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Acrobat of Pizza Siler Chapman picked up a ball of dough and found fame, fortune and franchising.

By Jason Daley

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Siler ChapmanEarly in his freshman year at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Siler Chapman got an uneasy feeling about the path he was on. "It was right after 9/11," he recalls. "People had lost their jobs and were coming back for advanced degrees. It opened my eyes. I didn't want anyone coming in and firing me. I wanted to be my own boss. I started praying and praying about what I should do."

The answer came to him at 3:30 on a Monday morning, when he sat bolt upright: "This thing in my head said, "Open a pizza place.'"

Within a year, Chapman left college and, with a loan from his grandparents and experience from working at a Pizza Works franchise, opened Si's Pizzeria in his hometown of Fort Mill, S.C. Then--proud of his dough-tossing skills--he went to New York to compete in a dough-tossing contest.

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