The inspiring rags-to-riches career of 'Shark Tank' judge and internet-security guru Robert Herjavec

The Herjavec Group CEO Robert HerjavecMichael Kovac/Getty Images

Robert Herjavec is best known as one of the five investors on ABC's "Shark Tank." But he has quite a backstory.

Not only is he a millionaire thanks to some successful companies he has founded, he also maintains a fun social life with truly interesting hobbies.

Here are all the trials and tribulations that made him the brilliant and successful shark he is today.

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Robert Herjavec was born on September 14, 1962, in Zbjeg, Croatia. When he was 8, he fled the communist regime with his family to live in Canada, Business News Daily reports. At the time he spoke no English.

Robert Herjavec was born on September 14, 1962, in Zbjeg, Croatia. When he was 8, he fled the communist regime with his family to live in Canada, Business News Daily reports. At the time he spoke no English.

 

According to Herjavec, his family left Croatia with one suitcase and $20 in hand. They lived for 18 months in a friend's basement while they began rebuilding their new life in North America.

According to Herjavec, his family left Croatia with one suitcase and $20 in hand. They lived for 18 months in a friend's basement while they began rebuilding their new life in North America.

 

Herjavec's first jobs were as a newspaper deliveryman and a waiter. These early experiences in customer service taught him the ins and outs of being a successful businessman.

Herjavec's first jobs were as a newspaper deliveryman and a waiter. These early experiences in customer service taught him the ins and outs of being a successful businessman.

 

Herjavec graduated from the University of Toronto in 1984 with a bachelor's in English literature.

Herjavec graduated from the University of Toronto in 1984 with a bachelor's in English literature.

Before entering into entrepreneurship, however, he dabbled in other careers. They included retail, television, and even a stint as a collection agent.

Before entering into entrepreneurship, however, he dabbled in other careers. They included retail, television, and even a stint as a collection agent.

After a bit, he got a job at the company Logiquest. His first role there was in sales, but he rose all the way up to become general manager. In 1990, he was fired from the company.

After a bit, he got a job at the company Logiquest. His first role there was in sales, but he rose all the way up to become general manager. In 1990, he was fired from the company.

In 1990 he launched his own internet security company, BRAK Systems, in his basement. According to Herjavec, he never thought he'd enter the world of entrepreneurship. His reason for founding BRAK: He needed to pay his mortgage somehow.

In 1990 he launched his own internet security company, BRAK Systems, in his basement. According to Herjavec, he never thought he'd enter the world of entrepreneurship. His reason for founding BRAK: He needed to pay his mortgage somehow.

The same year he found BRAK Systems he married Diane Plese. They have three children together — two daughters and a son.

The same year he found BRAK Systems he married Diane Plese. They have three children together — two daughters and a son.

After 10 years, BRAK Systems became Canada's largest internet security company.

After 10 years, BRAK Systems became Canada's largest internet security company.

Source: EY.com

Herjavec began accumulating his wealth. He and Plese ended up buying a 50,000-square-foot mansion in Toronto.

Herjavec began accumulating his wealth. He and Plese ended up buying a 50,000-square-foot mansion in Toronto.

BRAK Systems sold to AT&T for $30.2 million in cash in 2000, The Toronto Star reports.

BRAK Systems sold to AT&T for $30.2 million in cash in 2000, The Toronto Star reports.

After the sale, Herjavec began working for AT&T and then took a job at the company RAMP Networks. He served as VP of sales at RAMP, helping the company sell to Nokia for $225 million. After this acquisition, Herjavec decided to retire for a few years to be with his three children.

After the sale, Herjavec began working for AT&T and then took a job at the company RAMP Networks. He served as VP of sales at RAMP, helping the company sell to Nokia for $225 million. After this acquisition, Herjavec decided to retire for a few years to be with his three children.

After three years, Herjavec got the entrepreneur bug again. So in 2003 he founded the internet security company The Herjavec Group.

After three years, Herjavec got the entrepreneur bug again. So in 2003 he founded the internet security company The Herjavec Group.

The Herjavec Group has become the fastest growing Canadian security company, earning tens of millions of dollars in revenue every year, according to The Branham Group.

The Herjavec Group has become the fastest growing Canadian security company, earning tens of millions of dollars in revenue every year, according to The Branham Group.

Even when running a business, Herjavec always had passions outside the office. For example, he loves to race cars. The Ferrari is his car of choice.

Even when running a business, Herjavec always had passions outside the office. For example, he loves to race cars. The Ferrari is his car of choice.

 

He has been known to compete in the Ferrari Challenge race.

He has been known to compete in the Ferrari Challenge race.

He even won second place once.

He even won second place once.

 

He's also a frequent guest on television shows. In Canada, he appeared on six seasons of the reality show "Dragons' Den," whose format is similar to Shark Tank's.

He's also a frequent guest on television shows. In Canada, he appeared on six seasons of the reality show "Dragons' Den," whose format is similar to Shark Tank's.

But his highest-profile television appearance is on the American reality show "Shark Tank."

But his highest-profile television appearance is on the American reality show "Shark Tank."

Since 2009 he's sat next to Kevin O'Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Lori Greiner, and Mark Cuban as desperate entrepreneurs vie for a venture-capital investment.

Since 2009 he's sat next to Kevin O'Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Lori Greiner, and Mark Cuban as desperate entrepreneurs vie for a venture-capital investment.

He has also appeared on "Dancing with the Stars."

He has also appeared on "Dancing with the Stars."

 

Last year Herjavec split with his wife. He told People magazine that the ordeal put him in a deep depression. To get through it, he worked in a homeless shelter in Seattle.

Last year Herjavec split with his wife. He told People magazine that the ordeal put him in a deep depression. To get through it, he worked in a homeless shelter in Seattle.

But he got through this spell. According to US Magazine, he may have dated his "Dancing with the Stars" partner, Kym Johnson.

But he got through this spell. According to US Magazine, he may have dated his "Dancing with the Stars" partner, Kym Johnson.

 

Whether he's dancing, investing, or driving, he's giving it his all and is always ready for the next adventure!

Whether he's dancing, investing, or driving, he's giving it his all and is always ready for the next adventure!

An earlier version of this article was published last year.

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