7 Successful Entrepreneurs Who Began As Freelancers

If you want to start a small business, you craft a plan, make some financial decisions, complete some legal statements and you are done. Sounds easy and simplistic enough. You know what, freelancing is also an easy business. However, there is more you can do than just sitting in front of your computer, marketing your services, delivering projects to satisfy and please clients.

You can turn entrepreneur.

Moving from freelance to entrepreneurship may sound a little risky for freelancers. Some of you may think that you don’t have what’s required in order to be an entrepreneur. Truth is, anyone can become an entrepreneur. Well, they have to come from somewhere, right?

Freelancer or Entrepreneur?

There is a difference between being a freelancer and being an entrepreneur. Freelancers just focus on delivering work and getting paid for it whether it is per hour or per project. On the other hand, entrepreneurs are more focused on building long-term businesses that work. They earn money while they are sleeping. In return they accept risks involved and have to be open to new challenges.

But talk is cheap. In this article, I’ve listed 7 examples of entrepreneurs who started off from freelancing before leaping into creative endeavors and turning themselves into entrepreneurs.

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1. Brian Wong

If you are a tech and gaming enthusiast, chances are that you have heard a lot about Brian Wong. He is a young entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Kiip. One of the things you probably don’t know about Brian is that he started off like many freelancers. At the beginning, he used to design ads using Photoshop and earn money freelancing for clients.

brian wong

As time passed by, he thought about innovating the mobile game advertising model. That’s when he founded Kiip, a mobile rewarding app that allows companies to provide their clients with rewards for certain virtual achievements.

Kiip has been growing rapidly over the last two years while partnering with major companies, such as, Disney, Carl’s Jr, Kodak, PepsiCo, Sony, Guinness World Records and many more. The startup made Brian the world’s youngest and venture-funded entrepreneur and Mashable named him in its 2010 list of “Top 5 Young Entrepreneurs to Watch.”

2. Sahil Lavingia

Sahil Lavingia is a young talented designer and serial entrepreneur who we all should watch. He has designed series of apps and worked for reputable and renowned brands in the media industry including the design of Pinterest, one of the world’s most popular social media networks.

While he was working at Pinterest, he gained a lot of experience. Later on, he combined what he had learned from his past experiences then founded Gumroad, a website service that aims at helping people sell their stuffs online.

Sahil Lavingia

Gumroad was founded in 2011, and is growing significantly over the last few months. The startup raised over $8.1M in funding from well-known venture capital firms, such as, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, SV Angel, Collaborative Fund and others.

World renowned and famous singers like Girl Talk, Wiz Khalifa and David Banner have used this platform to sell items, and that proves Gumroad is on the right track to success.

3. Alex Mangini

Alex Mangini is the owner and founder of kolakube. He’s a young entrepreneur who started off delivering services to clients before creating snazzy thesis skins for WordPress. Alex is a very talented and creative entrepreneur who combined his Photoshop and web designing skills to create themes that push the business over the edge.

Before getting more serious into selling themes online, the first product he sold was a thesis premium skin used in blogussion.com (before he sold it) and it remarkably generated over $20,000 in sales. Then, he devoted all his time and efforts to building Kokalube.

Alex Mangini

Kolakube is a remodeled website that sells premium thesis skins for WordPress. It has provided services for savvy online marketers and bloggers like Neil Patel, Jeremy Schoemaker, Derek Halpern, Lewis Homes and many others.

Alex’s online business is expanding more into a community for thesis users that makes nearly $120,000 a year.

4. Collis Ta’eed

Collis Ta’eed is a successful and creative entrepreneur behind Envato.

The bunch of tutorial sites, such as, Psdtuts+, Netuts+, Vectortuts+, Audiotuts+ and many other marketplace websites make up the networks of Envato. The thing you probably don’t know is that before co-founding Envato, Collins was a freelance and self-employed designer.

Collis Taeed

He began his freelance career as a web designer, which gave him the flexibility and strong foundation to make the leap into launching Envato early in March of 2006. Envato’s is currently one of the largest tutorial networks and generates nearly $1 million in revenue per year.

5. Cyan Ta’eed

Cyan Ta’eed is another aspiring designer. We can’t talk about Envato without mentioning her. She co-founded Envato alongside her husband, Collis, and Jun Rung.

Cyan Taeed

Cyan began her entrepreneurial career as a freelance designer who devoted her time to working in creative fields.

FreelanceSwitch, a community of expert freelancers, was her first startup before it became one of Envato’s education and information website. Now, FreelanceSwitch has over 384,383 members and that shows how popular the freelance network is.

6. Chris Pearson

Chris Pearson is one of the most creative and talented web designers I know. Well, he is an online celebrity and best known as the creator of thesis framework for WordPress, and founder of DIYthemes.com.

Chris Pearson

Chris is a former freelance designer who started off designing cool themes for WordPress and for his clients before thinking about something bigger than himself, a thing that would revolutionize the overcrowded market of WordPress themes. So, he developed thesis theme framework.

The thesis framework has partnered with popular and successful blogs like copyblogger and problogger. Top bloggers like Ramit Sethi, Matt Cutts, Jason Fellas and nearly 53000 savvy web designers rely on the powerful framework.

7. Carol Tice

It doesn’t matter what type of freelancer you are. What matters is how you value your skills and how you are capable of turning them into something greater than yourself. Carol Tice is a great example.

She is the woman behind MakeaLivingWriting and wears many hats. One of them is mentoring. In her mentorship program she teaches her students how to generate high figures income from writing online.

Carol Tice

Apart from that, she also founded Freelancer Writers Den a community for freelance writers who want to increase their income and chances of success.

Freelance Writers Den is a successful network offering freelance writing materials in a variety of ways, such as e-courses, bootcamps, webinars and live training events.


There are many ways to turn your freelance business into something a lot bigger than what you do on a daily basis. You need to commit yourself, accept new challenging endeavors and think of something that fulfills people’s needs.

Who would you like to see in this list as an freelancer-turned-entrepreneur?