How is becoming a billionaire even possible, chronologically?

Billionaires are usually created in one of the three ways:

  1. Create something useful for a lot of people
  2. Invest early in something that is useful for a lot of people
  3. Scale something from almost nothing

1. Create something useful

Hamdi Ulukaya came to the US to study English. One day, he noticed an advertisement selling some old factory. A major dairy company had closed the factory down and selling it for scrap value. This dude took the risk, repaired the factory and began selling Greek style yogurt. It became a sensation and within a decade he became a billionaire just selling billions of boxes of yogurt.

In short, if you can sell 10 million people a product/service of $100 in total value over a few years, you could become a billionaire. Is it hard? Of course. Is it risky? Of course.

2. Invest in something useful

In 1997, a couple of Stanford grads who were creating a search engine were looking for people who would invest in them. After knocking a lot of doors who turned them away, they found this dude Ram Shriram who was sold on the idea. Ram cut $500,000 in return for a few percentage of that new company’s stocks. That company turned out to be Google and that dude sits in about $2 billion in wealth when the company became a world sensation. How hard is to find such a great company? Very hard. How risky is it to invest early? Very.

3. Scale/Grow something big

When Sheryl Sandberg joined Facebook in 2007, it was an interesting social network that was still trailing behind Myspace. She helped grow the company to be a world beating force. A lot of such executives become billionaires by taking a relatively small or a struggling company and scale it to be a world dominator.

In each of these cases, discover a very useful thing before the world does and do everything possible to mine from your discovery. A lot of us are exploring that proverbial “gold mine” — some hit it and most don’t.

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