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The Motivational Success Story of Karl Benz- The Founder of Mercedes-Benz

Karl Benz
Karl Benz (Picture credit: Wikipedia

Welcome to Youth Motivator. I would like to tell you the very inspirational struggle to success story of Karl Benz, the founder of Mercedes-Benz and how Mercedes-Benz became the world's most valuable premium automobile brand.

This brand has withstood the devastating effects of the two world wars, the reason for this can be found in its slogan- the best or nothing.

Yes, the Mercedes-Benz has focused on producing the best in its industry since its inception, by which this brand has stood the test of time for more than 93 long years.
The products of Mercedes-Benz signify the art of fine German engineering.

Now, Mercedes-Benz is one of the biggest dominating automobile brands in the world and is widely known for its luxury cars.
This article is also the biography of Karl Benz.


About the founder- Karl Benz

Karl Friedrich Michael Vaillant (Karl Benz) was born on 25 November 1844 to Johann Georg Benz and Josephine Vaillant in Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

The life story of Karl Benz inspires us to believe in our dreams and relentlessly follow them to make them a reality.
His father, Johann Georg Benz was a locomotive driver.

When Karl Benz was just two years old, his father passed away due to pneumonia.

Battling severe poverty-

Even as the family experienced severe poverty, Josephine Vaillant strived to get her son educated.
Karl Benz initially chose to study locksmithing but he later followed his father’s footsteps and chose locomotive engineering.

He graduated on 9 July 1864 from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

After the completion of his education, Karl Benz did several jobs in different places, like working as a draftsman, working at an iron construction company and he also worked as a designer in a scales factory.

Karl Benz failed to settle in one single job as he couldn’t find any of these jobs interesting.
He loved riding his bicycle and he dreamed to manufacture horse-less carriages.

Struggling for seven long years-

After spending seven long years to figure his professional life, Karl Benz realised that he is meant to become an entrepreneur and not an employee of some company.

So, he chose the risky but rewarding path of becoming an entrepreneur, unlike many who stick to their jobs, which they really dislike.
Karl Benz started his first company when he was 21 years old.

In the year 1871, Karl Benz and August Ritter started the Iron Foundry and Mechanical Workshop in Mannheim.

But unfortunately, Karl Benz chose the wrong business partner, by which after a year all the assets and machineries of this company were seized.

Luckily, his fiancée Bertha Benz bailed out the loss making company by purchasing the shares of August Ritter with her dowry money.
And later on 20 July 1872 Karl Benz married Bertha Benz.

Exiting from his own company-

New problems surfaced because of the high production costs at their company and as a result the banks at Mannheim demanded them to get incorporated.

So, the Benzes got associated with a photographer by name, Emil Bühler and his brother, who was a cheese merchant.

As the Karl Benz incorporated new owners into his business, he did not have any real control over the company and eventually, his share in that company dropped to five per cent.

The other partners completely ignored him and they used to take the decisions of the company without even consulting him.
This made Karl Benz to leave his company after a year of its inception, in the year 1883.

So, he failed as an employee and as an entrepreneur, even after giving his best.

Turning his passion into profession-

Karl Benz’s passion for the bicycles and making horseless carriages made him to establish a company to produce horseless carriages.

So, he went to the nearby bicycle repair shop and started a new company with the two founders of the shop, Max Rose and Friedrich Wilhelm Eßlinger.

They started a company by name, Benz & Companie Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik (also known as Benz & Cie) in the year 1883.
Initially, they produced industrial machines and static gas engines.

Luckily, this company became very successful.

The world’s first automobile-

Karl Benz later produced the world’s first horseless carriage (automobile).
After toiling hard for two years, the first prototype of this horseless carriage, named Benz Patent-Motorwagen was built.

Karl Benz was very excited about his new invention.
This automobile was finished in the year 1885 and was called, Benz Patent-Motorwagen and Karl Benz was granted patent for this vehicle on 29 January 1886.  

And Karl Benz received the world’s first motor vehicle driver license in the year 1888.
In the year 1885, Karl Benz set up a public demonstration to showcase his new invention to the general public.

But that demonstration did not go well, as his carriage crashed into the wall because it was very difficult to control.

Karl Benz expected that day to be the best day in his life, but his expectation was ruined by this failure.
He was very saddened as his two years of research and development went into drain publicly.

Keeping the faith in self-

Even after failing so many times, his persistence has not withered, so Karl Benz started to work even harder.
He spent his next two years, readying his prototype.

Karl Benz strived to make the thing faultless by continually improving it.
And in the year 1887, he demonstrated his carriage prototype at the Paris Expo.
This time the demonstration was a huge success, thanks to the efforts of Karl Benz.

Soon, by the year 1888 the orders for this vehicle started to flow in.

About Benz Patent-Motorwagen-

Karl Benz is credited with commercially producing and patenting the first modern automobile in the world.
Benz Patent-Motorwagen consisted of three wheels, a steel tube frame and wooden panels.

This car was very primary and did not have a steering wheel, but instead it had tilt steering.
Benz Patent-Motorwagen had no gears and it could reach a top speed of 7 miles per hour.

And to travel uphill, one should push this vehicle from behind, because this car travelled at a snail’s pace uphill and its suspension was also not great.
This vehicle ran by a gasoline powered engine.

The starting struggles-

This invention was not liked by people, as Benz Patent-Motorwagen produced unpleasant noise and smell during its running.

Getting banned-

The mayor of the town initially banned this car from travelling on the main streets and Karl Benz was held responsible for any accidents made by this car.
These restrictions greatly disappointed Karl Benz.

How a road-trip helped the Mercedes-Benz?

Bertha Benz, the wife of Karl Benz played a very important role in the success of Mercedes-Benz.
She financed and marketed the vehicles.
Bertha Benz took the first ever road trip on this automobile to market the car and take it to the public.

Bertha Benz borrowed the car out of the garage without her husband’s knowledge and started the tour.

Bertha Benz and her two sons, aged 13 and 15 drove the car over 130 miles from Mannheim to Flörsheim.
She wanted to prove the practicality and usability of the vehicle.

The completion of the tour was a very noteworthy achievement, as it proved the capabilities of the car in travelling long distances.
This road trip brought the country-wide attention to their car.

The reaction of public on seeing the world’s first car-

As this invention was new, the public had no knowledge of the car.
So, the people grew nervous on seeing the car running on the road without any horses and some even thought that the car was possessed by devil.

Another reason why the public hated the automobiles was that they saw the steam cars exploding and they thought that these petrol cars will explode too.

Solving the real-world problems-

During this trip, Bertha Benz tried to solve the real-world problems which the car faced during the travel.
She took the help of a cobbler to install leather onto the breaks, when her breaks began to fail.

This resulted in the world’s first pair of brake pads.
She cleaned the blocked fuel line with the help of her hat pin.

In detail about the Mercedes-Benz-

By the 1890s, both Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz were independently mass producing the cars.

Mercedes-Benz was founded on 28 June 1926, when two German engineers, namely, Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler merged their companies to form a company by name, Daimler-Benz.
It was later renamed as Mercedes-Benz.

(Find how the World War I merged these companies in the following paragraphs.)

How an eleven year old girl named this company?

The brand name of this company, Mercedes was taken from an eleven year old girl, Mercedes.
Her father, Emil Jellinek was a politician, entrepreneur and a racing enthusiast; he later ordered 36 cars from the Daimler car company.

Emil Jellinek greatly admired the Daimler cars and he eventually joined the board of the Daimler.
And in the year 1901, he requested for a new type of car model and wanted to brand those cars Mercedes, after his daughter, Mercedes.

Winning the races-

Emil Jellinek received those cars in the year 1901 and he won almost all the racing competitions with those Mercedes cars.
As a result, the popularity of the Mercedes cars sky-rocketed.

And the Daimler Company decided to brand all their cars Mercedes and they eventually trademarked the Mercedes brand in the year 1902.

This company built special models for the purpose of motor races and they won many races, like the French Grand Prix of 1908 and 1914.
During those times, their race cars could clock over 112 mph.

How Hitler helped Mercedes-Benz?

The first car produced by the Mercedes-Benz was the Mercedes-Benz 770.
This model was used by Adolf Hitler, who used a bullet-proof windshield on this car.
By 1930s, Mercedes-Benz became the dominant player in Germany.

When Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany in the year 1933, he decided to showcase the German engineering and technology to the world.

So, he provided subsidies to Mercedes-Benz, by which it was able to participate in the international motor sports.
And soon, the Mercedes-Benz cars dominated the motor racing sport events.

For five long years from 1934 to 1939, Mercedes-Benz ruled the world of motor sports.    

Surviving the two world wars-

World War I -

As Germany got defeated in the World War I, it faced huge economic problems and eventually, inflation rates skyrocketed.
All these proceedings heavily burdened the automobile industry.

So, it became very difficult for Mercedes (Daimler) and Benz to individually survive, so they decided to merge in the year 1926.

World War II -

The World War II destructed Germany and its home grown Mercedes-Benz company.

Paying millions of dollars to the laborers-

During the period of World War II, 46,000 laborers were forced to work in the Daimler-Benz factory to help in the war efforts.

The Daimler-Benz later paid approximately 12 million dollars in reparations to the families of these laborers.

Becoming a dominant player-

Mercedes-Benz introduced the world’s most powerful sports car, seven years after the war has ended.          

It developed many newer technologies like direct fuel injection, turbo braking system, etc. and their sports car achieved the maximum speeds of 115 miles per hour.

By 1950s, Mercedes-Benz had completely recovered and became the dominant player in Europe.
And after a period of ten years, it started to produce the best cars in the world which in addition to performing great, had great build and were reliable enough to last for many years.

Moving into the future-

Mercedes-Benz is gearing itself for the future, as it working on the newer technologies like automation.
Mercedes-Benz has built a self-driving autonomous truck, which they call the Future Truck 2025.

Understanding the logo-

The Mercedes-Benz’s three point, star-shaped logo signifies its dominance on land, air and water.
Even a fourth point to signify the dominance over space was planned but this plan was later dropped.     

Follow your star in the sky-

You might wonder what made Karl Benz to relentlessly follow his dreams, even after experiencing so many failures in his life.

The only answer for this is that he followed the dreams which guided him through the countless failures.

His dream (star) guided him through the countless failures in his life (darkness) to realise his dream of producing horse-less carriages (destination).
So, finally his dream of producing horseless carriages became a reality, thanks to his persistence.

And then, Karl Benz built a world-wide brand name for his company.
Mercedes-Benz has come a long way from producing carriages to becoming a global leader in automobile industry by its focusing on innovation, technology and safety.

I hope that you too will find and follow your star to reach your destination.
Do not get demotivated by the darkness in your life, just focus on the stars and eventually you will reach your destination.

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