More often than not, the story of entrepreneurship is associated with young people. It’s like a dream story of a fresh mind finding a magic idea that transforms the world around for the better. But how much of that has to be the case always? Truth is, there are numerous examples of people finding success late in life. Some even go beyond to outshine so much that they achieve almost legendary status. Here’s our take on 10 business icons who started late in life. These heroic people defined that age as nothing more than just a number.
Legendary entrepreneurs who started after 35
The word fast food and McDonalds goes so much hand in hand that in some parts of the world, they are almost inseparable. As the global leader in the fast-food chain, McDonald’s has brought a paradigm shift in the food culture across the globe. But the story of McDonald’s didn’t start until Ray Kroc was 51 years old.
From being a mixer salesman to founding a multi-billion-dollar food chain, it all started with Ray Kroc’s fascination with the McDonalds brother’s burgers. Kroc saw an immense opportunity in the California-based business. Using his several decades of sales expertise, Kroc turned McDonald's into what it is today. A global brand of 400,000 employees, an annual turnover of over 22 billion, and a name that’s close to every foodie's heart.
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The story of Reid Hoffman is of a chance entrepreneur. Being a Stanford graduate, he was well set to be an academician of Ivy league standards. However, he ended up at Apple computers as part of their eWorld project. This is where Hoffman first got an insight into the earliest version of social media. But he had to wait till 35 to achieve what he has created today.
Over the years, Hoffman worked on several social networking ventures. However, none of them saw the expected result. But based on his previous failures and a chance need for a professional networking opportunity, LinkedIn was born. Today Reid Hoffman is worth 3.2 billion dollars.
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Anyone who’s into movies has heard of Marvels. You don’t even have to be a movie fan to know about them, as they are one of the largest comic booksellers in the world. And it all started with the illustrations of a 39-year-old man back in 1961.
Stan Lee, together with Jack Kirby has created, what is now the epicenter of pop culture and superhero genre craze. Credited as the father of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee helped create a multi-billion-dollar empire that has achieved worldwide hype and recognition.
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We can guarantee you that this is the least known name on this list. But wait till you find out what he founded. Chaleo Yoovidhya was born in a poor farmer family and lived most of his life as a farmer. This was until he moved to Bangkok to start his own pharmaceutical company called TC Pharmaceuticals.
He specialized in a rejuvenating tonic drink. It wasn’t until he had a chance encounter with Australian businessman Dietrich Mateschitz that his life changed forever at the age of 61. Now you might be thinking what’s so fascinating about a tonic drink? Well, that’s because it's Redbull.
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Ford motors are known for their iconic cars which have impressed generations of customers. However, the start of the company wasn’t how you’d expect it to be.
Henry Ford ran away from home at the tender age of 16 and started working as a mechanist. His fascination with cars leads him to found Ford motors at the age of 40. What soon followed was automobile history. It was estimated that he had a net worth of near 200 billion dollars.
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Peter Thiel is another genius mind to come out of Stanford University. A graduate of law, Thiel didn’t enjoy much the legal works as he did as an investor. It's his innate passion and foresight in investing that made him into what he is today.
He was the co-founder of widely acclaimed payment gateway Paypal and served as its CEO until it was sold in 2002 to eBay. But his genius stroke was yet to be made until he invested in Facebook. Thiel is widely regarded as the first professional investor to invest in Facebook, a move that made him a billionaire over time.
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Jack Ma is the leading example that you don’t have to be tech-savvy to make it big as an entrepreneur. The story of Ma is a truly fascinating one, considering he failed his high school entrance exam twice and got rejected for different jobs over 30 times. It wasn’t until he was 35 when he founded “China Yellow Pages”, which saw rapid success.
However, that’s not where Ma’s story ends. He then went onto finding Alibaba, the global leader in B2B and B2C sales. Ma is currently worth over 28 billion dollars.
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Robert Noyce is another glaring example of a lesser-known founder of something so well known; it will have you rubbing your eyes. If you are reading this article from a windows laptop, it's almost certain that it's powered by Intel. And Robert Noyce was an intricate part of the foundation of Intel.
Coming from a humble background, Noyce worked on several ventures before stumbling upon Intel. He was 41 years old when he, along with Gordon Moore founded Intel back in 1968. He was estimated to be worth over 3.8 billion dollars.
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The story of Donald Fisher is an interesting one. It was the summer of 69 when Donald went through a little clothing crisis of not being able to find a pair of jeans to fit him. His wife Doris Fischer reluctantly decided to take the matter into her own hands and made a pair for her husband.
What followed from there on was a complete takeover of the fashion market and GAP became what it is today, a multi-billion-dollar fashion line. Donald was 40 when he decided to start GAP along with his wife as the co-founder.
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Harland David Sanders
Most prominently known as Colonel Sanders, this man had nothing to do with the military. What he did, however, shaped the modern food industry alongside McDonald’s. After a series of misfortunes, Sanders found himself selling fried chicken in a service store in Kentucky using a secret recipe that he devised himself. After the place burned down in a fire accident, Sanders moved to a nearby motel to start his restaurant.
And that was how the global brand of KFC was born. Today they serve in over 18 thousand restaurants across 118 different countries. What's truly fascinating about all this is that Colonel Sanders was 62 years old when he founded KFC. A true example of glorious late achievements.
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So far, we have mentioned some highly successful people who started their business or company late in life. These entrepreneurs are the shining example that you don’t need much beyond will and dedication to make it big. So, if you are thinking of giving up on your ideas, think again. Who knows, you might also become a late-blooming success story.
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