What Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, And Lee Iacocca Were Doing At Age 25

6 min read • Oct 16, 2015 • Mike Alder

Talk about the success stories of some of the billionaires and trendsetters of the world and you often wonder how they got to where they are today. Were they successful at what they did at a young age, or did they take time to find their feet? Did they always know what they were going to do with their lives or did they find out as they went along? Or, was it simply chance that put them in the right place at the right time? Success, like all aspects of life, is very individual. And, different people have their own circumstances that helped them accomplish what they did. Each of the following entrepreneurs had their different path, but ultimately found success. Here is what Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Lee Iacocca were doing at the age of 25.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Courtesy of 9to5mac.com

Not many people know that Steve Jobs wanted to take up liberal arts in college and even enrolled in the Reed College in Oregon. But, he dropped out to pursue fruitarian diets and Eastern philosophical practices. And, for a time, dabbled in “apple” farming while living in a hippie community. He also worked a short stint as a video game developer with Atari before embarking on a journey of “enlightenment” to India. Returning at the age of 20, he got involved in the activities of his friend, Wozniak who was a member of the Homebrew Computer Club.

Started by a group of computer experts, radio jammers and knowledgeable computer geniuses, the club focused on putting together a personal computer and writing the software to run it. Its first offering was the Altair 8800 personal computer kit that was released in 1975 and became a huge hit. Using the information Wozniak collected at the club meetings, he started to create his own computer board with the intention of making a computer for his personal use.

At the time, computers were available in the form of kits that software writers had to assemble to use. But, Jobs recognized that his friend had immense talent and his computer idea had tremendous potential. Aside from the computer retailers that were buying their products, they could market the computers to a much wider audience. By age 21, on April 1, 1976, Jobs had partnered with his friend, Wozniak to start Apple Computer. When Jobs turned 22, the duo was still finding their feet. But, Apple II was also being developed. This system was far more advanced and even had color graphics.

With an initial investment of $250,000 that Jobs managed to get from Mike Markkula, Apple Computers began to grow. Within a year, Steve Jobs was worth a million and by the time, he turned 25, worth more than $100 million. He would later on be kicked out of Apple for several reasons at age 30, start NeXT another computer company and Pixar. Jobs would then return to Apple, when they acquired NeXT in early 1997, when he was at the age of 42. The rest is history.


Richard Branson


Richard Branson began his career at the age of 16 when he started a magazine, The Student, out of a church. The magazine carried interviews of the influential people of the time and advertisements of famous records making it a resounding success. Soon Branson began selling records under the name, “Virgin” at prices that were quite economical as compared to other high-end stores.

At 20 years of age, Richard Branson finally opened his own store in London on Oxford Street with support from his mother. Despite getting into a scrape with the law regarding the sale of records marked for export, he eventually managed to make enough money to start his record label, Virgin Records in the year 1972. Next, he and his partner, Nik Powell bought a piece of property on the north of Oxford and opened what they called, The Manor Studio. This estate served as a recording studio that the partners leased out to budding artists. Richard Branson was only 23 at the time.

Perhaps, the secret to Richard Branson’s success was that he was not hesitant about working with new artists. He was also willing to sign up lesser-known and controversial musicians. These musicians went on to release music that became super chartbusters, making good money for his company. There was Mike Oldfield with the album Tubular Bells, Sex Pistols, and Faust and Can. Virgin also has the distinction of introducing Culture Club to music enthusiasts all over the world.

By the age of 25, Richard Branson had a net worth of $1 million and would in 1992, go on to sell Virgin Records for $1 billion to EMI. Today, he owns stakes in Virgin America, Virgin Money, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Galactic.


Bill Gates

Bill-GatesBill Gates’ interest in computer chips and computer programming began when he was just 13 years of age and studying in the Lakeside School in Seattle. This is also, where he became friends with Paul Allen who would one day found Microsoft with him. Their experiences in school gave them the assurance and in-depth information they needed to convince them that one day, computers and software were going to become the most potent of tools.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen’s first venture at the age of 15 was the “Traf-o-Data,” that earned them the $20,000 they needed to start their own company. But, on the insistence of Bill’s father, he opted instead to go to Harvard University. At 19, Bill Gates dropped out of college and along with Paul Allen created the BASIC software to run the Altair 8800 mini-computer kit produced by a New Mexico company, MITS. The software worked perfectly and Allen took up a job with the company with Gates helping him.

In 1975, at the age of 20, Bill Gates and Paul Allen partnered to create a company with the name Microsoft, an amalgamation of two words, “micro-computer” and “software.” They made good money from the royalties and fee on the BASIC program but also had to contend with the problem of people copying and distributing the software without paying for it. The friends continued to write software for different companies and in 1978, moved operations to Bellevue Washington. By 1979, Microsoft had a worth of $2.5 million and Bill Gates at the age of 23 was at its head. The iconic Windows was created in 1985. In the next two years, Microsoft would go public and Bill Gates would become a billionaire at 31. He is one of the richest men in the world today.


Lee Iacocca

Lee Iacocca

Courtesy of: madison.com

Lee Iacocca began his career at the age of 22 as an engineer at Ford Motor Company with a degree from the Princeton University under his belt. After working a while in the engineering department, he requested a transfer to sales and marketing. Finally, he found the field in which he could excel. He started the famous “56 for ‘56” campaign for the company. According to this advertising strategy, prospective car owners could buy a 1956 model car by taking out a loan. They needed to pay only a 20% down payment and could clear the balance in $56 payments every month for three years.

Needless to say, the strategy was a huge success and was soon adopted all over the country. By the age of 26, Lee Iacocca had earned the postion of Vice-president and General Manager of the Ford Division. In the following ten years, he rose to several higher positions in the company, finally becoming President in 1970. Nine years later, he moved to Chrysler Corp and is known as the man who managed to turn the nearly bankrupt company around. A few short years later, Chrysler began to show profits.

In conclusion, these are only some of the famous personalities that have made it big in their lifetimes. But, these summaries of their successes can serve as an inspiration and encourage others to follow in their footsteps.


Mike Alder

Mike Alder is a University of Utah business marketing student and marketing specialist at Lendio. Passionate about entrepreneurship, small businesses, and inbound marketing. Mike shows his passion by sharing stories of successful entrepreneurs and companies with small business owners on the Lendio blog. He makes these big success stories easy-to-apply in simple and easy to read language for the everyday small business owner and entrepreneur.  

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