It’s definitely inspirational to look back at how some of the world’s most prominent, game-changers, and entrepreneurs got started in their journey to success. Achieving sustained success in business is extremely difficult, but these 10 inspiring individuals have definitely earned the bragging rights.
Some of these men and women have taken big risks to build their brands and start businesses but now they’re reaping what they sowed. And, in establishing these amazing businesses, they have flourished and turned themselves into some of the most successful people in their field. But who are they? So without further ado let’s get to know these 10 successful entrepreneurs who had to claw their way to the top.
Daisy Jing is a YouTube vlogger and a soon to be mompreneur who founded and bootstrapped a now multi-million beauty product line called Banish. She has in-depth knowledge and experience in business and marketing hence the reason why her business is currently ranked #152nd fastest-growing companies in Inc. 500. She was also included in Forbes 30 under 30 under the manufacturing section. Just recently, she had an opportunity to share her passion for authenticity at a TEDxTalk.
Around 18 years ago, Deven Powers had hit rock bottom. Beaten down by life, with shattered self-esteem – his past actions of breaking the law has lead to significant jail time. He was financially, mentally, and spiritually bankrupt. At the lowest point in his life, he eventually realized that a life of crime isn’t something he wants to do for the rest of his life. After months and months of contemplation, he finally decided to pursue a vision of becoming more. In 2003 he made the conscious decision that he’s going to turn his life around by becoming a successful entrepreneur one day – so he began studying and taking classes in business management and consumer science. While he was in jail, he managed to pick up several skills, and one of which is hair styling – he learned how to braid, cut, and style hair. He never in a million years imagine that this particular set of skills would eventually lead to a very lucrative business model.
Along his journey of personal growth and self-improvement, Deven saw an opportunity to disrupt the film festival industry – he somehow found a gap in an established market. There weren’t many festivals in Los Angeles that actually catered to African American Filmmakers at the time so he decided to create a film festival that not only screened independent filmmakers but also applauded them by giving them screening blocks.
Fast forward to today, Deven Powers aka “Mr. Hollywood” is now the CEO and founder of the Black Film Festival Los Angeles, Mr. Hollywood TV Show, Mr. Hollywood Blogs, Mr. Hollywood Magazine, and Discover My Music Radio. He has also been the host of the LA Live Film Festival from 2018 through to 2020. When Deven’s not gracing the cover of magazines or hosting red carpet events, he’s hosting the “Mr. Hollywood TV show” which airs on AT & T, channel 99 in U-Verse, and channel 32 in Charter Spectrum.
Sharon Duke Estroff
Sharon Duke Estroff is the founder and creator of the Challenge Island™ program, She is an award-winning elementary school teacher with two decades of experience in Atlanta public and private schools. She started Challenge Island in her second-grade classroom and began running it as an enrichment business using the current model in 2003. It has been growing by leaps and bounds ever since.
Sharon is a nationally recognized parenting and education expert and a freelance writer for numerous national publications including Scholastic Parent and Child, Parents, Woman’s Day, and Good Housekeeping magazines. She is the author of the popular parenting book, Can I Have a Cell Phone for Hanukkah? (Random House) and co-author of the upcoming Challenge Island book series that turns the Challenge Island curriculum into an exciting and educational story. She is a sought-after speaker who has presented to scores of communities nationwide about the trials and tribulations of raising kids in the digital age.
Sharon received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Emory University where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude. She continues to run her local Challenge Island business in Atlanta, Georgia where she lives with her husband and four children.
Jason Cherubini is a business professor, an advisor to emerging technology startups, and the co-founder of a film and media production company called Dawn’s Light Media. He spent most of his career as a management consultant working with startups and small businesses trying to raise capital to begin operations, eventually starting his firm, Seraphim Associates International. During his time as a consultant, he also began lecturing in graduate business programs in the United States and Europe, publishing academic papers on the methodologies he developed for the teaching of accounting.
In 2014, Cherubini decided to take his startup experience, knowledge, and skills, and start his own media company, Dawn’s Light Media, with partners Richard Switzer and Alexander Ferguson. Since its inception in 2015, Dawn’s Light has produced and distributed over twenty feature films including Black Water starring action stars Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, and Money Plane starring Adam “Edge” Copeland, Kelsey Grammer, and Thomas Jane.
Shanna Lee is an intuitive healer and celebrity manifestation coach. She is the #1 best -selling author of The Soul Frequency: Your Healthy, Awakened, and Authentic Life and the host of The Soul Frequency Show podcast; leading the conversation on raising your energy frequency and creating a life founded on truth and alignment.
She is a speaker, businesswoman, and consultant to executives of Fortune 500 companies, celebrities, influencers, and fashion industry experts.
With over two decades of experience in sales, marketing, and business development coupled with her intuitive gift of insight, she is an expert in leading purpose-driven individuals and supporting the development of their core mission from the ground up. Shanna Lee has been featured in Awareness Magazine and the international docuseries, Depression and Anxiety Secrets. She is a contributor to Medium, Tiny Buddha, and Elephant Journal and has been featured in numerous podcasts and international radio shows.
Kyle Hunter aka K. Sparks is not your average musician. He has released over 1,000 songs and 40 albums, he has toured globally, and he also happens to be the CEO of Rhythm Couture – a company that brings diversity and ownership to music licensing.
His accomplishments range from sold-out shows in Europe, and his music has been featured in the 50 Cent hit series Power on the STARZ Network, Les Mills, Monster Energy, The New York Times, and countless others – you would think he’d be a household name. But you probably haven’t heard of him, and that’s just the way he prefers it.
His company, Rhythm Couture, was co-founded with his business partner and co-owner Robert Ronci. The company’s primary service is to provide custom music for television, movies, and corporate advertising, and its roster consists of over 25 musicians on a global scale ranging from Taiwan, Mexico, Hong Kong, The United States, as well as other countries.
His journey is all the more impressive given its humble beginnings; it all started at Queens New York’s notorious South Ozone Park. He was an independent musician before becoming a businessman. He started his label, “Double Up Entertainment,” by releasing several mixtapes and painstakingly selling them hand to hand from the trunk of his car. “Back then I had a Mitsubishi Galant. Driving around New York with my street team selling music.” Since then he’s amassed millions of streams, snagged major commercial placements such as Powerade featuring Lebron James, collaborated with Kanye West artist Kid Cudi as well as nominated for Best Hip Hop Record against recording artist Wiz Khalifa.
Eventually, he realized that he should actually build his own company from the ground up rather than promote someone else’s work. He recorded and amassed a music catalog of over 1,000 songs, ensuring that he owned the rights to all master recordings and publishing. “Ownership is critical. Artists lose when they don’t own their masters. That’s a musician’s retirement plan.” From that point on, he leveraged his catalog to infiltrate television, movies, and mainstream media outlets. Utilizing direct revenue from his earnings to fund his company Rhythm Couture.
Besides running a successful business, he has also stressed the importance of going back to your roots and inspiring others. “Every generation should have more than the last. Giving back is imperative.” Some of his philanthropic work includes giving back to the Boys & Girls Club within his hometown and speaking to at-risk youth.
Brian Lim is the founder and CEO of iHeartRaves, INTO THE AM, and Emazing Lights which collectively form The Emazing Group. They are curators of all-over print clothing and world leaders in festival fashion and gaming apparel. The company currently has a gross revenue of around $30 million annually and they have been featured in the Inc. 5000 six years in a row.
Surprisingly enough, Brian actually started out with a mere $100 selling gloves out of the trunk of his car and he was somehow able to grow the business into a successful multi-million dollar company. He initially spent $100 sourcing parts for his light-up glove idea and then built some prototypes using white stretch gloves and LED lights from key chains. Soon, he had his own website, and he assembled a team and started engineering their own glove lights. Within a year, he left his former employer Deloitte, to work on the business full time. His gloves have since then been featured on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew, Disney Channel’s dance show Shake It Up! and several music videos. Brian was also on Season Six of ABC’s Shark Tank where he received offers from all five sharks. On the show, Robert Herjavec actually said that Brian was “one of, if not the best entrepreneur we’ve had here.” He took a deal from Mark Cuban for $650,000 in exchange for 5% equity in the company, and a licensing deal from Daymond John for 20% of profits.
Chris Cardillo is one of three owners of Castle Windows, a New Jersey-based corporation specializing in replacement windows and doors, is considered one of New Jersey’s most successful entrepreneurs. Cardillo started at Castle unloading trucks part-time, and by the time he turned 28, he bought out the company and turned it into what it is today – a multi-million-dollar business that continues to flourish into one of the largest window companies in the nation.
Cardillo was inspired by his father’s success as a sales manager for Castle Windows. The two spent long days together, where he became intimately familiar with the product line. Cardillo also found that he loved talking to people and educating them about Castle Windows and all it had to offer. For Cardillo Jr., talking about Castle Windows was so much more than a job but an opportunity to save the people he met money and increase the value of their homes. When Cardillo Sr. was given the opportunity to open a Castle franchise in New Jersey, Chris immersed himself more into the business that would eventually become his.
He went on to study business marketing at Rowan University. His professors told him that his focus on windows was too narrow, but Cardillo knew that there was no plan B. Windows was his future. Cardillo put his education into practice as he climbed up the ladder at Castle Windows, he soon proved his worth as a leader in the sales management team. In 2005, the retiring Cardillo Sr. sold the franchise to Chris and his partner Nick Cardillo.
Beginning with only a loose conglomerate of independent offices, the two owners negotiated the purchase of all the Castle Windows branches throughout the entire northeast. Castle Windows is now the sixth-largest home-improvement company in the country with offices from New Hampshire to Florida and in Michigan. Castle Windows has been installing windows for over 4 decades with over a million windows sold. It was named Best Window Company by South Jersey Magazine and Best Executive Team by Smart CXO Magazine.
Renee Bauer is an award-winning divorce attorney, published author, and founder of the family law firm, Bauer Law Group, located in Connecticut. With almost two decades of experience representing countless high net-worth clients, she’s committed to empowering all women to redefine their sense of peace and purpose in their new life. She’s certified as a Guardian Ad Litem, Attorney for the Minor Child, and Collaborative Attorney. She’s also a certified Mediator receiving her training from mediation pioneer, Forrest “Woody” Mosten, of Beverly Hills.
Her insights are sought after by local and regional media outlets, podcasts, and conferences where she speaks on co-parenting, blended family dynamics, relationships, and the art of reinvention. Having walked this path herself, she knows what it feels like to face uncertainty, shame, and the fear of losing life as she knew it. She’s an accomplished litigator, and she boldly educates and inspires women to reclaim their right to happiness through her online course, the d∙course and podcast, Happy Even After™.
Around 17 years ago, James had hit rock bottom – beaten down by life, with shattered self-esteem. His addictions had resulted in jail time. He was financially, emotionally, and spiritually bankrupt. At the lowest point in his life, he met his future wife and business partner, Steph, and together they pursued a vision of becoming more.
Along their journey of personal growth and self-improvement, James and Steph saw an opportunity to disrupt an industry that ironically appeared to be perpetually stuck in the dark ages – the personal development industry. As a rag to riches, a non-formally educated, successful tech founder with a serious interest in philosophy, James recognized the uniqueness of his position to disrupt the personal development industry for the better.
Together, James and Steph felt an urgency to pursue their life mission to inspire individuals to tap into their unlimited potential and push humanity forward through a personalized combination of philosophy, science, technology, and community. They agreed it was time to launch their next venture, Powerful U, The World’s First Personal Evolution Company. James and Steph and their team have published a book, produced an award-winning movie, developed a game-changing personal perception assessment, and launched the Powerful Universe, a global platform for teaching and learning personal evolution. James has built strong international partnerships and an influencer network that already reaches over 50 million followers. Onstage and on camera, James is compelling, authentic, riveting and has enriched audiences around the world.