Samuel Walton (Founder, Walmart)
Samuel Walton was one of America’s most innovative entrepreneurs. His journey from building a small grocery store into a giant supermarket chain is quite inspiring. He grew up during the Great Depression. Like with most other families during that time, the financial situation of his family worsened.
To make their financial ends meet, he did a lot of chores. He milked the family cow and delivered the surplus milk to customers. He delivered Columbia Daily Tribune newspapers on a paper route. He also sold magazine subscriptions. Once he completed his graduation, he joined the Army. This was the time of World War II.
When the war got over, he left the military and decided to open a store. At the age of 26, he took a loan to buy his first store. Soon he garnered enough capital to open a second store. The next three years saw his sales volume reaching up to $225,000. This led to the opening of the first true Wal-Mart on July 2, 1962. This was in Rogers, Arkansas.
One of the reasons for his success in popularizing Walmart is that the stores are located in smaller towns. He started his own truck service so that he doesn’t have to be dependant on other transport services. The number of stores grew from 190 in 1977 to 800 in 1980. Samuel Walton was ranked by Forbes as the richest person in the world from 1982 to 1988. He died in the year 1992. At that time, Wal-Mart had an annual sales of about $50 billion and had 1,960 stores with an employee strength of 380,000.
Jan-Koum (Founder, Whatsapp)
The story of Jan Koum is one of the rags to riches entrepreneur stories of inspiration that can make you believe that no adversity is greater than your willpower. Jan Koum was born in a village in Kiev, Ukraine. He migrated to California with his mother when he was 16. He faced a lot of hardships during his childhood and teenage days. From sweeping the floor of a grocery store to standing in line to collect food stamps, he had done it all. In spite of so many hardships, he managed to become an expert computer hacker by the age of 18. He also joined a hacker group called w00w00 on the Efnet internet relay chat network.
Later, he got himself enrolled at San Jose State University and started working at Ernst & Young as a security tester. In 1997, he got a chance to work as an engineer at Yahoo. This was shortly after he met Brian Acton, a Yahoo employee. The two become close friends. Together, they left Yahoo in 2007 and took a year off. In 2009, both of them applied for a job on Facebook only to get rejected.
In the same year, Koum bought an iPhone. He soon realized that apps were the next big thing. He thought about the idea of creating an instant messaging service that would be hassle-free and user-friendly. On February 24, 2009, he, with Brian Acton launched Whatsapp Inc. in California.
A few years down the line, Facebook was finally able to make a deal with Whatsapp. On February 19, 2014, Facebook announced that it was acquiring Whatsapp for US$19 billion.
Entrepreneur stories of inspiration are always a great way to unleash that entrepreneurial spirit within you. Hope these stories make an impact on you and make you braver and wiser.