Colonel Sanders | Kentucky Fried Chicken

Once, there was an older man, who was broke, living in a tiny house and owned a beat up car. He was living off of $99 social security checks. At 65 years of age, he decide things had to change. So he thought about what he had to offer. His friends raved about his chicken recipe. He decided that this was his best shot at making a change.

He left Kentucky and traveled to different states to try to sell his recipe. He told restaurant owners that he had a mouthwatering chicken recipe. He offered the recipe to them for free, just asking for a small percentage on the items sold. Sounds like a good deal, right?
Unfortunately, not to most of the restaurants. He heard NO over 1000 times. Even after all of those rejections, he didn’t give up. He believed his chicken recipe was something special. He got rejected 1009 times before he heard his first yes.
With that one success Colonel Hartland Sanders changed the way Americans eat chicken. Kentucky Fried Chicken, popularly known as KFC, was born.
Remember, never give up and always believe in yourself in spite of rejection.



Liane Weintraub and Shannan Swanson of Tasty Brand

Given the current obsession with label reading and organic ingredients, surely there must be dozens of organic baby food brands, right? That’s what Los Angeles moms (and friends) Liane Weintraub (far left) and Shannan Swanson (left) thought. But they were wrong. The pair started making organic purees for their own babies and couldn’t believe how few options were available in stores. So Weintraub, 42, a local TV reporter, and Swanson, 38, a Cordon Bleu-trained chef and former cook at one of Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants, got inspired to provide one. Today the brand is carried at Whole Foods, Fairway, Tops, and other chains. The company turned a profit four years after its founding, and it’s on track for sales of $2.5 million this year.



Chris Zane of Zane’s Cycles

Chris Zane is in the experience business. Whether he’s selling bikes in his Connecticut store or filling orders for corporate rewards programs, he knows a successful business is about more than just selling stuff. Zane, 46, got his start at age 12 fixing bikes in his parents’ East Haven, Connecticut, garage. At 16, he persuaded his parents to let him take over the lease of a bike shop going out of business, borrowing $23,000 from his grandfather at 15 percent interest. His mother tended the store while he was at school in the mornings. In his first year, he racked up $56,000 in sales. This year, he expects to bring in $21 million.



Limor Fried of Adafruit Industries

Limor Fried, who earned her master’s in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, runs Adafruit Industries, which sells do-it-yourself electronics kits. For every kit Adafruit sells, Fried posts design files, schematics for circuit boards, and any software code needed. She welcomes people to use the information, and sees it as a way to foster innovation. “People want to see the world become a better place through science and engineering,” Fried says. “We’re going to need the current and future generations to get inspired.” Fried launched her company in 2005 with $10,000 that was supposed to go to her tuition. Anytime she made a profit, she made a tuition payment. Today, the company ships 150 to 200 orders a day, some of them worth thousands of dollars.




George Vlagos of Oak Street Bootmakers

When George Vlagos was in middle school, his father, a cobbler, would have him come into his Chicago shop to shine shoes every Saturday. John Vlagos, a Greek immigrant, was hoping to show his son that working with your hands is difficult and that he should find a different profession. Well, it backfired. When he realized how hard it was to find a pair of quality shoes to wear to the kind of jobs that required them, he went back into the family business to design his own. Today, there is a six-week wait list for a pair. “It blows my mind that people are walking the streets in New York, in Chicago, in other countries, wearing something that I designed,” says Vlagos.




Kenny Lao and David Weber of Rickshaw Dumpling

Kenny Lao (far left) and David Weber (left) met in 2002 when they were students at NYU’s Stern School of Business. They joined forces to enter the Rickshaw concept in a business-plan competition in 2004. (They placed second behind a scrapbooking company that was never heard from again, as far as they know.) The partners opened their first store in 2005. Soon after, they opened a second, which quickly proved too ambitious. “It was a really dark time,” Lao says. “It almost bankrupted us,” Weber adds. After they closed that location, they decided to try a food truck and the success was almost immediate. Their trucks produced the steady cash flow that made a second go at brick-and-mortar expansion possible. The business has grown to 70 employees, and the partners hope to double revenue this year.

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