Jack Ma had a rollercoaster career before launching China’s answer to eBay, the e-commerce giant Alibaba. For nearly every job he applied to, including a position in the police academy and at KFC when it first opened in China, Ma was rejected.
Twice he failed his entrance exam to study at the Hangzhou Teachers College. In 1988, he graduated, but still couldn't find his way into the profession. "When I graduated from university, for three years I [applied for jobs at] universities. Thirty times I got rejected," he told Charlie Rose in 2015.
Among those to rebuff the entrepreneur? The prestigious Harvard University. He applied a whopping ten times to no avail. “Oh, by the way I told you that I applied for Harvard … Ten times rejected," he added. "I told myself some day I should go teach there." While he taught English for several years following his graduation, he later quit teaching and co-founded Alibaba.com in 1999 with $60k from friends and investors. It's now the fifth-largest internet company by revenue. Ma is personally worth about $40 billion.