One of the richest men in the world, Microsoft founder Bill Gates did not always have it easy. He was a dropout from Harvard University and also co-founded Traf-O-Data in the 1970s, which ran into losses. It was a business partnership between Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Paul Gilbert. The idea was to read the roadway traffic counters and create reports for traffic engineers. Gates was just sixteen at the time and the experience laid the foundation for setting up Microsoft Corporation a few years later. It made him the world's youngest self-made billionaire at the age of 31.
Hershey chocolates are well-loved across the world. Today, it is the world's biggest confectionery manufacturer. But Milton Hershey, the founder, had an uphill journey. His first candy shop in Philadelphia failed to pick up. His second business also lasted for just three years. But during this time, he was learning skills in the confectionery business which would stand him in good stead later. He learned how to make caramels using fresh milk. In 1883, he borrowed money to start the Lancaster caramel company which finally became a success and he could pay off his debts. He sold it off and acquired farm land. He created his own formula for milk chocolates. The first Hershey bar was produced in 1900. Hershey's Kisses were developed in 1907 and there was no looking back for him.
The billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla has this to say about failure, "Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating. He has had many brushes with failure. He was ousted from Zip2 in 1996, the company he started. He was turned out of PayPal in 2000, the company of which he was CEO. There have been teething troubles with SpaceX including rocket explosions. In 2008, SpaceX and Tesla were on the brink of bankruptcy. But these challenges have not stopped him from revolutionising every industry he touches.
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs faced the public humiliation of being ousted from the company he had founded. He was fired after the board of directors sided with John Sculley, a former Pepsi executive who had been brought in to run the company. But Jobs was not deterred. He admitted this became the most creative period of his life. He bought the animation studio Pixar and started the computer company NeXT. Although, NeXT did not do well independently, it helped Jobs in more ways than one. In 1997, Apple bought the company and incorporated the company's technology into Apple products. Jobs returned to Apple as part of the deal and became CEO.
Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma's life has been a series of struggles. He was rejected by Harvard ten times. Ma was also rejected from 30 different jobs that he applied for, after graduation. He was turned down by investors for Alibaba in Silicon Valley as they felt the idea was unprofitable and unsustainable. Finally, he was able to secure funding of $5 million and $20 million from Goldman Sachs and Softbank respectively. However, the company failed to generate any revenue for the first three years and witnessed a state of bankruptcy within eighteen months. Today, Alibaba is an e-commerce giant in China and Ma is China's richest entrepreneur.
Billionaire Richard Branson is known for his successful ventures but he's equally known for some of his failures. Branson launched Virgin Atlantic Airlines in 1984. During the initial test flight of Virgin's only plane an unfortunate incident occurred. A flock of birds flew into an engine, causing damage. The airline couldn't get certified to start carrying passengers. He pulled money from other ventures and got the certification needed. His soda company Virgin Cola could not survive and had to fold up. In 2000, Branson decided to launch Virgin Cars, an online business to change the way cars were sold. But the company shut down within a few years. But Branson learnt from his failures and went on to achieve bigger things. Today, he can't keep count of the number of businesses he owns.