Six Teachers Who Became Successful Entrepreneurs

Teacher who have become successful entrepreneurs

Our biggest focus at Teacher Indie is to provide knowledge and inspiration for educators. To help them use their passion for helping others to propel themselves to new heights. Whether that’s teaching online, moving abroad to teach English, or starting a business based around your skill set, knowing that there are many success stories of everyday teachers who took the risk of thinking outside the classroom. No matter the field, here are six teachers who became successful entrepreneurs.


A classic story of a teacher becoming successful outside of the classroom is Sting. The Police front man and solo star cut his performance chops teaching music, in addition to English and soccer, at a convent school. It’s noted that the lyrics to the song “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” are in reference to a teacher and female student having romantic feelings for each other. Maybe that’s a reference to an unfulfilled fantasy, or perhaps it’s just fiction. Either way, his time spent as a teacher may be how Sting developed his ‘cupboards of patience.’

JK Rowling

Harry Potter brought her international recognition, but JK Rowling taught English in Portugal during her early days as a muggle. Apparently, she mapped out some of the wizardrous adventures of her future novels during this time. Perhaps elements of Hogwarts are based around her experiences in the classroom.


Gene Simmons

We included  a second musician on this list because of a technicality.  If you grew up in the seventies and eighties (or for the millennials out there, if you’ve ever seen Detroit Rock City) you know that Gene Simmons and KISS were much more than just musicians. If there were ever a band that mastered the concept of turning themselves into a brand, it’s KISS. The group is more accurately described as four incredible entrepreneurs who used music as their medium, and for a lucky bunch of Harlem sixth graders, front man Gene Simmons also served as their English teacher.

Teacher who have become successful entrepreneurs

Jack Ma

The founder of Alibaba Group is the most well-known tech-industry case of teachers who became successful entrepreneurs. Ma struggled to gain entrance to after high school. But after graduation, he became a lecturer of English and International Trade at Hangzhou Dianzi University. Forbes named Ma the eighth richest tech billionaire in 2016, and he was the first Chinese entrepreneur to appear on the magazine’s cover.

Craig Venter

Venter isn’t as much of a household name as Sting or JK Rowling. His accomplishments are no less significant, however – he founded Celera Genomics and co-founded Human Longevity, Inc. Not ringing a bell? How about this – he was the first person to sequence the human genome. And the first to use a synthetic genome to transfect a cell. Basically, he’s melded synthetic elements into human life. Oh, and Venter used to be a professor at SUNY Buffalo, prior to joining the National Institutes of Health in 1984. All in all, not a bad list of accomplishments.

Steve Wozniak

A well-known tech-related story of teachers who became successful entrepreneurs. Before teaming up with Steve Jobs to co-found a small company called Apple, Steve Wozniak taught computer technology to fifth graders in Silicon Valley. According to a report in VICE, Wozniak regularly went out of his way to show his students the basics of the early internet and the devices that made it accessible. Now and then, lessons on topics such as how a floppy disk works were complemented by Happy Meals that Wozniak brought in for the kids. It’s a shame that scene has yet to make the final cut in any of the prominent Apple documentaries.

Around the world, there are plenty of high-profile success stories of teachers who became successful entrepreneurs. Low-profile success stories are even more commonplace. What is it that you are wanting to do to move beyond the typical classroom setting? Any certain ambitions or goals?

Ray is the founder and creator of Teacher Indie. He is an award-winning entrepreneur who has created online education businesses that have appeared in publications such as Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc Magazine, Buzzfeed, The Boston Globe and many others. His goal is to help teachers from around the world get online and gain the financial independence they deserve.

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