Broke to Billionaires: 10 Business Moguls That Went From Rags to Riches

  1. John Paul De Joria, Current Net Worth: $3 Billion

John Paul lived in his car twice in his early twenties. But he started Paul Mitchell Haircare out of his car with a partner and friend—and $700. Today the company’s global sales are almost $1 billion dollars per year. John Paul also co-founded the first premium silver tequila line, Patron Tequila.

 

  1. Oprah Winfrey, Current Net Worth: $2.7 billion

Oprah was raised by her grandmother until the age of six. Her grandmother was so poor she would make Oprah dresses out of potato sacks. After a traumatic adolescence that included rape and a miscarriage, Oprah landed a job in radio that changed her life.

 

  1. Bill Gates, $79.2 Billion

Harvard drop out and self-professed nerd, Gates quit college to sell software with his buddy Paul Allen. They named their partnership Micro-soft.

 

  1. Steve Jobs, Net Worth: $5.7 Billion

Steve was adopted and grew up among orchards that would one day become Silicon Valley. He dropped out of college because he couldn’t afford the tuition and co-founded Apple in his parents’ garage in 1976.

 

  1. Ralph Lauren, Current Net Worth: $5 Billion

Ralph was born and raised in the Bronx to immigrant parents. The family lived in a tiny apartment where he shared a bedroom with two of his brothers. He was working as early as 12 years old to pay for his passion of well-tailored clothing. Although he attended college, he soon dropped out to launch Polo Fashions with a $50,000 loan.

 

  1. JK Rowling, Current Net Worth: $1 Billion

Devastated by the death of her mother, Rowling moved to Portugal where she married and had a child. After a difficult divorce, she raised a young daughter alone while living on welfare. She would sit at cafes to write her fantasy book series, Harry Potter.

 

  1. Ingvar Kamprad, Current Net Worth: $6 Billion

Ingvar was raised by farmers in a small, rural village in Sweden. As a child, he would buy matches in bulk to sell to his neighbors. He started a small, mail order catalogue which grew into IKEA, the design mecca for the young and urban.

 

  1. Larry Ellison, Current Net Worth: $54 Billion

Raised on the South side of Chicago, his unwed mother gave him up to be raised by relatives. He never met his biological father. He moved to California and worked various side jobs including programming. He left with a couple of friends to start their own company, Oracle. Their first, big customer was the CIA.

 

  1. Howard Schulz, Current Net Worth: $1.1 Billion

Howard grew up in the Brooklyn projects. He excelled at sports, which led to a football scholarship to the University of Northern Michigan. After graduating he worked for Xerox in Seattle, where he discovered and fell in love with a little coffee shop named Starbucks. He left Xerox to become the CEO of Starbucks in 1987. He now runs a coffee empire of over 16,000 coffee shops worldwide.

 

  1. Guy La Liberté, Current Net Worth: $2.5 Billion

Guy grew up in Canada where he performed on the street for money by eating fire and walking on stilts. In 1987, he rounded up a group of friends to perform during the Los Angeles Art Festival with not even enough money to fly back home. Luckily, they got  a break. A chance meeting led to a gig in Las Vegas that developed into the world famous Cirque du Soleil shows.

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