Jimmy Wales from Huntsville, Alabama began his interest in encyclopedias at a very young age. Growing up in a one-room school run by his mother and grandmother is something he considers to have helped him become successful. One thing that he thought was the most important aspect of his upbringing is how it was self-directed. Wales claims that this helped his ability to think in a more creative way.
In college Wales pursued degrees in finance. He would later drop out of college to work at a finance firm. But this wouldn’t last long either. Wales would leave the financial firm and help cofound an online startup called Bornis. This startup would turn out to be unsuccessful, but its failure would be used as motivation.
His dream was to create an online encyclopedia. So in March of 2000, Wales launched Nupedia. Nupedia was an encyclopedia that had open-content and was a peer moderated reference site.
Wales would later bring on a partner named Larry Sanger. Together they co-founded the Wikipedia we know today. Wales has also gone on to create another venture called Wikia. Wikia was created to be a for-profit web-hosting company.