The son of a dry goods store owner, Roger Babson was born in 1875 in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He studied engineering the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
After graduating in 1898, Babson worked for a time as an investment banker, but he contracted tuberculosis in 1901. With dogged determination, he fought the disease, but he had to find a way to work from home. He developed a central clearinghouse for information on investment and business conditions. His Babson's Reports revolutionized the financial services industry and made Babson wealthy. He became an economic forecaster and predicted the 1929 stock market crash as well as the Great Depression that followed.
In 1919, he founded the Babson Institute, which specialized in business education. The school was renamed Babson College in 1969. He once said, "More than knowledge for success, young people need those basic qualities of integrity, industry, common sense, and a willingness to struggle."