5 Famous Entrepreneurs from Cleveland, OH

Entrepreneurs from ClevelandWebster-Dictionary defines an entrepreneur as one who takes the initiative to create a product or business for profit. Using that as my definition, I submit 5 famous entrepreneurs from Cleveland, Ohio, although you may or may not know who they are, you will know the potential you have for greatness as an entrepreneur and in parentheses are lessons you can learn from these men.

The Creators of Superman! Jerry Siegal and Joe Shuster:

Jerry Siegal was born in Cleveland, and met Joe Shuster of Canada, when both were attending Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio. The original character appearing in a story published in 1933, more resembled Lex Luther and was not successful. Later, after coming up with a better idea, spending six years trying to find a publisher, and Shuster actually burning the story out of frustration, Action Comics #1 finally went with their story in 1938. Siegal and Shuster initiated a syndicated comic in the following year. It was the first of the great comic book heroes. Although legal battles over the rights to Superman have been won and lost; the fathers of the industry that now brings fans to Comic Conventions held all over the world, will always be the creators of Superman.

OIL TYCOON, John D Rockefeller (1839-1937):

Probably the most famous and influential man of his time, John D. Rockefeller was born in New York, but his family moved to Strongville and he attended Cleveland’s Central High School. He took a ten week course in business and became a bookkeeper. In 1870, Rockefeller founded Standard Oil of Ohio, and became one of the largest shippers of oil and kerosene in the country. He officially retired in 1897 and spent the last 40 years of his life focusing on philanthropy.

NEWMAN’S OWN, Paul Newman (1925-2008):

Paul Newman was born in Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from Shaker Heights High School and went on to become a world famous actor, film director, and entrepreneur, as well as a race car enthusiast with his own team. Newman’s Own is a food company founded by Paul Newman, from which all post-tax proceeds go to charity. Best known for their salad dressing, Newman’s Own, has donated over $300 million to charity. I guess that qualifies as entrepreneurial philanthropy, and in his own words was “Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good.”

BOXING LEGEND Don King (1931- ):

Flamboyant fight promoter Don King has had his share of ups and downs, but he has one of the most recognized faces in America. He’s the man who brought us Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Mike Tyson and many others. It is fitting that he is a boxing promoter, because no matter how many times he gets knocked down, Don King just gets back up again. That is probably the most important lesson for any entrepreneur, get back up again.

IRON CHEF Michael Symon (1969- ):

Michael Symon is credited with helping to save the restaurant scene in downtown Cleveland. He’s an Iron Chef, with two restaurants in Cleveland, Lola and Lolita, as well as Michael Symon’s Roast in Detroit, Bar Symon in Avon Lake, and The B Spot in Woodmere. Michale Symon was instrumental in bringing Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations to Cleveland in 2007. This is one Cleveland man who made good in Cleveland, and then went to extensive lengths to help Cleveland make good too. In a sagging economy, Michael continues to promote his home town with television shows such as Cook Like an Iron Chef which started in July, on the Cooking Channel and Food Feuds on the Food Network, which premiered in October.

CHEF BOY-AR-DEE, Hector Boiardi:

Better known as Chef Boy-ar-dee, I must give honorable mention, although he was born in Italy, Ettore Boiardi emigrated to the US in 1914 and opened an Italian restaurant in Cleveland’s Little Italy in 1926. Many of his customers asked him for samples of his spaghetti sauce, which he gave them in old milk bottles. He opened a factory to meet with customer demand, in 1928. He felt Americans could feed their families more economically if they consumed more pasta. His idea of feeding the whole family has been copied by every major food producer in the country. Imagine a world without a complete dinner in a box, well we don’t have to, because of Chef Boyardee, a true entrepreneur.

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