May 5, 2005--Shares of Morningstar, a mutual fund and stock research fund based in Chicago and a five-time Inc. 500 honoree, have been selling briskly since they hit the open market on Tuesday. Prices closed at $21.60 a share on Wednesday, almost $3 above their opening price of $18.50.

With the early returns in, Morningstar's 48-year-old founder, Joe Mansueto, has seen his stake in the company grow to approximately $610 million -- a vast return on the $250,000 he used to start the company 21 years ago.

But Mansueto and success have never been far apart. From its humble beginnings as a kind of sports page for covering mutual funds, Morningstar has now evolved into a $180-million juggernaut with over 1,000 employees working in over 16 countries.

A mere six years after founding Morningstar in his one-bedroom apartment in Chicago, Mansueto guided his company to the first of five consecutive Inc. 500 awards in 1990. The company earned its place in the Inc. 500 hall of fame in 1995.

Over the years, Mansueto the entrepreneur has made several appearances in the pages of Inc. where he has talked about his hero, Warren Buffet, his first entrepreneurial experience (selling crickets at the age of nine) and how he derived his company's name from the final line of Henry David Thoreau's Walden, "the sun is but a morning star." (Click here to read a profile of Mansueto.)

Bucking trends as usual, Morningstar chose to offer its shares in a Dutch auction, which allows investors to set share prices by bidding online -- the same unusual method that Google made headlines with in its IPO in August 2004.

The stock now trades under the symbol MORN.