffett went on to get business degrees from several prestigious American universities like Columbia University. In 1956, he founded Buffett Partnership Ltd., after having invested in several business ventures. At 80 years old, Warren Buffett has shown no signs of retiring even today. His keen awareness, intuition, and empathy (he has pledged to give away 99% of his wealth) are what make him the amazing man he is.

4. Amancio Ortega, Inditex Fashion Group (Zara)

Another billionaire who is now cruising through his 80s is the owner of the global fashion empire, Zara. At just 14 years of age, Amancio Ortega dropped out of school and began working for a local shirtmaker as a shop hand. This was where he got his introduction to clothes-making and the fashion industry.

Later on, Ortega partnered with his family to launch a company that sold clothing and undergarments. In 1975, Ortega and his wife, Rosalia Mera, opened the first Zara store. Today, the Spanish billionaire’s company, Inditex Fashion Group, owns more than 7,200 stores in around 93 countries, including Zara and several other brands like Zara Home, Massimo Dutti, and Bershka.

5. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

Anyone who’s watched the movie The Social Network already knows some of the story about how the Social Media Empire Facebook came into being, however much the accuracy of it has been debated.

But long before Facebook, Zuckerberg was a self-taught programmer who was coding ever since he was in middle school. His first project that gained significant interest was a music player that he and his high school friend, Adam D’Angelo (who would go on to co-found Quora), came up with. They even got an offer from Microsoft, but ended up turning it down!

6. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google

There’s probably a very, very, short percentage of people in the world who haven’t heard of Google, but did you know that the concept for it was cooked up by two Stanford Ph.D. students who were putting together a research project nicknamed “BackRub”?

These college students were Larry Page and Sergey Brin who then set out to convert the backlink data collected through their project to create a search engine using basic HTML programming. Once the website began gaining some traction, Page and Brin sourced funds from family, friends, and faculty members to rent a garage in Palo Alto. Google Inc. was inaugurated and these two guys have changed the way the world works!

7. Larry Ellison, Oracle

Larry Ellison was a college dropout who had just lost his adoptive mother and moved to another city when he was hired by Ampex Corporations. During his tenure at the electronics company, he mostly worked on databases for the CIA – a project he nicknamed “Oracle”.

In 1977, with $1200 of his own money and another $800 contributed by two other partners, Ellison founded Software Development Laboratories (SDL), which would later go on to be renamed Oracle Systems Corporations in honor of its flagship product, the Oracle Database.

8. Phil Knight, Nike

The global shoe and lifestyle apparel company, Nike, was the brainchild of Phil Knight and his college track coach, Bill Bowerman. Each of them contributed $500 to get the company up and running. At the time of its initiation in 1964, the company was called Blue Ribbon Sports and marketed shoes made by a Japanese brand. Years later, they began producing their own products once the previous agreement had run out and also changed their name to Nike. After nearly 50 years at the helm, Phil Knight is now retired comfortably with a personal net worth of around $38 billion.

9. Ted Lerner, Property Developer, Owner of the Washington Nationals

The owner of the Washington Nationals baseball team is Ted Lerner, a property developer, and real estate mogul. He has a net worth of $4.52 billion today, but he built his empire from scratch at the age of 26 with a meager $250 loan from his wife. Needless to say, he’s paid her back the money and then some. He founded Lerner Enterprises in Rockville, Maryland, which is currently one of the largest real estate companies in Washington D.C. Ted Lerner is also a dedicated philanthropist who contributes to numerous causes and charities.

10. Peter Buck, Subway

If there’s one thing you can learn from Peter Buck, it’s that helping others is a good thing. In 1965, when Fred DeLuca was looking for a way to pay for college, Buck was a good enough friend to lend him $1000 to open a sandwich shop. Well, that’s not to say he didn’t get anything back – half the stake in a multi-billion-dollar global fast-food giant is a pretty good deal! Of course, he didn’t know it at the time. In fact, the first two restaurants they opened didn’t really turn out a profit. But Buck and DeLuca kept opening new locations and franchising; eventually, it became a huge success. The restaurant was first named “Pete’s Super Submarines” and only got its world-famous name almost s decade later in 1974.