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55 Billionaires That Dropped Out of School (No College Degree)

Do you feel left behind by your peers because you don’t have a college degree? If YES, here is a list of 55 famous, richest school drop out billionaires to inspire you. How does it sound to your ears that most of the world’s richest men and women were school drop outs? Well don’t be surprised; it’s the truth; and you too can become a billionaire in ten years or less.

“I have nothing against education. But at times, education gives people false confidence. It makes people relax, trusting in the power of their certificates rather than in working hard.” – Rasaq Okoya

Today, I will be sharing with you a brief compilation of the entrepreneurial success stories of self made men and women; who took the bull by the horn by building a business, without being held back by the lack of a college degree. These men and women found their entrepreneurial spirit, surmounted business challenges, completed the entrepreneurial process and became successful entrepreneurs.

“I have been within the four walls of school and I have been on the street. I can confidently tell you that the street is tougher, challenging, daring, exciting and more rewarding. In school; you play alone. But on the street, you play with the big boys.” – Ajaero Tony Martins

Warren Buffett, Mo Ibrahim, Mike Adenuga, Oprah Winfrey, George Soros, John D. Rockefeller, Sam Walton, Jerry Yang and David Filo, Anita Roddick, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, Pierre Omidyar, Martha Stewart, Henry Ross Perot and Aliko Dangote; the richest black man in the world did not make the list because they possessed college degrees. Without wasting much of your time, below is a comprehensive list of some of the world’s richest school drop out billionaires.

“Behind every adversity is an opportunity. If you lament over the adversity, you will miss the opportunity.” – Ajaero Tony Martins

55 School Drop Out Billionaires Without College Degrees

1. Bill Gates

He is the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, the world largest software company. Dropped out of Harvard to focus on building Microsoft. According to Forbes magazine, Bill Gates has held the position of the world richest man for thirteen consecutive years and he not showing a sign of letting go that position.

“To win big, you sometimes have to take big risks.” – Bill Gates

“We were young, but we had good advice good ideas and lots of enthusiasm.” – Bill Gates

2. Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison was labeled dumb and scatterbrain by his school teachers but he went on to become one of the world’s greatest inventors and founded General Electric; one of the most powerful companies in the world.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison

3. Orji Uzor Kalu

He is one of the richest men on the soil of Africa. This young billionaire was rusticated from college for his participation in a student’s protest. Instead of lamenting over his predicament; he started trading on palm oil and from that humble beginning, he grew his business into a conglomerate “Slok Group.” Though he was later pardoned by the school authorities, he rejected the amnesty offer thereby refusing to return to school.

“A good businessman must have nose for business the same way a journalist has nose for news. Once your eyes, ears, nose, heart and brain are trained on business, you sniff business opportunities everywhere.” – Orji Uzor Kalu

4. Li Ka Shing

Billionaire owner of Hutchinson Whampoa; one of the largest conglomerates in Hong Kong, with operations that span over fifty countries and more than 220,000 staff worldwide. Dropped out of school at the age of 15 and started out by selling watch bands.

“The first year, I didn’t have much capital so I did everything myself. I had to keep my overhead low by learning everything about running a business, from accounting to fixing the gears of my equipment. I really started from scratch.” – Li Ka Shing

5. Richard Branson

Best known for his adventurous spirit and outrageous business tactics. He dropped out of school at the age of 16 to start his first successful business venture; Student Magazine, bought his own 79-acre Caribbean island when he was just 24 and he was knighted in 1999. He is the billionaire founder of the Virgin brand and its 360 companies. His companies include the famous Virgin Atlantic Airways.

“I wanted to be an editor or journalist. I wasn’t really interested in becoming an entrepreneur, but I soon found I had to become an entrepreneur in order to keep my magazine going.” – Richard Branson

6. Lawrence J. Ellison

Larry Ellison dropped out of college twice and was told by his adoptive father that he would never amount to anything but he went on to become a billionaire by building Oracle, the world’s second largest software company.

“I have had all the disadvantages required for success.” – Larry Ellison

7. Michael Dell

He dropped out of college at the age of 19 to start PC’s Limited; later renamed Dell Computers Inc. Dell became the most profitable PC manufacturer in the world making Michael Dell a billionaire.

“I had to give it a full go and see what happened.” – Michael Dell

8. Steve Jobs

Billionaire co-founder of Apple Inc and Pixar; dropped out of Reed College to start Apple.

9. Henry Ford

This automobile billionaire was born in abject poverty. He never saw the four walls of school but he went on to build Ford Motor Company and become one of the richest men that ever lived.

“Thinking is the hardest work to do, that’s why so few people are engaged in it.” – Henry Ford

10. Walt Disney

Walt, regarded as the most influential animator because of his creativity with cartoons. He dropped out of high school at 16 and founded Walt Disney; a company which now has an annual revenue of about $30billion.

If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

11. Ray Kroc

Billionaire Ray Kroc never saw the four walls of school and spent most of his life working as a salesman. He bought McDonald’s in 1961 for $2.7m and grew it into a multi billion dollar company.

“Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Ray Kroc

12. Debbi Fields

A 20 year old housewife with no education and business experience started Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chippery and became the most successful cookie company owner. She later renamed, franchised, and then sold Mrs. Field’s Cookies.

“You don’t have to be superhuman to do what you believe in.” – Debbi Fields

13. Cosmos Maduka

Nigerian Elementary school drop out and billionaire founder of the Coscharis Group.

14. Ingvar Kamprad

Billionaire founder of IKEA. He dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to start IKEA; now the top home furniture retailer in the world, with over 90,000 employees working in its 200-plus stores, and annual revenues in excess of $10 billion.

“I’m not afraid of turning 80 and I have lots of things to do. I don’t have time for dying.” – Ingvar Kamprad

15. Carl Lindner

Billionaire investor and founder of United Dairy Farmers. He dropped out of high school at the age of 14 to deliver milk for his family diary.

16. Simon Cowell

Famous for his involvement in American Idols, he dropped out of school at age 16 and started his own record label “Fanfare” at the age of 23.

“Good is not enough; you’ve got to be great.” – Simon Cowell

17. Mary Kay Ash

Founder of Mary Kay Inc and best known as the most outstanding business woman in the 20th century. Mary never saw the four walls of school.

“When you reach an obstacle, turn it into an opportunity. You have the choice. You can overcome and be a winner, or you can allow it to overcome you and be a loser. The choice is yours and yours alone. Refuse to throw in the towel. Go that extra mile that failures refuse to travel. It is far better to be exhausted from success than to be rested from failure.” – Mary Kay Ash

18. Coco Chanel

Fashion magnate and founder of the Coco Chanel brand, she never saw the four walls of school.

19. Wayne Huizenga

Wayne is the only person in history to build three Fortune 1000 companies practically from scratch: Waste Management Inc, Blockbuster Entertainment and AutoNation. He is the only person to have developed six NYSE-listed companies.

He also owns the Miami Dolphins and is previous owner of the Florida Marlins baseball team and the Panthers hockey team, making him the only person ever to own three pro teams in a single market, two of which won national championships. He dropped out of college to join a friend in a garbage collection business.

20. Barry Diller

This billionaire media magnate dropped out of college to start Fox Broadcasting Company. He is chairman of Expedia, and was once the CEO of IAC/InterActiveCorp which includes Home Shopping Network and Ticketmaster.

“There’s a world in which reasons are made up because reality is too painful.” – Barry Diller

21. Andrew Carnegie

Founder of Carnegie Steel Company and one of the richest men that ever lived. Born in abject poverty, Andrew never saw the four walls of school.

“I shall argue that strong men conversely know when to compromise and that all principles can be compromised to serve a greater purpose.” – Andrew Carnegie

22. Sir Philip Green

Billionaire retail mogul and owner of the Arcadia brand, he dropped out of school at the age of 16. After four business failures, Philip Green made his first million at the age of 33.

“If you’ve got a natural talent, I think it’s fantastic. If I wasn’t in retail, being a singer or a tennis player would be a better idea.” – Sir Philip Green

23. Madame C. J. Walker

She was born into the family of ex-slaves and farmers. Despite being widowed at the age of 20 and faced with extreme hardship, she started a cosmetics business and went on to become the first American self made female millionaire.

“I had to make my own living and my own opportunity! But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them” – Madam C.J. Walker

24. Mark Zuckerberg

The youngest billionaire in the world, dropped out of Harvard to promote his social networking platform; Facebook. As at 2010, he was 23 years and worth $4billion.

25. Ted Turner:

Billionaire drop out media mogul and founder of CNN; pledged a billion dollars to the United Nation.

“All my life, people have said that I wasn’t going to make it.” – Ted Turner

“Over a three year period, I gave away half of what I had. To be honest, my hands shook as I signed it away. I knew I was taking myself out of the race to be the richest man in the world.” – Ted Turner

26. Cornelius Vanderbilt

Dropped out of school at the age of 11, began operating his own boat at the age of 16 and became one of the richest men in history.

“If I had learned education, I would not have had time to learn anything else.” -Cornelius Vanderbilt

27. Mayer Amschel Rothschild

He was born in a ghetto; started business as a money lender and built the largest private fortune in history. He never saw the four walls of school.

“Give me control over a nation’s money supply and I don’t care who make the laws.” – Mayer Amschel Rothschild

28. Ty Warner

Billionaire real estate investor, hotel owner, sole owner, CEO, and Chairman of Ty, Inc. Ty Warner is a savvy, yet private business man. Ty, Inc; made $700 million in a single year with the Beanie Babies craze without spending money on advertising. He has since expanded to include Ty Girlz dolls, directly competing with Bratz dolls.

29. Howard Hughes

Dropped out of California Institute of Technology and Rice University; founded Hughes Aircrafts and Co and went on to become a billionaire.

“I intend to be, the richest man in the world.” Howard Hughes

30. Giorgio Armani

Billionaire founder of the fashion brand; Giorgio Armani S.P.A. Dropped out of medical school at the University of Bologna because he couldn’t stand the sight of blood.

“Remain true to yourself and your philosophy.” – Giorgio Armani

31. Asa Candler

Founder of the Billionaire company and world’s most popular brand; Coca Cola. He dropped out of school at the age of 10.

32. Jenny Craig

With no college degree, this woman started Jenny Craig Inc from scratch and grew it to become one of the largest and most recognized companies in the weight management industry.

“If I make a commitment to something, I will stick to it no matter what.” – Jenny Craig

33. Rachael Ray

Despite having no formal training in culinary arts, Rachel Ray made a name for herself in the food industry. With numerous shows on the Food Network, a talk show and cookbooks, high-energy Rachael never slowed down. She has also appeared in magazines as well has having her own magazine debut in 2006.

34. Milton Hershey

With only a fourth grade education, Milton Hershey started his own chocolate company. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate became the first nationally marketed chocolate.

35. Frank Lloyd Wright

Surpassed all odds to become the most influential architect of the twentieth century. Frank Lloyd Wright designed more than 1,100 projects with about half actually being built. He never saw the four walls of high school.

36. David Geffen

Billionaire founder of Geffen Records and co-founder of DreamWorks.

“I never went to business school. I was just bumbling through a lot of my life. I was like the guy behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz.” – David Geffen

37.  Billy Joe (Red) McCombs: founder of Clear Channel media, real estate investor.

38.  Craig McCaw: billionaire founder of McCaw Cellular.

39.  Dave Thomas: billionaire founder of Wendy’s.

“There’s no one to stop you but yourself.” – Dave Thomas

40.  ay Van Andel: billionaire co-founder of Amway.

41.  Micky Jagtiani: billionaire retailer, Landmark International

42.  John Paul DeJoria: billionaire co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems and Patron Spirits tequilla.

43.  David Green: billionaire founder of Hobby Lobby.

44.  Frederick “Freddy” Laker: billionaire airline entrepreneur.

45.  Kirk Kerkorian: billionaire investor, owner of Mandalay Bay and Mirage Resorts, and MGM movie studio.

46.  Leandro Rizzuto: billionaire founder of Conair

47.  Leslie Wexner, billionaire founder of Limited Brands.

48.  Marc Rich: billionaire commodities investor and founder of Marc Rich & Co.

49.  S. Daniel Abraham: billionaire founder of Slim-Fast.

50.  Theodore Waitt: billionaire founder of Gateway Computers.

51.  Y.C. Wang: billionaire founder of Formosa Plastics.

52.  Paul Allen: billionaire co-founder of Microsoft Corporation; dropped out of Washington State University.

53.  Ralph Lauren: Billionaire fashion mogul. Studied business at Baruch College for two years and dropped out.

54.  Dean Kamen: Billionaire Kamen holds more than 80 US patents; famous for the Segwey PT, Auto syringe and IBOT robotic wheelchair; dropped out of Worcester Polytechnic.

55.  Dhirubhai Ambani: Famous founder of Reliance Group and father to two billionaires; Anil and Mukesh Ambani. Started Reliance Industries from scratch and never saw the four walls of school.