Lived in his car
Lived in his car
Entrepreneur: David Petite

Living in his car forced David Petite to do some serious soul-searching, though this Native American was no stranger to tough times.

A hardscrabble childhood taught him early self-sufficiency, but his first R&D company failed due to lack of resources, and David lost the fight to keep a roof over his head. He hit "rock-bottom." Making himself a personal commitment to better his life, he met an "angel investor" who saw him as a man with the will to succeed and worthy of financing.

"I learned to see failures as great lessons," he said. Developing communications technology for assisted living facilities and meter manufacturers, David's innovations eventually earned him 50 patents worldwide. A believer in paying it forward, he helps young innovators through his Native American Inventor's Center. "Look in the mirror and say 'I am going to make a difference for the people around me' and you will be rewarded," he said.

By Kitt Walsh, contributing writer @CNNMoney - Last updated December 29 2011: 5:49 PM ET
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