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Monthly Archives: April 2012

As a child, Debra Jane Sivyer had no extraordinary talents except for her love for baking. Dubbed “The Cookie Kid” by friends and family, Debbi took a job as a ball girl for Oakland’s baseball team at age 13 to be able to buy ingredients to support her hobby. Who knew that this would eventually lead to getting more than just her childhood dream of opening a cookie stand?

Debbi married Randal K. Fields in 1970, and with his help she was able to secure a loan that allowed her to open Mrs. Field’s Chocolate Chippery. Although she did not have any business experience, she was determined to make this venture work. She eventually changed her store’s name to Mrs. Field’s Cookies and the rest, as they say, is history.

Debbi eventually sold her enterprise to private investors, but was retained as a consultant to the company which she built from scratch.

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Pop superstar and fashion icon Beyoncé Knowles has done it again. Not only is she a multi-awarded recording artist, successful song writer and record producer, and a Golden Globe nominated actress, she has also proven that she can make it big in the fashion industry as a designer and entrepreneur.

Aside from her musical talent, a lot of girls idolize Beyoncé for her fashion sense. Her one of a kind style has been her trademark even during the early days of Destiny’s Child. Her mother Tina Knowles used to design and create clothes for the girls. As the girl-group’s popularity rose, more and more fans took notice of Destiny’s Child’s unique fashion style and this eventually prompted Beyoncé and her mother to consider launching their own fashion line. In 2005, they launched The House of Deréon. This line, named after Beyoncé’s mother Agnez Deréon, represents three generations of Deréon women. Its tagline “Coutour.Kick.Soul” shows each generation’s contribution to the House of Deréon look. In 2006, Beyoncé and her sister Solange launched Deréon. With the tagline “Where the sidewalk and catwalk meet”, Deréon is a lower-priced ready-to-wear fashion line that caters to a younger market.

Both clothing lines have been successful since they were launched and with success, controversy usually follows. From her use of real fur during her red carpet appearances to a Deréon Girls ad that enraged a lot of people due to the alleged “sexualisation” of young girls, even someone as popular and influential as Beyoncé could not escape the sharp eye of the critics. However, no matter what they throw at her, it does not seem possible to keep this girl down. The house of Deréon keeps turning out fresh collections that the fashion hungry public can’t help but buy. Once again, Sasha Fierce has proven that if you love what you do, anything is possible.

Rupert Murdoch is deemed to be one of the most influential people in the entire world, with a global force that encompasses television, film, print and online media. As the founder and CEO of News Corporation, the planet’s second largest media conglomerate, Murdoch is a genius who knows what he wants and knows how to get it.

Australian-born Murdoch took his first step on the media world at a young age when he inherited their family business, News Limited, following his father’s death. Not only did he maneuver the company to big-time success, he also expanded and acquired numerous media companies all over the world.

His media empire was, without a doubt, vast. Apart from his several newspaper companies which include the New York Post, the Sun and The Australian – all of which dominate the print media world in their respective countries, Murdoch is also the proud owner of famous brands like Fox Television, 20th Century Fox, Harper Collins, DirectTV, and MySpace.

Needless to say, the story of his success is not without a share of scandals and turmoil, but he seems to be moving past it swiftly and cunningly, and still remains at the height of his powers even after all these years.

Diego Della Valle knew what he wanted in life was to continue his family’s business and turn it into a legacy that will be known by the world. Tod’s Group, one of the biggest and most successful Italian companies today, is the steady proof of how Diego’s desire was fulfilled.

Diego’s innate passion for business can be traced back to his immediate ancestry. His grandfather, Filippo Della Valle, put up his shoemaking business in the late 1920s. Diego grew up seeing the potential of his grandfather’s trade and despite studying Law in the University of Bologna, he still chose to focus in his goal of making a global name for their family business.

In the 1970s, Diego took over their basement business and expanded his grandfather’s simple workshop into a larger factory. He led the manufacture of leather shoes and pursued in marketing and distributing them in American department stores. When the 80’s set in, he introduced groundbreaking marketing strategies to take their success a notch higher. He went on to create lifestyle brands namely Tod’s, Fay and Hogan while keeping the trademark handmade manufacturing process.

As the years went by, Diego made clever moves that would further the company’s unwavering success. He hired Roger Vivier, renowned maker of luxury shoes, in the middle of 1990’s. In 2003, he also acquired the services of Italian designer Bruno Frisoni and made him Vivier’s creative director.

As of late, Tod’s has a number of store branches scattered all over the world, including a handful in US and flagship stores in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Diego Della Valle also expressed his interests beyond the shoemaking business. Currently, the Della Valle family has stakes in the RCS MediaGroup, Rizzoli Media Group, Ferrari, LVMH and Saks Fifth Avenue. He also owns Florentina, Florence’s official football team.

Diego, now 58 years of age, keeps on holding on to what his grandfather passed on to his father: quality. As he puts it, “when you make the best, people follow and respect you.”

Peter Jones knew that he wanted to be in business at age 16. Despite his inexperience, he founded a tennis academy before even finishing high school. As expected, the young entrepreneur’s first venture did not fare well. These setbacks never stopped him, though. All his risks proved to be worth it when, in his early twenties, his computer business thrived – albeit short-lived.

Jones took a hiatus as an entrepreneur, only to come back at the age of 30 with his own telecom business. With much experience from his prior employment at Siemens, he introduced Phones International Group. This company brought Jones to a whole new level, earning an excess of £200 million per year.

As one of top business entrepreneurs in Britain, Jones has won many awards, including The Times/Ernst & Young’s Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year (2001). Persistence truly pays off, as seen in Jones’ progress to the top.

James Clark is a master at multitasking. Before becoming a Silicon Valley giant, he was known as a man who pursued his ambitions through every possible opportunity he could take.

Clark’s story begins as a young high school dropout who enlisted in the Navy. He spent four years of service before deciding that being a military man is not the career he wanted. He returned to school and took night classes at Tulane, hoping to earn enough credits to qualify him for a college degree. With much persistence, he completed his secondary education and was accepted at the University of New Orleans. Clark did not stop with a college degree; he went all the way and got a master’s degree in Physics and a Ph.D. in Computer Science. In 1979, Clark accepted Stanford University’s offer to become an associate professor of electrical engineering.

For many, this is the perfect ending to a story of academic excellence. For Clark, it was just the beginning.  After three years in Stanford, he formed Silicon Graphics along with other colleagues at the said university.  The company manufactured graphics workstations, which evolved into graphical UNIX workstations equipped with high-speed hardware for graphics rendering. Within a decade, Clark and his co-founders were able to make the company a world leader in 3-D imaging and movie visual effects.

The saying “with each end comes a new beginning” remains true for Clark after a falling out with Silicon Graphics. In this period, he achieved his greatest success – Netscape. The rise of Netscape was credited to its share of the internet browser market, which was almost 80%. For a long period, Netscape was considered the best-used browser, until Microsoft introduced the free Internet Explorer.

These are some of Clark’s achievements as one of the top business entrepreneurs of his age. He continues to be an active businessman today, the latest venture being in the healthcare industry with Healtheon.

British entrepreneur Theo Paphitis has come a long way from being an immigrant to one of United Kingdom’s most lucrative businessmen. At the tender age of six, his family left Limassol, Cyprus, in search of better opportunities in England. London became Paphitis’ new home, where he developed an interest in entrepreneurship. He tried his luck with several odd jobs throughout his adolescence, but this was clearly not the path for him.

Like all great minds who choose not to conform, Paphitis decided to start his own business. The success of his first venture into property finance only encouraged his aggressiveness as an entrepreneur. He became a retail genius, his latest offering being a new lingerie chain called Boux Avenue.

Included in the Sunday Times Rich List of 2008, Paphitis is considered among the top entrepreneurs of his generation. He is also a philanthropist, known to donate significant amounts to several children’s charities.

At the young age of 16, Alan Michael Sugar decided that education was not what he needed to become successful in life. He needed to gain experience in the real world, and working was the only solution he saw. So, he dropped out, and quite ironically applied as a Statistician in the Education Ministry. To many, this job meant stability and longevity, but Sugar was not one to settle. After a brief period, he left civil service and went on a new direction: selling electrical products. This begins the story of Sir Alan Michael Sugar, the British entrepreneur.

Sugar was only 21 years old when he had his very own company registered. Born out of a van, Amstrad, as he called his business, was derived using his initials and the word “trading.”  Within two years, the company took Europe by storm; from car aerials, Sugar begun producing hi-fi turntables made of cheaper alternative products. With such obvious economical advantage, demand for Sugar’s products reached sky high. His fledgling company suddenly became a market competitor, doubling in share price per annum and tapping into several different markets.

Looking back, Sugar humbly shares that he had no idea that he would someday be a rich and successful man. He knew only one thing – he did not want to work for another. In his venture to be his own boss, Sugar became one of the top business entrepreneurs of the past decade. Through his electronics company, he amassed a fortune well worth $1 billion dollars. In 2000, he was knighted by the Queen of England for his contributions to the British business industry. Last year, he ranked 89th in The Sunday Times’ “Rich List”. These are but some of the few accolades he has received throughout his career as an entrepreneur.

Although Sugar stepped down from being Amstrad’s chairman in 2008, he is still very much at large as an influential figure in business.