6 famous entrepreneurs born in the Year of the Tiger
Today marks the start of the lunar new year, with almost two billion people expected to celebrate the occasion around the world.
Each year is allocated a zodiac animal on a repeated 12-year cycle, which is said to bring its own unique traits.
This year marks the Year of the Tiger and business researchers believe the zodiac could have a significant correlation to some of the world’s biggest business successes.
WeWork, internet behemoth Google and online payments giant PayPal were all founded in a Year of the Tiger (2010 and 1998 respectively). Meanwhile, it is also the birth sign of British businessman Richard Branson and steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, both born in 1950. The pair are currently worth a combined £20 billion.
Other businesses founded by entrepreneurs in the Year of the Tiger include GoFundMe (2010), furniture retailer Made.com (2010), Lulu Lemon and Sweaty Betty (1998), China’s largest retailer and member of the NASDAQ100 and Fortune Global 500 company, JD.com (1998), natural drinks brand Innocent (1998), LastMinute.com (1998), gaming company Ubisoft (1986), toy retailer Smyths (1986), Walmart (1962) and Dunkin Donuts.
Lee Murphy, managing director at The Accountancy Partnership, comments: “There are millions of businesses founded each year around the globe, so there may well be a trend which correlates with the Chinese zodiac and lunar calendar. A further look at the economic climate around these years shows that conditions have been favourable with the world emerging from a global recession in the previous cycle – 2010 – and the economy enjoying the heyday of the dot com boom in the instance before that – 1998.
“Quirks and trends are always interesting and looking at what new business founders can learn from those who have done it before them is important. Much like we’re seeing in 2022, following a global economic crisis caused by the pandemic, in the last Year of the Tiger (2010), the global job market began to improve after its most severe downturn since the Great Depression. Hopefully, there are many reasons for businesses and budding entrepreneurs to be confident.”
6 famous entrepreneurial Tigers
Robert Jankel (1938-2005)
Robert Jankel designed limousines, armoured cars and other speciality vehicles, founding his business Panther Westwinds in 1972. It produced high-end cars, such as the Panther De Ville – powered by a Jaguar engine and modelled after the Bugatti Royale. The entrepreneur also founded The Jankel Group in 1955, which built specialist versions of cars for other high-end manufacturers including Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, and Jaguar, as well as producing armoured cars for many police services, including the Metropolitan Police. The Jankel Group is still an operational, $100 million business building made-to-order vehicles.
Sir Richard Branson (1950-present)
Perhaps the most well-known Tiger entrepreneur is the Virgin Group founder. The group now controls more than 400 businesses in various sectors, including travel, rail, music, telecoms and more recently, space. Branson’s potential was seen from a young age by both his parents and a headmaster who said he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire. In 2000, Branson was knighted for services to entrepreneurship and has been placed in the Time 100 Most Influential People in the World list. Forbes estimated his 2021 net worth at $5.7 billion.
Lakshmi Mittal (1950-present)
Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal opened his first steel factory in Indonesia at the age of 26. He went on to achieve success with a steelworks in Trinidad and Tobago in 1989, buying it from the state when it was operating at a huge loss and turning it into a profitable venture. Mittal is now a highly successful businessman, sitting on the board of directors of Goldman Sachs since 2008 as well as on the World Steel Association’s executive committee. He has appeared in various rich lists and business influence leagues. His net worth peaked at £27.70 billion in 2008 but decreased to £6.78 billion in 2020, according to The Sunday Times Rich List.
Gabe Newell (1962-present)
After dropping out of Harvard to join Microsoft and play a part in creating the first iterations of the Windows operating system, Gabe Newell founded his video game development and distribution company, Valve. Valve’s digital distribution service, Steam, which Newell led development on, controlled most of the market for downloaded PC games by 2011. In 2010, Forbes recognised Newell as “A Name You Should Know” and he received the BAFTA Fellowship award for his contributions to the video game industry. In December 2021, his estimated net worth was $3.9 billion
Jillian Michaels (1974-present)
Personal trainer, author and TV personality Jillian Michaels opened her Beverley Hills sports medicine facility in 2002 and developed one of the top fitness apps globally – Jillian Michaels: The Fitness App. She launched her company, Empowered Media, in 2008 and released her video membership website, Fitfusion.com, which is often referred to as the Netflix of fitness. As well as authoring nine books, Michaels has appeared as a trainer on reality show, The Biggest Loser, and had a spin-off show, Losing It With Jillian. Michaels’ net worth is thought to be about $18 million.
Ben Towers (1998-present)
Ben Towers, the youngest entrepreneurial Tiger on our list, has been named as one of the most influential entrepreneurs on the planet at just 23. Towers started his first business at the age of 11, before going on to found a digital marketing agency, invest in other start-ups, and becoming an advisor to governments and PLCs. With a focus on tech for good, Towers is on a mission to connect his generation and tackle mental health issues through his platform, Tahora. Fellow Tiger Sir Richard Branson has dubbed him “one of the UK’s most exciting entrepreneurs.”