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From the Bayview Projects to Billionaire

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You may not have heard of Howard Schultz, but you’ll certainly have heard of his business, Starbucks. A native of the Bayview projects of Brooklyn, Schultz wanted a better life. A football scholarship to the University of Northern Michigan gave him that opportunity – and he ran with it.

Having spent time at Xerox (now the backdrop to another inspiring story), communications graduate Schultz went on to work for a small coffee shop called Starbucks. It might bear the same name as his later success, but this wasn’t the business that turned a trucker’s son into a billionaire. 

The idea for the American coffee chain as we know it today – a meeting place, working space, and social hub – was born in Italy. Schultz recognized the potential, but his employers’ did not. Armed with nothing but his passion for his new business, Schultz quit his job and set about raising seed capital. By 1986 he had opened his first store (Il Giornale) and, by the time the Starbucks coffee shop was listed for sale in 1988, he was in a position to buy his previous employer for a cool $3.8million. Il Giornale was renamed, and Schultz worked relentlessly to expand his new chain. 

Nearly 30 years later, and this entrepreneur from the projects in Brooklyn  through Starbucks coffee has succeeded in creating nearly 240,000 jobs worldwide, building a personal net worth of $3.1billion in the process. It just goes to show; great ideas generate great opportunities. What could you do if you only dared? 

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