The Inc. Life
Ask Marcus Lemonis
How I Did It
Spread the Wealth
Icons of Entrepreneurship
Best in Class Design Awards
Secrets of the Inspired Traveler
Inc. Partner Insights
Inc. Partner Insights
Inc. Branded Content
Login or signup
Our editors have created them to help you find advice and information on the topics you care most about.
Inc. Events & Offers
Inc. Partner Events & Offers
Tell us more...
to receive additional benefits such as priority invitations to Inc. events in your area.
Antigua & Barbuda
Bosnia & Herzegovina
British Indian Ocean Ter
Central African Republic
French Southern Ter
Isle of Man
Papua New Guinea
Republic of Montenegro
Republic of Serbia
St Pierre & Miquelon
St Vincent & Grenadines
Sao Tome & Principe
Trinidad & Tobago
Turks & Caicos Is
United Arab Erimates
Vatican City State
Virgin Islands (Brit)
Virgin Islands (USA)
Wallis & Futana Is
Number of Employees
1 to 9
10 to 24
25 to 49
50 to 99
100 to 499
500 to 999
1,000 to 4,999
5,000 to 9,999
10,000 or more
Senior Vice President/Executive Vice President
Technical staff/Information Systems
Sales Representative/Account Executive
You're now a part of the Inc. community, the leading online resoursce for
private business leaders and innovators.
11 Historic Serial Entrepreneurs
Some of historyâ€™s greatest entrepreneurs werenâ€™t satisfied with a single great idea. Hereâ€™s a list of some of the best-known serial entrepreneurs of all time.
WRITE A COMMENT
11 Historic Serial Entrepreneurs
Thomas Alva Edison
Considered by most to be the greatest inventor of all time, Edison, known as â€œThe Wizard of Menlo Park,â€ is credited with some 1,093 U.S. patents for a range of inventions that includes the light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion picture camera. Just as importantly, his work on the distribution of electricity led to the worldâ€™s first power plant in New York City (though his technology choice, direct current (DC), was eventually surpassed by the alternating current approach (AC) championed by rival inventor, Nikola Tesla).
Few entrepreneurs can match the track record of Henry Kaiser, who, starting in 1914 with a road-paving company, built a series of wildly successful companies in several industries that included: construction, ship building, forging steel and aluminum, car manufacturing and even healthcare, where he created Kaiser Permanente (named for a creek located near one of Kaiserâ€™s cement companies), the first health maintenance organization, or HMO, as a way to provide health care to his thousands of employees.
Turner began building his media empire in 1963 at the age of 24 where he took over running his fatherâ€™s billboard company. He soon bought a UHF TV station and launched Turner Broadcasting System, which grew popular showing reruns of old TV shows and movies as well as Atlanta Bravesâ€™ baseball games (a team Turner had bought). But it was in 1980, when Turner launched CNN, the first 24-hour news channel, that he truly made his mark on the world. More recently, Turner launched Tedâ€™s Montana Grill, a national chain of restaurants that sell buffalo meat.
Branson, the dashing entrepreneur behind the Virgin Group, the brand behind some 400 enterprises, was just 16 when he started his first business, a magazine called Student. But it was his chain of music stores called Virgin Records, which he opened in 1972, which made Bransonâ€™s fortune. But, he didnâ€™t stop there as he subsequently launched an airline, Virgin Atlantic Airways; a phone company, Virgin Mobile; and, most recently, Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company. Branson has also disclosed plans to work with Al Gore to create new sources of fuel via a venture called, not surprisingly, Virgin Fuels.
Jerome Hal Lemelson
While he was not as well-known as others, Lemelson, known as â€œJerry,â€ was one of the most prolific inventors of the 20th century, with some 600 patents to his credit for products like automated warehouses, industrial robots, cordless telephones, fax machines, videocassette recorders, camcorders and the magnetic tape drive used in Sonyâ€™s Walkman tape players. Lemelson also made a name for himselfâ€“not always in a positive wayâ€“as a defender of inventorâ€™s rights, where he actively sued organizations and companies he felt had infringed upon his patents.
Widely considered to be one of the most influential people in the world, Winfrey has ridden the popularity of her self-titled daytime TV show to international fame. But Winfrey has also turned her name into a global brand, under which she has launched a magazine, a website, a satellite radio show, a television network called OWN and published five books under her company, Harpo Productions (which is Oprah spelled backwards). Through Harpo, Winfrey has also taken an active role in a variety of movie and theatre productions including Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire and Beloved, which Winfrey also starred in.
Rather than rest on his laurels as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Johnson, who retired in 1996, now spends his days honing his skills as an entrepreneur. His company, Magic Johnson Enterprises, has a reported net worth of $700 million based on the success of subsidiaries such as Magic Johnson Productions, a promotional company; Magic Johnson Theaters, a nationwide chain of movie theaters; and Magic Johnson Entertainment, a movie studio. Johnson, who sold his ownership stake in the LA Lakers, is rumored to be looking to bring a football team back to LA.
No list of the worldâ€™s most influential entrepreneurs would be complete without Evan Williams, who helped found two of the most influential companies in the Internet era: Blogger (which was eventually bought by Google) and Twitter. Williams, who grew up on a Nebraskan farm and spent his summers irrigating crops, may be an unlikely tech hero, but his foresight into how people use social media is uncanny. (For example, Williams coined the term â€œblogger.â€) Williams recently stepped down as CEO of Twitter, which might mean that he might be working at his next great idea.
Born the ninth of the ten children in rural Mississippi, Robert Johnson climbed the ranks of the worldâ€™s most wealthy people thanks to his foresight in founding Black Entertainment Television, BET, in 1980. After selling BET to Viacom in 2003 for some $3 billion, Johnson started what he calls his â€œsecond actâ€ by launching The RLJ Companies, an asset management and holding company that has stakes in a diverse range of industries including: financial services, real estate, hospitality, professional sports, film production, automotive and gaming. Johnson also became the first black American to own a major-league sports franchise when he teamed with superstar Michael Jordan to acquire the Charlotte Bobcats franchise in 2004.
â€¨Esther Dyson is one of a handful of business journalists who can claim to have hopped the fence and become as successful as the entrepreneurs she used to write about. Starting her career as a fact checker at
, Dyson used her keen eye to spot trends and opportunities in emerging technologies and markets to gain fame, which helped fuel the purchase of her first company, EDventure Holdings. After selling her firm in 2004, Dyson has since helped fund and guide dozens of successful start-up companies such as Flickr, del.icio.us and Meetup.
As one of the nationâ€™s founding fathers, Ben Franklin was also one of its first entrepreneurs. He was the inventor of successful products like bifocal glasses, the lightning rod and the Franklin stove (among others) as well as a media magnate where he published several newspapers and his popular Poor Richardâ€™s Almanac, in which Franklin used a fictional character to share his own views on topics like politics and philosophy. Of course, Franklin also earned fame with other contributions such as creating the nationâ€™s first free library.
7 Super-Smart Business Travel Apps
Don't leave the office without these apps loaded on your iPhone or Android phone.
7 Super-Smart Business Travel Apps
6 Signs You Might Be the Office Dork (and Why That's OK)
6 of the Most Notorious Entrepreneurs of All Time
10 Super-Hot Cars for the Successful Entrepreneur
10 Famous Immigrant Entrepreneurs Living the American Dream
4 Must-Have Power Items From the Set of 'Mad Men'
7 Gaming Entrepreneurs Destined for the Hall of Fame
The Galvanizing Power of a 'Big Hairy Audacious Goal'
Why Packaging Is More Important Than You Think
Marcus Lemonis: You'll Be More Successful If You Feel Good About How You Look
The Most Important Lesson From the Success of Steve Jobs
Tony Robbins on How to Create an Extraordinary Quality of Life
Tony Robbins Shares His Secrets on Wealth, Success, and Financial Freedom
Barbara Corcoran's 8 Lessons for Entrepreneurs
How Marcus Lemonis Knows If You're Making Good Money
Pay Close Attention to the Man Behind TOMS Shoes
Arianna Huffington: The Wake-Up Call That Helped Arianna Huffington Learn to Thrive
The Making of Inc.'s Jessica Alba Cover Story
Mark Cuban: The Big Mistake You Don't Know You're Making on Social Media
Marcus Lemonis: When (and When Not) to Take Bigger Business Risks
Tony Robbins Reveals Secrets for Becoming Wealthy, Successful, and Inspirational
Mint Founder: How to Learn From Your Early Mistakes
Daymond John: 5 Traits That Make a Good Business Leader
Marcus Lemonis: How to Turn a $2 Million Business Into $200 Million
Tony Robbins: Wealth Isn't About Not Working, It's About Not Needing to Work
How Chef Nobu Built a Restaurant Empire With Robert De Niro
Register on Inc.com today to get full access to:
All articles | Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments
Sign Up Now
if you're already registered
Or sign up using: