6 Inspiring Case Studies of Entrepreneurs Who Started with Nothing

Case study 1: Miracle Mop invented by Joy Mangano 

Inventor Joy Mangano started her entrepreneurial journey working on the prototype of her father’s auto body shop. Investing her life’s savings in developing a self-wringing mop, she started product demonstrations in the parking lots, flea markets, boat shows, etc. With over 100 patents on her name, she invented the famous Miracle Mop. 

With not much success, she turned to QVC. With no prior camera experience, the first airing didn’t go well. However, the little success and her zeal convinced the network to get her another show, which ended up selling 18000 mops in less than an hour. 

Today, Joy Mangano is known for her ingenious designs. She sold Miracle Mop design to Home Shopping Network in 1999. Her life inspired David O. Russell directed an oscar-nominated movie on Joy’s life named “Joy,” starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Rober De Niro. 

Turning into a writer, she wrote a best-selling book, “Inventing Joy,” inspiring people to work on their ambitions and bring more innovation to the world. Joy Mangano is truly an inspiration for people that are working on making their dreams come true. 


Case study 2: Barbara Corcoran – Shark Tank 

Barbara Ann Corcoran is a leading businesswoman, investor, speaker, consultant, and television personality. People that have seen Shark Tank, the famous show, must be well aware of Barbara Corcoran. She started her career as a waitress and secured a loan, and quit her job to start a real estate company in New York City. 

The best-seller writer, she shares her experience of Shark Tank in her book “How I turned $1000 into a billion-dollar business?”. She is now a podcast host & has investments in more than 80 small businesses. She is one of the Shark investors and has appeared in 12 seasons of ABC’s Shark Tank to date. She has made over 53 successful deals on the show, including a $3,50,000 investment in Coverplay for a 40% stake. 

Barbara Corcoran is a columnist for The Daily Review, More, and Redbook. She is also featured by Larry King Live, NBC’s Today show. She also hosts The Millionaire Broker with Barbara Corcoan on CNBC. 


Case study 3: Whatsapp Jan Koum

Startups have their own challenges. It is hard to convince people to start using their products and services. However, if you can, the benefits are high. It takes time and effort to build your business and find an audience that is looking for a solution that you provide. 

A perfect case study for businesses such as that is of Jan Koum, the 3rd richest entrepreneur in America under 40. The co-founder of WhatsApp and America’s one of the richest young business person was born in the outskirts of Ukraine. After the cold war, he moved to the United States with his grandmother in 1992, and they lived on state support. 

Working as a janitor for a while, he started to show interest in programming at the age of 18 and later became a part of young hackers. Simultaneously he was studying at State University in San Jose while working at Ernst & Young. 

Starting of WhatsApp 

In 2009, he got himself an iPhone. One day he was browsing through the App Store, and he noticed the world of mobile applications changing drastically. He predicted that the store would soon be revamped, and he was lucky that his hunch was right. He invested in the ideas he got at that time and got lucky. 

He shared his ideas with his friend Alex Fishman. It was then; he got the idea of building a messaging application. He talked with his friend, and that became WhatsApp. In 2009, he founded WhatsApp Inc. To your surprise, the first version of the application was a failure. But it seems luck was on his side. The same year, Apple introduced push notifications, and it revived the opportunity for WhatsApp.

After the application gained popularity in the market, Koum invited his friend Brain Acton, someone he met while working in Ernst & Young, to be his partner. Brain Acton invested his money in the company, which gave the business enough dough to work on its global presence. 

In 2014, Jan Koum sold WhatsApp to Facebook for $19 Billion and worked with him. And in 2018, he sold the app completely to Facebook and stepped down from the board. 


Case study 5: Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is a global icon. She has worked for the rights of women and is recognized as a global entertainment brand. But her beginning of life was not as glamorous. She has lived a life of poverty. Describing her early years, she remembers her childhood living with her grandmother. Not having resources for proper education, to wearing dresses made out of potato sacks, Winfrey was even a victim of sexual abuse. 

Fleeing home aged 13, she gave birth to a child at the age of 14, that unfortunately died shortly after birth. Returning home to live with her mother for a short while, her life took a full 360 degree turn when she was sent to live with her father. She joined the school and sealed a full college scholarship. Later she won a beauty pageant which put her in front of people that later gave her work. She started her career with a radio station, and since then, she has never looked back. Today she is worth $3 billion and has her own entertainment empire.


Case study 6: JK Rowling

J.K. Rowling is one of the most celebrated names in the literary world. Her Harry Potter series is a global phenomenon and is widely loved by people of all ages. But you would be surprised how difficult her life was in the early days. Dealing with depression, and her inner demons, this case study would take you through her challenges and how she became successful. 

Early Life

J.K. Rowling, or Joanne Rowling, was born in the year 1965 in England. She was raised in England and Wales with her younger sibling Dianne. Ever since she was a little girl, she loved writing; she wrote her first story at the age of six. At the age of 11, she wrote her first book. Completing her graduation from the University of Exeter, she studies French and Classics. 

Inspiration for Harry Potter

You would be surprised that she got the inspiration for the novel while waiting for her train in 1990. Now, we can guess where did she get the idea of the most iconic scenes of Harry Potter movies, where the protagonist eloping to the magical world by going across the pillar of a railway station, In the next several years, she developed a story and wrote a lot of notes which became one of the most celebrated series of all time. 

The entire series of the novel is loosely inspired by the instances that happened in her life. The sadness of Harry and his life without his parents depicted the times when her mother passed away. She successfully transferred the emotions that made her weak and strong in the book. 

For many people, it is difficult to conceive that Rowling was fighting depression.  She had had a hard time dealing with her divorce and being a single mother. Stress, the load of responsibilities, and depression, it is unbelievable for many that someone who talks about hope and love was at a point in her life where she thought of taking her own life. 

Living on state benefit, fighting against an abusive husband, and taking care of a child alone, she went back to Portugal, where she finally felt peace. Finishing the first installment of Harry Potter books in 1995, it was not easy for her to get the book published. She met 12 publishing houses, and all declined it. Desperate for money and bringing some order in her life, finally, a publishing house decided to publish her book in 1997. 

Everything after that 

In an interview, she shares that the publisher once told Joanne she must find another job as she will not be able to support herself and her daughter on the money she gets by writing books for children. 

She proved him wrong. Today she is a millionaire. Unlike what we imagine about the millionaire, Rowling never let go of her roots. She didn’t spend her money lavishly but remembered the value of money and her days of hardship. 

Today, she is a celebrated writer, millionaire, public speaker, philanthropist, and a down-to-earth person with a great story of her own. Braving each day and taking upon each challenge with courage. 

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