Five Entrepreneurs And Their Roller Coaster Rides 

‘Entrepreneurship is like living a life for a few years like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life the way most people can’t,’ Anonymous.  

This World Entrepreneurships' Day 2021, OpenGrowth tours, you through the lives of those entrepreneurs who not only made it from rags to riches but also made a difference in society with their innovative concepts. 

OpenGrowth marks five entrepreneurs from different corners of the world who touched your lives in some way or other.  



Howard Schultz - Starbucks 

Howard’s journey in Starbucks began as a normal employee. But his extraordinary vision transformed the fate of this normal coffee shop into the world-famous coffee chain. Today, Starbucks is one of the most sought-after brands in the world. He joined Starbucks in 1982, which was then a small coffee-making firm, and sold only coffee and had no seating. During his trip to Italy in 1983, he got the idea of creating an ambiance for coffee lovers and serving them hot coffee here. However, this proposal was declined by the founders of Starbucks. 

Nevertheless, his spirits were still raised high. In 1985, he managed to own a coffee specialty store named II Giornale that had three espresso bars. It was an instant success and two years later, Howard took over Starbucks. Rest is history. 

From 1987 to 2000, Schultz remained the CEO of Starbucks and took the coffee chain to an extremely different platform, making it one of the best coffee chains in the world. 



Jan Koum, WhatsApp 

We are all familiar with this social media chatting platform, WhatsApp. We cannot imagine our life without this, even for a minute. But, do you know what made this platform such a success? The vision and foresightedness of its co-founder and former CEO, Jan Koum. His journey from the poor to the plush is one inspiration for all those who want to become an entrepreneur. 

He was born in a Jewish family and migrated to the United States of America in 1976 with his mother. As they thought their life would be easy when they came here, fate had other plans. Soon after settling in Mountain View, California, his mother was diagnosed with cancer. His childhood saw extreme poverty and struggle even to earn a minimum basic livelihood. Even so, with all odds, he managed to get his hands strong in technology and got hands-on training in cybersecurity. 

His talent got him a job in Yahoo, where he met his partner Brian Acton. It was here that he conceived the idea of WhatsApp, as this idea began gaining a proper shape, many of their colleagues in Yahoo wished to invest in WhatsApp. This is how an easy-to-use-cross-platform messaging application became one of the most popular messaging apps in the world. 



Stacy Brown - Philpot - TaskRabbit 

Being one of the few black women to secure a CEO position in Silicon Valley, Stacy’s journey to success was not smooth and swift. Her first challenge was she was a woman and the second, she was a woman of color. She fought hard to achieve her dreams. 

She was born in Detroit, ran papers with her brother, and worked in her Uncle Hank’s pharmacy to make a living. She received a B.S. from the Wharton School of Business and an M.B.A. from Stanford University. Before joining TaskRabbit in 2012, she headed online sales and operation and various other roles at Google for nearly a decade. 

She has quoted several times that all throughout her journey, she has been a victim of racial discrimination and gender biases. However, after she joined TaskRabbit, with her innovative ideas and efforts, the company expanded to 45 markets in the US, United Kingdom, and Canada with a network of 140,000 taskers. 

Her role as TaskRabbit CEO made her one of the most influential and dynamic Black executives in Silicon Valley and the entire technology industry. She has also appeared on rosters of Black Enterprise’s 300 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America and Top Tech Influencers.



Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Biocon 

She wants to be remembered as someone who has put India on the world’s scientific map in terms of innovation. We are talking about Kiran Mazumdar Shaw who fought all odds to build an empire that is one of its kind in India. 

Biocon that manufactures drugs and medicines, is India’s largest pharmaceutical company that employs about 10,000 people and generates a net worth of US $ 100 million. 

Having been born in a Gujarati family in Bangalore, Kiran completed her Zoology from Bangalore University. She wanted to study medicine as a career but could not pursue her dreams because of a lack of scholarships. However, without being demoralized, she enrolled to become a brewmaster in Melbourne, Australia. She was the only woman in her class who topped her University. 

But, in India, no breweries accepted her as she was a woman, and working in a brewery was a man’s job. It was at that point when she met Leslie Auchincloss, founder of Biocon Biochemicals Limited. Leslie was looking for a partner to establish a subsidiary of the company in India. He shared the idea with Kiran and she accepted it with the condition that after six months, she does not wish to continue, she will be offered a designation as a brewer in this company. 

She started Biocon India in a garage, and the rest is history. Her dedication, determination, and willpower made Biocon India one of the giants in health care India. 



A Velumani, Thyrocare 

He left his comfortable government job to make his dreams come true. His journey from being a landless farmer in a small village to building an empire of Rs, 3300 crores is truly an inspiring journey. 

Arokiaswamy Velumani was born in a small village named Appanaickenpatti in Tamil Nadu. He had a difficult childhood. His father gave up on leading his family at an early age due to the disparity of not coping with the never-ending problems. Subsequently, his mother took charge of the family and earned a living of Rs. 50 per week. She invested in two buffaloes and the milk sold from these two buffaloes gave this family with four children bread. 

After he completed his BSc, he had a new challenge - employment. Finally, after a series of interviews in more than two dozen firms, he got a job at a capsule-making company at Rs. 150 per month. A few years later, he applied for a job at Bhabha Atomic Centre, Mumbai. His application was accepted and he got a job of Rs. 880 per month here. 

Dr. Velumani started his Ph.D. in thyroid biochemistry while working with the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai. While working on his Ph.D., he saw people standing in long queues to get their tests done in hospitals. He wanted to help those people and get the relatives of the patients some comfort. But, he was medically not a doctor. Therefore, he decided to help them with the diagnostics.

He established Thyrocare Technologies in 1996 and then there was no looking back. We all know that Thyrocare still rules the diagnostics market and is India’s most reliable diagnostic company. 

All the above-mentioned entrepreneurs have dreamt, thought, and acted out of the league to make their dreams come true. They all made a difference in our lives in one way or the other and their vision has made many complex things easy for us. 

This Entrepreneurs Day OpenGrowth Team salutes all the visionary people who left their comfortable lives to choose a hard way to succeed and made a difference. 


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An artist by heart and a writer by profession, Prachi is a vivacious reader.  She believes in hard work and her dedication has never let her down. She puts her heart and soul in everthing she does. Though life has not been a bed of roses for her, she affirms that the best way to live it is to maintain an equillibrium between the tunes of life.