John Paul Dejoria: From Homeless To Billionaire

11/21/12 8:03AM EST

johnpauldejoria John Paul Dejoria: From Homeless To BillionaireMany times, when people talk about great entrepreneurs, the word “visionary” comes up in the conversation. This is likely because successful entrepreneurs do not tend to focus on the problem or current situation, but the vision of the solution and the future. One such man, who has become legendary for turning a $700 startup investment into a billion dollar business, is Mr. John Paul Dejoria.

While probably most well-known for his role in beginning Paul Mitchell Systems, Dejoria is also the co-founder of the very popular and elite brand of Patron tequila as well as a handful of other business ventures. Beginning his first job at age 9, he would quickly learn the value of hard work and what “self-made” really meant. While the journey may have begun with picking up pop bottles for pennies and included being homeless at times, a vision of success kept overcoming each and every obstacle. Even after being fired from Redken, the desire to go farther with his life and career kept driving this entrepreneur to develop new ideas. What is so fascinating, though, is that this former street gang member turned billionaire businessman proves that reinventing the wheel isn’t always necessary for success. Sometimes the key to a global enterprise is as simple as tweaking an ordinary product to give it a new vision.

paul mitchell John Paul Dejoria: From Homeless To Billionaire

Paul Mitchell Systems
The concept behind this line of successful products was to simply meet a need in the hair care industry. Dejoria, along with partner Paul Mitchell, saw that professionals were limited to the number of clients that they could take because of the time consuming process of shampooing, conditioning, cutting, and styling. Seeing a business opportunity, they took their knowledge of the manufacturing process and developed a single application shampoo as well as a leave in conditioner that would cut down time significantly. While the first two years were a struggle, the products eventually gained in popularity and became one of the hottest selling brands of the professional hair care world.

patron John Paul Dejoria: From Homeless To BillionairePatron Tequila
In the late 1980’s, tequila was considered a bottom shelf liquor, and not really that special at all. Having tried a very smooth tasting brand that a friend brought back from Mexico, Dejoria and new partner Martin Crowley decided that it could be improved upon and marketed to sell in the United States. After bringing in a mixologist to perfect the smoothness, bottling the brew in unique hand-blown bottles, and creating a beautiful label for it, Patron was born. This simple innovation of a low level product is now an ultra high end brand name that sold about 2.5 million cases last year.

So, what kind of advice does a man like John Paul Dejoria give to other entrepreneurs? A recent interview article in Fortune magazine lists these three things: 1) Make the highest-quality products, 2) Be prepared for rejection, and 3) Practice sustainability. This, it seems, is the formula for his success.

[John Paul Dejoria Image via s_bukley/Shutterstock]