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Alvaro Z. Gallegos - Z-Coil

Alvaro Z. Gallegos is the founder and the inventor of the Z-Coil shoe. Gallegos was an avid runner for many years. Like many runners, he eventually began to experience knee and back pain from the impact associated with running. Runners typically deliver 3 to 5 times their body weight to the striking heel, and even the impact of walking is 1 to 1.5 times a person's body weight. Little wonder that impact is commonly regarded as a major cause of foot, leg, and back pain. Realizing that he needed some sort of protection against this type of pain and injury, Gallegos embarked on a mission to develop a shoe that would not only protect against impact, but could also be adjusted to compensate for other foot, leg and back problems. After years of research and experimentation, he created Z-Coil® footwear and launched a whole new industry of Pain Relief FootwearTM.

Andreas von Bechtolsheim - Sun Microsystems

German-born electrical engineer Andreas von Bechtolsheim co-founded Sun Microsystems as a graduate student at Stanford in 1982 and was its chief hardware designer. He later became an investor, writing the first major check to fund Google, and starting several computer networking companies. Bechtolsheim invented the "Stanford University Network workstation" that eventually became the Sun-1 Workstation and was instrumental in launching other successful Sun products including the SparcStation 1.


Berry Gordy – Motown Records

Berry Gordy’s father ran a plastering contracting business and his mother sold insurance and real estate. When Gordy got out of the Army in 1953, he opened a jazz-oriented record store called the 3-D Record Mart which was financed by his family. By 1955, the store had failed and Gordy was working on the Ford automobile assembly line. While working on the line, Gordy constantly wrote songs, submitting them to magazines, contests and singers. Gordy decided to take total control of his songs, so in January 1959, he borrowed $800 from his family's loan fund to start his own record label (not Motown). In the same year, Berry started his 2nd record label called Motown. Motown went on to become a stable in American music.

Bill Gates - Microsoft

Bill Gates discovered his interest in software and began programming computers at age 13. He is the chief software architect of Microsoft Corporation, the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. He had the vision to predict the evolving importance of the personal computer. This allowed him to top Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s wealthiest individuals, with a 2006 estimated net worth of $50 billion.

Bill Hewlett – Hewlett Packard

After graduating with degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1934, Bill Hewlett and David Packard forged a friendship during a two-week camping and fishing trip in Colorado. Four years later the pair began working part-time on a product based on Hewlett's study of negative feedback in a rented Palo Alto garage with $538 in cash and a used drill press. The result: the HP200A, an audio oscillator designed to test sound equipment. One of their first customers was Walt Disney Studios, which purchased eight of the devices to test a new sound system for the movie Fantasia. In 1939 the men formalized their partnership, flipping a coin to decide their startup's name.

Billy Blanks - Tae Bo

Billy Blanks is the creator of Tae Bo®, the revolutionary total body fitness system that has helped millions of people around the world get in shape and feel great. His extraordinary achievements as a world karate champion, actor, author, motivator, philanthropist and humanitarian continue to earn him acclaim. In 1990 he opened a one-room studio where he taught Kaerobics (he later changed the name to Tae Bo due to a trademark dispute) to a small group of clients that included singer Paula Abdul, Farrah Fawcett, Ryan O'Neal, and Rebecca De Mornay. Billy Blank’s Tae Bo grew into a huge success and the rest is history.


Christopher Paul Gardner - Pursuit of Happiness

Christopher Paul Gardner is a self-made millionaire, entrepreneur, motivational speaker and philanthropist who, during the early 1980s, struggled with homelessness in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco California while raising his toddler son, Christopher. Gardner's personal struggle of establishing himself as a stockbroker while managing fatherhood and homelessness is portrayed in the 2006 major motion picture The Pursuit of Happiness, starring actor Will Smith. Christopher Gardner is the CEO of his own stockbrokerage firm, Gardner Rich, based in Chicago, Illinois where he resides when he is not living in New York City.


David M. Overton - Cheesecake Factory

David M. Overton, the founder of the first Cheesecake Factory opened his first restaurant in Beverly Hills, California, in 1978. Overton's goal was to showcase a model dessert specialty restaurant for prospective foodservice customers of the wholesale bakery. The restaurant established the future chain's pattern of offering an eclectic menu, big portions, and signature cheesecakes, and the chain became a multi-million-dollar sales performer. The company went public in 1992. Cheesecake Factory restaurants are well-known for their extensive menus, custom lavish décor and large portions. The company was the first restaurant chain to reach a billion dollars in revenues with fewer than 100 restaurants in operation. The Cheesecake Factory, Inc. is the ninth-largest restaurant company in the United States measured by market capitalization. The company operates 123 full-service, casual dining restaurants under The Cheesecake Factory name in major metropolitan areas in the United States.

Dineh Mohajer - Hard Candy

Twenty-something success stories in the cosmetics industry seem to be popping up everywhere lately, providing a little competition to industry biggies like Revlon and Estee Lauder. A prime example is Hard Candy, the nail polish company Dineh Mohajer essentially started in her bathroom. It was the summer of 1995 while Mohajer was taking pre-med classes and part-timing at the Fred Segal Boutique in Los Angeles. One day, the fashion-crazy Mohajer was wearing pale blue sandals and couldn't find nail polish to match. She decided to concoct a batch in her bathroom sink. She wore it, strangers noticed, and soon her racy nail polish company, Hard Candy, was born. She now has 40 employees churning out 60 provocatively named shades like Trailer Trash (metallic silver) and Sushi (aqua). Stars like Madonna and Winona Ryder seek out their favorite colors.

Donald Trump – Trump Enterprises

Donald Trump, an American business magnate, television personality and author, received much of his business sense from his father, Fred Trump, who was forced by his father's death to help support a large family. His father succeeded in producing affordable housing. Trump was brought up assisting his father with his business ventures. He has set a goal to be involved in real estate in a larger scale than his father’s. Trump started a billion dollar empire and is now also on his own hit TV show called the Apprentice. Now, Trump owns over 100 businesses.


Gordon Moore - Intel

Co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of Intel Corporation Gordon Moore served initially as Executive Vice President. Moore is widely known for "Moore's Law," in which in 1965 he predicted that the number of transistors the industry would be able to place on a computer chip would double every year. In 1975, he updated his prediction to once every two years. While originally intended as a rule of thumb in 1965, it has become the guiding principle for the industry to deliver ever-more-powerful semiconductor chips at proportionate decreases in cost. Today his computer chips are used in computers all over the world.


Ingvar Kamprad - IKEA

From selling matches in his hometown of Agunnaryd, in the south of Sweden, to becoming the world’s richest retailer, Ingvar Kamprad, founder of the home furnishing IKEA chains, is yet another inspiring rags to riches story, of a determined kid who beat the odds and came out stronger than fathomable. IKEA is still one of the largest, most successful privately held companies in the world, with over 200 stores in 31 countries, employing over 75,000 people and generating over 12 billion in sales annually. At an early age, he learned that he could buy matches in bulk from Stockholm and sell them at a fair price, but a good profit. He reinvested his profits and expanded to fish, seeds, Christmas tree decorations, and pens and pencils. At age 17, Kamprad's father gave him a nice reward for doing well in school. What did he spend it on? He founded IKEA.


Jack Ma - Alibaba

Jack Ma is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Alibaba Group and chairman of Alibaba.com, the Hong Kong-listed unit of Alibaba Group. After having built China's biggest e-commerce group, Ma is looking overseas. The former English teacher is pushing an aggressive expansion plan, opening operations in neighboring countries as well as farther afield in places such as Turkey. When Ma started Alibaba 10 years ago, he faced many doubters, "but we made it happen," he boasts. Now, he says, "we think our model can work in India, in Japan, in Mexico, in Peru"—anywhere.

James Kimsey - AOL

James Kimsey is best known for creating the largest company ever started in the Washington, DC area – America Online, Inc. He transformed what began as Quantum Computer Services in 1985 into the nation’s leading independent provider of interactive online services to consumers, and the largest company ever started in Washington.

Jasmine Lawrence - Eden Body Works

Jasmine Lawrence lost all of her hair at age 11 after a bad relaxing perm. Lawrence vowed to never use harsh chemicals on her hair again and started researching how to create her own all-natural hair products. In less than a year, Lawrence found the perfect mixture of hair products. After attending a camp for young entrepreneurs, Lawrence had another big idea: to start her own business. She found ingredients and learned how to import them all on the Internet! At the age of 15, Lawrence has already become the CEO and founder of Eden Body Works, named for the Garden of Eden where everything was pure and natural. Under Lawrence's leadership, Eden Body Works has experienced tremendous growth with a rapidly expanding customer base.

Jeff Bezos – Amazon.com

Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon.com. Amazon is consistently ranked as one of the top retail sites on the Internet and offers over one million titles via its website (http://www.amazon.com). After graduating from Princeton summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1986, Bezos joined FITEL, a high-tech start-up company in New York. Bezos showed intense and varied scientific interests at an early age. He rigged an electric alarm to keep his younger siblings out of his room and converted his parents' garage into a laboratory for his science projects. After coming up with the format of a book selling website, Bezos first tried to get his employers at the time to do the site. They turned him down. At that point, he knew the only way to get his idea into reality was to go into his own business and to leave his secured job.

Jerry Yang and David Filo – Yahoo

While David Filo and Jerry Yang were students at Stanford's graduate school in engineering, they discovered a shared obsession with making lists of their favorite web sites. In 1994, they decided to consolidate their lists and make them available to the public on the Web. (Their data was kept on their Stanford computers, "Akebono" and "Konishiki," legendary Hawaiian sumo wrestlers.) This extracurricular project was taking up so much of their time that the pair dropped out of school and converted Yahoo! into a customized database, using specially-designed software. In 1995, they moved their operation onto larger computers at Netscape Communications. Almost immediately after Filo and Yang officially founded Yahoo!, they were able to get funding for their pet project from venture capitalists to see the web turning into profit.

John and Kim Puckett - Caribou Coffee

Caribou Coffee is an American success story. Founded by John and Kimberly Puckett, Caribou Coffee began with two small shops in Minnesota and currently has over 130 stores in six states. Caribou Coffee has marketed itself as "the best neighborhood gathering place," serving the highest-quality coffee. As a result, Caribou coffeehouses are located primarily in neighborhoods, designed to be warm and comfortable with plenty of seating, and staffed by enthusiastic servers. In order to be a leader in coffee quality, the company invested in state-of-the-art roasting and packaging equipment. Caribou Coffee is the official coffee served on Delta Airlines flights and is the on-the-shelf gourmet coffee of Target stores.


Kermit Heartsong - Word Origin

Kermit Heartsong, President and founder of Word Origin, a San Francisco puzzle and game company, has made games out of words; he knows words are no game. In 1987 while supervising a neighborhood program for latchkey kids, he asked one 13-year-old to spell ladder. "He began with an S," Heartsong recalls. "And when I showed him the word, he still had no idea what it was. He was completely illiterate."

Kirk Perron - Jamba Juice

A visionary from the start, Kirk Perron, founder of Jamba Juice, had a passion for health and fitness that led to the creation of Juice Club. Kirk left a 10-year career with Safeway and Vons grocery stores to create a place where good nutrition is synonymous with great-tasting, fast food. His commitment to providing the best possible experience for all Jamba Juice customers guides the company’s growth. A popular speaker on Entrepreneurship, Life Balance, and Customer Service, Perron founded his company on his passion for healthy living and his belief that customers come back based on their experience, and the experience at Jamba Juice is not only healthy, but fun.

Kai-fu Li – Google China (former)

Taiwan-born and U.S.-trained Kai-fu Li is an information technology executive and a computer science researcher. He is one of the most prominent figures in the Chinese internet sector. He was the founding president of Google China, serving from July 2005 through September 2009. His personal blog is widely followed in China and he runs a popular website to help young Chinese people achieve careers in IT.


Larry Page and Sergey Brin - Google

Larry Page, the son of Michigan State University computer science professor, loves of computers since six years old. While following his father's footsteps in academics, he became an honors graduate from the University of Michigan, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in engineering, with a concentration on computer engineering. Sergey Brin, a native of Moscow, received a bachelor of science degree with honors in mathematics and computer science from the University of Maryland at College Park. It was at Stanford where these two geniuses met and worked on the project that became Google. Together they founded Google Inc. in 1998. Today, Google is one of the most financially successful companies in the world. Google is also one of the most innovative companies in the world expanding its reach into many industries from google map to google cell phone.

Lisa Hammond - Femail Creations

Lisa Hammond founded the now multi-million dollar company Femail Creations in 1996. The mail order catalog and website was born out of passion to empower and inspire women. Hammond did not want to let the fact that she had no prior direct marketing experience stop her. Therefore, she made Femail Creations focus on supporting women artists and women business owners.


Magic Johnson – Magic Johnson Enterprises

After retiring his jersey from basketball, Magic Johnson went on to develop many enterprises across the United States. Some of his ventures include: a record label, a movie production company, coffee houses, restaurants and entertainment complexes. Johnson also started a foundation called the Magic Foundation. He has given a new meaning to the word “entrepreneur”. His legacy being defined more off the court than on the court.

Michael Dell – Dell

Michael Dell, born February 1965, started the road to success out of his University of Texas dorm room in with just $1000 and an idea in 1984. Michael Dell is both Chairman and CEO of his company with a net worth of over $30 billion. Dell sells directly to the customer so to avoid middleman mark-ups.

Michele Hoskins - Michele Foods

Michele Hoskins is owner and founder of Michele Foods, Inc., a multi-million dollar company that produces Honey Creme Syrup, Butter Pecan Syrup, and Maple Creme Syrup, as well as other fine food products. The company’s products can be found in more than 10,000 food stores nationwide, including Stop & Shop, Super Wal Mart, Albertson, Kroger, Publix, Super Target, Cub Foods, H.E. Butt Grocery, Jewel Foods, Safeway and Dominick’s Finer Foods. Hoskins was awarded the 2002 “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Women’s Foodservices Forum. Her success has been legion. She took a generations-old family recipe and turned it into a multimillion-dollar corporation that produces Honey Crème Syrup. The tradition in her family, as set by her great-great-grandmother, America Washington, was to pass down a syrup recipe to the third daughter of each generation. Hoskins, the only girl born to her parents, persuaded her reluctant mother to give her the recipe for her own third daughter, Keisha. This beloved family recipe would become Hoskins’s saving grace. In the midst of a bitter divorce, a custody battle, and a part-time teaching career that left her financially strapped, Hoskins decided to create a business around her great-great-grandmother's syrup recipe. Hoskins, the president and CEO of Michele's Foods, Inc., believed that people should have a passion for what they want to do, be willing to persevere, and have the patience to let it happen. She cited these "three P's" as cornerstones in her success at starting her own business.

Mike Ilitch – Little Caesars Pizza

The story of Little Caesars Pizza's growth is a phenomenal one. Founded in 1959 by Mike and Marian Ilitch, what began as one neighborhood pizza restaurant has grown into one of the top international pizza chains. He also owns the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Tigers. He also supports many different charities.

Munson Steed - Steed Media

Publisher of the Atlanta-based magazine Rolling Out focusing on mainstream reviews of celebrity, entertainment, movies, politics, and society. Distributed throughout Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Newark, N.J., Miami, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, and Memphis. Employs over 400 people nationwide.


Nolan Bushnell - Chuck E. Cheese

A Utah inventor brought the world new kinds of fun: computer games and family-friendly restaurants with game facilities. His work on electronic entertainment led to a multibillion-dollar industry. Bushnell founded a company, Atari, to market it and other products, like Asteroids. In 1975, Atari released a version of Pong that could be played on television sets, in partnership with Sears. The following year, Bushnell sold his company to Time Warner for $28 million. By 1982, it was a $2 billion cash cow. Bushnell himself founded the Chuck E. Cheese's "entertainment restaurants," a nationwide chain of pizza parlors with video gaming for children and their parents.Since the mid-1980s, he has been involved with more technology start-ups; his latest venture, uWink, is an entertainment software company that develops games for a range of platforms, from cell phones to amusement parks.


Paul Orfaleo – Kinko’s

Paul Orfaleo founded Kinko’s. Today, Kinko’s is a worldwide printing center offering a variety of services bringing in millions of dollars per year in revenue. Paul Orfaleo started this vast empire off of one store that multiplied. It has been said that the name Kinko’s comes from how other kids joked about Paul’s hair.


Reginald Francis Lewis – Beatrice

Reginald F. Lewis (December 7, 1942 - January 19, 1993), an African American born in Baltimore, Maryland, was one of the most successful business leaders during the 1980s. He grew up in a middle class Baltimore neighborhood. He won a football scholarship to Virginia State College (now Virginia State University), graduating with a degree in economics in 1965. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1968.Upon graduating from law school, Lewis went to work for the prominent New York City law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Two years later, he struck out on his own, founding one of Wall Street's first African American law firms, Murphy, Thorpe & Lewis. The firm later evolved into Lewis & Clarkson and specialized in venture capital. Reginald F. Lewis was best known for his unprecedented leveraged buyout of Beatrice International Food Companies in 1987, creating TLC Beatrice. The deal was notable both as the biggest acquisition of overseas assets by any American company and because it rendered TLC Beatrice the largest African American business in the United States. Lewis was also a well known philanthropist, and his hometown of Baltimore honored him posthumously with the 2004 opening of a cultural museum bearing his name.

Robert T. Kiyosaki - Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Born and raised in Hawaii, Robert T. Kiyosaki co-founded an international education company that operated in seven countries, teaching business to tens of thousands of graduates. Now retired, Robert does what he enjoys most: investing. Concerned about the growing gap between the haves and have-nots, Robert created the board game Cashflow, which teaches the game of money, only previously known by the rich. With Sharon Lechter he is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Rich Dad, Poor Dad, as well as the national bestsellers Cashflow Quadrant and Rich Dad's Guide to Investing. Robert Kiyosaki a financier, author and teacher says "that the main reason people struggle financially is because they have spent years in school but learned nothing about money. The result is that people learn to work for money...but never learn to have money work for them."

Richard Branson - Virgin

Richard Branson, an English business magnate, is best known for his thrill seeking spirit and outrageous business tactics. He dropped out at the age of 16 and started his first successful business venture, Student Magazine. He is the owner of the Virgin Group with over 300 companies, involving in businesses including leisure, travel, tourism, mobile, broadband, TV, radio, music festivals, finance and health. Branson is the 5th richest person in the United Kingdom and 254th in the world according to Forbes' 2011 list of billionaires, with an estimated net worth of approximately £2.58 billion (US$4.2 billion).


Sam Walton - Walmart

After Sam Walton got out of the US military he decided he wanted his own department store. He wanted to make enough money that he could support his family. His dream came into reality in the fall of 1945 when he purchased a store in Newport with the help of his father-in-law. Sam borrowed $20,000.00 from his father-in-law and had $5,000 saved from the military. Wal-Mart first opened in 1962 and became the world's number one retailer. Wal-Mart's success has also given many people today an opportunity for a bigger job market. More than 600,000 Americans work at Wal-Mart. The reason for its popular success it still follows Sam Walton's values: by hometown identity, each person is welcomed personally by People Greeters, each store honors a graduating high school senior with a college scholarship, bake sales to benefit a local charity, associates determine where charitable funds are donated, and the prices are low and customers do not have to wait for a sale to see savings. This is only to name a few of the things that Wal-Mart does for the community.

Sean Combs – Sean John Clothing / Bad Boy Entertainment

Sean "Puffy" Combs, also known as P. Diddy, is a hip-hop performer, producer and businessman known for hit records (Bad Boy Entertainment), and his clothing line Sean John. Sean John is now a $400+ Million Dollar per year company. Mr. Combs also executive produces a number of Cable Programs such as his Making the Band and P. Diddy’s Star Maker.

Steve Jobs – Apple Inc.

American entrepreneur and inventor Steve Jobs is co-founder, chairman and former chief executive officer of Apple Inc. After attending one semester of college, Steve Jobs worked for Atari before co-founding Apple Computers. This insanely creative Apple chief has transformed a multibillion-dollar industry every few years. First, personal computers with Apple II, Macintosh; then film with Pixar; music (iTunes), mobile (iPhone). Now iPad is treated as messiah tablet, savior for publishing industry. Apple still sells computers, but twice of the revenue now comes from music distribution and hand-held devices. Shot past long-time rival Microsoft as world's most valuable tech company in May.

Steven Spielberg - Dreamworks

Steven Spielberg is perhaps Hollywood's best known director and one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world. Born in Cincinnati on December 18, 1946, and raised in the suburbs of Haddonfield New Jersey and Scottsdale Arizona, Spielberg always had a love and fascination for the movie industry. As a preteen, he charged admission to his home movies (which involved wrecks he staged with his Lionel train set) while his sister sold popcorn. At the age of 12, his first production was complete, including script and actors. Just one year later at the age of 13, Spielberg won a prize for a 40-minute war movie he titled Escape to Nowhere. In 1963, at the young age of 16, his 140-minute production of Firelight (which would later inspire Close Encounters) was shown in a local movie theater and brought in $100 profit. Today, Steven Spielberg is perhaps Hollywood's best known director and one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world.


Ted Turner – Turner Broadcasting

Ted Turner was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 19, 1938. On June 1, 1980, Turner inaugurated CNN, the world's first, live, in-depth, round-the-clock news television network. A second all-news service, Headline News, began operation on January 1, 1982, offering updated newscasts every half-hour. Launched in September 1985, CNN International serves as the company's global news service and is distributed in more than 210 countries and territories worldwide. He's a billionaire and also owns the Atlanta Braves baseball club.

Tomima Edmark - Topsy Tail

An inventor-entrepreneur left a successful career in marketing in 1989 when she launched her blockbuster hair accessory, the Topsy Tail. This extraordinary product earned her instant fame among the nation's small-business set and put Edmark on an entrepreneurial path that continues as of this 2007 writing. She has since developed a series of additional consumer products, written several successful books and created a variety of e-commerce Web sites.

Tyler Perry – Tyler Perry Productions

Tyler Perry is an African-American - new-school playwright, who has, he says, made over $50 million writing and producing plays for the urban theater circuit. It wasn’t always that way for Perry. In 1992, Perry saved $12,000, rented out a theater, wrote, directed, promoted and starred in his own production of I Know I've Been Change--and it failed miserably; during its entire weekend run, only 30 people showed up. For six years after that, Perry held a string of odd jobs in order to finance the show, and sporadically lived on the streets when he couldn't afford to pay the rent. Almost everyone, even his own mother, begged him to quit the theater and find a steady 9-to-5 for good. Perry refused to give up. Finally, in the summer of 1998, Perry financed the production once again. And this time, he vowed, would be the last time, if the production failed. That production of Tyler Perry's I Know I've Been Changed opened at the House of Blues in Atlanta and sold out eight times over. Two weeks later, the play would move to the prestigious Fox Theater and sell out 9,000 more seats. In addition to doing plays, Perry also wrote, funded, acted, and directed his first feature film - Diary of a Mad Woman.


Vera Wang – Vera Wang Fashions

Vera Wang once worked with Ralph LAUREN for 2 years. In 1990, she opened her own house on Madison Avenue, New York, designing bridal wear and evening gowns. In 1994, she started her own label. Her clientele list is very long, especially for Oscar night. She has made wedding dresses for numerous celebrities including Mariah Carey for her wedding to Tommy Mottola in 1993. Cate Blanchett picked up her Golden Globe for "Elizabeth" in a beaded black Wang dress. Uma Thurman, Posh Spice, Alicia Silverstone, and Sharon Stone and Elisabeth Shue are all her loyal clients.


Wayne Huizenga - Blockbuster

Wayne Huizenga is a man of distinction. He's the only person in history to build three Fortune 1000 companies practically from scratch: Waste Management, Blockbuster Entertainment and AutoNation. He is the only person to have developed six NYSE-listed companies. He also owns the Miami Dolphins. At one time he owned the Florida Marlins baseball team and the Panthers hockey team as well.