You know them, they’re the most successful, wealthy and well-known names in the biz, but just how did they get there? In this post, we will look at 5 Brilliant Business CEO’s that went from startup to major success and talk about just how they made it to the top of their game!
6 Brilliant Business CEO’s
Payal Kadakia had a bright start receiving academic awards and majoring in operations research graduating at MIT. Payal worked in consulting, digital strategy and business development before she started her own company.
Her original passion for dance sparked her idea of ClassPass, a fitness-focused service offering members the option to try different classes at numerous local gyms. In 2015 the company was valued around $400 million after a rebrand took a successful turn in 2013. Classtivity, the original concept allowed customers to sign up for different classes and pay when they arrived. There were a few problems with this model, purchasers and customer retention were very low in the beginning. People weren’t going to classes and studio owners weren’t benefiting. Since rebranding to ClassPass and moving to a monthly subscription service with different plan options the company has seen massive growth and continues to prosper.
Kadakia attends different fitness classes regularly in order to see through the eyes of her customers. This helps her learn any concerns and fears her customers are having as well as what they like. She hopes her clients will be able to find the same joy that she experiences with dance.
Forget millionaire, Zuckerberg holds multi-billionaire status. Around a $50 billion net worth to be exact. Almost everyone knows his success story as his fame skyrocketed him to film status in 2010 with the biographic drama, The Social Network.
The 32-year-old born in New York loved computers from an early age. His parents even hired a private computer tutor to work with Zuckerberg but the genius seemed to quickly keep up with his teacher. Before graduating he was offered jobs with large companies like AOL and Microsoft which he declined.
Zuckerberg attended Harvard where he was part of creating a couple of different online social platforms. In 2004 Facebook was created with 3 of his classmates as a way for people to share photos, create profiles and communicate with friends. The online monster was created in a dorm room and by the end of the first year, Facebook had already reached 1 million users.
Although Facebook remains to be an enormous success it had its bumps along the way. Zuckerberg endured a long legal battle with a few of his Harvard colleagues claiming the idea of the platform was stolen from their original idea, Harvard Connection. A settlement of a mere $65 million was paid out however the legal feud continued years later.
The Facebook founder now resides with his wife, philanthropist Priscilla Chan and their daughter. The two continue to be examples of good in the world pledging billions to charities and in 2015 they shocked the world by pledging 99% of their Facebook shares ($45 billion) to the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative.
Company: The Honest Company
Celebrity endorsers these days put their names on anything and everything from makeup to clothing to fragrances. What makes this company unique? Actress Jessica Alba co-founded Honest when she became a new mom realizing there was no market built for natural and safe baby products. Growing up Jessica was plagued with childhood illnesses and she didn’t want her newborn baby to have the same experience.
Alarmed by toxins and harsh chemicals added in many day-to-day household items, Jessica, and co-founder Christopher Gavigan have created an empire providing natural, eco-friendly products safe for babies and easing the minds of new moms.
The Honest Company was formed in 2011. It received millions in funding from venture capitalists and by 2014 saw $170 million in sales. The products are sold in many large retailers in the US and Canada such as Target and Costco but most sales are made online. Honest continues to prosper without ever using conventional advertising like print, billboards, and television. The cute and clean designs paired with a smart product sells itself.
There have been a few legal controversies in the last few years surrounding the supposed completely eco-friendly products of Honest but the founders continue to stand by their company and product. Many charities benefit from the company, Honest donates products and revenue to multiple organizations.
The basis for Snapchat was started in 2011 under the name Picaboo. Spiegal created the mobile app with friends Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown while still living at home with his parents. He pitched the idea of disappearing images to his classmates as a final project and received disinterested feedback from his peers. The app relaunched two months later as Snapchat and is most popular for it’s instant and personal messaging but also acts as an advertising platform for other brands.
A Stanford University student studying product design, Spiegal had a number of working internships including an unpaid sales internship in sales with Red Bull. In 2012 he dropped out of Stanford before graduating to focus on the growth of Snapchat.
Spiegal has suffered a few battles during the growth of Snapchat including a 2013 privacy hack and a three-year legal battle with original partner Reggie Brown. Brown took legal action against Spiegal on the grounds that he was the inventor of the original concept Picaboo. In 2014 a settlement was reached and Brown was eventually credited for starting and developing the application.
Snapchat has endured a few upgrades since it’s creation and is extremely popular for its temporary video sharing. In its first year around 25 images per second were being sent, this year the program sees over 10 billion video views daily.
“There is real value in sharing moments that don’t live forever.” – Evan Spiegel
The kind of Cinderella story that makes you mad that you didn’t think of it first! Uber was created in 2009 by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, founder of StumbleUpon. Simple as it goes the two friends were discussing some modern day hardships such as the annoyance of trying to find and hail a cab when you’re cramped with luggage and rain is pelting you. Uber is born! Well, it wasn’t quite that easy…
Testing and prototypes began to solve the public transportation problem and in 2010 Uber started out with just a few cars in NYC. Popularity with the service grew quickly and the company grew to its second metropolitan city, San Francisco. The company got a quick boost in its first year with 1.25 million in seed funding. Uber had massive wins in backing and in its final round of funding received a whopping $1.2 billion. Now valued at over $60 billion and serving more than 300 cities Uber is rivaling names like Ford and General Motors.
An entrepreneur from the beginning, Kalanick is known for his tantrums and fearless confidence. After dropping out of UCLA he launched two file sharing companies the first, Scour ended in lawsuits and bankruptcy. Kalanick’s second try, Red Swoosh gave him millionaire status after selling to Akamai. Posing him to rub elbows with some of Silicon Valley’s best and brightest and in 2014 made Forbes list of 400 richest Americans.
Stewart Butterfield has dabbled in a few different ventures before gaining mass success with communication platform Slack. He grew up in British Columbia, Canada attending the University of Victoria where he studied philosophy. Butterfield went on to the University of Cambridge to earn a master’s in philosophy and co-founded his first company, Ludicorp in 2002 with his wife, Caterina Fake. The online gaming company was eventually picked up by Yahoo and Butterfield moved on to become a founder of the popular photo-sharing site, Flickr.
Slack began in 2012, the team begged their friends and other companies to use the program and give them feedback on how it worked in a corporate setting. There was a lot of trial and error but the smartest move the company made as it grew was listening to its users. Acknowledging the incoming feedback from consumers is what has skyrocketed the app to success. Slack simply gave people what they were looking for.
The company was publicly launched in 2014 and in two years has grown a net worth of $3 billion. Slack started with around 16,000 users in 2014 and has now grown to 3 million daily average users.
People love the app for its ease of use and slick design in 2015 Slack already had a growth rate of 5% per week. There is no doubt the program will continue to profit and succeed as online communication continues to expand.
“Be opportunistic. Be open, really listen and assess what kind of response the product gets and evolve in a way that makes sense.” – Stewart Butterfield