25Founders: Who Are the All-Time Best Entrepreneurs?

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Continuing our 25Founders series, a collective of leading New York entrepreneurs, members in this month’s NY Enterprise Report magazine talk about the world’s greatest entrepreneurs and business owners.

When asked “who are the all-time best entrepreneurs, and why?” Edward Solomon, Net at Work co-founder commented: At first, names like Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, Warren Buffett, Ben and Jerry, and many others spring to mind. I ultimately decided that I would award this distinction to a whole group of Americans rather than one individual. I believe that the US immigrant has the distinction of being the all-time best entrepreneur. This country was built by immigrant entrepreneurs, and their track record continues to the present day. I have read that immigrants are 30 percent more likely to start a business then non-immigrants and in New York nearly a quarter of all business are immigrant owned.

Immigrants like my father, who has owned a thriving 30-year-old jewelry contracting firm, my uncles, and their extended family and friends arrived in New York from the former Soviet Union with no knowledge of the English language, no connections, no US college degrees, and in many cases, no transferable skills. Virtually all of these immigrants worked extremely hard raising the capital through menial jobs and started businesses in construction, jewelry, retail, hospitality services, and more.

They have had their share of adversity, economic downturns, and the growth of global competition, yet most have grown their businesses into extremely successful enterprises and have realized the American dream. I have had the benefit of learning firsthand from these entrepreneurs and the knowledge I have gained has been more useful to the growth of Net at Work than my MBA ever was.

Visit the New York Enterprise Report for answers by other 25Founders members.