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Michael Dell: The Dormitory Millionaire

Michael Dell: The Dormitory Millionaire

Put forth through this Techspirited write up, is the story of Michael Dell, and his phenomenal achievements, as an individual and as an organization. Keep reading...
Anish Chandy
The story of Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Corp. reads like a business fairy tale. A college student, armed with nothing more than an idea that revolutionized the way computers were sold, Michael Dell was born in February 1965, in Texas. He attended the University of Texas in Austin. Since Dell came from a family of doctors, his parents wanted him to carry on the legacy and become a doctor, but he was hooked to computers.

Michael's first business maneuver was to take apart an Apple computer in the bedroom of his parents' Houston home. Dell began selling computers out of his dorm room. He had developed an innovative approach to conducting business: his idea was to sell computers directly to the consumer without going through retailers. He also thought that computers should be made according to customer's own specifications. Prior to this there was absolutely no aspect of customization of the PC, and buying a computer invariably involved the presence of a middleman. He also pioneered the industry's first service and support programs. Thus, in 1984, at the age of 19, he founded Dell Computer Corporation with $1,000.

Today, Dell Corporation provides products and services in various information-technology and Internet related sectors. Dell features one distinct and innovative business practice: its products are not manufactured until they've been ordered. Customers design a personal computer based on their own specifications. It is only after their order is submitted, the computer is assembled.

Dell Corp. is the largest personal computer company in the world. The company employs approximately 46,000 employees worldwide, and reported annual revenues of approximately $50 billion. It has offices in over 34 countries, and a presence in more than 170 countries. The company's business clientele includes almost all the companies in the Fortune 500. The company manufactures its PCs in six locations: Texas, Tennessee, Brazil, Ireland, Malaysia, and China.

Accomplishments of Dell

Michael Dell became the youngest CEO of a company ever to earn a ranking on the Fortune 500, and is now the longest-tenured CEO in the computer industry. In 1999, he wrote the best-selling book, Direct From Dell: Strategies That Revolutionized an Industry.

He is an IT governor of the World Economic Forum, and is a member of the U.S. Business Council. He is also a member of the Computer Systems Policy Project, and serves on the U.S. President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. He has been honored many times for his extraordinary leadership capabilities, earning the titles of "Entrepreneur of the Year" from Inc. magazine, and "Man of the Year" by PC magazine. He constantly heads the list of the world's youngest billionaires.

The Secret of Success

There are two key reasons for his continuing success. Dell Corp. is renowned for its ability to drive down prices. The products are affordable because of the company's hold over it's vendors. The other reason is that Dell has been able to leverage the power of the Internet to great advantage. It has become the largest supplier of PCs over the Internet.

Michael Dell and his wife, Susan, who owns a local couture fashion boutique, are fiercely protective of their privacy. He has drawn media attention for the size and grandeur of his private estate, a 33,000-square-foot mansion on a local hilltop. Designed with complete privacy in mind, it has extensive fitness facilities, so that the extremely fitness conscious Dell, can conduct his stress busting routine in peace. Even his personal chef has to sign a nondisclosure agreement.

Michael Dell encapsulated his secrets of success in an entrepreneurs conference in Texas, when he said, "First of all, don't start a business just because everybody else is doing it, or it looks like it's a way to make a lot of money. Start a business because you found something you really love doing, and have a passion for. Start a business because you found something unique that you can do better than anyone else. And start a business because you really want to make a big contribution to society over a long period of time."