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Robert Herjavec: From Poverty to Millionaire

Robert Herjavec: From Poverty to Millionaire
Photo by Bob D'Amico | ABC, Edited by Grey Knight

Robert Herjavec is a Canadian businessman, author, and television personality. He is best known for appearing on the popular reality shows Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den, but his success story started long before his television career. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Robert Herjavec’s life, how he went from poverty to millionaire, and the steps he took to achieve his success.

Early Life

Robert Herjavec was born in Croatia in 1962, which was still part of Yugoslavia at that time. His family lived in poverty under communism, and his father was incarcerated 22 times for criticizing the regime. In 1970, the family moved to Canada with only $20 to their name and one suitcase. They settled in Toronto and lived in the basement of a family friend’s house for 18 months. Herjavec’s father found factory work in Mississauga, Ontario, earning around $76 a week.

Herjavec’s Education and Early Career

Herjavec worked in many low-paid jobs in the 1980s to help his family. He earned a degree in English literature and political science in 1984. After graduating, he found work as an assistant producer and director in several film productions. He worked as a producer on the film that covered the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in Yugoslavia.

The IT Industry

In between working on film projects, Herjavec tried to get a job selling IBM mainframe emulation boards at a firm called Logiquest. The information technology industry had caught his attention because a friend had told him that he had tried and failed to get a job at a tech company. This job would have paid him $30,000 a year in 1995, which is equivalent to around $79,431 today. Despite being underqualified for the role, he got the job by offering to work for the company without pay for half a year. He landed the position, but now that he had to work for free, he showed great resilience by waiting tables. This allowed him to keep body and soul together during the volunteer phase of his employment.


After establishing himself at Logiquest and ascending through the ranks, Herjavec became general manager of the company. But, unfortunately, he was eventually fired in 1990. At this point, he simply needed to pay the mortgage, so he teamed up with Warren Avis, who founded the car rental company of the same name, to start a business. The termination of his employment actually forced him into this position. It was more of a necessity and wasn’t something that he had been yearning for. Nevertheless, when he cashed out of the joint venture, his stake netted him $60,000. So, whether he liked it or not, he was good at being an entrepreneur.

Brac Systems

Herjavec next leaned on his knowledge and experience from working at Logiquest to found Brac Systems, an internet security software integrator. He started this venture in the basement of his house and sold it for $32 million to AT&T Canada in March 2000.

The Herjavec Group

He then moved on to become the sales VP at Ramp Network, which Nokia later bought for $225 million. Herjavec set up his eponymous company, The Herjavec Group, a managed service provider, security solutions integrator, and reseller in 2003 with three employees and $400,000 in sales that year. It now ranks among the quickest growing technology ventures and is the biggest IT security provider in Canada. It has grown to 150 employees and brings in annual revenue of $200 million.


Robert Herjavec’s story is one of perseverance, hard work, and determination. Despite facing numerous obstacles, including poverty, unemployment, and being fired from his job, he refused to give up. Instead, he used these experiences as fuel to drive him towards success. Through his own ingenuity and dedication, he was able to build several successful companies, including Canada’s largest IT security provider, the Herjavec Group. Today, Herjavec is not only a multimillionaire entrepreneur but also a TV star, inspiring others with his story of triumph over adversity. His journey is a testament to the fact that with hard work, resilience, and a never-give-up attitude, anyone can achieve their dreams.

Additional Resources

To keep learning and advancing your career, we highly recommend these additional resources:

Tommy Hilfiger: From Humble Beginnings to a Fashion Icon

Richard Branson: The Story of the Virgin Group’s Rise to Success

Carlos Slim: The Mexican Billionaire who Controls Over 200 Companies

Peter Thiel: The Mastermind Behind PayPal and Palantir Technologies

Peter Thiel and the 16 Unicorns: The Legacy of Thiel Fellowship

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