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Success Stories

The COKE Story


Coke was made by Dr. Pemberton by mixing a bunch of ingredients (sugar, water, extract of coca leaf, kola nut and caffeine) as a medicine - “brain tonic and cure for all nervous afflictions.” This was the original Coca–Cola. Not finding many buyers for the product, Pemberton sold the recipe to Asa Candler for $2300 in 1905.


Candler removed the coca leaves (as it was a drug) and revamped the recipe.


The revamped Coke recipe is the best kept secret of the century, still guarded in the vaults of the Trust Company of Georgia.


To the new recipe, soda water was added for the fizz, and they bottled in curvy bottles that we can identify with even today.


In 1916, Candler sold the company for $25 million to an Atlanta banker, Ernest Woodruff in order to avoid paying higher taxes as per the latest Congress regime.


Coke soon became public under Woodruffs in 1919 at $40 million paid up capital. It survived the Great Depression, and even though people had little money to spend, they kept buying Cokes. It turned out to be recession proof and made eight times money when everyone around was predicting the end of the world.


It survived another calamity World War II and when people around the world saw GIs drinking coke, they became the most effective unpaid sponsor in the history of commercial advertising. 


Coke is still identified as an American way of living.


How Wrigleys got Started?

Wrigley chewing gum started as a freebie with baking powder. The chewing gum became so popular that gradually the company dropped making baking powder and started manufacturing and selling gums. Started in 1893, By 1910 Wrigleys was America’s favourite brand.



Levis Strauss was an immigrant from Bavaria, Germany who made pants out of tent canvas and sold them to prospectors who came during the Gold rush in California in 1849. While most prospectors went empty handed, Strauss found goldmine in his blue jeans and took out a patent on the denim version in 1873.

The company went public in 1971 but the company bought back all its shares by 1985 and is private again.


Ben and Jerry

After trying hands-on jobs like driving taxis, mopping floors, flipping hamburgers, running carnival games on an individual level, when Ben & Jerry crossed paths, they decided to start a restaurant as they had nothing else to do. They spent $ 5 on an ice cream course. With $6000 as savings and $2000 as borrowed money, they started ‘The Scoop shop’ in 1978 at a gas station.


The Rich and Creamy ice-cream went instantly popular with the people and they couldn’t get enough of it. The company had to expand to keep up and went straight to the public. In 1984, it became public and is one of the most interesting companies on record as the bosses came to work in tee shirts and Bib overalls and never wore suits!



Bill Gates, born in 1955, was captivated with computers as a child. He spent much time in the computer lab with his friend Paul Allen. While experimenting with primitive Hardware and software, Gates and Allen invented DOS. They were the pioneers of Software. Scientists and engineers in fancy research labs couldn’t accomplish what these young hackers in blue jeans accomplished by themselves.

While in respective high schools, the two friends got bored and dropped out to invent a new computer language called BASIC


MITS, a small computer company Allen was working with had hired Allen to create a version of BASIC for a computer chip by Intel. So BASIC was entailed into a lawsuit as to who had the rights for it: MITS, Gates or Allen. The courts ruled in favour of inventors, as they’d developed BASIC before they got to MITS.


After winning the lawsuit, they put all their energy into Microsoft, their company.


In 1980, Gates impressed the personal computer giant, IBM and under contract with IBM created MS DOS, the most popular operating system till date!


According to Lynch, there are two kinds of Heroes. Usually the person who got the company started and the person or persons who kept it going. These are the invisible hands of the 1990’s.


  • Since 1982, companies of all kinds have dedicated themselves to becoming more efficient overall. On Wall Street this is known as restructuring, rightsizing downsizing, or getting leaner and meaner. Whatever you call it, it means reducing costs and boosting productivity not just to survive recession but to become more profitable and more competitive as a matter of course.
  • Much of this prosperity has to do with the change in the way companies do business.
  • The companies can be classified into three kinds: companies that have kept growing for decades (Walgreen, McDonald’s for instance); companies that had lost their way before the hero arrived to turn them around; and companies that were doing OK but then got a second wind and accomplished amazing things, given that they were getting old and people thought their best years were behind them.
  • The importance of Heroes cannot be undermined by corporate offices. The nation's prosperity depends on all companies getting big and big companies getting more competitive for an optimum growth in jobs. 

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Etee Bajaj

This document is curated by Etee Bajaj. A BBA (HNRS) Graduate from St. Xaviers College, she has also completed her M.Sc.(Finance) and CFA from ICFAI University, Hyderabad. She takes keen interest in stock markets and believes in Value Investing and Fundamental research and considers the storyline of a company a crucial factor in investment. Reading autobiographies of renowned people is her hobby.