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These billionaires had their career breakthrough after the age of 35 (infographic)

Each year we see more and more youngsters take the business world by storm, starting innovative and often ground-breaking companies.

The youngest billionaire in the world right now is German heir Kevin David Lehmann, who is just 18 years old. With a net worth of $3.3 billion, he owns 50% of Germany's leading drugstore chain, dm (drogerie markt).

Lehmann is part of the Millennial generation. A generation that is determined, hard-working and digitally literate.

This group of young people is a product of the loyal Generation X - a generation that is typically dedicated to climbing the rungs of the corporate ladder. They tend to have lengthy careers of 30 to 40 years, staying in the same field, industry or even the same role…

With this working mentality, they might think that they can’t change their career or start their own business. But this isn’t the case.

Data from the Census Bureau highlights that the majority of successful businesses are founded by people who are middle-aged. In fact, a 35-year-old is three times more likely to found a successful start-up than a 22-year-old.

To inspire those who feel stuck in a career rut, Virtual College has analysed data from Forbes World’s Billionaires List in order to find out which of the world’s wealthiest had their big career breakthrough after the age of 35.

In total, 45 billionaires made the list, coming from a range of different industries and backgrounds. Below are some of the most surprising, and inspiring, entries on the list:

Giorgio Armani

Business: Giorgio Armani

Age when founded: 41-years-old

Worth: $7.7B

Armani is an Italian fashion house that is both well-known and much-loved, but the luxury brand was not started by the founder, Giorgio Armani, until he was 41-years-old. Before his breakthrough in the fashion industry, Armani studied for a medical degree and served the army in an Italian medical hospital. A significant difference from his fashion house that today distributes and retails haute couture, ready-to-wear, leather goods, shoes, watches, jewellery, accessories, eyewear, cosmetics and home interiors.

James Dyson

Business: Dyson Ltd

Age when founded: 44-years-old

Worth: $9.6B

Perhaps the most famous cleaning inventor in the world, James Dyson did not found his company until he was 44-years-old. A classic example of ‘if at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again’, it took Dyson 5,127 prototypes to perfect his first vacuum cleaner. Founding Dyson Ltd was actually a result of no one being interested in retailing this first product. His very first invention was the Ballbarrow, which was a modified version of a wheelbarrow using a ball instead of a wheel.

Dietrich Mateschitz

Business: Red Bull

Age when founded: 40-years-old

Worth: $26.9B

A company that now leads the world energy drink market and is renowned for its daring stunts, Red Bull was co-founded by Dietrich Mateschitz who, at the time, was 40-years old. Mateschitz was working as a marketing executive at Blendax, a German consumer products company, before starting the energy drink giant. He took ten years to graduate from the Vienna University of Economics and Business, receiving a marketing degree at the age of 28.

Martin Lorentzon

Business: Spotify

Age when founded: 37-years-old

Worth: $6B

Spotify, the world's largest music streaming service provider, was co-founded in 2006 by Martin Lorentzon when he was 37-years-old. He was working at a digital marketing agency he had founded called Tradedoubler before founding the popular music platform. He once told classmates that he wanted to sell one matchbox to every Chinese person and become a billionaire.

Amancio Ortega

Business: Zara

Age when founded: 39-years-old

Worth: $77B

Entering the fashion industry as a 14-year-old shop hand for a local shirtmaker, Amancio Ortega opened the first stop of the high-street fashion chain, Zara, in 1975 when he was 39 years old. He then went on to found Inditex, which is now the biggest fashion group in the world, with over 7,200 stores and other brands such as Zara Home, Massimo Dutti and Bershka. The Spanish businessman is now the 11th richest person in the world and the richest billionaire on the list.

Robert Kuok

Business: Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

Age when founded: 48-years-old

Worth: $12.6B

The luxury hotel company Shangri-La Hotels, which now has over 100 luxury hotels and resorts around the world, was founded by Robert Kuok in 1971 when he was 48 years old. Kuok began started as an office boy and later worked as a clerk in the rice-trading department of Mitsubishi Shoji Kaisha during the Japanese occupation.

Torstein Hagen

Business: Viking Cruises

Age when founded: 54-years-old

Worth: $12.6B

Torstein Hagen started Viking Cruises in 1997, aged 54-years-old, in Russia with four riverboats. Previously in the cruise industry, Hagen previously served as CEO of the upmarket cruise line, Royal Viking, from which he was forced to step down after a failed bid to buy the company.

His cruise line serves wealthy American retirees and has more than 70 river cruise ships, which mainly operate in major European waters.

Gender Split

Of the 2,755 billionaires included on Forbes’ 2021 World’s Billionaires List, 11.9% are female. Although only just over 1 in 10, the number of females on the list has increased by 36% from the year before, highlighting that more and more women are focusing on their careers.

Interestingly, other than the Thai husband and wife duo Chuchat Petaumpai and Daonapa Petampai, all of the billionaires qualifying for this list are male. Not a strong ratio.

However, if this data was revisited in 20 years, when all Millenials are eligible for this list at 35-years or older, it is likely that we’d see a very different gender split as more and more female role models taking the spotlight.

This year alone, 31-year-old Whitney Wolfe Herd, the co-founder of the dating app Bumble, became the youngest female CEO in the U.S. to take a company public. Worth $1.3B, she is currently the world’s youngest self-made woman billionaire.These billionaires had their career breakthrough after the age of 35 (infographic)

Read next: How much does it cost to set up a business in every country?

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