12 Amazing Success Stories of Unlikely Entrepreneurs

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Here are some amazing success stories of entrepreneurs that started small.
These entrepreneurs are proof that those dreams really do come true.

1. Judi Sheppard Missett


The founder of this wildly successful fitness company started teaching dance classes after hanging up her professional dancing shoes. When turnout dropped, she had an epiphany. The women weren't coming to class to learn the precise steps to a dance, but to lose weight and tone up.

Sheppard Missett picked up the pace, turned up the music, and created a fun class that was soon packed. She trained additional instructors to teach the routines she choreographed, which eventually lead to a franchise deal. The company now has over 7,500 locations worldwide, a clothing line, and an extremely loyal fan base-all from a dance class.

2. Brian Scudamore


Scudamore started his company, which he describes as "the FedEx of junk removal," with $700 in start-up capital and his own beat-up truck. He dropped out of college with only a year left to run the business full time. 1-800-GOT-JUNK now has nearly 100 franchised locations across North America.

3. A.J. Scribante


A.J. Scribante started off selling bleach to supermarkets and other stores around the Midwest. But Scribante had bigger things in mind. He wanted to find a better way to compare regional differences in retail prices, so that he could make more sales.
He started collecting newspaper grocery store ads from various cities to show to grocery stores in different markets. He put all those ads into a single booklet. He realized how valuable the information was when companies started requesting price data for competitors. Thus, the idea for MAJERS, what would become a multi-million dollar marketing information company, was born.

4. Jill Blashack Strahan

Tastefully Simple

Blashack Strahan started her gourmet food company with $6,000 in savings, a backyard shed for storage, and a pool table as a packing station.

In her own words: "I remember sitting outside one day, thinking we were three months behind on our house payment, I had two employees I couldn't pay, and I ought to get a real job. But then I thought, No, this is your dream. Recommit and get to work."

She had the idea to sell at taste-testing parties, and sales began slowly picking up. In 12 years, Tastefully Simple has grown into a $120 million dollar business.

5. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield

Ben & Jerry's

The now-legendary duo decided to open a business after taking a correspondence course on the art of ice cream making. They discovered that just about the only college town without an ice cream shop was Burlington, Vermont. With $8,000 in savings and a $4,000 loan, they leased an old gas station in Burlington, purchased equipment, and began coming up with ideas for "unique" flavors. Twenty years later, the company was taking in $237 million in annual revenue.

6. David Hauser and Siamak Taghaddos

Got VMail/Grasshopper

Hauser and Taghaddos came up with a great idea for an inexpensive VoIP phone system for small businesses. They got their startup money the hard way, by asking friends and family to help fund their business.
The idea for GotVMail was to give smaller companies a way to sound as professional as larger, established firms, allowing small businesses to set up voice-mail boxes that can route calls to cell phones and get messages via e-mailed MP3 files. GotVMail, now Grasshopper, generates about $5 million in revenue per year.

7. Seth Goldman

Honest Tea

Goldman started out brewing the tea in his kitchen and storing it in thermoses. After only five weeks spent perfecting the brewing process, he brought samples of and a mock-up label to a meeting with the company that is now Whole Foods Market, hoping that they would place a small order. They asked for 15,000 bottles. Honest Tea is now the top-selling bottled organic tea in the U.S.

8. Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor

Juicy Couture

Skiast-Levy and Nash-Taylor didn't want to start a business in debt. Instead, they started their clothing empire with $200 of their own money, and applied for a revolving line of credit. Neither took a salary for two years while they designed and produced the now-ubiquitous terry and velour tracksuits that would make them famous. Juicy Couture Clothing is now sold at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman-Marcus, and Bloomingdales.

9. Jake Neuberg and Ramit Varma

Revolution Prep

Neuberg and Varma, who both had experience as tutors, met in business school and launched their test prep company in 2002, financing themselves with personal credit cards. After nearly going broke the first year, the company started becoming profitable. By 2004, Revolution Prep had more than $1 million in revenues, and by 2007, their first-quarter sales topped $3 million.

10. Ryan Hoak, Michael Benbow, and Todd Essman


Hoak and Benbow "met" on an internet message board and came up with the idea for a site that lets fans analyze hypothetical NBA trades. Based in Illinois and Australia, respectively, the two collaborated on Trade Checker, later enlisting the help of Essman.
Not only was the idea a hit among NBA fans, it also attracted the attention of real NBA general managers. In addition to licensing RealGM software to teams for approximately $30,000 a year, RealGM.com has become one of the world's most popular sports websites, attracting over 20 million page views per month.

11. Mena and Ben Trott

Six Apart

Husband-and-wife team Mena and Ben Trott developed Movable Type as a tool for Mena's personal blog posts. When they offered it online, there were over 200 downloads within the first hour. From their apartment, the Trotts (who were also high school sweethearts) launched software company SixApart, now a multi-national provider of blogging tools with more than 10 million estimated users.

12. Dana Levy

Daily Candy

The snappy email newsletter that highlights everything from restaurant openings to eyebrow waxing was first sent in March 2000 to a 700-name email address list, authored by Levy herself. In a few short years, the subscriber base approached 3 million, e-mails were targeted locally, and spin-offs (Daily Candy Kids) became profitable in their own right. Comcast purchased Daily Candy in 2008 for $125 million.
#amazing #entrepreneurs #stories #success
  • Profile picture of the author JonathanL
    Very inspiring! I always enjoy reading stories of people who have become successful with little more than meager startup cash, persistence and an idea. Thanks for sharing.
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  • Profile picture of the author dee4d
    Thanks for sharing this. Every time Iread a success story, and see where these individuals have come from, that really motivates me. Success has never been for the feint hearted.
    Stay Healthy all your Life, and Avoid Lifesty Diseases Later in Life. Enjoy life to the fullest.
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  • Profile picture of the author kiarasteere
    Truly inspiring! I love reading success stories, keep me motivated always.
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  • Profile picture of the author buckeyes09
    Great motivational tool. It just shows you that an idea and business can come from nearly anyone. But it's just the intrepid few who decide to execute those ideas.


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  • Profile picture of the author Debra Barrow
    This is why I love watching the reality show "Shark Tank". People pitch their products and many of their stories are truly inspiring. They've been working their businesses for years and have so much invested; both personally and financially. Many also start with very little, but have plenty of drive.

    It's great when they get a deal from the "Sharks". Comes on Friday, evening at 8:00pm on ABC.
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    • Profile picture of the author Becky Lundin
      Originally Posted by Debra Barrow View Post

      This is why I love watching the reality show "Shark Tank". People pitch their products and many of their stories are truly inspiring. They've been working their businesses for years and have so much invested; both personally and financially. Many also start with very little, but have plenty of drive.

      It's great when they get a deal from the "Sharks". Comes on Friday, evening at 8:00pm on ABC.
      I also love that show. There is a Canadian version called "Dragon's Den", that has Kevin O'Leary on it, also. It is on CBUT on Wednesday's and Friday's.

      It's interesting to see how the "Sharks"/"Dragons" determine if they will invest in a company or not. I've learned a lot just watching those shows.

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  • Profile picture of the author ktmakwana
    Thanks for sharing. It is a great read and very inspiring too.
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  • Profile picture of the author Simon Ashari
    Particularly like the Ben and Jerry's post.

    Seen their ice cream around but never thought of looking up how it originates.

    I believe their story is most relevant to us here online. Finding opportunity and filling the void with their service.

    Also, a correspondence course on ice cream making? Never would have thought.

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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Ten
    Nice. Honest Tea is good! It is amazing how starting small, one can grow large...
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  • Profile picture of the author icegin
    Awesome post. I never tire of reading these types of stories -- very inspiring.
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  • Profile picture of the author tracyganey
    very inspiring....
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  • Profile picture of the author sophiebond
    Great one to stay motivated all day. Love reading stuff like this.
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  • Profile picture of the author hugovasey
    Thank you so much for this very inspiring thread.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alphy3000
    That's such a cool list, where did you find out about these entrepreneurs?

    P.S. I LOVE the movie and the book 'The Peacefull Warrior' too.. totally rocks!
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