Entrepreneur of the Year Winners: Where Are They Now?
No Longer Scrappy Start-Up Founders...Michael Dell, 1989Ping Fu, 2005Elon Musk, 2007Alison Schuback, 2008Kevin Surace, 2009Evernote, 2011Zumba, 2012And now... Aaron Levie, 2013
Inc. Magazine has awarded the title 'Entrepreneur of the Year' (occasionally, 'Company of the Year') for decades. Here are some of the notable winners over the years--with updates about what they have done since they took the title.
At just 24 years old, Michael Dell--founder and CEO of Dell--was named Inc. Magazine’s entrepreneur of the year in 1989. Today, after 24 years at the helm of the world’s third largest computer hardware manufacturer (by revenue), Dell the entrepreneur has not slowed down. After two decades on the public market, Dell took the PC conglomerate private in October 2013 with a $25 billion deal and restored control over the company he started in college.
Growing up in China during Mao's Cultural Revolution, Ping Fu was expelled from a Chinese University for an outspoken college thesis against China's One Child Law. After, she left China and studied computer science at the University of New Mexico and in 1997, co-founded Geomagic, a 3D software development company. The 2005 Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award winner served as CEO of Geomagic until February 2013, when the company was acquired by 3D Systems Inc., reported Inc.
Inc. Magazine named Elon Musk Entrepreneur of the Year way back in 2007 when he was best known as the co-founder of PayPal--but it is clear the South-African entrepreneur has moved on to bigger things since. Today, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors is one of the most talked about names in the start-up world from his work with NASA to his latest big idea he unveiled this August, the "hyperloop"--a high speed train that would take passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 35 minutes.
In 1997, a severe car accident left Alison Schuback with a traumatic brain injury that confined her to a wheelchair, but the injury was merely a setback. In 2002, Schuback invented Invisibib--a washable, transparent bib for adults with disabilities. She launched a company around the invention; and in 2008 Inc. Magazine named her Entrepreneur of the Year for her work with the inspiring company. After appearing on PBS's "Everyday Edison's," Schuback formed a relationship with the Head Injury Association of America and today, the association helps with the distribution and marketing of the Invisibib to Schuback's fellow traumatic brain injury survivors.
When Inc. Magazine named Kevin Surace Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009 , he was known as founder and CEO of Serious Materials (the name has since been changed to Serious Energy) a start-up focused on saving carbon with improved building materials. Surace was with the company for over nine years, but today serves as the CEO of Appvance and has launched numerous other Silicon Valley companies. He was also recognized by CNBC for his innovation and featured as a TED Talk speaker.
In 2011, Inc. Magazine named Evernote the Company of the Year for the start-up's ability to basically change how we remember. The company, with $251 million in funding and CEO Phil Libin at the helm, has since been valued at more than $1 billion for its array of products and service that help consumers keep track of everything from voice memos to emails to photos.
Since its 2001 inception, Zumba Fitness has grown--rapidly. In 2012, the company--founded around the latin-inspired dance-fitness program--was named Inc. Magazine's Company of the Year for its ability to build an empire around a fitness program. Today, people can take Zumba classes at 140,000 different locations across 185 countries according to the company's website.
Inc. Magazine just named Aaron Levie, the 28-year-old CEO of Box Entrepreneur of the Year for 2013. His Los Altos-based cloud computing company, with about 20 million users across 180,000 businesses has been valued at $1.2 billion. With high hopes for the young entrepreneur, it will be interesting to see what he does next.