Aug 20, 2013 12:28 PM

Famous Entrepreneurs Who Launched Businesses on Shoestring Budgets


As the informal gig economy becomes the norm and dream jobs become harder to find, more Americans than ever are venturing into the choppy waters of entrepreneurship. While the difficulty of finding the necessary funding to get a new venture afloat may seem like a deterrent, it’s good to keep in mind that these successful business people started out with little more than moxy:


Rick Rubin

Rick Rubin was a punk guitarist and NYU student who began running Def Jam Records out of his dorm room.  Rubin couldn’t afford labels for the first records he distributed and is said to have used brown paper bags as packaging. He soon began working with legendary hip hop performers such as LL Kool J and Run-D.M.C. Today, he’s a low-profile millionaire and one of the most sought-after music producers in the world.









John Paul Jones DeJoria

In his early years, DeJoria was raised in the poverty-stricken home of his single mom. Later, he wound up in the Los Angeles foster care system. After an adolescence in street gangs, he worked a series of jobs.  After working for Redken, DeJoria decided to launch his own hair products company with Paul Mitchell. The initial investment that got them up and running was a $700 loan. His business interests diversified when he created Patron tequila. Today, his net worth is 4 billion.




Bert Jacobs

Bert launched Life is Good in 1994. Sales of the products that have drawn such positive attention to his casual lifestyle brand are in the range of 100 million annually.  The early years of the company he founded in Boston with his brother, however, were not lucrative. The two conducted their first sales from a van that they also slept in.





Michael Dell

Before Dell was synonymous with the word “computer,” Michael Dell was a student at the University of Texas at Austin when he started running his first computer business.  Successful at bidding for government contracts against larger companies with higher overhead, he was able to take his casual enterprise out of his dormitory and into an office in a condominium. The expansion was financed with around $1000, a sliver of what it costs to operate the global powerhouse known as Dell today.





Julie Aigner-Clark

In 1996, Julie was a new mom spending so much time at home, that it’s where she based her first company. Julie had no prior background in business when she came up with the idea to sell educational resources for kids and launched Baby Einstein out of the basement. Her company’s first product was a low-budget video featuring her two daughters. By the time her company was bought by Disney for an undisclosed figure, however, Baby Einstein’s approximate value was about 400 million dollars.











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