The 10 Best Entrepreneurs from the Movies

Even on the silver screen it takes small business to keep things running. With Oscar season officially underway, we took a look some of the best — or at least the most memorable — business owners and entrepreneurs that the movies have given us over the years. (The name of the movie, if you haven’t already guessed it, comes last.)

Ray Stantz, Peter Venkman, Egon Spengler: Ghostbusters

  • Industry: Paranormal activity
  • Key employee: Winston Zeddemore
  • Perks: Proton pack, awesome company car
  • Occupational hazards: Slime, the coming of Gozer
  • Business wisdom: “To our first customer. To our first and only customer. I’m gonna need to draw some petty cash. I should take her out to dinner. We don’t want to lose her.”
  • Ghostbusters

George Bailey: Bailey Building and Loan Association

  • Industry: Banking
  • Perks: Guardian angels, community spirit
  • Occupational hazards: Diabolical slumlords, despair
  • Business wisdom: “People were human beings to him. … Well in my book, my father died a much richer man than you’ll ever be!”
  • It’s a Wonderful Life

Forrest Gump, Bubba Blue: Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

  • Industry: Shrimping
  • Key employee: Lieutenant Dan
  • Perks: All-you-can-eat shrimp, the seafaring life
  • Occupational hazards: Seasickness, BP
  • Business wisdom: “Bubba’s family knew everything there was to know about the shrimpin’ business.”
  • Forrest Gump

Norman Bates: Bates Motel

  • Industry: Hospitality
  • Perks: Solitude, short commute
  • Occupational hazards: Housekeeping costs, overbearing mothers
  • Business wisdom: “We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?”
  • Psycho

J.C. Wiatt: Country Baby Food Co.

  • Industry: Gourmet baby food
  • Perks: Work from home, save on daycare
  • Occupational hazards: Dirty diapers, immature coworkers
  • Business wisdom: “I can’t have a baby because I have a 12:30 lunch meeting.”
  • Baby Boom

Michael Corleone: Assorted Family Businesses

  • Industry: Mostly illegal
  • Perks: Bending enemies to your will, cannoli
  • Occupational hazards: Horse heads, fear of execution
  • Business wisdom: “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
  • The Godfather

Calvin Palmer, Sr. & Jr.: Calvin’s Barbershop

  • Industry: Personal grooming
  • Perks: Neighborhood reverence, entertaining employees
  • Occupational hazards: Loan sharks, slips with the clippers
  • Business wisdom: “Your daddy may not had a whole lot of money. Oh, but he was rich, because he invested in people.”
  • Barbershop

Brian Flanagan & Doug Coughlin: Cocktails & Dreams

  • Industry: Food & Beverage
  • Perks: Serve the city that never sleeps
  • Occupational hazards: Liver disease, disastrous personal relationships
  • Business wisdom: “Coughlin’s law: never show surprise, never lose your cool.”
  • Cocktail

Mitch Weaver, Sam McKenna: Dirty Work

  • Industry: Revenge-for-Hire
  • Perks: Vengeance, raunchy jokes
  • Occupational hazards: Dubious moral standards, raunchy jokes
  • Business wisdom: “I never heard of a revenge-for-hire business. Exactly — we’d be the first!”
  • Dirty Work

Tom Callahan & Son: Callahan Auto Parts

  • Industry: Manufacturing
  • Perks: Family work atmosphere, community impact
  • Occupational hazards: Corporate takeovers, con men
  • Business wisdom: “But for now, for your customer’s sake, for your daughter’s sake, ya might wanna think about buying a quality product from me.”
  • Tommy Boy

Who’s missing from this list? Add your favorite fictional businesses — and the characters behind them — in the comments.

About Kevin Casey

Kevin Casey is a regular contributor here, at InformationWeek and elsewhere. Find him on Twitter @kevinrcasey.
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3 comments
Jay Badenhope
Jay Badenhope

From this year's Oscars, there's Mark Zuckerberg as portrayed in "The Social Network". This San Jose Mercury News article presents an interesting argument that the movie missed the point on the substantial value provided by Facebook and its CEO, as it contends:"But it's not a stretch to say that the 600 million people who have joined Facebook have done so at least in part because it has allowed them to connect, or reconnect, with people in their lives. It's created new avenues for sharing, discovering and learning about the world around us. It brings users small moments of delight. And, as we've seen in the Middle East, it's played a role in organizing the unrest that's shaken even long-serving dictators."Jay B. (Intuit)

Arben
Arben

Why not Howard Hughes from " The Aviator". It shows entrepreneurs spirit to reach the vision..

Rolando Duran
Rolando Duran

Nobody like the Don and his heir. Olive oil importing company, real estate and construction firms, investments, casinos and hotels...besides the criminal side, of course. Well, we are going to need a sicilian consiglieri to operate.