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How Mark Cuban’s First Job as a Garbage Bag Salesman Helped Make Him Rich

Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com
Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

Seasoned entrepreneur Mark Cuban has been a panelist on “Shark Tank” since 2011 and is currently a minority owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

Check Out: Grant Cardone: Here’s How To Become Rich If You’re Earning an Average Salary
Read More: 6 Genius Things All Wealthy People Do With Their Money

Today, Cuban’s net worth is estimated at $6.2 billion, according to Forbes. While Cuban was able to successfully make and save his first million dollars, and later flip it into a billion, it all started with a dream. In fact, before he was a billionaire, Mark Cuban was a garbage bag salesman. Here’s how it helped make him rich.

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Cuban’s First Business: Garbage Bag Subscription Company

Cuban grew up in a middle-class household in Pittsburgh. In an interview with GQ Magazine, Cuban recalls asking his dad for a new pair of sneakers during his dad’s poker game. A friend of Cuban’s father at the poker table said Cuban could sell his boxes of garbage bags. If Cuban was able to sell these garbage bags in the neighborhood, he could keep the money and use it to buy new sneakers.

Cuban’s father’s buddy sold the boxes of garbage bags to Mark for $3. Cuban later sold the garbage bags for $6 and used his own script to do so. He told customers every time they needed garbage bags, all they had to do was call him and he would bring the bags right to their house.

“That was my first business,” Cuban said. “The world’s first, probably only, garbage bag door-to-door subscription company.”

Find Out: 6 Ways to Tell If You’re Financially Smarter Than the Average American

Cuban’s Driving Motivation? Time

Cuban told GQ that when he entered high school he realized he wanted to learn as much as he could about business. At age 16, he took night classes at the University of Pittsburgh. By age 17, he dropped out of high school and went to college full-time.

The driving motivation for Cuban wasn’t money or the need to make millions. Instead, Cuban said he always thought in terms of time. He wanted to control his own destiny and control his own time.

Cuban started a company called MicroSolutions. The business quickly grew and Cuban sold it for $6 million. Cuban said $1 million went to employees, $2 million went to a partner and $2 million went to him.

The one splurge Cuban made with his money was buying a lifetime pass on American Airlines. He traveled around the world and partied with friends. The rest of the time, Cuban said he lived like a student and saved his money.

“What [money] bought me was freedom,” Cuban said. “I’d made a ton of money in the stock market. I was worth 20-plus million dollars. Life was good.”

From Millions to Billions

In 1995, Cuban’s college friend Todd Wagner talked to him about the emergence of the internet and if it could be used to listen to Indiana basketball. The two set up a website called AudioNet which quickly turned into Broadcast.com once video emerged. The two started what was known as the very first streaming company.

The company went public on July 18, 1998. Cuban told GQ his guess was the stock would open at $33. It opened at $62.75. Suddenly, Cuban was worth more than $300 million. If the stock price tripled, he would be a billionaire.

Yahoo made an offer for the business and the company was sold to Yahoo for stock. The stock price tripled. Cuban was a billionaire.

However, Cuban said he told Wagner because the stock market was so highly-priced there was a good chance it could crash.

“I put together what they call a collar,” Cuban said. “I sold some of the upside to that Yahoo stock that they gave me, and I protected myself by buying puts on the downside.”

Three months later, the Internet stock market cratered.

“It was called one of the top ten Wall Street trades of all time,” said Cuban, adding the experience taught him a lesson. “When you just chase dollars, it never works out well.”

Cuban emphasized the importance of protecting wealth and not getting greedy to be set for the rest of his life.

How Cuban Lives Now

Cuban shared in the GQ interview three of his biggest purchases as a billionaire. These included the purchase of a Gulfstream G5 for $40 million, $285 million for the Dallas Mavericks and $12.5 million for his house where he raised his three children and still resides.

In a January 2023 interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Cuban said when he realized he was worth a billion dollars the only thing he really wanted was to go out and buy an airplane.

“The point my dad always made to me was you can never really get your time back. Today is the youngest you’ll ever be and you gotta live like it. Buying an airplane so I can recapture time was my one guilty pleasure,” Cuban said.

Speaking with GQ, Cuban emphasized the importance of protecting wealth and not getting greedy to be set for the rest of his life. That’s how you go from being a garbage bag salesman to becoming one of the richest people in the world.

Laura Beck contributed to the reporting for this article.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: How Mark Cuban’s First Job as a Garbage Bag Salesman Helped Make Him Rich