Nearly a quarter of all new businesses fail within their first year. The number becomes half by the fifth year. Yet some entrepreneurs managed to create thriving empires that changed society. These innovators did so by recognizing a need and then finding a way to fulfill it.
The Apple CEO revolutionized the electronics industry. His start was humble — his birth parents gave him up for adoption. He spent only a few months in college before dropping out.
Despite this, he and Steve Wozniak began Apple in a garage, selling a VW bus and a scientific calculator for funds. By the 80s, it was a publicly-traded company worth billions. Jobs left Apple for a while to start Pixar Animation Studios, but he returned in 1997. By this time, Microsoft and PCs were dominant.
Largely through Jobs’ innovation, this changed. He spearheaded products like the iPod, iMac, and iPhone. Their distinctive, creative marketing propelled them to success — and in the process, changed the direction of the entire industry.
John D. Rockefeller
Rockefeller attended Folsom Mercantile College, taking a single business class while there. His first venture into entrepreneurship was a commission business that sold grain.
Around this time, he noticed the success of Pennsylvania’s oil industry. He built his own refinery in Cleveland. It took off, and he began to acquire nearby small refineries. Soon, he dominated the Ohio market. He formed a group with other businessmen and incorporated as Standard Oil Company. It became a worldwide business force. The success made Rockefeller one of the richest men in history.
Henry Ford grew up on a farm. At 16, he moved to Detroit to find work first as a machinist, and then later as an engineer. In his spare time, he worked on an invention known as the Quadricycle — four bicycle tires on a frame, powered by an engine.
Bolstered by his success with the Quadricycle, he turned his attention to the automobile. It wasn’t his popular Model T itself that revolutionized the industry; it was Ford’s vision of creating a car for the general population. He was the first to mass-produce interchangeable parts for vehicles. He also created the first assembly line to put them together.