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Monthly Archives: October 2015

Whenever anybody uses Google, the world’s largest search engine, it owes a debt of gratitude, so to speak, to Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin. The American computer scientist and Internet entrepreneur, after all, co-founded Google with Larry Page. Google, which the two started in rented garage, is now considered as among the world’s most lucrative Internet companies.

Brin is also one of the richest men with an estimated net worth of US$30 billion; as of 2015, he is the 18th richest person in the world (Hurun Global Rich List).

At the age of 6, he emigrated from the USSR to the USA. He has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of Maryland. He pursued his graduate studies at Stanford University (PhD in computer science) where he met and befriended Page.

The duo filled their dormitory room with affordable computers on which they applied Brin’s data mining system, a process that led to the creation of a web search engine. Due to the popularity of their system, they suspended their Stanford studies and built Google.

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Reginald Francis Lewis (7 December 1942 – 9 January 1993) was a trailblazer for the African-American community in the business industry. His billion-dollar company, Beatrice Foods, made him known in the industry since he was the first African-American to have achieved the feat, not to mention that he was one of the wealthiest African-Americans during the 1980s. In 1992, he was listed as among the wealthiest Americans by Forbes, thanks to his US$400 million estimated net worth.

Lewis, who had a degree in economics from the Virginia State College and who graduated from the Harvard Law School, was born into a middle-class family in Baltimore, Maryland. He was recruited by a top-ranking law firm in New York immediately after graduating from law school but left after two years to establish his own firm. He practiced law as a corporate lawyer for the next 15 years.

In 1983, he created TLC Group, L.P. a venture capital firm with his first major deal being the McCall Pattern Company purchase for $22.5 million. He bought the company even when it was apparently on a downhill course despite its #2 position in the home sewing pattern market. He turned the company around within a year through strategic decisions before selling it at a 90-1 return; his share was at 81.7% of the $90 million sales price.

His greatest success, TLC Beatrice International, which he purchased from Beatrice Companies in 1987 for $985 million became the first black-owned company to achieve over $1 billion in yearly sales. TLC Beatrice International is a snack food, beverage, and grocery store conglomerate, which was once the biggest black-owned and managed business in the United States.

Lewis is also known via The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, which provided grants to various non-profit organizations including Howard University, Harvard Law School, and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture.

W.T. Grant, once a leading national chain of mass merchandise stores in the United States operating between 1906 and 1976, may be gone but the legacy of its founder remains. Today, William Thomas Grant (1876 – 1972) is known among business students and retail industry leaders for his pioneering status especially in the promotion of innovative principles and practices in inventory management, sales and marketing, and philanthropy.

Grant started his first business, selling flower seeds, when he was 8 years old. His business venture as an adult, the W.T. Grant Co 25 Cent Store in Lynn, Massachusetts, was more successful because he had already honed his business knowledge and skills by then. With just $1,000 in initial capital, he grew his business into a company with $100 million in annual sales and with 1,200 branches nationwide.

Grant was also into philanthropy so he established the William T. Grant Foundation in 1936 where he became Chairman of the Board and President at various times. He was awarded honorary degrees – Doctor of Laws – by Bates College and University of Miami.

Alvaro Z. Gallegos is proof that necessity is indeed the mother of invention – and his invention of Z-Coil, which is marketed as the world’s leading footwear for pain relief, certainly born of necessity. He was an avid runner with 7 miles/day on average as part of his routine but he was also experiencing a wide range of common runners’ issues including heel spurs and plantar fasciitis as well as pain in the hips, back and knees.

While he was already the owner of a shoe store, he was unable to find the right type of running shoes that can alleviate, even eliminate, his painful symptoms. Thus, he designed his own running shoes and invented Z-Coil.

His first innovation was in the reduction of the ground-to-feet impact made when running even at slow speeds – the impact was the primary source of pain. Gallegos believed that a spring will resolve two issues that beset runners, namely: first, the spring will act as a shock absorber especially in the heel portion, thus, reducing the ground-to-feet impact; and second, the spring will also increase energy return, which will aid in increasing speed and distance.

After several experiments, Gallegos discovered the best spring material – a 3-inch wide conical steel coil. He asked a local butcher to cut open the soles of his shoes before gluing in the conical steel coils. He went for a run and, in his own words, it was glorious because the coils worked perfectly and exactly as he planned – he experienced significant pain relief and observed decreased risks for new injuries and for worsening existing injuries.

Soon, Gallegos had to fine-tune the running shoes with the expert assistance of Mr. Yong Oh Lee, a South Korean shoe manufacturer who also made shoes for Reebok and Nike. He established Z-Tech, Inc. – now known as Z-Coil- with his son, Andres, for manufacturing, marketing and selling the Z-01, which the company touts as the best running shoes ever.

Thomas Anderson is the co-founder of MySpace, a social networking site; he co-founded it with Chris DeWolfe in 2003. He became its president and strategic adviser until his departure from the company in 2009. He is known as MySpace Tom because he was automatically assigned as the first “friend” among new users of MySpace, a distinction that he still acknowledges today.

Anderson was a student at the University of California, Berkeley before becoming Swank’s lead singer. He lived in Taiwan before continuing with his studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

He held several jobs before co-founding MySpace. He was a copywriter and product tester at XDrive as well as co-founded ResponseBase, a direct marketing company. He then established MySpace’s first pages when ResponseBase was sold to eUniverse. But his career at MySpace ended when he was replaced as president of MySpace in 2009.

Today, he has asserted his enjoyment of his retirement although he will never say never in finding his own space and place under the sun.

In 2005, Ron Kalin co-founded Etsy with two of his college friends in Brooklyn. He was then a marginally employed 24-year old college student with no connections, no capital, and no computer programming skills. He had, however, a burning desire to provide the makers of the world with the opportunity to claim authorship over their creations and to enjoy the benefits of a more organized marketplace.

Kalin also wanted to give small-scale arts and crafts manufacturers with a more affordable marketplace (i.e., a cheaper alternative to eBay). In its early years, Etsy provided each merchant with a free online storefront but with a $10-cent fee for a 4-month listing in addition to the 3.5% commission. The current fee is 20 cents.

Today, Etsy is a well-known peer-to-peer e-commerce website where makers and merchants of handmade, vintage, and unique factory-made items can sell their wares. Choices are aplenty including art, photography, jewelry, food, linens, toys, bath and beauty products, craft supplies, and home décor; vintage wares should be at least 20 years old. Customers will find that Etsy adapted the tradition of open craft fairs, such as in the personalized storefronts, limited edition items, and personal interactions between the parties.

As of December 31, 2014, the website had 54 million users/members while 1.4 million active sellers connected with 19.8 million active buyers. It had 685 employees, 29 million items listed, and US$1.93 million in gross merchandise sales, too. Its sales were generate on both desktop/laptop and mobile devices (36.1%) as well as within the United States and abroad (30.9%), thus, proving its increasing influence across the seas.

Kalin is known in the industry as a socially awkward individual whose eccentric views can become contradictory to his status in the industry. For example, he once said that while he interacts with technology and business people, he has no admiration for them. But since he is successful at such a young age, his statements are taken with a grain of salt, so to speak.

John Mackey is a known strong supporter of the principles and practices of free market economics as well as among the most influential advocates for the organic food movement. His current status as one of the most successful American businessmen certainly contributes to his influence in both movements.

Mackey (born 15 August 1953) is the co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Whole Food Market. He was named as the 2003 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. He co-founded SaferWay, his first health food store, in 1978 from an initial $45,000 capital in Austin, Texas.

Within 2 years, SaferWay merged with Clarksville Natural Grocery, company operated by Mark Skiles and Craig Weller. The merger resulted into Whole Foods Market.

As co-CEO, Mackey led the growth of Whole Foods Market into an international corporation with hundreds of outlets in several major markets across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Mackey has an honorary bachelor’s degree awarded by Bentley College and recognized as one of the Top 30 chief executive officers in 2007, a recognition made by Barron’s.

For people who know him, Jimmy Ray Dean (10 August 1928 – 13 June 2010) is an American legend in his own right. He was a beloved country music singer, an actor, and a television host as well as successful businessman. He was also the brains behind the Jimmy Dean sausage brand.

His rise to fame as a national television personality started in 1957 on CBS. His country crossover hit, Big Bad John, as well as his ABC television series, The Jimmy Dean Show, reinforced his status as a famous musician and television host in the United States. He was also a supporting actor in several Hollywood movies, such as Diamonds Are Forever.

Dean was also a host on several other television and radio shows. These included Town and Country Time; Country Style, later known as The Morning Show and The Jimmy Dean Show. His shining star became brighter with his recitation song, Big Bad John, about a heroic miner; the song became the top-selling song on the Billboard pop chart in 1961 and won him the award for Grammy Award for Best Country & Western Recording in 1962. He also had other bestselling songs including PT-109.

Dean also made notable contributions in bringing country music, his genre, into the mainstream with The Jimmy Dean Show. He featured several country musicians like George Jones, Roger Miller, Charlie Rich, Joe Maphis, and Buck Owens. He also featured comedians as well as popular musicians, even Jim Henson’s Muppets; Jim Henson was so grateful for his national exposure that he offered Dean a 40% stake in his production company but Dean refused it.

Dean also performed on several shows including The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, The Ed Sullivan Show, and The Hollywood Palace. He also appeared in several television sitcoms and series while maintaining his strong singing career into the mid-1960s.

He was formally inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame after his death.

Nicholas Rellas and Justin Robinson, the co-founders of Drizly, wanted to make a change in the liquor market – a delivery change, for that matter. The duo designed and offered a mobile app that allows subscribers to order a wide range of beer, wine, and spirits, among other alcoholic beverages, directly to their locations. In just 2 years, the duo succeeded in establishing strategic partnerships with more than 150 retailers for the easy, fast and efficient delivery of beer, liquor, and wine to consumers including individuals, groups, and businesses.

Drizly’s system integrates with the point-of-sale system installed in liquor stores, thus, allowing the orders from customers to be processed by the mobile app. The orders are then delivered with little legwork required from the vendors – except, for the delivery, obviously.

Plus, Drizly will only establish partnerships with liquor stores that already have their own delivery system sans the mobile app. The start-up can then save on the costs necessary to build its own delivery infrastructure.