From zero savings to earning in millions: the extraordinary stories of four entrepreneurs


“Started from the bottom, now we’re here.” – Drake

While most of us simply sing along to this popular hip-hop song, some people happened to unconsciously make it their life’s motto. The kind of challenges that these individuals had to surmount went far beyond a scattering of Ted Talks that they graciously decided to host, to inspire a generation of dreamers and believers. Today, we tell you their stories.

John Schnatter

Founder and CEO of Papa John’s

“Sometimes you have to get rid of something that's good, and tinker with something that's better.”

Papa John’s may be your favourite weekly order-in, but before the company was formed in 1984, its Founder, John Schnatter, was washing dishes in his father’s co-owned tavern in Jeffersonville. Deciding to capitalise on its customer-base, he decided to start a food-based mini-business. Selling his Camaro to help his father’s struggling business, he used the leftover funds to purchase pizza-making machinery and booked a broom closet in the tavern to carry out his operations. Today the company is the third largest take-out and pizza delivery restaurant chain in the world, with headquarters in Jeffersontown, Kentucky.

Grant Cardone

Entrepreneur, real estate investor, and author

“When I started to own the fact that I was obsessed with personal fantasies of indestructible wealth and fame, and the desire to create a legacy that would outlast my time on this planet, the world looked different, and I acted differently.”

At 25, Cardone fell into the throes of American decadence. He was a broke addict living off on charitably given odd meals. Following his time in rehab, he went back home and decided to give himself a second chance at life. He realised that until then, his affinity to become ‘obsessed’ with something had stood as a flaw. However, it could very well be used to turn his life around. Soon enough, he began to get ‘obsessed’ with the idea of success and building an empire. He went on to try his luck at everything – the automobile industry, writing, and finally in real estate. Today he is the proud author of seven popular books on survival strategies and management, has successfully built a $500 million real-estate empire, and in 2016 was named by Forbes as one of the ‘25 Marketing Influencers to Watch in 2017’.

Mariah Coz

Founder and CEO of Femtrepreneur

“I don’t believe in competition. I just think that’s not a thing. You either make them irrelevant or work with them.”

With zero savings, no steady income, and a series of odd jobs to keep things together, Mariah Coz was broke but not done. With a keen interest in fashion, she tried her hands at fashion blogging, selling tailor-made clothes online, and finally writing about how to create a vintage camper. When she began to receive maximum response to the last one, she decided to focus all her creative energy onto it. A few years down the line, she pulled together enough funds to form Femtrepreneur, a seven-figure website dedicated to giving women business advice and support, something she had become an expert in.

Kenneth Langone

Co-founder of The Home Depot

“I learned playing poker that you never count your winnings because that's when you start to lose.”

Kenneth hailed from an Italian-American working class family. His father was a plumber and his mother served in a cafeteria. To pay for college on his own merit, Langone worked odd jobs as a butcher’s assistant, a caddy, and a dig-ditcher. Following graduation, he went on to obtain another degree from New York University Stern School of Business, attending classes at night so he could work full-time during the day to pay off the tuition fee. Having treaded inside Wall Street back in the early 1960s, Langone has undergone a journey of success, which now grants him a net worth of $3.1 billion.

As author Maggie Stiefvater once said, “Rags to riches isn't a story anyone wants to hear until after it's done.” Inspiring, isn’t it?


Updates from around the world