The other day, I came across Michael Dunlop’s famous young rich list and it made me wonder how old some of the world most famous brand’s founders were when they first started their multimillion dollar companies.

Naturally, I did a little research. And the results shocked me. I limited my search for people under 25 only, not expecting many to make the list.

Boy! Was I wrong! The figures are dated, of course (2011), and I think it shows how fast the world has changed. Take a look at some 2011 data:

Michael Kitterdge started Yankee Candle Company in South Hadley, Massachusetts when he was 16. This $1.6 billion dollar company was started by Michael’s gift ideas to his mother. He melted crayons to create scented candle. Soon his product’s popularity has increased dramatically. The company now has more than 550 stores all over the world selling almost anything from scented candles to hand sanitizers.

Ingvar Kamprad founded IKEA in 1943 when he was only 17 using the cash reward from his father for advancing in studies. IKEA is made up of the initials of his name (Ingvar Kamprad) plus those of Elmtaryd, the family farm where he was born, and the nearby village Agunnaryd. In 2011, according to Forbes magazine, his net worth is US$6 billion making him the 162nd wealthiest person in the world.

Claude Ryan and Jim Casey founded American Messenger Co. on 28th-August, 1907 in Seattle,Washington. Later on in 1913, the company was renamed as United Parcel Service (or UPS as we are most familiar with). The total start up capital of this brilliant business was US$ 100 borrowed from a friend. Initially the company specialized in delivering telegraph and lunches on bikes. Obviously, the two youngsters know their stuff. They have managed to multiply the first $100 in 1907 to a massive $33.594 billion total assets in 2010. Nowadays, UPS is responsible for delivering more than 15 million packages a day to 6.1 million customers in more than 220 countries and territories around the world.

Michael Dell created PCs Limited( later on, this got changed to Dell Computer Corporation in 1988) while studying at the University of Texas at Austin in 1984. after gaining US$ 300,000 from his family, he dropped out of uni to fully focus on his company. In its first year of trading, the company grossed more than US$ 73 million. According to Wikipedia, in 1992, Fortune magazine included Dell Computer Corporation in its list of the world’s 500 largest companies, making Michael Dell the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company ever. The company’s revenue in 2011 is $61.49 billion with 103,300 employees working all over the world.

Mark Zuckerberg is probably one of the most popular young entrepreneurs in the world. With Alexa rank of no. 2 and 750 millions user(2011), his newly founded Facebook site has surely brought him more than just fame. It generates a revenue of $ 2 billion( 2010), making Mark Zuckerberg one of the world’s youngest billionaires. In November 2010, based on SecondMarket, Inc., an exchange for shares of privately held companies, Facebook’s value was $41 billion (slightly surpassing eBay’s). It is the 3rd largest US web company after Google and Amazon.

Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman formed Lotus Engineering Ltd 1952 after graduating from University College in London. Thanks to his company, Anthony- an innkeeper’s son became a multimillionaire industrialist in post-war Britain. The company later on got sold to General Motors in 1986 and A.C.B.N in 1993 for 30 million pounds.

Bill Gates started Microsoft with Paul Allen when he was 20 years old in April 4, 1975. Most of us are aware of the amazing fact that Bill Gates is consistently ranked among the world’s wealthiest people from 1995 to 2009. He holds the largest individual shares in Microsoft with more than 8 percent of common stock. By 2011, the company generates revenue of US$69.94 billion, making US$ 23.15 billion profit. In the same year, his net worth has increased to US$ 59 billion.

Steve Jobs founded Apple Computer, Inc on April 1, 1976.when he was 21. He dropped out from Reed College in 1972 after just one semester because he didn’t have enough money to pay for school fees. However, he has never stopped learning. He continued auditing classes at Reed, while sleeping on the floor in friends’ rooms, returning Coke bottles for food money, and getting weekly free meals at the local Hare Krishna temple. You may think that these hardships would prevent anyone from achieving great accomplishments.

Not Steve Jobs. He later said:” If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple  typeface or proportionally spaced fonts.” The main aim of Apple is to create products that are both functional and elegant has literately created a new trend in consumer electronics. The most popular and profitable Apple products are the iPod, iPhone , iPad and Macintosh line of computers. Despite receiving salary of $1, Steve Jobs’s net worth is US$8.3 billion( in 2011).

William S. Harley co founded Harley- Davidson Motor Company in 1903 when he was 23. During the first decade of the 20th century, it was one of two major American motorcycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depression Harley-Davidson also survived a period of high competition from Japanese manufacturers. Nowadays, the company is operating with 6,300 employees worldwide, generating US$4.86 billion revenue and US$146.5 billion net income.

Walter Elias Disney started his career as an artist by working as a cartoonist for the Chicago Art Institute’s newspaper. When World War I began, he dropped out of high school to join the army at 16 but got rejected for being underage. In 1919, when he was 18, unable to get a permanent job in Kansas City, he was introduced by his brother Roy, to work temporarily  at the Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio,]where he created advertisements for newspapers, magazines, and movie theaters. There, he met cartoonist Ubbe Iwerks and the pair started “Iwekrs-Disney Commercial Artists” in 1920.

However the company did not last long. Not long after that, he decided to try again and launched Laugh-O-Gram Studio. While his cartoons became widely popular in the Kansas City area, the money they generated did not cover expensive employees’ salaries. Laugh-O-Gram was ended. Not long after his second fail. Walter and his brother Roy set up a cartoon studio in Hollywood-the movie industry’s capital city, and the rest was history. Now the company is one of the best well-known motion picture producers in the world. The corporation is now known as The Walt Disney Company and has annual revenues of approximately US $35 billion.

Louis Renault – Being a noob in anything motor- related. I have no idea who Louis Renault is until now. Apparently, he is of the founders of Renault and a pioneer of the automobile industry. He was only 22 when he started building built one of France’s largest automobile manufacturing concerns, which bears his name to this day. He built his first car when he was 21 in  1898, hiring a pair of workmen to modify a used 34 hp (560 W)]De Dion-Bouton cycle, which featured a revolutionary universally jointed drive shaft and a three-speed gearbox with reverse, with the third gear in direct drive (which he patented a year later). (source: Wikipedia. I’m a noob in this, I told you).

This first car which he call the Voiturette is his muse for starting his empire because he received 13 definite orders for the vehicle. Sensing business opportunity, he teamed up with his 2 brothers and formed the Renault Frères company on February 25, 1899. The rest is now history. In 2010, the company‘s revenue is €38.971 billion, earning a profit of €3.420 billion as well as providing jobs for 112, 615 employees. Pretty impressive for some one who started at 22, don’t you think?

Mihalis “Mike” Lazaridis – Who here loves the BlackBerry smartphone? If you do, here is the guy who is behind that creation. Mihalis “Mike” Lazaridis is the founder and co-CEO of Research In Motion (RIM), which created and manufactures the BlackBerry. He co-founded RIM in 1984 at the age of 23. 27 years later as of 2011, the company has a net income of US $ 3.411 billion and employs more than 17,000 employees. With an estimated net worth of $US 1.9 billion (as of March 2011), Lazaridis was ranked by Forbes as the 17th wealthiest Canadian and 651st in the world.

Konosuke Matsushita was the founder of Panasonic at the age of 24. He is known as the ‘god of management’. Like any typical Japanese he had a 9-5 job at the Osaka Electric Light Company and was good at it. Proof of this is at the age of 22, he got promoted to the position of an electrical inspector- a prestigious role with high salary despite his lack of formal education (He ended his formal education at the age of 9 due to family’s misfortunes). Matsushita invented a new and improved light socket in his spare time and attempted to introduce it to his boss. However, his boss showed no interest in the invention and quickly Matsushita grew dissatisfied with his job.

This is a lucky turn point in his life at he left the job and founded his company at the age of 23 in 1917. He did not have capital, experience in manufacturing and a formal education. It is easy to make prediction of his company’s fail before it even began. However, whatever resources Matsushita lacked, he made up with ambition and determination. Matsushita set up his shop in the basement of his tenement and with his wife, brother-in-law, and several assistants, he began creating several samples of his product. However, he got rejected by many wholesalers as he did not offer more than 1 product.

His bankruptcy was saved by an unexpected order for a thousand insulator plates for electric fans. Eventually, his light sockets became popular as the wholesalers realized his products had higher quality and were cheaper. Matsushita’s products were originally marketed under the name brand of “National” and later moved on to the more recognizable names of Panasonic, Quasar and Technic. His company now has an operating income of US$ 3.68 billion, making US$ 893 million profit and employs nearly 400,000 employees. He is a perfect example of” If you are not happy with your job, do something about it”.

Guy Laliberté co-formed Cirque du Soleil in 1984 when he was 24. The company was initially named Les Echassiers in 1980. They toured Quebec for a living and experienced great financial hardship. However, Le Grand Tour de Cirque du Soleil was a success in 1984 and they changed the name of the company to Cirque du Soleil. In 2010, the company generates revenue of C$ 850 million. Its shows are seen seen by more than 90 million people worldwide. In 2006, Laliberté was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. With an estimated net worth ofUS$2.5 billion (2011), Laliberte was ranked the 11thrichest Canadian and 459th in the world by Forbes Magazines.

Lawrence “Larry” Page co-founded Google in 1998 with Sergey Brin at the age of 25. As of 2011, his net worth is estimated to be $16.7 billion. When he was a kid, Larry Page has expressed his love for invention. He said that “from a very early age, I also realized I wanted to invent things. So I became really interested in technology…and business . . . probably from when I was 12, I knew I was going to start a company eventually. Both Page and Brin earn an annual compensation of one-dollar from Google. Google’s operating income is US$10.381 billion, earning a profit of US$ 8.505 billion and employs nearly 30,000 employees ( as of 2011);

Anthony “Tony” Maglica is the owner and founder of Mag Instrument Inc, the company that manufactures the Maglite flashlight which was designed by Maglica. The Maglite is a powerful and durable flashlight that has become standard issue gear used by police officers in the USA. He was born in New York, but because of the Great Depression, his family returned to the island of Zlarin. In 1950, when he was 20, he returned to the US (Ontario,California). With minimal English, he got a job as a machinist. During this time, he bought a metal lathe for $1000 which he paid of monthly. That business grew into his own machine shop which he incorporated in 1975.

Akio Morita is co-founder of Sony Corporation along with Masaru Ibuka. He was 25 when he founded Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation) on May 7, 1946. The company started with 20 employees and initial captal of ¥190,000. In 1958, Morita and Ibuka decided to rename their company Sony (sonus is Latin for sound, and Sonny-boys is Japanese slang for “whiz kids”). In 2011, the company’s revenue is US$ 86.64 billion, earning a net income of $2.41 billion and employs 168,200 employees.

William Reddington Hewlett was 24 when he  founded Hewlett-Packard Company (HP) in 1939 in a one-car garage in Palo Alto with Dave Packard. Now it is one of the world’s largest information technology companies, operating in nearly every country. HP specializes in developing and manufacturing computing, data storage, and networking hardware, designing software and delivering services. The company in 2010  has a net income of US$8.761 billion and employs 324,600 employees.

Peter Bang was 25 when he co-founded Bang & Olufsen in 1925- a Danish company that designs and manufactures audio products, television sets and telephones. The company’s first significant product was a radio that worked with alternating current, when most radios were run from batteries. In 2004, the company opened a factory in the Czech Republic where it employs approximately 250 staff producing mainly audio products. Company’s net income is 524 million DKK and employs 2,520 employees.

Jerry Yang was 25 when he co-founded Yahoo! Co.With David Filo in January, 1994. At first the internet website was called: Jerry and Dave’s Guide to the World Wide Web. It was then renamed Yahoo! in 1995. The company is perhaps best known for its web portal, search engine, Yahoo! Directory, Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! News, advertising, online mapping (Yahoo! Maps), video sharing (Yahoo! Video),social media and websites and services. It is one of the largest websites in the United States. Jerry took leave of absence and postponed his doctoral programs at Stanford indefinitely to pursuit the business.

Yang is currently on the Board of Directors of Alibaba, the Asian Pacific Fund, Cisco, and Yahoo! Japan, and is also on the Stanford University Board of Trustees The company now generates revenue of US$6.324 billion, earning US$ 1.232 net income and employs 13,600 employees

* Please note that the list is in no particular order as I personally believe there is no scale to measure success. These guys are examples of young people who dare to dream and dare  to pursuit that dream. The list are created to inspire you, me and anyone who are willing to make a change, that it is possible to start young and achieve success sooner.

I hope this list has activated your best-self and motivated you to start taking actions now and achieve whatever you set your mind and heart to.

One thought on “World’s 20 Youngest Founders Who Started The Biggest Companies (under 25)

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