It may come as a surprise, but there are quite a few, well known, multi-billion dollar companies that had humble beginnings. Built from the ground up out of their owner’s garage, these 8 companies started from basically nothing and made it big.
Google started off as an idea to have a better optimized search engine by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1996. In September of 1998, Google Inc. was incorporated and their first “office” was set up in a friend’s garage in Menlo Park, CA in September, 1998. Less than a year later, Google moved to a bigger office space due to rapid growth.
In 2004, Google’s market value was estimated at $23 billion. Not bad at all for a company that just 6 years prior was being run out of a friend’s garage.
Started in 1994 by Jeff Bezos as an online bookstore, Amazon had its humble beginnings in Jeff’s own garage. In the first 2 months, Amazon’s sales were up to $20,000 every week. Amazon quickly expanded its store to include other items such as electronics, clothes and toys, which helped Amazon score its first profit of $5 million USD in 2001 on the sales of more than $1 billion USD.
Steve Wozniak may have made the Apple I PC in 1976 single-handedly, but it was when he partnered up with Steve Jobs that the idea of selling his computer came to be. Working out of Jobs’ room, and then his garage, Wozniak and Jobs started selling Apple computers for $666 USD.
Despite continuing success, Wozniak left Apple to pursue other interests and Apple continued to grow into the multi-billion dollar giant that it is today thanks to their innovative technologies and products such as the iPad, iPod and Mac computers.
Founded in a garage by William Hewlett and Dave Packard, HP started out with an initial investment of $538 in 1939. HP’s first successful project was a precision audio oscillator (the HP200A), which they sold for $54. Known as the leading PC manufacturer today, HP’s past was filled with a variety of electronic products, many of which were highly successful and led the company to the $112.3 billion revenue it earned in 2013.
That’s right; Disney was also started in a garage. Walt and Roy Disney’s humble beginnings started off in a studio they made in their uncle’s garage in 1923. A couple years and a few studio locations later, Walt Disney created the Mickey Mouse character and the Disney Company took off.
Now Disney is the highest-grossing media conglomerate in the world, netting about $45 billion in 2013.
In 1901, William Harley designed an engine for a bicycle frame and for the next 2 years, Harley and his friend, Arthur Davidson, worked on their first motor-bicycle using their friend’s garage. Although the first motor bike didn’t perform as well as they hoped, Harley and Davidson kept at it and the beginnings of one of the largest and most successful motorcycle companies was on its way.
With a dedicated fan base, highly modifiable and sought-after motorcycles, along with popular merchandise sales, Harley-Davidson remains the top motorcycle company in the world.
James Dyson didn’t like the way his Hoover vacuum would lose power due to the bag filling up with dust, so he set out to improve the vacuum cleaner design by creating the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner. His first prototype was actually made out of cardboard and his first success was after thousands of failed prototypes. Of course his work wasn’t quite done yet.
Dyson had a lot of trouble getting companies to accept the idea of a “bagless” vacuum cleaner, but a Japanese company called “Apex” gave him a shot and the popularity of Dyson’s vacuum cleaners spread across the world. Now Dyson is a billion dollar company and the leader in vacuum technology.
Harold “Matt” Matson and Elliot and Ruth Handler started the Mattel Company in 1945 as a picture frame company. Elliot developed a side business of making doll house furniture from the build-up of scrap material left over from making picture frames. When they realized the doll house furniture was outselling the picture frames, Mattel shifted their focus to creating toys.
With products such as Barbie and Hot Wheels, Mattel quickly became a world leader in toy sales and was named one of the top companies to work for in 2013 by Fortune Magazine.