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Most Influential Celebrity Entrepreneurs

| July 26, 2009 | 15 Comments

Steven Spielberg: Dreamworks

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Spielberg got his start charging admission to his homemade movies as a child.  His first war movie Escape to Nowhere was award winning at age 12.   After doing Jaws, ET, and Jurrasic Park, Spielberg co-founded Dreamworks which went on to do 10 movies over $100 million at the box offices.  Forbes puts Spielberg’s net worth at over $3.1 billion.

Hugh Heffner: Playboy

CAREY DUPRI GRAMMY PARTY

The playboy himself, Hugh Heffner was born to conservative Nebraskan farmers.   After moving to New York he found the need for a gentleman’s magazine.  Starting with only $8,000 raised from investors Heff sold 50,000 copies of his first magazine featuring Marilyn Monroe.  Originally named “Stag Party” Hugh changed the name to Playboy.  His fame has taken him from magazine and mansion to pay-per-view and mainstream television.

Sean Combs: Sean John Clothing & Bad Boy Entertainment

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Diddy, Puffy, call him what you like but the man who discovered Notorious B.I.G is one of the best self promoters of all time.  His Sean John clothing line does over $400 million in sales and is now developing his Ciroc brand of Vodka.  Diddy is more than just an entrepreneur however, running the NYC Marathon and performing in A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway.

Tyra Banks: Bankable Enterprises

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As a model Tyra became the first black cover girl for Victoria’s Secret, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit and GQ.   Her fame has since then moved to television hosting America’s Next Top Model and The Tyra Banks Show.  Tyra’s empire includes jewelry, shoes, and perfume and is widely known for her positive influence on women 18-34.

Magic Johnson: Magic Johnson Enterprises

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As the best point guard of all time, Magic’s career came to a startling halt after being diagnosed with HIV.  Recommitting his life to business and philanthropy Magic has been valued at almost a billion dollars.  Targeting inner city areas with Lowes Theaters, Starbucks, and TGI Friday’s Johnson looks for opportunities where others are fearful.  Magic’s larger than life personality is still seen all over TNT, ESPN and CBS with their coverage of both the NBA and NCAA basketball.

Kathy Ireland:  Kathy Ireland Co.

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Fashion model Kathy Ireland told Newsweek “I’ve never felt comfortable earning a paycheck off of how someone perceived how I looked,” and has never looked back since.  Her mission became “finding solutions for families, especially busy moms.”  Ireland sells anything from exercise videos to rugs to home theater setups.

Bill Gates: Micrsoft

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Although Gates fortune has fallen recently due to the loss of market share to another man on this list, Gates is still responsible for revolutionizing the personal computer.  Gates now serves on the board of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway and more importantly spends his time on charitable donations through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supporting Global Health and Development.

Richard Branson: Virgin

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This UK entrepreneur started off founding a magazine called Student and expanded quickly into the music industry with Virgin Records.  The self proclaimed “Rebel Billionaire” has over 300 companies belonging to the Virgin brand.  For fun Branson hangs out on his private island, or tries to break world records like crossing the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle or trying to circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon.

Steve Jobs: Apple

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As an adolescent Jobs spent his time tinkering with computers at Hewlett Packard in his hometown of Mountain View, California.  As the most famous Silicon Valley entrepreneur of all time, Steve Jobs left his mark on computers, digital music and now cellular devices.  A perfect case study on the trials and tribulations of and entrepreneur, Jobs has survived in both business and life after his recent liver transplant.

Oprah Winfrey: Harpo Inc.

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Born in a poor Missisippi town and sexually abused as a child, Winfrey excelled in local media outlets and worked her way up the ranks into television.  With ownership in the Oprah Winfrey Show, Harpo Studios (Oprah spelled backwards), the Oxygen Network and Oprah Magazine her net worth is set somewhere over $2 billion according for Forbes.  Oprah is best known for her philanthropic efforts to get people to “live your best life”.

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Category: Startup Advice

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    It's really inspiring to see people like this some of who came from very harsh backgrounds. Proves anyone can do anything if they can just put their mind to it.

    Richard Branson is the man. Maybe one day the Under30CEO brand will have 300 companies under it!

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    I like how half the people on the list were celebs and then became biz people, and the other half are celebs b/c of their businesses. I think it's a lot harder to launch a company from scratch like Branson, Gates and Jobs–Magic, Tyra, and Kathy Ireland have built their fortunes ontop of their already existing fortune/fame which gives them instant credibility and brand name.

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  • http://thestartupist.com rethansmith

    Decent list. Spielberg has done remarkable things, and he recently bailed out DreamWorks after they went almost bankrupt. Dreamworks has done well over the years, but I would be more apt to put Steve Jobs on the list twice – for Pixar, who has had more success in the computer animated movie market the Dreamworks.

    Diddy (Sean Combs) has to the most amazing story on the list. While he was in college at Howard U near DC he got an internship at a record company in NY and traveled back and forth every week from DC and NY. He is a hard worker and has been well rewarded for it.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Hey Ethan, I love hearing Diddy tell his story. I've seen him on Donny Deutsche a few times and he's really good at it. He tells about how he got too cocky for his own good and things went downhill for him. He said he was partying with his pants off.

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  • http://blog.brand-yourself.com Patrick@brand-yourself.com

    I have to agree with you Matt. When I think of celebrity entrepreneur I think of people who have become famous because of how absolutely brilliant they are in their industry. As for the other side, it's a lot easier to start a business with the connections, fame and money that come with being a celebrity in the first place.

    @rethansmith There are few people I admire more than jobs. I recently found out he was fired from apple by the ceo HE hired. It was during that time he co-founded what would eventually evolve into pixar, before he returned to apple and catapulted them to their current position.

    So my vote would have to go to jobs. If only because so many of his products have changed the game (ipods, computer animation, iphones, etc)

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Pat and Ethan, you should read Outliers by Malcomn Gladwell where he talks about the 10,000 hour rule. Jobs was born in the perfect situation at the perfect time. He could walk to HP after school everyday right at the birth of computers.

    I don't think this takes away from his success, but I think Oprah's is the perfect rags to riches story.

  • http://blog.brand-yourself.com Patrick@brand-yourself.com

    I'm going to respectfully disagree (with you AND Gladwell). I hate when people attribute success to “right place right time.” Sure jobs lived walking distance from HP, but so did a thousand other kids. How many of them started two of the most successful companies to date? Jobs succeeded because he was driven, smart as shit, and most importantly, willing to follow his passion through the ups and down of entrepreneurship, a feat few people are willing to accomplish. If it wasn't computers it would have been something else.

    Any aspiring entrepreneur better hope that luck is something we create for ourselves, not something we just walk into.

    As for “outliers” I passed on reading it but researched its merits. My initial thoughts were Gladwell took a few hundred pages to reach a rather obvious conclusion. However, if you recommend it I will definitely give it a try. You've read a ton more than me and seem to know the good from the bad.

    Thanks for the reply,

    Patrick

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Pat, I like where you say “so did another thousand kids”.

    I like how Gladwell touts work ethic, but I am not sure 10,000 hours is absolutely necessary. Furthermore, I'm not one to think that success is based on falling into it–it's a decision that Jobs made to be successful and he went for it full on.

    On the other side of things–rags to riches stories are much better than an upper middle class kid who did it big like Oprah.

    Thanks for your comments Pat!

  • http://blog.brand-yourself.com Patrick@brand-yourself.com

    I'm going to respectfully disagree (with you AND Gladwell). I hate when people attribute success to “right place right time.” Sure jobs lived walking distance from HP, but so did a thousand other kids. How many of them started two of the most successful companies to date? Jobs succeeded because he was driven, smart as shit, and most importantly, willing to follow his passion through the ups and down of entrepreneurship, a feat few people are willing to accomplish. If it wasn't computers it would have been something else.

    Any aspiring entrepreneur better hope that luck is something we create for ourselves, not something we just walk into.

    As for “outliers” I passed on reading it but researched its merits. My initial thoughts were Gladwell took a few hundred pages to reach a rather obvious conclusion. However, if you recommend it I will definitely give it a try. You've read a ton more than me and seem to know the good from the bad.

    Thanks for the reply,

    Patrick

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Pat, I like where you say “so did another thousand kids”.

    I like how Gladwell touts work ethic, but I am not sure 10,000 hours is absolutely necessary. Furthermore, I'm not one to think that success is based on falling into it–it's a decision that Jobs made to be successful and he went for it full on.

    On the other side of things–rags to riches stories are much better than an upper middle class kid who did it big like Oprah.

    Thanks for your comments Pat!

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  • http://www.acephotos.org/t4722658/eric-schiffer-photos.html Eric Schiffer fan

    Outside the realm of Hollywood, particularly the silverscreen, Eric Schiffer was also known to head a discount shop 99c store and to have written a book called Emotionally Charged Learning. That's just a few of his business ventures. He's never forgotten his passion for acting. Aside from that, he's a well-educated man from Harvard Business School.

  • http://www.acephotos.org/t4722658/eric-schiffer-photos.html Eric Schiffer fan

    Outside the realm of Hollywood, particularly the silverscreen, Eric Schiffer was also known to head a discount shop 99c store and to have written a book called Emotionally Charged Learning. That's just a few of his business ventures. He's never forgotten his passion for acting. Aside from that, he's a well-educated man from Harvard Business School.