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Entrepreneurs Who Became Masters at Turning Small Sums Into Big Wins

With good management skills and some degree of entrepreneurial finesse, minimum investments can deliver millions in returns.

Each year, thousands of people graduate from college with a business degree or management degree, set on making their mark as an entrepreneur. More than half a million new businesses open in the U.S. each year.* And while extreme success stories may not happen every day, it’s always encouraging to be reminded that they’re possible. Here are a few:

  • APPAREL: While earning his business degree, Kevin Plank played college football. During one brutally hot summer, Plank was determined to find something better for athletes to wear than cotton T-shirts that quickly became soaked in sweat. From his grandmother’s basement, with a small amount of cash, Plank launched Under Armour, forever changing the way athletes dress.
  • PERSONAL COMPUTING: William “Bill” Redington Hewlett and Dave Packard met in college, where they were both earning bachelor’s degrees. After graduating, Hewlett pursued his master’s while Packard took a job with General Electric. Years later, with a total investment of $538 (which included cash and a used drill press), the two joined forces and launched a technology company that would one day generate $126 billion in sales.
  • STORYTELLING: J.K. Rowling was living on state welfare when she received an advance of about $2,300 from her publisher. That small investment was all she needed to write her first Harry Potter novel. Today, the award-winning author is estimated to be worth nearly $1 billion.

Entrepreneurship is a vital part of economic growth, and individuals like those mentioned above have launched businesses that create jobs and provide products and services that entertain, enhance quality of life, and improve business productivity. If you have a dream you’d like to turn into an enterprise, start with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. From there, you’ll need a vision, enthusiasm, and dedication—and yes, a bit of luck—to turn the right idea into a what could be a business more profitable than you ever imagined.

Entrepreneurs Who Became Masters at Turning Small Sums Into Big Wins

*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Business Employment Dynamics: Entrepreneurship and the U.S. Economy, Business Establishment Age,” on the Internet at

†Mark Riddix, “6 Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Fortunes From Nothing,” Investopedia, 2011, on the Internet at

‡Lee Boyce, “The Top 25 Rags-to-Riches Entrepreneurs,” This is Money, 2014, on the Internet at