The most successful businesses started by gentlemen under 30

Listen up budding entrepreneurs...

Whoever said age and experience are the key to business needs to think again; throughout the last century these are just a few stories of bright young sparks who have taken the tech, finance and leisure sectors by storm. Undeterred by lack of age and experience, these gentlemen are testament to the fact that success can be reached at any age.

The latest success story of a young entrepreneur, Snapchat has revolutionised social media communication since its conception in 2011. Co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel was only 21 when he launched the mobile app, which begun as an assignment for one of his classes at Stanford University. Realising its potential, Spiegel cut short his degree to focus on Snapchat (then branded Picaboo) with business partner Reggie Brown, and the app was launched in Spiegel’s living room. Today, it has almost 10 million daily active users in the UK alone, and Spiegel alone holds a net worth of $2.1 billion.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created the Apple 1 computer in an old garage in 1976, when Jobs was just 21 and Wozniak only four years older. Jobs lived a hippy existence, sleeping on friends floors when he wasn’t living at his parents’ home, and spent much of his time on the phone trying to find investors for Apple. The growth of the company was exponential, however; Jobs was worth a million dollars when he was 23 (1978), 10 million when he was 24, and over 100 million when he was 25, making him one of the youngest people ever to be included on the Forbes rich list.

Though a little less in the public eye than many modern tech start-ups, Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO) was co-founded by 27-year-old Bill Gross in 1971, and currently has $1.52 trillion assets under management. A keen philanthropist, Gross remained with PIMCO until 2014, when he joined Janus Capital group.

English-born Sir Richard Branson has a net worth of US$5.2 billion (Jan 2016), and a global business empire that spans music, rail, air and most recently space travel. He dropped out of boarding school aged 16, and was told by his headmaster that he’d either end up in prison or as a millionaire. The name Virgin was suggested by an early colleague, and symbolises his lack of experience when embarking on business ventures. He was knighted by the queen in 2000, and is heralded as being one of the greatest British entrepreneurs of the last 50 years.


South Africa born Elon Musk was just 28 years old when he co-founded PayPal with 31 year old Peter Thiel, and a year later the company was sold to Ebay for $1.5 billion. PayPal is one of the worlds largest global payment companies, and has changed the face of online transactions. Musk funded the venture in part with US$10 million he had made from the sale of Zip2, a company he had created with his brother in 1995. He is also the CEO of Tesla Motors, and today has a net worth of $12.7 billion dollars, making him one of the 100 richest people in the world.

Back in 1965, seventeen-year-old Fred De Luca started a submarine sandwich shop in Bridgeport, Connecticut in an attempt to finance his dreams of becoming a doctor. He took a $1000 loan from a friend, and by 1974 the pair of them had opened 16 shops throughout Connecticut. At this point, they began to franchise their stores, and today there are 44,692 restaurants in 111 countries all around the world, making it the largest single chain restaurant brand in the world.

One of the best known entrepreneurs in the world, Facebook Co-Founder Mark Zuckerberg is currently the 6th richest person in the world, and is still only 32. He launched Facebook from his Harvard dorm in 2004 with fellow room mates and students, and the site became an instant success. By 2012 it had 1 billion active users, and Zuckerberg’s net worth is currently over US$51 billion. However, to mark the birth of their daughter in 2015, he and his wife announced that they would donate 99% of their Facebook shares to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which aims to “advance human potential and promote equality.”

Gentlemen's Journal is happy to partner with The Prince’s Trust RISE campaign, which is working to create a network of young adults aged between 21-45, who are passionate about social mobility. You can become a Prince’s Trust Riser by donating just £20 per month to the scheme.
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