Shaping The World As An Entrepreneur
When you think of brands like Disney or Apple, you probably think of their products. Whether it’s a mass media company, responsible for some of the largest theme parks in the world, the teaming up of the Avengers, Luke Skywalker’s fate, and that “Let It Go” song we’ve all heard a million times, or a tech giant so popular that crowds of people line up outside of their stores every September—what both of these companies have in common is the spirit of an entrepreneur.
Born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago Illinois, Walter Elias “Walt” Disney’s animation career began in high school, where he took up drawing and photography and contributed cartoons to his school’s paper. Shortly after serving the Red Cross in France during the war, Disney moved to Kansas City at the ripe old age of 19 to pursue a career as a newspaper cartoonist.
Although Walt was unable to find a job at a newspaper, he did end up getting a job as an animator for the Kansas City Film Ad Company. Around this time, Walt also began experimenting as an entrepreneur with hand-drawn cel animation and cameras, and soon enough the Laugh-O-Gram was born.
Working with Fred Harman, a fellow Ad Company animator, Disney’s first cartoon was a modest hit, screening regularly at a local Kansas City theater. Unfortunately, due to overwhelming debt, Disney was forced to declare bankruptcy a few years down the road. Still, that didn’t stop Walt from following his dreams.
As an entrepreneur with his brother Roy, and friend and fellow cartoonist Ubbe Eert Iwwerks, Walt moved to Hollywood. There, the three men formed the Disney Brothers’ Studio, and invented Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a character whom they later contracted to Universal Studios for $1,500 a short.
Sadly, due to a pay dispute that led to the loss of their animators and the end of their contract with Universal, Walt, along with his brother and Iwerks were forced to come up with something new. At the time, Walt was playing around with a potential new character named Mickey. He was a mouse with big circular ears, oval eyes, and giant shoes, and well, the rest is history.
Now can you imagine a world without Disney? A world where Walt didn’t follow through with becoming an entrepreneur. What would you have watched growing up? What would your kids watch? Who would babysit our children 20% of the time? Thanks to Walt, Roy, and Ubbe’s entrepreneurial drive, the mousehouse we all know and love today exists. Similarly, it was this very same entrepreneurial spirit that was the starting point for the technology we use today.
Born on February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, California, Steve Jobs found formal education boring, to say the least. Although he showed signs of being an intelligent and innovative thinker early on, when Jobs was little he needed to be bribed to study, and later in adulthood dropped out of college after only six months.
Fortunately, at the age of 21, Jobs and childhood friend Steve Wozniak formed the Apple Computer Company in Jobs’ family garage. Funded by Jobs’ Volkswagen bus and Wozniak’s scientific calculator, the Steves’ first sold circuit boards while working on their computer prototype.
For Jobs, Apple computers represented an opportunity to fill a giant hole in the market. At the time, computers could take up an entire room, and were too costly for any one individual to buy. However, with computer components shrinking in size and increasing in power, this meant there was room in the market for a computer that was smaller, cheaper, and accessible to the everyday consumer.
Long story short, within three years Apple’s sales grew to $200 million, making it one of the most significant examples of corporate growth in U.S. history. By 1980, Apple became a publicly traded company, with a market value of $1.2 billion by the end of its very first day of trading.
Although the personal computer era saw IBM surpass Apple’s sales and Jobs leave the company in 1985 (only to return and revitalize the company again in 1997), Jobs and Wozniak’s work not only changed the consumer electronics industry, but the way we process information today.
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