We asked some area business owners who inspired them. Here is what they told us:
Ben Lerer, Manager of Lerer Ventures and the co-founder and CEO of Thrillist.com
“This is an easy one. My dad is definitely the entrepreneur who inspires me most. Not only is he my dad, which gives him a significant advantage over other entrepreneurs, but he’s also the person who made me believe that I could start and build my own business. Growing up in a house where my father always worked for himself (first starting and selling Robinson, Lake, Lerer & Montgomery and later starting and selling The Huffington Post with Arianna Huffington), I automatically assumed that it was normal for people to build their own companies and be successful doing it.”
Mark Cuban, Owner of the Dallas Mavericks and co-founder of Broadcast.com and MicroSolutions
“I looked up to Ted Turner, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Paul Allen. They were the rock stars when I was getting started.”
Daymond John, Founder of FUBU and Shark Branding
“Steven Spielberg did it all. He didn’t just create films, he created culture. Jaws began the ‘blockbuster’ era in the 1970s, while E.T. and Jurassic Park shaped science fiction as a brand in the decades to follow. He’s a visionary leader and sets an example for entrepreneurs—he’s not only dedicated to his industry, he’s dedicated to his family. It isn’t easy to become one of the most influential people of our time and still make it home in time to raise children, but Spielberg proves that it’s possible.”
Tamsen Fadal, Co-founder of Spiritual Awakenings Jewelry, co-founder of The Love Consultants, and host of WPIX-TV Morning News
“Marcia Kilgore is the ultimate entrepreneur to me—three massive brands in one woman. The day I interviewed her about her brand FitFlops, she told me what is takes to really make an idea work. I will never forget her enthusiasm, it was contagious. If her name sounds familiar she is also the face behind Bliss Spa and the line Soap and Glory and I have a feeling she is not finished yet.”
Marcia Kilgore, Founder of FitFlops, Soap and Glory, Bliss
"Love the guys from Innocent Smoothies. They set up a blender, some cups, a bucket that said YES, and a bucket that said NO. Over the buckets they hung a sign that said, 'SHOULD WE QUIT OUR JOBS AND START MAKING THESE SMOOTHIES' and asked customers to put their used cups in either bucket. They took count of t he used cups at the end of the day and took the plunge (or so says industry legend)."
Michael Dorf, Founder of the Knitting Factory and City Winery
“Steve Jobs, of course. His focus on detail and user experience is beyond anyone I am aware of. Bill Graham and Isaac Tigrett are inspirations for each developing live music venues with a sense of style and personality. It is hard to not be impressed with Richard Branson’s charm and pizzazz. I love Bloomberg; I think he takes an entrepreneurial approach to politics and running the city.”
Dina Kaplan, co-founder of Blip.tv
"I love Caterina Fake (co-founder of Flickr and Hunch) because she is strong and fierce and a great entrepreneur."
Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg L.P.
“New York City has always been a magnet for dreamers and builders, and today we are experiencing an incredible renaissance of New York’s entrepreneurial spirit. When I visit companies like Foursquare or Etsy or Seamless or NextJump that are growing rapidly and creating new jobs, and I talk to the founders about their experiences, I’m inspired by the creativity and innovation that drives them. It wasn’t so long ago that I was in their shoes, working on the prototype for the Bloomberg terminal that no one thought would ever work. I know how hard they’re working to make their dreams a reality— and by building dynamic new companies, they’re making an enormous difference in the future of our city.”
Amos Winbush III, Founder and CEO of CyberSynchs
“The entrepreneur that has both inspired me and impacted the way I live my life is Oprah. Mainly because she always focuses on true intent and living your best life and that is something that guides me personally and professionally. When I discuss any topic with my team, such as product development or marketing, I begin with intention. I have discovered when the intention is stated and expectations are set, the team has the creative ability to produce a product built with that stated intention at heart and it flows through to the user or viewer. For example, if we are looking to release a product at CyberSynchs that is about protecting data, then the intention is to protect. So, as a team we can come together, not to make millions, but rather to create the best product
possible that will protect. With Oprah, she shows her intentions before she does anything else and it’s truly inspiring.”
Pamella Roland, Creative director, pamella roland
“That’s an easy one for me—my father-in- law, Richard M. DeVos, co-founder of Amway Corporation. Not only is he one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time, he also has never lost sight of the things he holds most dear—his family, his faith, and his country. He has had a huge positive impact on countless people, many of whom he has not even met. His entrepreneurial spirit has also been a tremendous inspiration to me with my fashion company.”
Summer Rayne Oakes, Co-founder of Source4Style
“Damon Horowitz (technologist/philosopher), the co-founder of Aardvark (sold to Google in 2010), and currently in-house philosopher at Google. I admire Damon not only for his brilliance when it comes to business, but also for never losing sight of what’s of key importance to him, which is the humanities. He knows that life unquestioned is life lived in a religious state. We’re blessed to have Damon as one of our key advisors to Source4Style.”