The path to this success has been lit by the pioneering work of industry captains and trailblazing entrepreneurs. Everybody else saw opportunity, but they were the ones who turned it into enterprise!
These self-made billionaires are institution builders, and for generations, have stood for quality and reliability that require relentless effort and a ruthless commitment to standards. By just being what they are, they have inspired generations of entrepreneurs and leaders. Their personal stories are inspiring and motivating. These ‘People Who Inspire‘ millions — are driven men of mostly ordinary means but extraordinary vision.
Neither were they inheritors of enormous celebrity wealth nor were they heirs to mega empires. In fact, they started lives as common as it gets. But with ambition, and fiery passion, these boys with ordinary lives became extraordinary men with remarkable life stories. Above all, they had one thing in common among themselves. And no, it’s not having a unique idea. Instead, its their fiery passion in confidence that they would reach the zenith that gave them the power to shed sweat and blood to become giants of the business world, against all odds. These ‘People Who Inspire‘ have not only changed their own lives but also the lives of millions.
So here’s mapping 10 inspiring stories where the boys-next-door became the elites of the business world — self-made billionaires — ‘People Who Inspire‘ Millions. These pioneering risk-takers are not just glittering neon-signs of success — they have altruistic selflessness that comes from thinking, feeling, doing.
The World’s Top 10 Self-Made Billionaires — Poeple Who Inspire
The oldest self-made billionaire in the world today is Warren Buffett. The ‘Oracle of Omaha’ purchased his first share when he was 11 and filed his first income tax return at 14. He tried his hands at several businesses but he aimed to become No. 1 stockbroker in the world. He lived up to promise he had made to himself. Buffett, chief operating officer of Berkshire Hathaway, is considered one of the most successful investors in the world. His predictions about shares are taken up religiously. Buffett is the seventh richest person in the world.
Watch: How Warren Buffett built Berkshire Hathaway
Warren Buffett Biography
- Full Name: Warren Edward Buffett
- Date of Birth: August 30, 1930
- Education: University of Pennsylvania, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (BS), Columbia University (MS)
- Active Since: 1951
- Claim to Fame: Co-founder, Berkshire Hathaway
- Net worth: $86 billion
Is Warren Buffett the most humble billionaire in the world?
Perhaps. In fact, when Buffet became a millionaire at the age of 56, he still only took home a humble salary of $50,000 from Berkshire Hathaway. In the last 15 years, Buffett has owned an driven only two cars. What feat for one of the richest men on the planet.
1975, when only a few people had the basic idea of how a computer looks like, Bill Gates and his friend Paul Allen were building a programming language called BASIC. That was the year when they founded Microsoft Corporation in Albuquerque, Mexico. Soon, they made another operating system called DOS. They sold it to IBM. Just a few years later, they built Windows which was an advanced version of DOS. There is no lookback from then. Nine out of 10 computers in the world have Windows as the operating system. The company they founded in 1975 has turned into a trillion-dollar behemoth.
Watch: The Untold Story of Bill Gates
Bill Gates Biography
- Full Name: William Henry Gates III
- Date of Birth: October 28, 1955
- Education: Harvard University, Lakeside School
- Active Since: 1975
- Claim to Fame: Co-founder, Microsoft, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Net worth: $119 billion
Does Bill Gates have the IQ of a genius?
While he never publicly revealed, Gates achieved a score of 1590 out of 1600 on his SATs. This means the Microsoft founder has an IQ of above 150, making him smarter than 99.96 percent people on the planet.
Michael Dell was a student at the University of Texas when he came up with an idea of bypassing salesmen to sell personal computers directly to consumers. He established Dell that used to custom assemble each component of the PC and sold it at a much lower price. The idea clicked soon as Dell became the world’s largest PC maker by 2001. In January 2013, Dell announced that he had bid to take Dell Inc. private for $24.4 billion. It was considered the biggest management buyout since the Great Recession. Dell’s personal assets have swelled to $27.2 billion.
Watch: How Michael Dell revolutionized the PC Industry
Michael Dell Biography
- Full Name: Michael Saul Dell
- Date of Birth: February 23, 1965
- Education: University of Texas, Memorial High School
- Active Since: 1977
- Claim to Fame: Founder, Dell
- Net worth: $37.6 billion
How is Michael Dell connected to Steve Jobs?
There might be no official or documented connection between Michael Dell and Steve Jobs, they both were pioneers of the Personal Computer revolution that gave birth to the Digital age.
Richard Branson started his first business venture at 16, and set-up a mail-order record business in 1970. He founded the Virgin Group in the 1970s and that was a game-changer for him. The business has grown to billions in revenues and it is now a group of as many as 400 companies. His Virgin Airlines and spacecraft corporation, Spacecraft Galactic, are world-renowned companies. He was knighted by the British empire in 2000 and he is worth $4.1 billion.
Watch: The Richard Branson success story
Richard Branson Biography
- Full Name: Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson
- Date of Birth: July 18, 1950
- Education: Stowe School (No College)
- Active Since: 1966
- Claim to Fame: Founder, The Virgin Group
- Net worth: $4.1 billion
Does Richard Branson live alone on an island?
Branson shuffles between his UK mainland residence in Buckinghamshire and his private island called the Necker Island. Necker is a part of the luxe British Virgin Islands retreat. Branson purchased his private set of land in 1978 for just $180,000.
After he was fired from a large Wall Street investment bank in 1981, Michael Bloomberg had a belief that Wall Street was willing to pay handsome money for reliable and high-quality business content. He launched a service that provided important financial information quickly through the computer terminals. Indeed, there was a lot of appetite for such content. Bloomberg is one of the largest media and financial information companies in the world. Bloomberg has an estimated net worth of $48 billion.
Watch: How Michael Bloomberg became the World’s Media Mogul
Michael Bloomberg Biography
- Full Name: Michael Rubens Bloomberg KBE
- Date of Birth: February 14, 1942
- Education: John Hopkins University (BS), Harvard University (MBA)
- Active Since: 1981
- Claim to Fame: Co-founder, Bloomberg L.P.
- Net worth: $54.9 billion
Is Michael Bloomberg a successful politician?
Bloomberg has been active in American politics for over a decade now. A member of the Democratic Party, Bloomberg first won the Mayoral Elections for New York in 2001. He then stayed the mayor of New York for three consecutive terms between 2002 and 2013. In 2020, Bloomberg launched his candidacy for President of the United States, eventually withdrawing from the Democratic primaries before backing the eventual winner Joe Biden.
Being put on adoption at the age of nine months, dropping out of colleges twice, Ellison didn’t have an ideal early life necessary for a stable career. But he had a passion for technology that made him establish a company as renowned as Oracle. After moving to California in the mid-1960s, he came across an IBM report about a database programming language called SQL. Taking inspiration from the IBM report, Ellison created the Oracle database. The best thing about it was it could run on the non-IBM computers too. Oracle in a little time changed the face of the industry and became the most popular database ever sold.
Watch: How Larry Ellison became a Billionaire
Larry Ellison Biography
- Full Name: Lawrence Joseph Ellison
- Date of Birth: August 17, 1944
- Education: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, University of Chicago
- Active Since: 1966
- Claim to Fame: Co-Founder, Oracle Corporation
- Net worth: $75.3 billion
Is Larry Ellison an aviator?
While not professionally, but the founder of the world’s second largest IT services company is a licensed pilot and owns several airplanes in his magnificent hangar which includes two combat-grade jet planes – the Soviet MiG-29, and the Italian SIAI-Marchetti S. 211.
He used to ride a bicycle 27 km a day to give English-speaking tourists a tour of Hangzhou, China, and perfect his own English. He came to know about the internet when he visited the US in 1995. But that life-changing trip across the Atlantic Ocean made him realise the power of the internet. After launching a series of websites in China, he established Alibaba, an e-retail company in 1999. It was a revolution China was desperately waiting for. Jack Ma established himself as one of the world’s richest persons. With a wealth of $53 billion, he is also China’s second-richest person.
Watch: Jack Ma’s rags to riches story
Jack Ma Biography
- Full Name: Mǎ Yún (Chinese: 马云)
- Date of Birth: September 10, 1964
- Education: Hangzhou Normal University (BA)
- Active Since: 1988
- Claim to Fame: Co-founder, Alibaba Group
- Net worth: $53 billion
What is the 669 Mantra that Jack Ma advocates at Alibaba?
Ma’s 996 work culture at Alibaba is world-renowned. However, Ma also advocated another concept called 669 during Alibaba’s Annual Group Wedding ceremony in 2019 where he advocated that couples make love 6 times in 6 days for longevity. Read in detail about Jack Ma’s Sex Mantra here.
The Mexico-born Jeff Bezos was a senior vice-president at a hedge fund company when he decided to establish an online bookstore company. In 1994, he founded Amazon. Twenty-six years later, Amazon Inc. is one of the biggest companies in the world and Bezos is the richest person on Earth with assets of more than $200 billion. His businesses have expanded to online retail, video streaming and cloud computing among others.
Watch: How Jeff Bezos created the global behemoth Amazon
Jeff Bezos Biography
- Full Name: Jeffrey Preston Bezos (né Jorgensen)
- Date of Birth: January 12, 1964
- Education: Princeton University (BSE)
- Active Since: 1986
- Claim to Fame: Founder, Amazon and Blue Origin
- Net worth: $183.6 billion
Is Jeff Bezos the world’s first trillionaire?
Bezos is till far away from being a trillionaire. However, with his stakes in Blue Origin, and the space industry just starting, he very well could be on his way to a trillion in the next decade.
Mark Zuckerberg came up with the idea of Facebook as a student at Harvard University in February 2004. The website was known as Facemash and it was limited to select college campuses. It was renamed as Facebook and it rapidly expanded beyond colleges. Zuckerberg wouldn’t have thought that within three years, at the age of 23, he would become the world’s youngest self-made billionaire. Facebook is now one of the world’s most valuable companies and Zuckerberg’s wealth is $96.7 billion.
Watch: Mark Zuckerberg’s story that began in a dorm
Mark Zuckerberg Biography
- Full Name: Mark Elliot Zuckerberg
- Date of Birth: May 14, 1984
- Education: Harvard University
- Active Since: 2004
- Claim to Fame: Founder, Facebook Inc.
- Net worth: $101.7 billion
Was Mark Zuckerberg the youngest billionaire in history?
At 23 years of age when CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook had a blockbuster IPO, his wealth propelled to $1.5 billion making him part of the coveted billionaires club with the record of being the youngest in history. For comparison, Bill Gates became a billionaire at 31, Jeff Bezos at 35, Larry Ellison at 41, and Warren Buffett at 56.
Jan Koum and his partner Brian Acton wanted to develop an app which could help them send messages, and which registered its users through their mobile numbers instead of email IDs. In 2009, they succeeded in their efforts as they developed WhatsApp which literally replaced SMS. Their product scaled new heights as it was purchased for mind-boggling figures of $19.2 billion by Facebook in 2014. Koum joined Facebook as a board of director, but he left it in 2018. Nonetheless, his assets have crossed $10 billion and WhatsApp is a great success story for upcoming entrepreneurs.
Watch: Jan Koum’s story from a floor cleaner to billions
Jan Koum Biography
- Full Name: Jan Koum (Ukrainian: Ян Кум)
- Date of Birth: February 24, 1976
- Education: San Jose University
- Active Since: 1994
- Claim to Fame: Co-founder, WhatsApp
- Net worth: $10 billion
Why did Jan Koum quit WhatsApp?
A year and half after Facebook acquired WhatsApp, the social media giant pressed hard to get WhatsApp to change its term of service and share the phone numbers of users with Facebook. Citing ethical and privacy concerns, Koum quit Facebook in the aftermath.
Before You Go — The Big Question?
John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937), the founder of the Standard Oil Company was the world’s first self-made billionaire, having started his career as a bookkeeper for a small firm in Cleveland at 16 years of age. Rockefeller died aged 97 as the richest man in modern history. Unsurprisingly, Rockefeller is also the father of modern philanthropy, having defined the term through his actions post-retirement.
The world’s first woman to become a self-made billionaire was American businesswoman Martha Stewart who achieved the tag in 1999 when her company Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia went public on the New York Stock Exchange. However, at 79 years of age, Stewart is no longer a billionaire as her net worth today stands at $400 million.