The History of EO

It’s been more than 25 years since a group of forward-thinking entrepreneurs created a network of likeminded peers to help each other learn and grow. Follow the evolution of EO below – from its beginnings as YEO and WEO – and discover how we grew into the world’s most influential community of entrepreneurs.

Original YEO and WEO Members:

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Timeline Highlights

1980s – Early Beginnings

Young Entrepreneurs' Organization®

Young Entrepreneurs’ Organization®


  • Verne Harnish and 22 former members of the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs create “their own path” for continued personal and business growth; this organization eventually becomes the Young Entrepreneurs’ Organization (YEO®)
  • YEO® holds its first official event in Nassau, Bahamas, with 57 members in attendance


  • YEO® opens its first office in Washington, D.C., USA, to manage operations
  • Andrew Sherman of Jones Day becomes YEO®’s legal counsel; incorporation papers are filed in the spring of 1988


  • YEO® is officially incorporated in November 1989
  • Birthing of Giants (now known as the Entrepreneurial Masters Program) is created as a continuing education opportunity focused on practical business management

1990s – Global Growth

World Entrepreneurs' Organization - Logo

World Entrepreneurs’ Organization®


  • YEO® expands its reach with eight total chapters, along with joint programs with the USSR and China
  • Continued chapter expansion, especially in Canada, presents the need for a governing body for the organization; a Global Board of Directors is formed
  • Membership begins to expand exponentially as the “no borders” policy is developed to establish one truly international organization
  • The first international Forum training takes place, becoming the largest such session to date


  • YEO® teams up with Ernst & Young for the first “Entrepreneur of the Year” award
  • Several new chapters are launched outside of North America, primarily in Asia and Europe
  • YEO® receives its first grant from the Kauffman Foundation to help foster entrepreneurship worldwide
  • IBM becomes the first official corporate sponsor of YEO®


  • YEO® celebrates its 10th anniversary, while hitting the 1,000-member milestone
  • The World Entrepreneurs’ Organization (WEO®) is created as a graduate program for YEO® members
  • YEO®‘s membership increases by more than 35% to eclipse 2,775 total members
  • European expansion continues with the launch of six new chapters, including EO London and EO Amsterdam
  • The “Strategic Vision Statement” is created to drive the organization to be the “premiere, peer-to-peer global community, network and resource for entrepreneurs”

2000s – Becoming EO


  • The Forum program begins to more closely resemble its current state, with Moderator-training programs and higher-level experience-sharing being offered
  • Pilot Mentorship programs begin, reconfirming the YEO®/WEO® commitment to peer-to-peer learning
  • EO is formally established as an umbrella organization to house YEO® and WEO® under one single brand


  • WEO® chapters begin to solidify their identity with the EO brand
  • The new brand is officially launched at the Global Leadership Conference (GLC), with EO eventually becoming the standard brand of the organization
  • The EO Accelerator program begins, with support from Mercedes-Benz Financial
  • EO introduces Octane, a quarterly magazine designed to educate and inspire its members through member-written stories
  • EO begins to assume control of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) from St. Louis University


  • EO’s first Global Leadership Summit is held in Canada
  • EO Injected launches, with its EO Insignia and EO Quantum Leap programs focused on providing additional resources to tenured and high-revenue members
  • EO24 is held for the first time as a truly global learning initiative, with live-streaming events and knowledge-sharing from 60 chapters in 17 time zones
  • The Global Entrepreneur Indicator is launched, creating a quarterly tracking mechanism for the economic outlook of entrepreneurs worldwide​
I have plenty of friends, but EO provides a group of like-minded, ambitious, open people who are inspiring, helpful and friendly. The format of the EO forum is unparalleled in its ability to get busy, multi-dimensional, successful people to learn, grow and overcome personal obstacles together.
Girish KheraEO Gurgaon

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