10 Successful Kid Entrepreneurs Under the Age of 13

10 Successful Kid EntrepreneursFor many people, one of the biggest challenges to successfully starting a new business is just starting in the first place. As adults, we can easily get caught up in and overwhelmed by our own fears to the extent that we get stuck in a comfort zone and never push ourselves to dream, to experiment, to achieve. Kids, however, are natural dreamers, experimenters, and achievers (at least, when they are left to their own devices). For this reason, it’s not surprising that many kids, even small ones, have been able to turn their ideas into profitable business ventures. Below are ten successful kid entrepreneurs all of whom started their businesses when they were under the age of 13.

Cory Nieves, Mr. Cory’s CookiesHe may only be 10, but Corey Nieves is already the CEO and head of distribution for Mr. Cory’s Cookies, which offers an assortment of all-natural, mostly organic treats. The Englewood, New Jersey native sells up to a thousand cookies each weekend, at about $1 apiece. His business has also led to an appearance on the Ellen Degeneres show and more than 30,000 followers on Instagram. Aside from the quality of his cookies (that he makes together with his mom in a rented commercial kitchen), and the obvious cuteness factor of Corey himself, much of the company’s success is due to the fact that the cookies are brought to local businesses where their customers already are.

Leanna Archer, Leanna’s Hair. Leanna Archer was a mere 9 years old when she began bottling and selling her own hair pomade based on her great-grandmother’s secret recipe. Archer’s line of all-natural hair products, has since expanded to include a variety of hair cleansers, conditioners and treatments. Now 17, Leanna serves as the CEO of her company and has been recognized by prominent business publications like Forbes and Success Magazine. She even started the Leanna Archer Education Foundation to help build schools and safe learning environments for underprivileged children in Haiti.

Juliette Brindak, Miss O and FriendsAt age 10, Juliette Brindak created what is now Miss O and Friends. The site mostly targets pre-teen girls and has become one of the most popular girl-only online websites. Brindak has since launched a line of Miss O and friends books and other related products, all offering an assortment of self-esteem and confidence building content. The young woman is currently the CEO and editor of her site as well as the book line and has a net worth of $15 Million Dollars.

Lizzie Marie Likness, Lizzie Marie CuisineLizzie Marie is a food mogul in the making. It all started when a 6-year-old Lizzie wanted to earn money in order to pay for horseback riding lessons. So, she began selling homemade baked goods at the local farmers market. Then, with a little help from her parents, she developed and maintained a healthy-cooking website compete with instructional videos showing kids how to make healthy food and snacks. That move led to cooking classes, an appearance on the “Rachael Ray Show,” and even her own WebMD video series, “Healthy Cooking with Chef Lizzie.”

Moziah Bridges, Mo’s BowsNot happy with the bow ties he saw at the store, Moziah Bridges started making his own. Having learned how to sew from his grandmother, the fashion conscious 11-year-old began selling his creations on Etsy. A short while later, his ties made their way into several boutiques throughout the South East. So far, Bridges has earned over $30,000 from his bow ties. Next up: he plans to start a children’s clothing company.

Jaden Wheeler & Amaya Selmon, Kool Kidz Sno KonezA couple of years ago, Jaden Wheeler (12 years old) and Amaya Selmon (10 years old) started making snow cones with a blender and an extension cord in front of their home in Memphis, Tennessee. After seeing how successful their small business was, their mother purchased for them a food truck, making them the youngest food truck owners in Memphis. Now, Kool Kidz Sno Konez offers an assortment of snacks including: hot dogs, nachos, and more than 20 snow cone flavors.

Anshul Samar, Elementeo (Alchemist Empire Inc.). At the age of 11, Anshul Samar combined his love for chemistry with his love for playing card games into a board-based game called Elementeo. In the game, various characters representing different elements on the periodic table compete against each other to “capture” electrons. Since the first version of Elementeo was released, Samar now 19, has continued to update the game and even created a grant fund for other aspiring young entrepreneurs.

Cameron JohnsonCameron Johnson got his entrepreneurial gears going at the age of 9 making invitations for his parents’ holiday party. Two years later, Johnson had made thousands of dollars selling cards through his company Cheers and Tears. At age 12, he paid his sister $100 for her 30 Beanie Babies and sold them on eBay for $1000. He then purchased the toys directly from the manufacturer and earned a $50,000 profit within a year. He used that money to start an Internet business that brought in $3,000 per month in advertising revenue. By the time he turned 15, he had formed several businesses with total revenues ranging from $300,000 to $400,000 dollars each month.

Adora SvitakAdora is a published author of three books, internationally acclaimed speaker, and advocate for causes including literacy, youth empowerment, and feminism. She’s been featured on Good Morning America, and her TED speech titled “What Adults Can Learn From Kids,” has generated 3.6 million views and counting. Oh, and she accomplished all of this by the age of 12.


5 Signs that You are Not Cut Out to Be A Successful Entrepreneur

The term “entrepreneur” has evolved recently into this mushy catch-all phrase that can really mean several different things- especially in the Age of the Internet where many of the barriers to entry have come down in an unprecedented way. But while many people may be proudly claiming this title, very few can claim it successfully. The truth is that those barriers still exist- even online. You may be able to start certain businesses more easily these days, but you’ll still have a heck of a time making any money from them.

businessmanSo, I wanted to write this post to help set the record straight. Depending on where you are holding you’ll either be inspired to push forward knowing that you probably have what it takes to be a successful business owner, or you’ll back off to re-evaluate your career path. I’ve found that most “traits of successful entrepreneurs” articles generally leave these kinds of things off the list, or they don’t do them enough justice. The result being that people go in with a false sense of security. Don’t be fooled! Take a look at the list below and see how these signs apply to you:

1. You’re not exactly clear what you want to do. Obviously, if you are starting out, there will be some unknowns and some things you’re going to have to learn along the way. I’m not talking about that. I mean that you don’t know the basics: who your target market is, what need you are filling, what your value proposition is and what separates you from the competition.

2. You are doubtful or cautious about your business -especially when things are slow. You need passion because your desire to succeed will carry you through all the downs along the way. This is especially true if you are doing business online where the rules change very rapidly. For this reason it’s extremely important that you have people to turn to for advice and support- especially if this is your first attempt to start a business.

3. You’re doing this entirely alone…or relying on some guru’s advice. Following on the heels of the point above… Ever see a start-up team of one? It’s very rare, and even when it does happen, the business owner will typically receive advice from a team of trusted, knowledgeable people. Just one caveat here: be very careful about who you turn to for advice. Ideally, you want to work with someone familiar with your business, your industry, and you. If that is not possible, then make an extra effort to find those experts who can bring real value to your start-up process and operational stages.

4. You can’t make long term decisions because you are too dependent on short-term gain. When it comes to successfully running a business you have to be able to “think long.” This means a few things:

  • You can’t be too financially dependent on your business’ early revenues since it may cause you to make decisions that will result in a short-term financial gain at the expense of a bigger, more stable gain in the future.
  • You have to be able to step back and look at the big picture of where your business is going. If that is a challenge for you, then you must align yourself with others who can help you with the process or else you’ll get lost and confused in the day-to-day details.
  • Lastly, while there are definitely benefits to being frugal with your business and looking for ways to save money, at the same time, there are places where money just needs to be spent in order for the business to grow and develop in the way in needs to. In other words: running a business costs money.

5. You’re not open to feedback and learning. Get this clear: even for veteran entrepreneurs, each new business that you try to start will involve a learning process. You may have to learn about new market segments, technological advancements, and trends related to both your industry as well as your market and the economy as a whole. You also need to be open to learning through feedback. It doesn’t mean that you have to follow or act on everything that people tell you- whether it’s your customers, business partners, or concerned friends and family. But you can’t shut off the possibility of consideration either. A business is a dynamic entity, and if you don’t have your ear to the road, then the opportunity for real progress will pass you by, and you won’t even know it.

So, where do you stand with this list? If you are struggling with any of the five things mentioned above, then get a move on to fix it. It could make all the difference between the success and failure of your new business.

Low-Cost Business Opportunities You Can Start in Your Neighborhood

You don’t need to travel so far to find a good business opportunity, and you don’t need to run a strictly online business, either. There are many, profitable business ideas that you can do within your own community and for little investment.

1. Crafts and Creative Products. Many successful businesses got their start as hobbies. If you keep getting positive feedback about the items you create, and there seems to be a strong demand, then it you may be able to turn it into a viable business. You just need to be clear about who your market is and how you are going to reach them.

2. Home and Business Decor. Enjoy playing around with different textures, colors, furnishings, and lighting. Do you find yourself walking into rooms and other spaces and mentally designing a new and improved layout? Then you may want to consider going into home and business decor. Unlike its more technical cousin, interior design, there is no certification required for this kind of job. You could work with local homeowners or head over the restaurants, stores, and offices in your community and see if they could benefit from your services. You could help with window displays and holiday themes or create a more efficient set up.

3. Professional Organizer. If organizing is your thing, then you can put your talents into a business helping other companies, organizations, and individuals make the most of their time and resources. For more information on this occupation and other helpful resources, see The National Association of Professional Organizers.

4. Image Consultant/ Fashion Coach. Do you enjoy helping others shop for clothes? Are you good at spotting the strengths that others possess and knowing how to highlight them? Image consultants and fashion coaches help their customers bring out the best of themselves to both build confidence and present an eye-catching personal brand.

5. Reconditioning Furniture, Antique Refurbishment, Re-purposing. This business opportunity is for those who find themselves heading to the local yard sales, thrift shops, flea markets, and even the dump in search of items that can be brought back to life or given an entirely new use. You could sell your creations online or via craft fairs. You could even turn your garage or some other room in your house into a mini show room.

6. Selling unwanted items. You could make a business helping people get rid of unwanted belongings. As the saying goes, “one man’s meat is another man’s poison.” Save people the effort of selling those old or unused items by hosting a yard sale on your property or selling it on eBay, Craigslist, etc. Many would gladly do it especially if you gave them a cut of the sale price.

7. Childcare. If you are good with kids then you could start a babysitting or daycare business in your home. Many states will not require a license if you plan on only having a small number of kids. Just check with your local State Department of Children and Family Services. Even if you do need to get a license, it is usually pretty cheap, and the process for getting certified relatively easy.

8. Computer Repair. Computer repair is a great business, because many people have computers, but not so many know how to fix them when they break. You could visit customers in their homes or where possible make repairs remotely.

9. Catering and unique food products. If you like to cook and bake, or you make something unique as a hobby, then you could sell the food items you make. There are many possibilities: you could be a caterer, you could make baked goods or other specialty items and sell them in local shops and fairs.

10. Home Staging and Reconditioning. If your community has been hit by the waves of foreclosures sweeping through the country, you could start a business that will make these properties more sellable. There are several possible angles to take, such as clean up and garbage removal, interior re-conditioning and decorating, and sprucing up the surrounding, external property.

11. Event Planning. If you enjoy organizing events and meeting new people, then you might want to consider event planning. You could specialize in an assortment of different events, such as parties, weddings, business events, and group outings.

12. Cleaning Services and garbage removal. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, then you could start a cleaning business. Like event planning above, you could specialize in cleaning one kind if area or even items and materials. Some popular cleaning services include cleaning: offices, cars, yards, homes, and dorm rooms.

13. Errands. If you have a gas efficient vehicle, such as a small car, a motorcycle, or even a good bike, you could earn money doing errands such as shopping, deliveries, and pick ups for those in the community who don’t have the time or the means to travel.

Pet Care Services. If you like being around animals, then you may want to start a pet care service. In this area you have several possibilities:

14. Pet sitting. Go to pet owners’ homes or in some cases take the pets home with you and tend to the needs of their pets such as feeding and watering them. There’s actually a whole site dedicated to this profession. Check out Pet Sitters International.

15. Pet taxi service. If you have a car or truck, you could make a business driving pets around to the vet or to a grooming appointment, or some other destination. You’ll need to buy a pet crate or know how to secure the animal in the vehicle with safety straps.

16. Pet photography. If you’re a talented photographer and know how to work with pets, then this may be an option to consider. All you need is a few simple props and a good camera. You could go to people’s homes or set your self up at a local business.

17. Other pet business ideas…. Pet grooming, dog walking services, creating healthy, fresh pet food or snacks


10 Successful Teen Entrepreneurs Who Made Millions

Is it just me or is the entrepreneurial pool getting younger and younger? If you look at the examples below, it certainly seems that way. The following teens and preteens aren’t just mere babes going through the typical rites of passage, they’re successful entrepreneurs who have managed to amass more money than most of us will ever earn our whole lives.

Here is my pick of the most successful teen entrepreneurs of the last decade:

Adam Horwitz
After three years and about 30 failed attempts to launch a successful business, Adam Horwitz introduced Mobile Monopoly, an online course that teaches people how to earn money generating mobile marketing leads. He was 18 years old at the time, and it earned him $1.5 million in its first three days. Horwitz has since added several other online courses, including the recently released Mobile Monopoly 2.0, each earning him six figures. His company Local Mobile Monopoly is a multimedia training platform directed at those that want to help local business owners with their mobile marketing strategies.

Farrhad Acidwalla
At the ripe age of 12, Farrhad Acidwalla started an online aviation community with $10 that he got from his parents. Several months later, he then sold the community to a fan for $1,200.

Four years after that, in 2009, he put $400 from the sale of his online community into Rockstah Media, an international, award-winning agency that focuses on branding, marketing and web development in Maharashtra, India.



Catherine and David Cook

When they were only fifteen and seventeen years respectively and still in high school, Catherine and David Cook came up with the idea for the social networking site, MeetMe (formerly MyYearbook.com). That was 2005. Today, the site has over 40 million users and a yearly revenue of over 20 million dollars, and has survived Facebook domination as well as a re-branding launch.



Sean Belnick

Today, Sean Belnick, the founder of Bizchair.com has a reported net worth of 42 million dollars and in 2010, saw yearly sales rise to $58 million. But Belnick’s success had a rather humble beginning. BizChair.com was created in 2001 when Belnick was 14 years old with a $500 investment and the advice of his stepfather Gary Glazer, a veteran of the office furniture business. Belnick began running BizChair.com out of his bedroom, initially selling only office chairs. Much of his success is attributed to the fact that he knew how to tap an emerging market for direct, online business furniture sales, before any of the big players, like Staples, got in.

Since its inception, Belnick has expanded into new markets, such as school and restaurant furniture, and has expanded his warehouse facilities bringing his total operating space to a total of 702,000 square feet.

Fraser Doherty

When he was 14 years old, Fraser Doherty learned from his grandmother how to make natural jams and then went about producing it and selling it in his local neighborhood. Thus was the beginning of Super Jam. Two years later, Doherty left school to build up the Super Jam empire. In 2007, he began supplying super jam to 184 Waitrose stores. Today, Fraser Doherty supplies to all major UK stores and has yearly sales of over 1.2 million dollars.

Juliette Brindak

At age 10, Juliette Brindak created what is now Miss O and Friends. The site targets girls in their tweens and young teens. The site has become one of the most popular girl-only online destinations, and is known for its games, feature articles, and social network. Brindak has since launched a line of Miss O and friends books and other related products, all offering an assortment of self-esteem and confidence building content. Brindak is currently the CEO and editor of her site and book line and has a net worth of 15 Millions Dollars.

Farrah Gray

Farrah Gray’s path to entrepreneurship is extraordinary story of rags to riches, hope in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. He rose up from the the crime-ridden, impoverished south side of Chicago to became history’s youngest self-made millionaire, outside of the entertainment industry by age of fourteen. He is also the youngest person to have an office on Wall Street and to receive an honorary doctorate. Today, he is an international bestselling author, philanthropist, and a high profile motivational speaker.

As the story goes, at the age of 6 young Farrah Gray started his entrepreneurial career selling body lotions to neighbors before moving on to painted rocks that he sold as bookends. At seven, he was carrying business cards reading “21st Century CEO.” At eight, Farrah Gray became co-founder of Urban Neighborhood Enterprise Economic Club (U.N.E.E.C.) in Chicago’s Southside.

Between the ages of twelve and sixteen, Farrah Gray founded and operated numerous business ventures. But his big break came at 13 years old when he founded Farr-Out Food which in a period of one year generated sales of over 1.5 million dollars, making him a millionaire at 14.

Jon Koon

Chinese-American Jon Koon started raking in the millions at the age of 16 when he opened an auto-parts business in New York City known as Extreme Performance Motorsports. He used his own savings to purchase wholesale car parts from Asian auto-parts suppliers and teamed up with a local mechanic to bling out cars with high-end finishes, fancy engines, and premium speakers. His work spread like wildfire earning him his first million dollars at age 16.

Soon after that, Koon started an auto-parts manufacturing business that distributed parts to a variety of niche markets. In 2008, he switched gears, teaming up with American rapper Young Jeezy to become an exclusive partner in the rapper’s line of clothing, 8732. That’s when Koon found his calling in the fashion industry. His company, Tykoon Brand Holdings, owns and operates several brands across the world, including the Asian-inspired streetware label, Private Stock Denim.

Ashley Qualls

At age 14, Ashley Qualls launched Whateverlife.com, featuring a collection of pictures and graphics she created. Shortly thereafter, she offered free MySpace layouts and tutorials for teens who wanted to learn how to do their own graphic designs and html coding. Whateverlife.com currently attracts 7 million individual visitors a month (beating out many famous branded sites in the same niche) and is supported entirely on advertising revenue.

Ray Land

Ray Land was drawn to travel planning at an early age. When he was in eighth grade, he planned a trip for his classmates and him to Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla. That sparked his passion for planning, traveling and meeting new people. He quickly became known as the resident travel planner in his school, and other classmates would ask him to plan their trips to cities like New York and Washington, D.C.

At age 17, Land bought his first tour bus and founded the company, Fabulous Coach. Land quickly expanded his operations through out North America, operating 65 vehicles, coordinating about 150 trips per week, and generating a revenue of $6.5 million.

9 American Entrepreneurs Who Went from Dirt Poor to Stinking Rich

The American Dream may seem very far these days for the average American struggling to get by. But behind all the mushy idealism, the truth is there are those who live a real rags to riches lives. The following are ten famous American entrepreneurs who left their poor beginnings behind to become some of the richest people in the world.

1. Sheldon Adelson- Sheldon Adelson, the CEO of Las Vegas Sands is best known for his efforts to bring a little of Las Vegas to the rest of the world. The son of Ukrainian immigrants, he grew up in the poor Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. His entrepreneurial beginnings included selling toiletry kits to motels. Sheldon attended City College in New York, majoring in corporate finance and real estate, but later dropped out to join the U.S. Army. He achieved millionaire status while working as a financial consultant advising companies how to sell shares of ownership on Wall Street. Today, he is listed in the Forbes 400 as the eighth wealthiest American with an estimated personal wealth of $24.9 billion.


2. Jay-Z- Today, rapper Shawn Carter, known by his stage name Jay-Z, is one of the wealthiest music artists and entrepreneurs in America, with a net worth of over $450 million. He has sold 50 million albums worldwide, 11 of which went platinum, has received fourteen Grammy Awards and is considered one of the greatest rappers of all-time. He has also started his own clothing line, Rocawear; created a record label, Roc-A-Fella records; a management, publishing and entertainment company, Roc Nation and is even part owner of the New Jersey Nets. But before all of this he was living in the Marcy Housing Projects in Brooklyn and selling crack.

3. John Paul DeJoria- The beginning of John Paul DeJoria’s life didn’t look too promising, even at one point prompting one of his teachers to proclaim that he would “never succeed at anything in life.”

DeJoria was the second son of an Italian immigrant father and a Greek immigrant mother growing up in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. His parents divorced when he was two years old. At nine he began selling Christmas cards and newspapers with his older brother to support his family. When his single mother could no longer provide for both children, they were sent to an East Los Angeles foster home.


DeJoria spent much of his youth in a street gang in East Los Angeles, but his teacher’s comments motivated him to become successful. After graduating in 1962, and a stint in the U.S. Navy, he moved between various odd jobs including a janitor, encyclopedia salesman, a gas station attendant, and insurance salesman. Eventually he landed in the hair care industry and in 1980, he secured a $700 loan together with Paul Mitchell to found John Paul Mitchell Systems. Today the company has annual revenues exceeding $900 million, and DeJoria is worth an estimated $4 billion.

4. Oprah Winfrey- Oprah Winfrey rose from a life of hardship and adversity to become one of today’s most influential TV hosts and media moguls. The daughter of an unwed teenage mother from rural Mississippi, Winfrey had to overcome poverty, sexual abuse and her own teenage pregnancy. Today, she is considered one of the richest African Americans of the 20th century, and one of the most powerful celebrities in the world. In addition to publishing two magazines, she runs her own production company as well as the television network, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) in collaboration with Discovery Communications.


5. Howard Schultz- Howard Shultz is the founder and CEO of Starbucks. Today, he has a net worth of $1.1 billion, but he spent his childhood in Brooklyn, New York in the Canarsie Bayview Housing Projects. The son of a truck driver, Schultz’s first big break came with a sports scholarship to Northern Michigan University where he earned a degree in communications. After graduation, he took a position as the director of marketing at a small Seattle coffee bean shop called Starbucks. But Shultz left in frustration after they failed to share his vision of opening cafes that would serve coffee, espresso and tea. Instead, Schultz opened his own coffee shop, Il Giornale in 1985. Just two years later he was able to purchase Starbucks from the original owners and start building the ubiquitous coffee brand that we know today.


6. Larry Ellison- Larry Ellison is the co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corp, a leading enterprise software company. His current wealth is about $36.5 billion, making him the third richest person in the United States. That’s not too shabby for a college drop out who was adopted by his aunt and uncle after his single teenage mother decided she could not provide for him.


7. Steve Jobs- Steve Jobs, will probably be remembered both for his mysterious, almost mystical air as well as his visionary approach to technology that forever changed the computer, music, film and mobile computing industries. As the co-founder and CEO of Apple, Inc, Jobs not only had a heavy hand in pushing the personal computing revolution that began in the 1980’s, but he again turned the tech world on its head in the 2000’s with a series of iconic Apple products and services including: the iMac, iPod,iTunes, iPhone, and the iPad. At the time of his passing he was worth an estimated $7 billion.

Most are aware of Jobs’ background. He grew up in San Francisco and was adopted by a working-class couple after his parents decided they didn’t want him, and grew up in nearby Santa Clara, California. He later dropped out of Reed College when he couldn’t afford tuition but continued as a drop in student. Jobs started Apple computer in his parents’ garage in 1976, but was then fired from the company after power struggle 1985. Over the next few years he founded  NeXT, a computer platform development company as well as the computer animation company, Pixar which was later sold to Disney. In 1996, Jobs returned to Apple and initiated one of the greatest company turn-arounds of all time.

8. David Geffen- David Geffen is an American record executive and film producer, most known for creating a series of record labels including: Asylum Records in 1970, Geffen Records in 1980, and DGC Records in 1990. Geffen was also one of the three founders of DreamWorks SKG in 1994. He has signed some big-time acts, such as Crosby, Stills and Nash, Bob Dylan and Nirvana.

Geffen grew up with little money in Brooklyn, living in a one-bedroom apartment with his family. He dropped out of college, but a mail room job in the talent agency WMA opened the door to his successful career in the music and entertainment industries. By the age of 26, Geffen was already a millionaire, and today has an estimated net worth of $5.5 billion.

9. Stephen King- Perhaps part of the inspiration for Stephen King’s works of horror, suspense and science fiction, filled with psychologically complex characters and situations can be traced to his difficult childhood. Stephen King’s father abandoned the family when King was two, leaving King’s mother alone to raise him and his adopted brother. King mentioned later in life that his family lived off handouts from relatives. After publishing his first best seller, Carrie, in 1973, King went on to publish 49 books and collections of short stories, and is now worth an estimated $400 million.

How to Succeed As an Entrepreneur in 2012

Earlier this week, I saw an interesting post by Scott Shane over at SmallBizTrends.com in which he highlights a trend that so far seems to have avoided media scrutiny: an apparent entrepreneurial exodus has been going on over the past five years. Though the number of people taking the entrepreneurial plunge seems to have increased in recent years, so has the number of people leaving entrepreneurial rat race.



After reading the post, it got me thinking. There are plenty of bloggers out there who have laid out what they feel will lead to entrepreneurial success. There are even tests that people can take that can measure their potential to run their own business. But the truth is that each and every year brings with it its own set of challenges and opportunities that can significantly influence one’s ability to successfully start and run a business.


That said, here are a few additional factors that will help new entrepreneurs succeed specifically in 2012:


  • Access to capital. Though interest rates remain at all time lows, and several leading economic indicators suggest that the U.S. economy is making some kind of a recovery (albeit a slow one), a recessionary shadow (or maybe cloud is more appropriate) lurks yet around. The housing market, after all is still a mess, unemployment remains painfully high, the government is in many ways dysfunctional and opaque, and our global economic partners don’t seem to be doing any better. That said, fiscal responsibility and caution still rule the day, even on a personal level. Many new entrepreneurs these days have taken to bootstrapping their businesses rather than relying on outside money. There has also been a surge in demand for microloans and more alternative forms of financing ranging from business cash advances to crowdfunding.


  • A very well-defined niche. One of the fallouts of the Internet boom has been an increase in competition and “noise.” With low barriers to entry, many have jumped into the pool making it hard for some smaller businesses and solorpreneurs to tread water, let alone get to a profitable place. The result: if you want to avoid sinking online then you need to find a very specific micro-niche.


  • Social media fluency. Though social media has been making small business headlines for a few years now, it has become all the more vital in 2012. While conducting an effective social media strategy takes some know-how and an investment of both time and money, it is an area that new entrepreneurs and small business owners cannot afford to ignore- especially with the emergence of Google+ an all-encompassing, user-friendly social media platform.


  • Patience and perseverance. Though being a successful entrepreneur often comes with a healthy dose of patience and perseverance, in 2012 those qualities will be even more important- especially in light of the above trends. It often takes time to get together the capital needed to start a business while not exposing yourself to unreasonable financial risk, and it takes time to develop your niche and brand, and then to go about building communities and followers around them.


The bottom line is that while the new year may promise opportunity for many small business owners, there are at the same time some very unique challenges to making a business work. It’s a brave new world and success will be determined by how well you understand and adapt to that which makes it new.



The 39 Most Influential & Successful Entrepreneurs of the Past 100 Years

As the summer beckons, focusing on the daily grind may become a challenge. To offer a bit of inspiration, I created a list individuals that I believe to be “super entrepreneurs.” That is, these are not just people who have amassed wealth or who ran a successful business, they left an indelible imprint on the world that has altered the way we live, work, think and play. These people are some of the biggest business movers and shakers of the century.

All of these people lived and worked in the 20th century and beyond. Though a few of them may have reached their prime a before the start of the 1900’s, I still consider them “contemporaries.” So without further a due, here’s my list. You may be surprised how many of the brand names you recognize even if you don’t know the people behind them.

1. Andrew Carnegie (1835 1919)

From his simple beginnings as the son of a poor Scottish weaver, Carnegie went on to build a formidable steel empire. His mills literally built up much of the infrastructure of post-Civil War America. His success was largely due to his focus on increased efficiency, cost reduction, and notably his quick adoption of the Bessemer process for refining steel.

2. John Pierpont Morgan (18371913)



The infamous American financier and banker was a dominant force in corporate finance and industrial consolidation. Though many were quick to criticize his powerful influence and control, many credit him with skillfully directing the banking coalition that stopped the Panic of 1907. He also conducted several high profile mergers during his time including the merger of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric as well as the series of mergers that led to the formation of the United States Steel Corporation.

3. John D. Rockefeller (18391937)

Though he effectively retired from the business world in 1896, Rockefeller’s contributions to modern business and industry are present to this day. The oil magnant’s key to success was not just his strategic purchases of American oil refineries, but more his self-sustaining business model. Vertical integration factored heavily. His company, Standard Oil, even produced its own oil barrels.

4. Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

The Wizard of Menlo Park was perhaps one of the most prolific innovators of all time. From his lab in New Jersey, he invented and registered no less than 1,093 patents- many for well-know, life changing products such as the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph (a machine that recorded sound), and the kinetoscope which he used to record to one of the first movies ever.

5. Milton Hershey (1857-1945)

Today, the name Hershey has become synonymous with chocolate- and with good reason. In 1905, Hershey built the world’s largest chocolate factory in the Pennsylvania township that now bears his name. Armed with a chocolate recipe he developed himself, he used the principles and techniques of mass production to create a popular and affordable consumer product.


6. W.K. Kellogg (1860-1951)

Since the founding of the Battle Creek Toasted Cornflake Company (later to become Kellogg Company), Kellogg brought breakfast cereal to our tables, thus providing a healthier alternative to the eggs and meat typically consumed for the first meal of the day. Perhaps lesser known was his knack for marketing. Realizing that kids are influential in buying decisions, Kellogg executed several successful marketing strategies directly aimed at children. These included: sponsoring children’s radio programs, sugar-coating the cereal, creating cartoon characters, such as Tony the Tiger and Tucan Sam, and the Kellogg company was the first to offer a prize inside the box.

7. Henry Ford (1863-1947)

Today, Ford is perhaps known as much for his system of mass production as with the cars and company that were his name sake. Ford was a key force in making America a nation of car owners and drivers. On his assembly lines, he produced inexpensive cars for the masses, and even paid his workers enough to be able to afford them themselves. Between 1908 and 1927, Ford sold approximately 15 million Model Ts.

8. Richard Sears (1863-1914); Alvah Roebuck (1864-1948)
What started as a mail-order catalog business in 1893, eventually evolved into a retail giant. Sears, Roebuck and Co. built department stores throughout the country and was the largest retailer in the U.S. in the mid-20th century. Though, Sears eventually lost ground to other retailers, such as Walmart, it’s stores remain fixtures throughout America.

9. Madam C.J. Walker (1867-1919)



Rising up from a life of hardship, Madam C.J. Walker started with a homemade scalp lotion to stop hair loss and turned it into a successful line of hair and beauty products targeted at black women- an unusual accomplishment given that women were still struggling for voting rights and segregation was legal. She was no stranger to politics either, using her substantial fame and fortune to support numerous civil rights causes.

10. Amadeo P. Giannini (1870-1949)

The Bank of America… Just hearing that name may make many current and former customers upset. But, the big bad bank actually got a benign, populist start. The bank’s founder Amadeo Giannini, wanted to create a financial institution that focused the needs of working-class families, irregardless of their economic standing- a pioneering move at a time when personal banking was mostly reserved for business owners and the wealthy.

The Bank of Italy as it was called then, introduced the concept of branch banking, home mortgage loans, automotive loans, and various credit products. After the devastation caused by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Giannini, famously offered credit “on a face and a signature” to help the city rebuild.

11. Thomas Watson Sr. (1874-1956) & Thomas Watson Jr. ( 1914-1993)

IBM, the big blue chip that played a pivotal role in bringing PC’s to consumers, got it’s start as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Co. (later it become International Business Machines) in 1914, with Thomas Watson Sr. at the helm. Over the next four decades, Watson built a model for the modern global corporation, with a strong emphasis on customer loyalty, dedicated, happy employees, and product value.
When his son, Watson Jr., took over, he recognized the potential that lay in the personal computing market and he steered the company towards the development and production of PC’s.

12. Henry John Kaiser (1882 –1967)

was an American industrialist who became known as the father of modern American shipbuilding. He established the Kaiser Shipyard which built Liberty ships during World War II, after which he formed Kaiser Aluminum and Kaiser Steel. Kaiser organized Kaiser Permanente health care for his workers and their families. He led Kaiser-Frazer followed by Kaiser Motors, automobile companies known for the safety of their designs. Kaiser was involved in large construction projects such as civic centers and dams, and invested in real estate. With his acquired wealth, he initiated the Kaiser Family Foundation, a charitable organization.

13. Charles Merrill (1885-1956)

Merrill is credited with bringing the stock market to the masses. In his time, investing in the stock market was primarily the domain of the wealthy. After founding Merrill Lynch in 1939, he taught middle-class Americans how to use the stock market to fund retirement, prepare for their kids’ education, or have an emergency backup fund. Merrill also targeted women. He held investment seminars throughout the country open to couples, and he even provided childcare.

14. Sakichi Toyoda (1867-1930)



Known as the “King of Japanese Inventors” and often referred to as the father of the Japanese industrial revolution, Sakichi Toyoda was the founder of Toyota Industries Co., Ltd, a producer of weaving devices (which later became Toyota Motor Corporation under the direction of his son Kiishiro).

Toyoda is most famous as the inventor of the automatic power loom and is credited with developing the foundations of the Just-In-Time Production Process and the Toyota Production System which is based on the use of lean methodologies to solve problems, improve quality, and reduce costs in the production and delivery of goods.

15. Conrad Hilton Sr. (1887-1979)

Conrad Hilton rose from his job as an innkeeper in small town Texas, to become a successful hotelier who founded the first nation-wide hotel chain in 1943 and eventually expanded the brand globally a few years later. Currently, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, as the company is called today, operates over 540 hotel branches in 76 countries across six continents.

16. Ray Kroc (1902-1984)

Kroc is the man behind the ubiquitous McDonald’s Fast Food Chain. It’s spectacular growth can largely be attributed to Kroc’s unswerving focus on the long-term development of the company and its franchisees and on his dedication to maintaining a high standard of “quality, service, cleanliness, and value” so that the customer experience would be uniform across locations. Currently, the company has managed to place its trademark Golden Arches in over 120 countries, making it the largest fast food chain in the world. And to think, it all started in 1940 with a small burger joint located in San Bernadino, California.

17. Forrest Mars, Sr. (1904 – 1999)

Forrest Mars was the innovative force behind the Mars candy empire. He is responsible for inventing M&M’s as well as the Mars Bar after spending some time studying European candy-makers. He also created the Uncle Ben’s rice line along side a gourmet food business.

18. Sōichirō Honda (1906-1991)

Sōichirō Honda was a Japanese engineer and founder of the billion-dollar, multinational Honda Motor Co., Ltd. After spending a few years working in a small auto-repair shop and eventually opening his own auto-repair business, Honda began producing piston rings for small engines in 1937. Eleven years later, he founded the Honda Motor Company where he designed and manufactured motorcycles. Thanks to good engineering and strategic marketing tactics, Honda motorcycles quickly became the best-selling motorcycles in the world, even out-selling Triumph and Harley-Davidson in their respective home markets.

19. Estée Lauder (1907-2004)



Estée Lauder started her namesake cosmetics company after spending time watching her uncle concoct creams, lotions, and perfumes for his business. Estee concocted a few of her own, eventually founding her business in 1946.

Much of Estee Lauder’s legacy centers on her way of doing business. Aside from her relentless desire to sell only quality products, she was a virtual sales genius. Lauder is credited with pioneering the practice of offering free samples of her products, usually at high-end stores such as Saks Fifth Ave, so that the products could sell themselves. She was also amazingly adept at zeroing in on a customer’s needs by paying attention and also by believing in the value of her products.

20. Masaru Ibuka (1908 – 1997); Akio Morita (1921-1999)

Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita were Japanese businessmen and the innovative co-founders behind the Sony Corporation. In 1946, Morita and Ibuka founded the Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation), which later became the Sony Corporation.

From it’s inception, the company has developed and produced a slew of innovative electronics including: magnetic recording tape, the first fully-transistorized pocket-sized radio, the first transistor television in the world, the first Betamax home video recorder (a year before the VHS system was introduced to the market), the world’s first portable music player (the Walkman), as well as the Discman series.

21. Bill Bowerman (1911-1999); Phil Knight (1938-present)

Famous Olympic and university track coach, Bill Bowerman and former runner, Phil Knight are credited with founding Nike, Inc. arguably the most well-known sporting goods company and brand name in the world. The company was founded in January 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports and later became Nike, Inc. in 1978. It is the world’s leading supplier of athletic shoes and apparel and a major manufacturer of sporting equipment.

Nike is a case study in the power of strategic marketing. Nike sponsors many high profile athletes and sports teams throughout the world and has made it’s Swoosh Logo and the “Just do it” by-line as recognizable as Coca-Cola’s flagship drink.

22. Sam Walton (1918-1992)

Whether or not you’re a fan of Walmart, it’s hard not to admire the retail giant’s ability to benefit from enormous economies of scale, and the opportunistic business decisions that led to growth unrivaled by its competitors. Sam Walton, the man behind it all, recognized the need for low-cost retail stores, particularly in rural American communities. He was even known to have flown his small plane over rural areas in the South and Midwest to identify potential markets with low competition.

23. Gordon Moore (1929-present); Bob Noyce (1927-1990)

Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce are the co-founders of the Intel Corporation, the global technology company and the world’s largest semiconductor chip maker. Intel was founded on July 18, 1968, as Integrated Electronics Corporation. The company’s rise to tech stardom came with its development and production of the x86 series of microprocessors (the processors found in most personal computers today) as well as the ubiquitous “Intel Inside” marketing campaign. Many credit Intel’s success to its advanced chip design coupled with cutting-edge manufacturing processes.

24. Berry Gordy Jr. (1929-present)



Berry Gordy Jr. was the driving force behind the Detroit record label, Motown Records as well as several subsidiaries. At its height, Motown featured an impressive group of well-known artists, such as the Temptations, Dianna Ross, Marvin Gay, and Stevie Wonder who regularly produced chart-toping hits. But, Gordy’s biggest contribution to the music industry was his role in the racial integration of music. The “Motown Sound” became universally popular, deftly reaching across a considerable racial divide.

25. Warren Buffett (1930-present)

Warren Buffet, aka the “Oracle of Omaha,” is an iconic American investor and influential economic adviser as well as the primary shareholder, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He is also a regular on the world’s wealthiest people list. But don’t think that all this fame and fortune has gone to his head; Buffet is known for his personal frugality: he still lives in the same house in the central Dundee neighborhood of Omaha that he bought in 1958 for $31,500.

26. Earl Graves (1935- present)

While sitting on the Small Business Association’s (SBA) advisory board, Earl Graves put out an annual newsletter that covered economic and urban affairs and trends affecting the black business person. In 1970, the newsletter eventually evolved into the Black Enterprise magazine. His publication, one arm of his media company, Earl G. Graves, Ltd., has enjoyed enormous success and has a readership of 3.7 million and a paid circulation of over half a million.

27. Charles Schwab (1937-present)

Charles Schwab is credited with making investing more accessible to consumers and is considered a pioneer in the discount brokerage industry. His company, the Charles Schwab Corp, lowered trade commissions, offered consumers the ability to pick and choose their investments more freely, and introduced online investing.

28. Ralf Lauren (1939- present)

Ralph Lauren may be as much associated with the horse-riding polo player logo than the preppy, tailored look of his clothing line. Today, the Ralph Lauren brand graces more than just clothing: it can be found on fragrances, accessories, beauty products, and even housewares. Many credit founder Ralph Lauren with helping to develop (and define) the men’s fashion industry- and to think, it all started with a tie shop in 1967.

29. Muhammad Yunus (1940- present)



Muhammad Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank, “The Bank for the Poor,” a global financial institution that specializes in lending small amounts of money at a low interest to help poor entrepreneurs start and run their companies. Since it’s inception, Yunnus’ program has been very successful with a default rate of only 2% and it even netted him a Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

30. George Lucas (1944-present)

George Lucas, the writer and director behind the lucrative Star Wars movie series, recognized the potential future value of his original 1977 Star Wars movie beyond the box office. Instead of getting paid the standard director’s salary, he opted for a percentage of that year’s ticket sales and obtained both the merchandising and sequel rights to the movie. Since the 1977 release, Star Wars memorabilia has generated some $13.5 billion in sales.

The movie itself is also considered groundbreaking for its time for its use of special effects (Lucas even formed his own company to get the effects he wanted) as well as unconventional editing techniques.

31. Robert L. Johnson (1946-present)

Robert Johnson has accomplished several “firsts” in his business career. In 1980, he founded the Black Entertainment Television (BET) network, the first cable television network for African Americans. In 1991, BET became the first African-American owned company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Ten years later, Johnson became the first African American billionaire, and the first black person to be listed on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people.

32. Oprah Winfrey (1954- present)



Oprah Winfrey is arguably one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the realm of pop culture to appear in the past few decades. Via her popular talk show and eventually other media mediums, she is credited with bringing topics that were once considered taboo into mainstream media and thought.

Her endorsement can almost guarantee success (countless best selling books got their start on The Oprah Winfrey Show), while a chance comment can cause an instant plummet in sales (consider what happened to the beef markets after a side comment she made about the mad cow disease epidemic.)

Life wasn’t always so great though. Winfrey broke from a life of hardship including poverty and even rape to become the cultural icon she is today.

33. Steve Jobs (1955- present)

Whether or not you’re a part of the cult following of all things Apple, it’s hard to deny the impact Steve Jobs has had on personal computing, software, and mobile communications. His signature products, including the Mac computer and the Mac OS series, the iPod, iPhone and recently, the iPad have all literally taken the tech world by storm and have set the standard by which other big tech companies must follow.

34. Bill Gates (1955-present)

Many are familiar with the fact that Bill Gates founded Microsoft as a student in Harvard. He quickly dropped out to build up the software empire synonymous with his name. Microsoft’s rise came quickly after its strategic partnership with IBM; for over a decade, the company and its products dominated the industry virtually unchallenged. Today, he is one of the richest people in the world with an estimated worth of $56 billion.

35. Richard Branson (1960- present)



The playboy of the entrepreneurial world, Sir Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group, a conglomeration of over 400 companies, and it all started with a mail-order record shop he opened in 1970. Many of his famous stunts, such as his attempted balloon ride around the world, as well as two of his recent ventures: Virgin Galactic (space tourism) and Virgin Oceanic (tours to the deep ocean), depict the message is that anything is possible.

36. Jeff Bezos (1964-present)

After founding Amazon.com in 1994, Bezos built up a formidable online marketplace for selling books and in the process changed the way the Internet was used to purchase goods or services. Many common practices in online sales were developed and perfected by Amazon.com- most notably: product recommendations, easy check out, and a solid system for incorporating customer reviews. Today, Amazon.com, sells a wide variety of products, including music, clothing, and jewelry.

37. Michael Dell (1965-present)

Michael Dell, started PC Limited while attending the University of Texas, Austin. With $1,000 in start-up capital, he later dropped out and began building Dell Computers. Dell’s greatness is centered on his business model. By integrating the just-in-time production techniques developed by Toyota with a direct-to-customer sales system, he built one lean, mean PC sales machine.

38. Pierre Omidyar (1967-present)

Ebay, the well-known online marketplace and auction, got its start when founder Omidyar developed an online system to trade collectible PEZ dispensers. The idea caught on like wildfire. Today, eBay pulls in about $9 billion in yearly profits, with operations in 30 countries, and offering products in 35 different categories.

With it’s introduction, eBay altered the dynamic of the online buy-sell transaction. Suddenly, there was a way to market that which had previously been unmarketable, and it empowered both small companies and individuals to enter transactions that would have previously been unthinkable.

39. Larry Page (1973-present); Sergey Brin (1973-present)

Google founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, developed the idea for a more powerful and effective search engine while working together as PhD students on the Stanford Digital Library Project. Google’s original domain name was actually “google.stanford.edu.” Today, Google is a massive conglomerate of ubiquitous Internet-based products and services. It is also employee-friendly and focused on fostering an environment of creativity. The company has become a regular in Fortune magazine’s list of the best places to work.

18 Famous College Dorm Room Businesses that Made Millions

While the name “dorm room start-up” may seem somewhat subdued, eliciting the image of a cash-strapped, ramon noodle-eating student trying to scrape together a little extra income, for those of more enterprising natures, college provides the fertile ground on which to develop and expand some pretty hefty business ideas. From their humble student quarters, a select group of college entrepreneurs have produced some of the most influential, well-known, and dare we forget, profitable companies around.

Which businesses got their start at college? Here’s a brief rundown of the most famous (and infamous) college dorm room businesses ever:

1. FedEx: While this first entry on the list did not technically start operating while its founder, Fred Smith, was in college, it deserves a spot due to its almost legendary status. The story goes that when Mr. Smith was a student at Yale University, he composed a term paper detailing how the shipping industry would change as a direct result of changing informational needs and advances in technology. Though the paper received a tepid response from the professor, from it emerged the well-known overnight shipping company, FedEx. Today, FedEx boasts some $40 billion in yearly revenue.

2. WordPress:  While a freshman at the University of Houston, Matt Mullenweg teamed up with Mike Little and b2 developer Michel Valdrigh and eventually created WordPress, one of the most prolific blogging platforms around.



3. Napster: Sean Fanning was a freshman at Northeastern University in Boston when he developed Napster, the hotly contested P2P file sharing service that allowed users to share MP3 music files. Though it was forced to file for bankruptcy after numerous high profile recording studios and artists lined up to sue the company, it is still fondly remembered by its users.


4. Dell Computers: Michael Dell, started PC Limited while attending the University of Texas, Austin. With $1,000 in start-up capital, he later dropped out and began building Dell Computers. Today, he is worth an estimated $13.5 billion.

5. Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg originally developed “thefacebook” as it was called then, for his fellow students at Harvard. He later dropped out of college to develop the program further. The result: Facebook is now the biggest social network in the world with over 500 million users.


6. Inogen: In an effort to improve her grandmother’s quality of life, Allison Perry teamed up with two of her classmates, Brenton Taylor and Byron Myers at the University of CA, Santa Barbara, to create a better, lighter, and more mobile medical device for the delivery of oxygen. Inogen was later recognized with the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year award, and to date they raised 55 million in venture capital.


7. Shoeboxed: In an effort to help small business owners make some sense of their financial paper trail, Taylor Mingos started Shoeboxed from his Duke University dorm room. Customers email, fax, or send in special envelopes stuffed with receipts and other paper “scraps” and the company both scans and organizes them as digital records.


8. Biz Chairs: Like FedEx, Biz Chairs, breaks away from the pack because its founder, Sean Belnick actually came up with the idea when he was only 14 years old. But it was all the time and effort he put into his venture as a 20 yr old freshman at Emory University that turned it into a full fledged business, supporting almost 100 employees and bringing in over $25 million in revenues.



9. Google: Google founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, developed the idea for a more powerful and effective search engine while working together as PhD students on the Stanford Digital Library Project. Google’s original domain name was actually “google.stanford.edu.” Today, Google is a massive conglomerate offering an impressive range of ubiquitous Internet-based products and services.


10. Plaxo: Cameron Ring started working on Plaxo with his co-partners, Sean Parker of Napster fame and Todd Masonis, while he and Masonis was earning their master’s degrees at Stanford University. The versatile online address book and social networking service, allows for automatic updating and access of contact information across numerous programs and platforms. It also connects users to pertinent social networking information. In July of 2008, Plax was bought by Comcast.


11. College Hunks Hauling Junk: As a student at the University of Miami, Omar Soliman submitted a business plan for a trash-removal service to the Rothschild Entrepreneurship Competition and won the $10,000 first prize. Since then, he and his partner Nick Friedman of Pomona College, have expanded the company, called College Hunks Hauling Junk, nationwide with 21 franchises and 12 company-owned locations.


12. Venus: The well-known line of slinky swimwear, swimsuits, and women’s clothing began in 1982 under the name Titan Bodybuilding, while Founder Daryle Scott and four of his friends were attending Stetson University. The company initially marketed bodybuilding apparel and equipment but eventually expanded to include a variety of women’s clothing.


13. Tripod: Tripod, the well-known web hosting service, was founded by Bo Peabody and Brett Hershey, two students attending Williams College. At its inception, the site targeted college students and young adults with a collection of resources and services, such as résumé-writing help, website building tools, and links to relevant products and businesses. Only later were its trademark web hosting services added. Tripod was eventually bought out by Lycos.


14. Theglobe.com: One of the first social networking sites in the days before Facebook and MySpace ever came on the scene, theglobe.com was created by Cornell University students Todd Krizelman and Stephan Paternot. The site featured specialized content, chat rooms, and games, allowing users with similar interests to interact. When the company went public in 1998, it posted the largest initial gain of any IPO in history, 606%.


15. College Bellhop: Alan Ringvald, then a student at Brandeis University, came up with the idea for College Bellhop when he was unable to fork over the hefty cost to hire a professional service to clean his apartment. Together with Boston University’s Assaf Swissa, he developed the company which provides cleaning, laundry, and food delivery services at five different college campuses.


16. Microsoft: Many are familiar with the fact that Bill Gates founded Microsoft as a student in Harvard. He quickly dropped out to build up the software empire synomous with his name. Today, he is one of the richest people in the world with an estimated worth over $54 billion.


17. Citadel: Kenneth Griffin began managing two funds while at Harvard University. Shortly thereafter, he founded Citadel, currently one of the most successful hedge funds worldwide. Griffin himself is estimated to be worth about $3 billion.


18. EcoTech Marine. In 2003, Pat Clasen and Tim Marks, both students at Lehigh University began developing the idea for an aquarium equipment company. Shortly thereafter, they received the start up financing they needed to put their plan in action. The company’s cutting edge technology propelled it to one of Inc.’s 500 fastest-growing companies, and as of 2009, it sported revenues of almost $4 million.