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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Robert Small graduated with a degree in Tourism Management, but what he does now is quite far from what he studied at the University. He graduated in 2001 and co-founded MiniClip, a flash-based game website aimed at teens and young adults. Along with Tihan Presbie, Small created and funded the company which now reaches almost 200 countries.

The site began with an interactive flash video called Dancing George Bush. They sent the link to the video to around 4,000 people and within months, the number of site visits rose to 1.5 million. They started developing quality flash games and the site hits just kept coming. Small also had the idea of allowing other sites to embed their games, making the MiniClip name even more popular. Today, the site has 37 million users. It is because of Small’s leadership that the company has enjoyed success and steady growth. In 2008, Ernst & Young presented Small with the London Entrepreneur of the Year award.

At a young age, Rand Fishkin was already savvy when it comes to the internet. He began creating websites when he was only in high school. He was a Finance major in college, but his passion for the internet led him to start a career in search marketing. He consulted with local businesses in his hometown of Seattle, Washington and also worked at his mother’s advertising firm as the designated go-to guy when it comes to the World Wide Web and Search Engine Optimization. He began being active in SEO forums and blogging about the topic, citing his experiences and posting questions for other industry insiders to answer.

He dropped out of the University of Washington, Seattle in order to co-found SEOMoz, which is now known simply as Moz in 2004. Moz is a company that offers all-in SEO services to paying clients. It was under his management that the company was also able to launch an app that helps people perform SEO activities independently. He was CEO of Moz from 2007 to 2013, but stepped down in favor of the company’s COO Sarah Bird. He is still very much active with the company as an independent contributor.

Aside from Moz, Fishkin keeps himself busy with speaking engagements regarding search engine optimization and entrepreneurship. He has had the chance to speak and present at big forums such as the United Nations. He wrote a book in 2005 called Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimization. He also co-authored the book Art of SEO and co-founded inbound.org, an online community where marketers and inbound professionals can discuss the latest trends in the industry and share their ideas and best practices with others in the same field.

Truly, Fishkin’s name has become synonymous with Moz and SEO. He was recognized by Bloomberg Businessweek as one of the Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs in 2009.

Charles Kemmons Wilson , the man who was best known for being the “Father of Modern Hotels” lived a simple life as a child. Wilson was only six years old when he began his career selling subscriptions of The Saturday Evening Post. He was forced to drop out of high school and work when his mother lost her job during the depression.

Wilson tried his luck with business in the 1930s by selling popcorn and setting up a pinball machine in a Memphis movie theater. His businesses grew and soon enough he owned and operated several movie theaters in the area. After World War II, Wilson went into homebuilding and became very successful.

By 1951, Wilson was already married with 5 children. During a holiday trip to Washington D.C., Wilson was disappointed by the kind of accommodations available. There were hidden charges and not enough amenities, so he envisioned a chain of motels and hotels that people could actually trust. In 1952, he opened the first Holiday Inn, and the rest, as they say is history.

Wilson passed away at the age of 90 in his home in Memphis.

Sam Calagione wanted to be a fiction writer and so he majored in English while in college. After graduating from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, Calagione moved to New York in order to take some writing classes at Columbia University. In order to pay his way through school, he worked at a Mexican restaurant called Nacho Mama’s Burritos. Little did he know that his part-time job would change his life forever.

It was at the restaurant that Calagione first had a taste of microbrews like Chimay Red and Sierra Nevada Bigfoot and he enjoyed it so much that he became fascinated with microbrewing. He began experimenting with his own brews in his apartment and later on decided to leave Columbia and embark on a whole new journey. Calagione took an apprenticeship at the Shipyard Brewery in Portland, Maine to learn the ropes of the brewing business during the day and began writing his business plan at night.

After a year, Calagione and his wife Mariah moved to Delaware. It was there that he decided to put up his own brewery. He was able to raise money for the equipment to brew beer, but unfortunately the laws on brewing have not caught up to modern times and breweries were still considered illegal in Delaware in 1995. He worked hard and appeared before the State Senate to get the law changed and was successful. In June of that same year, he established his own brewpub. He named it Dogfish Head after the place in Maine where he used to spend his summers with his family. What made his microbrews different from others is the unusual, yet satisfying flavors he creates

Aside from his brewpub, Calagione also set his sights on bottling his brews and selling them to retailers. It took time for this side of the business to take off, but the success of the brewpubs was able to tie the company over until it became profitable.

Klaus Tschira is best known as one of the five co-founders of the software giant SAP. He, along with Hasso Plattner, Dietmar Hopp, Claus Wellenreuther, and Hans-Werner Hector teamed up to start the company after leaving IBM. What most people don’t know is that before Tschira became an entrepreneur and co-founded one of the business world’s most well-known companies, he actually earned a degree in Physics.

Because of his achievements, Tschira has earned a number of recognitions not only in his native Germany, but also from international organizations. The International Astronomical Union named asteroid 13028 after him in recognition of his support for the miniaturized satellite DIVA. He was also given the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Tschira’s passion for mathematics, as well as natural and computer sciences led him to start up a non-profit organization which supports projects in these fields. The Klaus Tschira Foundation aims to increase public understanding of these projects.

Ralph Dommermuth’s story is similar to many self-made billionaires. He started out small and slowly but surely, built an empire for himself. In his case, Dommermuth began as a computer salesman. He was able to save up enough capital to start his own company in 1988, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Dommermuth’s first company was called 1&1 AG. It was a company that provided marketing solutions to his clients, which at the time were small telecommunications and software companies. He was able to do this with just 500,000 Deutschmarks and a desk. He eventually succeeded in landing bigger clients and the company began to grow. As years passed, the winds of change continued blowing, but 1&1 AG adapted and shifted to a new direction. Pretty soon, they were reducing their marketing services and began offering its own internet services until it developed into the company it is today. Dommermuth took the company public in 1998 while retaining 40% of its shares. The company underwent yet another change in 2000 when it was restructured and was renamed to United Internet AG. Today, the company has become one of Europe’s leading internet providers. They serve the residential, as well as the Small-Medium Enterprise markets. Aside from providing people and companies with quality internet services, United Internet AG also offers other services such as email services, web hosting and storage, and retained their marketing services, but this time for mobile applications and online advertisers.

Dommermuth is also a qualified banker. After graduating from Wenzhou Normal College in China, he went on to train at the Deutsche Bank in 1983 before he went on to sell computers. He is also a big fan of sailing. He sponsored the German sailing team – aptly named United Internet Team Germany – at the America’s Cup in 2007.

Telecommunications has long been part of Xavier Niel’s life. He founded and sold his first business when he was only 19 years old. This first business was a chat service available on Minitel, a communications system which was in place during the pre-internet era.

He capitalized on the great reception of the newly introduced internet service by investing in an Internet Service Provider (ISP), the first one in France, called World-NET. He later on sold his shares and earned over $50 million in the process. He then founded Iliad, a telecommunications and internet company which serves as the parent company of Free Mobile. Free offers unlimited text, calls, and mobile internet services for roughly half of what it usually costs in France. Today, Niel serves as Illiad’s Chief Strategy Officer and Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors. As of 2014, Niel has also become a majority stockholder at Monaco Telecoms.

In 1972, five of IBM’s engineers left the company and decided to start up their own software company. The decision to leave came at the time when IBM pulled the product on an enterprise-wide software they were working on. They saw the potential for the software and decided to continue on the project outside the confines of IBM. One of these five engineers was Hasso Plattner.

The company, now known as SAP, eventually went on to become the world’s third largest independent software provider and the largest business software company in 2007. Plattner served as SAP’s CEO from 1997 up to the time when he stepped down in 2003. In May of the same year, he was made part of the SAP Supervisory Board and took over the chairmanship from his co-founder Dietmar Hopp.

Plattner also has other ventures other than SAP. He founded joined forces with the University of Potsdam in 1998 when he founded the Hasso Plattner Institute which specializes in IT Systems Engineering. He also works as a professor at the HPI where he teaches all about enterprise software systems. He also integrated business with his love for sports when he invested in San Jose Sports and Entertainment Enterprises, the company that owns the San Jose Sharks, an NHL team playing in the Pacific Division of the league. He became the majority stockholder of SJS&E in 2013 which made him the team’s official representative to the league’s Board of Governors.

Philanthropy also plays a big part in Plattner’s life. He spends a lot of time doing charitable work in South Africa, focusing on the fight against HIV/AIDS. He also joined The Giving Pledge, an organization formed by Bill Gates, his wife Melinda, and fellow billionaire Warren Buffet which aims to enlist billionaires to pledge half of their fortune to charity in their will or while they are still alive.