175+ Countries, 50 Entrepreneurs and 100 Dollars

By Vallabh Rao|21st May 2012
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“You don’t need an MBA, a business plan or even employees. All you need is a product or service that springs from what you love to do anyway, people willing to pay, and a way to get paid” That’s the message Chris Guillebeau wants to convey through his book “The $100 Startup”.Still in his early thirties, Chris Guillebeau is on the verge of completing a tour of every country on earth — he’s already visited more than 175 nations — and yet he’s never held a “real job” or earned a regular paycheck. Rather, he has a special genius for turning ideas into income, and he uses what he earns both to support his life of adventure and to give back. He is the author of the book “The $100 Startup” which tells the stories of 50 innovative entrepreneurs from various countries and sectors who started out fairly modest and ended up running successful businesses.

In preparing to write this book, Chris identified 1,500 individuals who have built businesses earning $50,000 or more from a modest investment (in many cases, $100 or less), and from that group he’s chosen to focus on the 50 most intriguing case studies. In nearly all cases, people with no special skills discovered aspects of their personal passions that could be monetized, and were able to restructure their lives in ways that gave them greater freedom and fulfilment. Chris talks to YourStory about the book and his travels. 

YourStory: How did you choose the 50 entrepreneur stories from the 1500 case studies you had?

Chris Guillebeau: I wanted to make sure the stories were diverse and representative of many industries. I didn’t want them all to be online businesses, for example, and I didn’t want them to be only from the U.S. Next, I focused on poignant, interesting stories that could be used to illustrate lessons that applied to every aspiring business owner.

YS: Have you met all those people? While on your travels do you interact with the local entrepreneurs?

CG: Not all, but many. Probably half of the stories came from my travels, both in the U.S. and further afield. I also cast a wide net and looked for stories from everywhere, and we received a huge amount of data to work with. Yes, when travelling I often spend time meeting with entrepreneurs of all kinds.  

YS: Any favourite stories from India?

CG: I liked the story of Purna Duggirala, who earned a six-figure (USD) income in India by creating products and resources that made it easier to use Microsoft Excel. That level is income is very high in the U.S., but of course in India it’s huge. He was able to be successful by meeting a clear need and focusing relentlessly on improving the lives of his customers. I found this story inspiring. 

YS: What was your motivation to pen this book?

CG: Two things: I wanted to tell the stories like Purna in great detail. I was inspired by them and I wanted to share them. The

collective message is, there are no excuses left! Look what these people have done!And secondly, I wanted to provide a clear blueprint for readers who hoped to achieve their own freedom by making something that helps others. Lots of resources are motivational, but they don’t provide a specific plan. The $100 Startup model is clear and specific. Read the book, take action, and improve as you go. That’s what it’s all about.

Chris is on a 22-city tour now, and will visit India later in the year. The commonwealth launch of the book is scheduled on May 24th.

Visit ‘The $100 Startup’ website by clicking here.

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