Published on April 10th, 2015 | by info@publicize.co


Eight Startup Founders Recount Their Biggest Entrepreneurial Influences

The startup scene, unlike most other industries, is one where entrepreneurs have the opportunity to become more than just role models to their peers. Individuals like Mark Zuckerberg, Guy Kawasaki, and Marc Andreseen have not only changed their respective industries, but have also inspired a whole generation of entrepreneurs to abandon the traditional 9-5 path and pursue their passion projects. However, while the aforementioned entrepreneurs do deserve the attention and praise they have received, there are also many lesser known mentors and influencers that are responsible behind many of the great companies we know today. We spoke with seven successful startup founders and asked which entrepreneur, famous or not, had the biggest impact on their careers. Here’s what they had to say.

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“There’s no single person who stands out in my story. That’s not to say I haven’t benefitted greatly from others, just that their contributions have been of the right person at the right time sort. My most trusted resource and supporter has always been my father, who was a successful entrepreneur himself and has a way of cutting through the noise to help me identify the most important thing to focus on.”

Mark Volkmann, Massagebook

“Bill Gates showed me how aggressive I need to be, and Steve Jobs showed how creative I need to be.”

Ken Rhie, Trumpia

“She isn’t famous, not yet anyway, but the entrepreneur that has had the greatest impact on my career is my wife Michele. She’s the one that instigated our first little business together, selling collectibles on eBay almost 15 years ago. She encouraged me to start my first full-time business in 2006 and she pushed me to start ORBTR in 2013. If I do nothing else, I can always strive to make her proud.”

Erik Wolf, ORBTR

“To be honest, it’s probably Richard Branson because I relate to his sense of adventure and fun… His perspective has helped me contextualize entrepreneurship and realize that business, while often serious and a lot of hard work can also be a lot of fun with the right perspective. The other is Ed Zschau, a professor of Entrepreneurship at Princeton who taught me about exponential technologies.”

Cameron Mclain, Challenge.Me

“Richard Branson is the most influential entrepreneur in my career.  I deeply respect what he’s built and where he came from.  The breadth of his current conglomerate is truly astonishing!

I’m also impressed with his personable demeanor, creativity and genuine humility.  His life story and foray into entrepreneurship are awe inspiring.  He started as just another small hustler with a big dream and a willingness to take the risk.  Often, that’s all it takes to get started.”

Allen Kors, Achieve Lending

“Guy Kawasaki. When I first entered graduate school for my MBA in 2000 I had the opportunity to attend a Garage Technology Ventures’ conference, which Mr. Kawasaki helped co-found. Listening to his lectures, the insights of other attendees and being introduced to his books was enormously influential.”

Tim Nichols, ExactDrive

“I met with a telecoms business owner a number of years back. Up until that point, I’d always been interested in becoming an entrepreneur but never acted. However, this particular business owner had the entrepreneurial spirit I now embrace. At that moment, I changed in a second! This guy is an unknown but the impact was immense.”

RobertSturt, BT Business

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