Meet the Empire Builders | NBC Chicago

Blake Mycoskie, TOMS

After doing everything from owning a billboard company to competing in The Amazing Race, Blake Mycoskie combined his entrepreneurial instincts with his passion for philanthropy by founding TOMS, a shoe company that donates half its product to impoverished children.

Rory McIlroy, World's #1 Golfer

Rory McIlroy made a splash on the international golf scene by winning the U.S. Open at 22. By 2014, he'd joined greats Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as only the third golfer in history to win three majors by the age of 25. Add lucrative contracts and two PGA titles, and you're looking at the face of the game for years to come.

Jed Walentas, Two Trees Management Co.

Wonder why Brooklyn has surpassed Manhattan as New York City's most desirable borough? Look no further than real estate developer Jed Walentas. Whether he's transforming DUMBO from gritty industrial district into a vibrant hub of creativity, opening the boutique Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, or redeveloping the Domino Sugar Refinery, Walentas is constantly rethinking NYC's commercial and residential landscape.

Evan Spiegel, Snapchat

While most college students are struggling to balance classes and a social life, Evan Spiegel founded Snapchat in 2011 while still enrolled at Stanford. By allowing users to share photos that expire within 10 seconds or less, the app quickly caught on with the smartphone generation. Today, Snapchat has over 100 million monthly users and is valued between $10-$20 billion.

David Chang, Momofuku

Following forays in finance and teaching, David Chang opened Momofuku Noodle Bar in NYC, a restaurant that only served ramen and pork buns. But his inventive blend of Korean-American cuisine (not to mention a complete disregard for the rules) became a hit, and now--two Michelin stars, one best-selling cookbook and an international restaurant empire later--Chang is at the top of the culinary vanguard.

Dao-Yi Chow & Maxwell Osborne, Public School

Upstart design team and native New Yorkers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne launched their buzzy fashion label Public School in 2008 and it didn't take long for the accolades to roll in. Winners of multiple CFDA honors, including the prestigious Vogue Fashion Fund Award, the duo stay true to their roots, working with local tailors and garment workers for their texture-rich men's and women's collections.

Tony Hsieh, Zappos

Never mind the advertising network he sold to Microsoft for a reported $265 million, Internet entrepreneur Tony Hsieh is best known for helping launch Internet shoe and clothing store, which quickly grew into one of the world's largest ecommerce ventures. Widely considered an entrepreneurial savant, the 41-year old CEO is now one of the biggest executives on Twitter and has lead the effort in revitalizing downtown Las Vegas.

Jason Blum, Blumhouse Productions

In an era where Hollywood is constantly criticized for declining profits and a lack of originality, producer Jason Blum has bucked that trend by introducing the micro-budget model. In 2007 he produced Paranormal Activity, a film that cost $15,000 to make and went on to gross nearly $200 million, which lead to a string of low-budget horror movie hits. But don't label Blum a one-trick pony; his 2014 film Whiplash was nominated for Best Picture at the 87th Academy Awards.