Five Inspirational Rags-To-Riches Stories

Razya Siddiqui
Success hides in the oddest places! These unusual rags-to-riches stories that will make you think.

Heard a rags-to-riches story lately? Of course you have. They’re a dime a dozen. But have you heard of these five guys:

1) First, we have Ramesh Babu, barber turned rental car mogul from Bangalore, who lost his father at age 9. He dropped out of school at 15 to work as a barber and launched a trendy salon frequented by celebrities in 1991.  

His big break came when he splashed out on a Maruti Omni van in 1994. A kindly benefactor recommended he rent it out. By 2004, he had seven cars; by 2014, 200, including numerous luxury cars and the ultimate in style, a Rolls Royce.

Now he gives motivational talks, is TedTalks Millionaire Barber, and urges would be entrepreneurs to "work hard and be humble. Everything else is just luck," reports Rakhi Chakraborty at

2)  Close on his heels comes farmer Dnyaneshwar Nivrutti Bodke from the little village of Hingewad near Pune. Dnyaneshwar worked as a typist whose bike journey to the office took 75 minutes.

He took a loan to attend interior design school, got a steady job and eventually "threw it all away" to go back to his father’s farm in Hingewad. His family begged, his friends implored, but Dnyaneshwar had his dreams.

He trained as a horticulturist to set up a farm growing carnations and the Abhinav Farmers Club, which boasts almost 200 farmers today. Even though the green fields of the villages have turned into an IT hub for the likes of Infosys and Wipro, Dnyaneshwar and his fellow farmers plow away in their midst, their lush, colorful, profitable farms create a charming splash of a disappearing life.

3) From a village in Kiev, Ukraine, comes Jan Koum, the brains behind the world’s most popular messaging service, Whatsapp. His village home had no hot water and they tried not to use the phone in case the state was eavesdropping.

Politics forced them to move to America. His mother did babysitting until cancer disabled her and Jan swept grocery stores to keep them afloat. His life changed when met Acton at Ernst & Young. Both joined Yahoo and eventually designed and launched Whatsapp – now majority owned by Facebook and valued at $19 billion.

4) William Paul Young was mopping floors, filing papers and writing for the web when he published his first book, "The Shack." A children’s story and a spiritual parable, it was rejected by all major publishers. He eventually set up his own publishing firm with a friend to publish the book and distributed it amongst his friends. It turned into a global sensation and was eventually translated into 34 languages. J.K. Rowling isn’t the only rags-to-riches author.

5) And what of Sidney Weinberg, born in 1891 to an immigrant Polish family of 11 siblings? In 1917, age 16, he sweet-talked his way into a job with Goldman Sachs – as the janitor’s assistant. By 1930 he was Senior Partner. He spent the remaining 39 years at the firm single-handedly transforming Goldman Sachs into an elite investment bank.

Forget about the lottery. There’s no escape from hard work!