Given the unconventional lifestyle of an entrepreneur, and the fact that so many are motivated by the prospect of massive wealth, it’s no wonder that numerous startup founders share inspirational stories about conquering challenges
We combed the internet for entrepreneurial success stories featuring outlandish founders, personal challenges, and unique lifestyles to discover how these entrepreneurs turned their experiences in life into startup gold.
Jeff Smith, co-founder of Smule
Jeff Smith concluded that starting a business didn’t have to be a full-time task after getting certain successes as a serial entrepreneur. Thus, in 2008, he co-founded Smule, one of his most profitable ventures yet, after enrolling at Stanford to pursue a Ph.D in Computer Music.
He didn’t let the excessive work pressure deter him from innovating; he was a key figure in the creation of some of the first immersive smartphone applications that made use of the iPhone microphone. More than 350 million customers have used one of the company’s brands around the world to date.
Vladimir Gendelman, founder of Company Folders
Vladimir Gendelman and his parents arrived in the United States from the Soviet Union with less than $500 in their pockets. Despite this, they were able to obtain accommodation and basic needs, as well as a steady income over time.
Until beginning Company Folders in 2003, he worked at a computer repair shop. Business Folders, Inc. is a cutting-edge presentation company that has received several awards, including being named to the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private businesses in 2015 and 2016.
According to Gendelman, life in the Soviet Union was difficult: “My motivation is my desire to never go back to that lifestyle,”
“Sometimes, the best motivation is not what someone says to you – it’s what you’ve experienced yourself.”
Nate Martin, founder of Puzzle Break
Unlike Jeff Smith, the legendary escape room maker – Puzzle Break’s creator, Nate Martin describes himself as the “worst student to ever succeed in business.”
Most big business people have MBAs or, at the very least, a cool Zuckerberg-style dropout tale, but as Martin reveals:
“Prior to founding Puzzle Break, I completed my undergraduate degree.
After 9 years. And one drop-out. With a stellar 2.59 GPA.
Additionally and unsurprisingly, I was rejected by all but one MBA program.
Thankfully, I’ve had a better time with business than with academia.”
Puzzle Break has opened escape rooms in metros around the country under his leadership. Puzzle Break has a seven-figure turnover and 100 percent year-over-year expansion with no debt or venture financing, to put it that way for the MBAs in the crowd.
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MaryBeth Hyland, founder of SparkVision
SparkVision is an organization that works on corporate culture in order to create conditions that enable employees to succeed. MaryBeth Hyland, the founder of a startup, based her company on hard-won survival skills:
Her one-of-a-kind ability set stems from a turbulent upbringing, which taught her how to understand human nature and how to adapt to various desires and personalities.
“I was abused by my father and manipulated to not speak about it to anyone,” Hyland says.
“In order to get through that situation, I had to morph who I was to accommodate my father’s unpredictable moods.”
To stop being wounded, she learned what to say, how to behave, and what to do to put him in a good mood. It’s a part of her she’s always secret and, to be honest, afraid of. But now that she has a company focused on human interaction and empowerment, she knows that it comes from the survival skills she acquired as a teenager.
She explained that those were now blessings she used to make people get a great day-to-day experience.
Maria Merce Martin, founder of Optime Consulting
Maria Merce Martin dedicated her entire life to achieving the American dream of owning a profitable company. When Chavez was elected president, she moved to the United States and founded Optime Consulting, which now generates $12 million in annual revenue.
“I started from scratch… with a computer engineering degree and a vision,” Martin shares.
“I had all the odds against me: I was in a male-dominated profession, a young mother with another on the way and a dream.
She said that as an entrepreneur, you must be concentrated at all times and use outcomes to “silence the doubts”.
Vishen Lakhiani, founder of Mind Valley
Vishen Lakhiani made a multi-million dollar company out of his love for studying and teaching. Writers and thought leaders in transformational education (self-help gurus, personal growth practitioners, and even spiritual teachers) will use Mind Valley as a medium to disseminate their insights to the masses through multimedia courses and seminars.
Lakhiani also conducts his own workshops, in which he discusses with students the emotional, psychological, and even spiritual development that he had to go through in order to develop his company. Probably his greatest contribution has been sharing his “6 Phase Guided Meditation,” the technique he uses every day to drive his personal and professional lives to new heights.
Nellie Akalp, founder of CorpNet.com
We’ve always learned one of the golden laws of business: Don’t go into business with your significant other.
Not once, but twice, Nellie Akalp has disobeyed the suggestion. She and her newlywed husband began a business in their living room in 1997. They marketed it for $20 million eight years later and then went to work on CorpNet.com, a website for easily preparing all of the paperwork necessary to launch a company.
“I was really nervous at first about our decision to launch a business together at such a young age, and with basically nothing to our name,” Akalp says.
“After the first business was acquired, our life changed dramatically for the better!
Four kids and two companies, she said inspirationally, could break a lot of couples apart, but for the pair, it just “brought them closer together!”
Harriet Mills, founder of Wine & Design
Consider this scenario: you’ve just had a kid and are laid off from your career with little to no savings. What will your reaction be? Harriet Mills witnessed precisely this, and she did the impossible: she didn’t panic.
Rather, she enrolled in a drink and paint workshop at a nearby studio. She knew what she needed to do after a couple of wine bottles. She founded Wine & Design, which has expanded from a single location to 75 around the country. Harriet realized what had been lacking from her so-called “safe job” as a result of her incredible success: A good work-life balance in a fun, family-oriented setting.
Scott Lee, founder of GooRoo
The corporate world has been likened by some pioneers to a battlefield. Scott Lee, the creator of GooRoo, finds the metaphor extremely poignant. Lee, a South Korean native, was required to serve in the military for two years in order to keep his citizenship.
The military training was brutal, but as Lee explains in an article, it was the ideal preparation for a career as an entrepreneur.
“The army works much like a startup—you’re part of a small team with huge tasks, and you have to work together to problem-solve on a daily basis,” Lee explains.
To talk more about this, he added there could be a thousand roadblocks in the path at any given time. You might “have a role or title”,but in fact, you wear several hats and have the opportunity to demonstrate your abilities.
Mike Stemple, founder of Inspirer & SkinIt
Mike Stemple’s inventive genius seems to have been sparked by a traumatic brain injury. He’s created more than 20 popular enterprises, including Inspirer and SkinIt, which lets you make custom skins for anything from smartphones to video game controllers.
In his early twenties, Stemple was in a near-fatal car crash that left him with amnesia and unusual brain injury, which opened the “art section” of his brain. He taught himself to code and went on to be an unstoppable force in the computer startup world. In less than three years, SkinIt alone rose to a $100 million valuation.
As a saying goes “Every cloud has a silver lining!”
Matias Recchia, founder of IguanaFix
Matias Recchia graduated from Harvard Business School at the age of 23, and when you go through life as quickly as he does, a little disorganization is unavoidable. He created IguanaFix after discovering how much he wanted it in his own life.
The platform works in a similar manner to TaskRabbit, but it focuses exclusively on personal maintenance and home renovation facilities, such as plumbing and electrical work. Recchia was always misplacing his keys and having to call a locksmith, but they wouldn’t give him a price until they let him into his house and saw that he was a little richer than the normal Argentine (he worked for Vostu).
IguanaFix standardizes rates to protect customers by providing service providers with a larger customer base. It’s a win-win situation for everybody!
What do we learn from these business success stories?
- As long as you obey your heart, use your common sense, and handle your tension in a safe way, there is no wrong way to start a company.
- Overall, good entrepreneurs may not be so superhuman after all.
- Are you looking for money to start or grow your own business? Fill out our simple online form to communicate with a lender right away.