15 Entrepreneurs Who Didn’t Accomplish Anything By Age 30

By Simi
15 Entrepreneurs Who Didn’t Accomplish Anything By Age 30

Something that surrounds the business world is a sense of urgency. It’s sort of an artificial alarm that gets turned on in our heads by people around us. We often hear stories about child prodigies graduating from college at the age of 17 and similar instances. Instead of using this as motivation, it sometimes has a depressing effect on all of us. It even makes us feel bad for the place we’re currently in, even when there is absolutely no reason to.

Oftentimes, because of this pressure, we tend to feel like we’re constantly lagging behind. Lagging behind whom, we have to ask? There is no such thing as being behind. You can only give your best or not. These are the only two options and they reinforce the notion that you only have to have yourself as a reference point.

Everyone goes by their own rhythm and feeling. So, this leads us to an important issue. Why do we hear about people who make it big while young and not about people who did after the 30th birthday?

This is because the 30th hurdle is the point where we lose the “glamour” and “pizzazz” in life. Without those two things, we can be perfectly fine. In order to show that it’s never too late, we’ve assembled the list of brilliant minds that made it big after the age of 30. They didn’t allow their previous experiences to stop them and continued on. Thus, let’s invest a little time and look into their lives. There is a lot to learn.

1. Jack Dorsey, 30 – Twitter CEO

Some time ago, we had the habit of viewing news pieces as a way of expressing the matter with unlimited words. Although a lack of expression limitation is always good, there is one downside to it. That downside correlates to the time we have to spend reading the news piece. It doesn’t have to concern news, it can be about opinions, jokes or anything else. We were missing an immediate way of communication and updates. That is, until Twitter arrived.

We all know the man, the myth, the legend – Jack Dorsey, the famed Twitter CEO who accomplished so much. Indeed, he made it big and didn’t give up. But when did that success come, exactly? That’s right, after the age of 30. Well into his 20s, he was obsessed with punk rock and skateboarding, with no obvious business plan. It might seem relatable, but his story proves an important point. There’s no such thing as too early or too late. Everybody has their own tempo and we only have to abide only by that tempo.

His first business venture was innovative, but undermanned cab dispatching company. After that fell apart, he was in a bad place but refused to give up. Then, at the age of 30, he had an idea of an IM service, which would double as a social media site.

Immediate messaging, plus short, 140-character limited messages – it was a formula that was destined to win. That year, along with Ev Williams and two more friends, he formed Twitter. The young CEO was “only” 30 and his idea was blasting off into the stratosphere. His exploration of ideas took a little bit longer, but he’s right where he wants to be.

2. Tim Westergren, 35 – Pandora

Music streaming was once a wild dream though of only by visionaries. The thought of having an online music library seemed like something straight out of a science fiction movie. People were used to storing their music on iPods and Personal Computers, without any regard for a cloud service for music. Before Spotify, Netflix, Deezer, and iTunes, there was one company that ruled the streaming world, and still does, in a certain way. That company is none other than Pandora, which was founded in 2004, by its iconic and charismatic CEO and chairman, Tim Westergren.

Tim only decided to find Pandora when he was at the tender age of 35. Life was not kind to him at all, as he passed through numerous trials and tribulations. Tim is originally a Stanford graduate but didn’t manage to put his political science BA to good use.

After his graduation, years of being an unsuccessful musician ensued. It could have broken his dreams and shattered his will, but that time, but that time only made him a better and more capable man. The man who was a failed musician came up with an idea to change the music world forever.

At first, Pandora was only a hardware company that gave permission to stores to play music. It was rough during the first time, as nobody seemed to catch on to the trend. Only after two years did Pandora become an online streaming service. During those two years, each of Tim’s employees worked completely without pay! Yes, this story is a true one, as the incredible man behind the idea gave speeches day in and day out in order to help convince his crew to stay.

3. Jan Koum, 33 – WhatsApp

Messaging was not always what it is nowadays. It’s immediate, efficient and customizable. Thus, we have a form of communication that we love more than ever, and that we have seen through its many forms. But it wasn’t always like this. Just a few years ago, there was something missing. We only had text messaging and social media. Texting is awesome, but it’s slow and not immediate. Social media is cool, but it has tons of distractions that had a detrimental effect on communication. We needed an app that could unite immediate and bare messaging, all while using little internet data.

Our needs and prayers were answered when one Jan Koum decided to launch WhatsApp, a unique new app. It was on his 33rd birthday that we could download the famous app. It started off modest, but it quickly exploded to incredible heights.

Nowadays, it’s the most reliable communication app of all time. It uses only a little amount of data, all while providing a stable UI, along with military-grade encryption that drives away even the peskiest authorities in the world. Jan Koum struck gold but missed plenty times before that.

He was enrolled at San Diego University, but he had enough of the education system. It just wasn’t for him and he was forced to look for a job. Immediately after dropping out, his brilliant mind found a home at Yahoo. There he met WhatsApp’s co-founder, Brian Acton. Koum wasn’t satisfied with his gig at Yahoo, so he applied for a Facebook job. He was rejected immediately, believe it or not. After capitalizing on his idea, Jan Koum became one of the examples of the notion that it’s never too late.

4. Jack Ma – 35, Alibaba

Ecommerce was one an untested ground, meant only for the most daring minds to test it out. In the beginning of the last decade, people were still reliant on buying things the old-fashioned way. It was a mix of habit and fear. The fear of internet shopping was a fear of something new encompassing their wallets and accounts. Amazon and other big sites had to go through hell in order to become what they are today. In countries where Amazon isn’t as prominent, we get to experience the services of another ecommerce giant, Alibaba.

If we told you that one of the top 10 companies in the world was founded by a man who didn’t touch a computer before the age of 30, would you believe us? Albeit it’s hard to come to terms with, it’s nothing more than the truth.

Jack Ma fought incredibly hard for his idea to come to life, but it was far from an easy path to his dream. He had to go through thick and thin with his closest associates in order to make Alibaba a reality. The road was a strange one indeed.

Ma admitted that he failed his college entrance exam three times in a row. After the unfortunate incidents, he decided to apply for no less than 30 jobs at once. The result was that he got rejected by each and every one of them. Instead of becoming depressed, Jack Ma made Alibaba a reality at the age of 35. Nowadays, he is worth $22.5 billion and the word “failure” is something completely foreign to him. Jack is indeed an inspiration to everyone that wants to make something out of nothing.

5. Ben Horowitz, 33 – LoudCloud

LoudCloud was a phenomenal company that may have changed the way we look at the internet forever. They were the first company ever to offer software in the form of a service that computes with hardware infrastructure. Before them, nobody thought of things such as server life-cycle management and other ventures. Companies were fighting over the rights of being customers of LoudCloud. That fight for the prevalence of services only led to LoudCloud making an even more lucrative profit as the days passed.  What’s even more interesting than the actual company is its founder, the one and only Ben Horowitz.

Netscape was a big thing even back in 1999, and Ben got hired to be their product manager a few years earlier. After Netscape got sold that same year, Ben had an idea that could change both his life and the life of his friend Marc Andreessen, the founder of Netscape.

Together, they formed LoudCloud, one of the unique projects ever to be devised by the human mind. Ben was then 33, and he was finally catching his big break. However, things weren’t ready to calm down quite yet. There were many times when Ben admitted he was severely late when it came to paying out his employees. It was tough.

Later on, LoudCloud became more and more established and this led to the interest of investors. HP was the company that saw the most potential and they decided to pay big time. At the age of 41, Ben Horowitz sold his first company to the HP company, for a staggering $1.6 billion. It’s something that most of us dream, but fail to accomplish. All it takes is perseverance.

6. Sam Walton, 44 – Walmart

Even though ecommerce sales have taken the world by storm, there is still much to depend on when it comes to physical stores. Nothing can beat the feeling of actually touching your next purchase and assessing it on the spot. There have been many successful and unsuccessful tries in the last century, but one store stands above all else. Walmart is more than just a store, it’s a pop culture symbol that transcends the mere business world. Even though they have delivery services now, Walmart is embedded in our hearts as a giant store with everything possible.

Despite it being so big now, it wasn’t always that way. Walmart first saw the light of day in 1945, at the hands of Sam Walton. The legendary business magnate didn’t start of early like much of today’s young entrepreneurs.

Most of his life, he was managing a small store with his father in law. He had substantial money in his bank account, but he decided that simply wasn’t enough for him. After taking out a $200.000 loan in 1945, he bought a franchised Ben Franklin store. Three years later, he bought another one. After some contemplation, he decided he should ditch the franchising gig.

Walton was eager to leave his own mark on society and not be a subsidiary of some other brand. Thus, Walmart was born. A man who was struggling with his business ventures was now sitting on top of a booming brand. He only managed to do it at the age of 44. Most people would have given up by now, but not Sam. Sam is a fighter who lived to tell the tale.

7. Peter Thiel, 30 – PayPal

Before we get to the point of this man’s life and work, it’s crucial to ask one question. Tell us, dear reader, how would you send money to someone on another continent 20 years ago? The obvious answer would be wiring the money via a slow bank process or sending a check. Nevertheless, the point is essentially that money transfers were much, much tougher back in the day than they were now. Transactions were limited by the borders of the countries in which the two people lived. All that changed, when one Peter Thiel got a brilliant idea. He named the idea, PayPal.

We all love having a mere millisecond waiting time when receiving money via PayPal, right? Sure, but did you know that PayPal almost never came to be in the first place? Peter Thiel, one of PayPal’s founders was a lawyer after his graduation at Stanford in 1992.

He was an excellent legal expert and managed to land a job immediately after passing the bar exam. Although the firm provided excellent pay, he felt trapped. According to his own words, it was “a place that everyone on the outside wanted in, but everyone inside wanted to leave”.

At one point, he just couldn’t cope with the stress and decided to join Credit Suisse. That gig too didn’t work out and he gathered a team of bright minds to form PayPal. Even though he was 30 years-old at the time PayPal came to live, it still didn’t stop Peter from achieving his dreams. He got out of his disastrous lawyer gig and managed to sell the company for $1.5 billion in 2003. Not too shabby.

8. Reed Hastings, 31 – Pure Software, Netflix

Sometimes, the road to success is not a well-paved avenue, but a chaotic and frenzied turn of events that leave you in awe. It’s all about innovation in most cases. People tend to believe that all great creations stem from a long period of contemplation. Sometimes, this truth turns into a fallacy, as a minute’s worth of time can give birth to a brilliant creation that nobody has ever seen before. Such was the case with one of the lesser known, but most important companies of the 1990s – Pure Software. The company in itself is an interesting venture, but the life of Reed Hasting, its own, is also an intriguing venture.

Reed got a degree in engineering but felt like he seemingly had nowhere to go. To make his time pass faster, he took up joining the Peace Corps. As a result of that, he traveled the globe and even spent a few years teaching English in Swaziland. Although life there is hard at first glance, that pressure and struggle turned Hastings into a wiser man.

He knew that he wanted to do something in life. So, at the tender age of 31, he started Pure Software, a company that sold software debugging tools. It became a hit with all the software engineers, all while netting him $750 million when he sold it at the age of 37.

Reed was just getting started at that point, making his dream of starting a movie streaming site reality. Many years later, people have put cinemas and the TV aside and committed their time to Netflix. If such brilliance at a slightly older age doesn’t inspire you, we don’t know what can.

9. Henry Ford, 40 – Ford Motor Company

Even the brightest minds in the history of the world know what failure feels and tastes like. There is an old saying – “Struggle gives birth to hustle”. When someone feels like he’s failed himself over and over again, his brain goes into overdrive. Every action he performs from then on becomes a relentless quest to obtain the mantle of perfection. Such a chase towards flawlessness can be both a blessing and a curse. The living embodiment of this notion is none other than Henry Ford, the creator of the world’s first automobile. His road to perfection has lead him astray a few times, only to make him a legend.

Before being able to start Ford, Henry bankrupted his first two business venture. His associates say that he had excellent ideas that would have netted him incredible amounts of fame and fortune. But, alas, Henry felt like his ideas were flawed and imperfect and refused to give in. Many years later, an associate named James Couzen told him to man up and just go with it.

Thus, the design of the Model T was approved and the rest is history. After the car started selling, Henry committed himself to training countless mechanics just so people can get their Model T fixed just about anywhere in the country. It paid off and the automobile was a success. And do you know what else? Ford was 40 when the Model T was out for sale. It’s never too late.

If you ever feel insecure, scared or doubtful, don’t! If a man who was a perfectionist went with his gut feeling and just did what he wanted, you can too. Age is just a number, but accomplishments are real and impactful.

10. Mark Cuban, 32 – Microsolutions

If you watch the NBA, you surely must know of the Dallas Mavericks. The exciting team from the heart of Texas is the beloved baby of one Mark Cuban. He’s that guy in a Mavs shirt, always yelling, cheering and seemingly losing his mind when the referees screw up a call. The billionaire is living his dream life, all while investing, being modest and hard working. The 59-year-old entrepreneur and philanthropist is a man to behold, but his 32 years of life have been not so great. He managed to do it, despite the overwhelming odds. What took place in those first three decades?

At the age of 28, Mark was seemingly clueless. He was living in a cramped apartment with five other people, with a business degree from Indiana University. After many unsuccessful gigs, he put all of his hopes into MicroSolutions.

The first few years, MicroSolutions was heralded as an excellent software consultancy firm, with business ventures and offers coming from all over the place. He struggled financially before selling the company for $6 million. An excellent start for one bright young mind, wouldn’t you say?

After selling MicroSolutions at the age of 32, Mark made it. Shortly after that, he started Broadcast.com, which he sold for an incredible sum of $5.7 billion. His uncanny way to seek loopholes in just about every business scheme has earned him a reputation for being one of the best experts in the history of the business. The world’s first internet billionaire is a living testament to all those who think success is far away and not obtainable by us average folk. Everybody is average until they decide to stop being average.

11. Martha Stewart, 41 – Cook, author, businesswoman

Some of the world’s best success stories stem from the fact that life takes unsuspected turns. You’re living a dull life one day and the next thing you know, you’re in a chaotic state because your business is booming out of nowhere. What gives? Some say it’s the force of faith, some say it’s God, but there are a few more ingredients that can be quite powerful as well. Courage, creativity, and hustle are all great virtues that make successful businessmen precisely what they are – living testaments of resilience. When it comes to resilience, there is no person more versed in that trait than one Martha Stewart.

Her story begins pretty normally, as she got married at the age of 20 and giving birth to a child four years later. She didn’t want to be a housewife all her life and she started plotting her business ventures for the next decade and a half. At the age of 35, she opened up her first business, a catering company. Everything was going well until she had a quarrel with her business partner, which in their relationship forever severed.

 After that, she went on to form her own company and, at the age of 41, she got a lucrative offer to write her own book, which became a great success.

Martha is an incredible example of perseverance and an embodiment of what truly means to never give up on your dream. The woman plotted to create a business for 15 years an even then, it took her 6 more years to become truly independent. If you’re looking for inspiration, look no further than one Martha Stewart.

12. J.K. Rowling, 32 – The author of Harry Potter

Writing is a job like no other. It requires no skill, everyone can do it, if they have the talent and the commitment to take care of venting out their inspiration. Therefore, it’s safe to say that there aren’t statistics that can measure the probability of a writer making it in the business world. Many great books are being published every year, with some of them gaining almost no recognition. Most famous writers have a humble background, with not much preparation beforehand. One such example is J.K. Rowling, the billionaire author of Harry Potter. She didn’t have much success before the age of 32, but after that, it was a different world for her.

Rowling finished college with fairly average marks and got a job at Amnesty International immediately afterward. She was 25 at the time and wrote the idea for Harry Potter on a piece of paper during a long train ride back home from work.

On the brink of starvation, Rowling sat down and started writing while giving English lessons for the money to survive. Everything changed when JK got her first $2.300 advance from Bloomsbury, a British book publisher. Since then, the millions and billions kept on piling up.

She even stated herself that she is happy she had no money back then, mostly because it allowed her to find one niche in life that she truly belonged in. Thus, one of the greatest authors of the modern era stoop up back on her feet and managed to conquer the literary world. Sometimes, rock bottom is not a bad thing, but a solid foundation to build your future on.

13. Lynda Weinman, 40 – Lynda.com

Even though education means a lot when it comes to success, it isn’t a guarantee that things will go your way, is it? Oftentimes, we hear about the people that worked hard to get their degree through conventional education. However, although it’s not talked about as often, there are people who find a different path to success. Many self-taught masters of their craft used only their own curiosity and free time to achieve what they wanted. More often than not, this process yields incredible results because there are no conventional limits when it comes to human curiosity.

Lynda was just a regular, curious housewife before venturing into the world of web design. In 1982, she started slowly getting the ins and out of the craft. After ten years of obtaining degrees and diplomas, Lynda managed to score a teaching job at a college in Pasadena, California. She wrote a book about her experiences and it started selling really well. She was 40 at the time, if you didn’t know.

Although the $20.000 she got from the book sales were great, she used them as an investment in something bigger. After some planning, she and her husband decided to launch an online design school. Lynda.com was born. It took years of planning and calculations, but it was finally there.

The website became a major hit and people from all over the world started signing up for online courses in programming, web design, administration, marketing and much more. In 2015, Lynda agreed with Linkedin that she is to sell her website for $1.5 billion. Not too shabby for a woman who only began her venture at the age of 40.

14. Xochi and Michael Birch, 33 and 36 – Bebo

There are two important factors in the business world. The first is the sheer power of creativity and a mental child brought to life. Being inventive, curious and creative is an excellent perk, but sometimes it amounts to nothing without the second factor. We’re talking about the shrewdness of the entrepreneurs, the nose for the right moment, when to strike and when to make a deal. The greatest success stories do have a little bit of risk and luck in them. Michael and Xochi Birch are a living example of this. Their venture into the digital world is one of the most legendary of all time.

Well into their 30s, Michael and Xochi decided to play around with something he loved the most – computers. As a result of their experimenting, Bebo was born. Many experts call it the Facebook before Facebook, a social network that paved the way for every other. After its 2005 inception, Bebo grew to become one of the most popular sites in the world. It was a phenomenon unlike any other before, a one of a kind occurrence.

They started earning lots of money, but their luck started becoming more and more incredible every moment. AOL approached them to suggest a purchase of Bebo for $850 million and the couple gladly said yes.

What was the aftermath of the sale? In retrospective, the Birches made the best possible decision, as the Bebo sale coincided with the rise of Facebook. This means that Bebo failed miserably, resulting in massive losses for AOL, making them forced to sell the site back to its original owners for $1 million. Business at its best.

15. Caterina Fake, 33 – Flickr

Life is a game of ups and downs, where you never know what’s the next big thing that might improve or worsen your whole life. This usually means that failure should not get to your heart and that victory should not get into your head. After one phenomenon occurs, the other one usually follows more often than not.

This leads to the perpetual pendulum of life and the realization that we have to catch the pendulum precisely when we wanted. People like Caterina Fake didn’t allow their failures to affect them a lot and decided to move on and seize the day. Her story takes us on a journey from the brink of failure to incredible success.

When Caterina started her first company, Ludicorp, things were not going well. The plans she had for establishing a chokehold over the whole gaming industry seemingly didn’t work. She scraped the game she had planned and decided to use her last possible resources to start Flickr, an artistic outlet for people who had the urge to post their work online. It became a copyrighted, moderated safe haven for artists of all the visual aspects. Over night, literally, it became a smash hit in every sense.

Caterina managed to accomplish the inception of Flickr at the tender age of 33, making her a late bloomer that seemingly never stopped blooming. In 2009, she and her husband co-founded Slack, which was later acquired by eBay in an incredible sale for $80 million. Something like her accomplishments is not seen every day. This is why we should always follow our artistic visions and strive to be the best entrepreneurs we can possibly be.