Who doesn't love a good Cinderella story? Even though the favorites may get all the attention and accolades, few things transfix people like a good underdog. In honor of the release of the NCAA men's basketball tournament bracket, BusinessNewsDaily has put together a list of some of the most unlikely and inspiring stories of individuals who have overcome hardships and beat the odds to craft successful careers as entrepreneurs.
Patrick Bet-David believes that impossible is just a word. After hearing his story you will know why. Born in Iran during the 1970s, Bet-David experienced revolution and war as a child. In the late 1980s Bet-David and his mother were able to leave Iran and spent two years in a refugee camp in Germany before immigrating to the United States when he was 12. School provided a unique challenge to Bet-David.<p> "I remember I did well in math and pretty much failed everything else," Bet-David said. <p> Those struggles led Bet-David to join the army after high school, where he was a member of the 101st Airborne Division for several years. He then bounced around between jobs, including working at a gym, before he was able to join financial firm Morgan Stanley. Despite working his way up to a top financial firm, Bet-David was not satisfied. <p> "I was bored out of my mind," Bet-David said. "I felt like something was missing." <p> The missing piece came when he started his own business, <a href=http://phpdream.com/>People Helping People</a>, in October 2009. Now, his financial services company has more than 5,500 representatives in 33 states. People Helping People offers services such as life insurance, annuities, mutual funds and 401(k)s and has dealt in transactions totaling billions of dollars. The company is one of the fastest-growing financial services firms in the country. <p> "I never could have predicted this," Bet-David said. "I was the kid that parents told their kids to stay away from because they thought I would never amount to anything. I don’t have a four-year degree. I got hired at Morgan Stanley because my résumé had a joke in it that made him laugh. The branch manager said if you can get me to laugh at your résumé I want to meet this person. Then I sold him on the interview." <br><br> [<a href=http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2087-robert-herjavec-success.html>'Shark Tank' Judge Herjavec on Living the American Dream</a>]
Barry Shore's life changed forever one September day in 2004. <p> "At age 55, I was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, or GBS, a rare neurological disorder that rendered me paralyzed from the neck down," Shore said. "Most victims make a full recovery, but I have not. Since September 2004, I’ve been working to overcome this disorder." <p> Shore, a veteran businessman with 30-plus years experience in various industries, was suddenly left unable to do anything more than turn his head from side to side. Today Shore still feels the effects of his disease. <p> "I can walk with the help of a six-foot bamboo cane and I swim three hours a day, six days a week nonstop, but I can no longer live the hustle-and-bustle life of running the daily operations of a business," Shore said. "So instead I use my passion, spirit and creativity to inspire those I work with. It’s a never-ending fight to overcome the effects of this disease, but I continue." <p> It was that passion that brought brothers-in-law David Winner and Zak Klein to Shore with their idea for an auction website. With experience in several other dot-com ventures, Shore, who was close friends with the pair, joined them as a founding partner and helped them flush out those ideas to start <a href=http://www.youneverlose.com>YouNeverLose.com</a> at the end of 2011. <p> YouNeverLose allows customers place bids in a penny auction format for things ranging from gas and cable services to gift cards for retail stores such as Target and Walmart. <p> Shore credits his success in his new business venture to one attribute above all others. <p> "You need perseverance," he said. "Stay positive and always think. If you keep trying the answers will be forthcoming. As Nike said, 'Just do it.'" <p> [<a href=http://online-auction-sites.toptenreviews.com/?cmpid=ttr-bnd>The Top 10 Online Auction Sites</a>]
Jeni Garrett caught the entrepreneurial bug at a young age. <p> "Growing up on a dairy farm in the rural countryside of southern Texas, I was immediately drawn to entrepreneurism," said Garrett, president and CEO of the <a href=http://www.woodhousespas.com/default.asp>Woodhouse Day Spa</a>. "As a young girl, my first business was selling handpicked flowers at a roadside flower stand. At 14, I owned a cattle business and began buying and selling cattle. In high school, I sold clothing and jewelry at Dallas markets and later went on to work in the health care industry. All of these experiences prepared me for life as a business owner." <p> So in 2001, at age 21, Garrett and her husband bought a landmark home in Victoria, Texas, and a few months later the first Woodhouse Day Spa was opened. The first franchise was opened in 2003 and today the company has 25 locations in 14 states. In the process the business has gained acclaim as "America's Best Spa Chain" by Day Spa Magazine and was listed as one of the "freshest franchising concepts" in Entrepreneur Magazine. <p> "Only a year after launching our franchise program, we had opened 10 locations. Within three years, we had 24 locations in operation," Garrett said. "I knew then that I had built an attractive concept that could really take off and withstand the test of time." <p> Now, Garrett is preparing the company for the future by working on its expansion. In the next five years, Garrett plans on opening more than 100 locations domestically. Additionally, the spa has signed agreements to expand internationally and within the next decade Garrett will open 100 locations in India, the first of which will open in early 2012. The company has also agreed to open 40 locations in Canada in coming years. <p> [<a href=http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/1875-stressful-careers.html>The 10 Most Stressful Careers</a>]
When Kristi Mailloux was named president of the maid service franchise <a href=http://www.mollymaid.com>Molly Maid</a> in 2006, it represented the culmination of a journey she had started 20 years earlier when she joined the company fresh out of college. Kristi started as a receptionist, but as a new employee in a still-growing business her responsibilities were not limited simply to the front desk. <p> "I did everything in the receptionist role — cleaned toilets, answered the phones, entered data, greeted guests and made coffee," Mailloux said. "There were only 40 franchises then. I was the seventh home office employee; now we have more than 60." <p> For Mailloux, the position was supposed to be temporary. She was preparing to go back to school to get a master's degree in social work. Mailloux, however, agreed to stay with the company for one year after an owner promised to pay for her tuition. That decision has paid dividends as she now heads up the 450 franchises of Molly Maid as president. <p> "Getting in early with a small, growing company allowed me to work with some great mentors and gave me the opportunity to serve in many different roles with different companies with Service Brands International [which owns Molly Maid]," Mailloux said. "I attribute much of my success to those mentors." <p> While this unlikely story of receptionist-turned-president has several important lessons for others, Mailloux believes the most important lesson for others is to master all the tasks presented to you so that you can continue to move up into other positions. <p> "No task should ever be beneath you," Mailloux said. "When I first began at Molly Maid, I was the receptionist and I had to clean the bathrooms!" <p> [<a href=http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2110-women-owned-franchises-offer-unique-opportunities.html>Women Embrace Franchising for Flexibility, Support</a>]
Chad Mureta has turned a tragedy into an empire. <p> "I started my business while I was hospital-bound after a devastating car accident, almost losing my arm," said <a href=http://www.chadmureta.com>Mureta</a>, who created the Fingerprint Security – Pro app. "My previous real estate business could not support itself without me physically present, but the medical bills were racking up and I had no way to financially support myself while recovering in the hospital." <p> Needing a new revenue source, Mureta turned to producing mobile applications in what was a newly growing industry at the time. Even though Mureta's experience with mobile apps was limited to a magazine article he had read while in the hospital, he felt the growth potential of that industry was worth the risk. <p> "Lying in my hospital bed, I decided to take a Hail Mary shot and get into this industry," Mureta said. "I didn’t have many other options now that my real estate business was in jeopardy. I needed a new business, and decided to jump in with both feet. Immediately, I started sketching out ideas for my own apps on pieces of paper. Soon after, I found a development company and outsourced all work to create my first app." <p> Mureta took out an $1,800 loan to produce Fingerprint Security-Pro and it soon became one of the 50 most popular apps in the App Store, making Mureta $140,000 in the process. That initial app has turned into three app companies: Empire Apps, Best Apps and T3 Apps, which Mureta has since sold. To date, Mureta has produced 46 apps that have been downloaded more than 35 million times worldwide. Mureta has also written a book, "App Empire: Make Money, Have a Life, and Let Technology Work for You" (Wiley, 2012), set to be published March 27. <p> Despite the improbable nature of his journey, Mureta credits his willingness to jump in and take advantage of a situation when the opportunity presents itself. <p> "Don’t be intimidated to take advantage of a market that you might not have experience in," Mureta said. I wasn’t a tech guy at all when I started developing mobile apps and I’m still not a tech guy. I couldn’t tell you how to program an app, but I can tell you how to make it a success. I researched the market, the consumers, and saw opportunities for people like myself and I kept researching and kept expanding my knowledge to grow my business and income." <p> [<a href=http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/1774-mobile-app-features.html>5 Things Your Company's Mobile App Must Have</a>] <p> <i>Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at <a href=mailto: Dmielach@techmedianetwork.com>Dmielach@techmedianetwork.com</a>. Follow him on Twitter @<a href=http://www.twitter.com/d_m89>D_M89</a>.</i> <p> <li><a href=http://business-plan-software-review.toptenreviews.com/?cmpid=ttr-bnd>The Top 10 Business Plan Software Products</a></il>