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Entrepreneur Michael Rubin: Bankrupt at 16, Millionaire at 21, Billionaire at 38

At the age of 16, Michael Rubin said there are only two kinds of business people: Those who take risks, and those who are rational.
What was he?
At 16, is it risky to own a snow-ski business in Pennsylvania’s sweltering summers while owing creditors more than $200,000?
At 21, is it rational to own a business worth $1 million, and $50 million a couple of years later?
According to Rubin, being $200,000 in debt was “a near-to-death” encounter.
Somehow, someway, he managed to pacify his creditors with the $37,000 he borrowed from his father. Then, honoring his Dad’s terms of the deal, he enrolled in college.
Six weeks later, he dropped out of Villanova University. Too boring, he said, answering the calls of his businesses.
Working smart had inspired Rubin since he was a kid.
At the age of eight, according to, he was walking door-to-door selling vegetable seeds to his West Philadelphia neighbors. At 12, he’d opened Mike’s Ski Shop in the basement of his parents’ home.
At 14, he was operating a chain of ski shops, businesses, and a discount ski equipment retail shop (hence, the debt).
At 19, he had merged his burgeoning ski business, KPR Sports (named with his parents’ initials), with then publicly-traded athletic shoe company Ryka to form Global Sports Inc. (later GSI Commerce).
At 26, GSI was generating more than $130 million a year.
At 38, Rubin had sold GSI Commerce to eBay for $2.4 billion.
Rubin then bought and merged Fanatics (a licensed apparel retailer), Rue La La (a fashion flash site seller), and Shop Runner (a retail benefits program) and molded them into Kynetic, a billion-dollar e-commerce company.
Rubin is 47 now, and according to Forbes, his net worth is $3 billion.

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