10 Entrepreneurs Reveal What They Wanted to Be When They Grew Up


Start early, think big.

courtneyk | Getty Images

1. Merrill Stubbs

1 / 10

2. Kyle Hill

2 / 10

3. Ryan Holmes

3 / 10

4. Julia Hartz

4 / 10

5. Tim Chen

5 / 10

6. Daniella Yacobovsky

6 / 10

7. Gavin Armstrong

7 / 10
Lucky Iron Fish

8. Oliver Kharraz

8 / 10

9. Matt Ehrlichman

9 / 10

10. Jennie Ripps

10 / 10
Nicole Franzen
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Staff Writer. Covers media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

For many, the path to their job is winding, with a lot of stops, starts and detours along the way. For others, they saw what they wanted in their mind early on and always stayed on one track.

Related: 6 Tips for Goal-Setting That, Trust Me, They Don't Teach You in College

No matter where we are today or how we got there, all of us at one time has a childhood aspiration that probably informs some of what we do today.

Read on for what some of the most innovative founders wanted to be when they grew up.


Name: Merrill Stubbs
Childhood dream: I really wanted to be a performer. I did a lot of acting and singing as a kid and teenager. I think I was pretty convinced for a while that was my destiny. But I don't think I had the backbone for the rejection that comes with that path. Ultimately when I was deciding between a conservatory as opposed to a liberal arts college, that's when I made that decision: to keep singing as something for fun rather than my career.

Read more about Stubbs: The Life-Changing Book That Helps This Entrepreneur Think Big


Name: Kyle Hill
Childhood dream: I think every young boy wants to be an athlete at some point in their life, and I grew up admiring Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. But my father is a professor, and he put in my head pretty early that the likelihood of being a professional athlete wasn't very high. I think he got me understanding that there were so many things to do in the world.

I always liked drawing, and I think being an architect is the idea  I held onto the longest. One of the most exciting things I did as a kid was build a treehouse in the backyard. My dad just gave me free rein to do whatever I wanted with it. For me, building the treehouse was the most exciting part of having a treehouse, or even playing in it. That lends itself a lot to my personality now -- I love building things.

Read more about Hill: What This Founder Does to Stay Completely Focused


Name: Ryan Holmes  
Company: Hootsuite
Childhood dream: I wanted to be a video game developer, but after high school, I decided to do the practical thing and study business in university. That turned out to be a mistake. I dropped out and opened a series of businesses, including a pizza joint, before finally getting back to what I originally loved, in a way, with Hootsuite.

Read more about Holmes: How Following His Heart Led This Entrepreneur to Start a Multi-Billion Dollar Company


Name: Julia Hartz
Childhood dream: I wanted to work in television, and I did! I studied broadcast journalism at Pepperdine University. After a short career in television with MTV and later on at FX Network, I found my true calling in Eventbrite.

Read more about Hartz: The Day This Eventbrite Co-Founder Learned When to Speak Up


Name: Tim Chen
Company: Nerdwallet
Childhood dream: I grew up in Houston near NASA, and I thought I wanted to be an aerospace engineer because huge flying objects seemed really cool at the time.

Read more about Chen: Nerdwallet's Founder Shares the Worst Advice He Ever Got


Name: Daniella Yacobovsky
Company: BaubleBar
Childhood dream: I wanted to be a singer for a very long time. I used to beg my father to take me on Star Search. Ultimately, I did not go to Star Search, but I did do a lot of singing and art classes. I always loved tapping into my creative side, even though in school I ended up pursuing math and finance and that ended up being my initial post-college path.


Read more about Yacobovsky: This Co-Founder of BaubleBar's Secret for Inspiration? Always 'Keep Your Eyes Peeled.'


Name: Gavin Armstrong
Lucky Iron Fish
Childhood dream: When I was little, I did want to be an entrepreneur. My uncle started his own company when I was in elementary school, and I always admired him for that. His company sold plumbing and washroom equipment. I went into work with him all the time; I swept the floors for nothing just to be in the office, loved the atmosphere and felt proud by association.

Read more about Armstrong: This CEO Has Helped Thousands -- and He's Just Getting Started

Name: Oliver Kharraz
Childhood dream: A doctor. My father was a doctor, his father, and his father before that. It was really passed down in my family. In a lot of ways the underlying value for this was that I’ve always been taught that talent breeds responsibility, and so being a doctor was a very direct way to live up to that responsibility.


Read more about Kharraz: This Founder Says to Succeed You Need to Question Everything


Name: Matt Ehrlichman
Company: Porch
Childhood dream: I wanted to be a pro-basketball player, and then realized I wasn’t going to be nearly as athletic enough. Luckily, for me, I got on the entrepreneur track very early. I started my first company at 14; I was selling sand dollars on the street.

Read more about Ehrlichman: How This Founder Uses His Competitiveness to Succeed in Business


Name: Jennie Ripps
Company: Owl’s Brew 
Childhood dream: I
always wanted to make things and what that meant changed. I wanted to make bracelets and then I wanted to make lemonade. So I always wanted to be a maker but there was no profession that I was drawn towards. I was just more excited by the idea of trying to build and make things and that shifted with age.

Read more about Ripps: The One Thing This Entrepreneur Does Each Day to Stay Productive


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