As a college student, Michael Dell declared that he wanted to beat IBM. In 1983, he began conducting business out of his dorm room at the University of Texas in Austin, selling custom-made PCs and components. A year later, with $1,000 in startup capital, Dell officially set up his business and left school. "Being an entrepreneur wasn't on my mind," insists Dell. "What was on my mind was the opportunity I saw ahead, which was so compelling."
|Blast From the Past|
|Want more insight from Michael Dell? Then click to our extensive Q&A, Dell On , that we ran in 1999.|
He had no idea how big that opportunity really was. Dell Computer Corp. is now a $31.9 billion behemoth. Though Dell himself had "no idea the Internet would come along," his company now sells approximately $50 million worth of products on the Net daily, making it one of the world's largest Windows-based e-commerce sites. These days, Dell spends most of his time planning company strategy. "Strategy is the biggest point of impact I can have as the company is much, much larger-it has 40,000 employees," he says. "So my ability to make an impact on anything else is pretty small."
Unless you're talking about the September 11 terrorist attacks. Dell's company did its part, shipping more than 35,000 computer systems to affected customers in New York and Virginia. Because the company already knew the configurations of customers' machines, replacements were ready to go.
Dell says he feels as entrepreneurial now as when he started. "There are plenty of markets to discover," he says, "and each new venture requires tenacity and a willingness to take risks."
How do you define "entrepreneur"?
Michael Dell: Somebody who has a new idea or different idea and takes a risk and works hard to make it work.
Who is your idea of an entrepreneurial icon?
How do you keep your entrepreneurial spirit alive?
What was your dream when you started out?
What's your legacy?
- Find out firsthand how Michael Dell built his business from a dorm-room startup into an industry powerhouse in his book, Direct from Dell: Strategies That Revolutionized an Industry .
- In Brand New: How Entrepreneurs Earned Consumers' Trust From Wedgwood to Dell , Nancy Koehn looks at how six entrepreneurs-including Michael Dell-earned consumers' trust and built their brands into household names.
- Entrepreneur Press' own Radicals & Visionaries: Entrepreneurs Who Revolutionized the 20th Century by Thaddeus Wawro includes a section on Michael Dell, along with several stories of other entrepreneurs who have left their indelible mark in business history.