business

The Companies That Started Out Of A Garage And Still Made It Big

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  • "mighty Oaks From Tiny Acorns Grow" - The Businesses That Started Out From The Garage
  • You Don't Need Much To Start - Look At What These Companies Achieved From Extremely Humble Beginnings
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They All Started Somewhere

We often see the end result of many high profile businesses and think to ourselves that level of success is unattainable. This can cause you to give up before you even start.

But Google didn't start out in high rise buildings with free meals and games rooms for their employees.

In fact some of biggest companies in the world started out from their parent's garage.

It doesn't what matter what you start with or the size of your competitors. A good idea can change the world.
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Disney's First Headquarters - Mind The Lawnmower

Today, Disney is a household name across the globe and is responsible for delivering some of the most magical moments our childhoods.

However, the $200 billion company was not always the gold standard in children's movies and at one point their survival as a company came into doubt.
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Founded in Hollywood, 1923 by 'up and coming' illustrator Walt Disney, the company started out in humble beginnings with a handful of employees fulfilling small time contracts in an animation industry that was just starting out.

The company's direction took a drastic change after the release of the first full length feature animation, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. The film became an overnight success and was the start of the franchises' long and illustrious history.

Jeff Bezos Started Amazon In His Garage

Not many people know that Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, gave up a very promising career in a Wall Street hedge fund to start an online bookstore.

The move was even questioned by his family but the young entrepreneur and financial whizz kid had seen something that others had not - the potential of the internet.

He founded Amazon in 1994 and in order to keep his costs low the whole company was operating out of his garage in Bellevue, Washington.
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Not much is left of Bezos' time in the suburban dwelling apart from the oversized mailboxes where the entrepreneur used to receive big marketing catalogs which would give him and insight to his competitors' marketing.

Since then the 3-bedroom house and garage has been renovated and has been on the market for $1.5million, given its historical significance as the birthplace of Amazon.com.
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Bill Gates Founded Microsoft In A Garage In Albuquerque

If you were studying at Harvard, one of the world's most prestigious University, and someone asked you to come work in their new business which is operating out of a garage what would you say?

For Bill Gates the answer was yes.

Gates was so passionate about software that he joined his childhood friend, Paul Allen, in the early 1970s and moved to Arizona to start writing code from his garage.
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To many outsiders (and probably their parents) the business move might have seemed an unnecessary risk given how well the pair were doing academically. However within a few years, Microsoft was born and they were both multi-millionaires in their early twenties.

Looking back at his time in Albuquerque Gates reportedly said, "There's no better symbol for the entrepreneur than the humble garage".
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A Friend Let Larry Page And Sergey Brin Start Google In Her Garage

When Susan Wojcicki bought a new home in Silicon Valley in the mid 90s, she realised that she would need some help paying the mortgage as living in the area was more expensive than she thought it was going to be.

She decided to rent out her garage to Sergey Brin and Larry Page as they were just starting out in their business journey and they too needed somewhere cheap to rent.
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The company that the pair were working on was Google and they didn't stay in the Garage for long.

Wojcicki was working for another technology startup at the time but was offered a job with her tenants as she became Google's 16th employee and is now CEO of YouTube.

Since being founded in 1998 Google has seen a meteoric rise as one of the biggest technology firms in the world...something Brin and Page never thought would be possible as they were tempted to sell the company for $1million in the early 2000s.

Harley Davidson Started Out In A Wooden Shed

Possibly the world's most famous motorcycle company, Harley Davidson was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1903, by William S Harley.

Harley had the idea of attaching a small engine to a bicycle, which he worked on as a hobby in his shed with his close childhood friend, Arthur Davidson.

A few years later and the small motorised bicycle was gone and the modern day motorcycle was born.
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Within 3 years the company had their first factory at 3700 West Juneau Avenue in Milwaukee, where the head office is still to this day.

The $5 billion company is known for delivery high quality products with a brand that is recognised all over the world.

Not bad for a product that started out in a shed.
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David Packard And Bill Hewlett Founded Hewlett Packard In A Dusty Old Shed

Palo Alto is the Californian city that has become synonymous with the technology sector thanks to companies like Facebook, Google and Paypal starting out there.

However, few know that Bill Hewlett and David Packard were some of the first on the scene in the technology sector when they founded Hewlett-Packard back in 1938 from David's garage with a startup investment of just $538.
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The company is now one of the largest technology businesses in the world but it still tries to encapsulate the work ethic of its founders with "The rules of the garage".

These are 11 rules which employees are to keep in mind when going about their daily work. They include, "Believe you can change the world", "Radical ideas are not bad ideas" and "The customer defines a job well done".

Perhaps the most powerful one is "Believe that together we can do anything".

HP bought the house and garage back in 1987 for $1.7million to pay homage to its founders.
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Nike Started Selling Shoes Out Of A Trunk

Founded in 1964, Nike was originally called Blue Ribbon Sports and sold shoes out of the trunk of Phil Knight's Plymouth.

A keen but unremarkable runner, Knight developed a fascination with running shoes during his time at Oregon University when he joined the track and field team.

He wanted to test out his thesis that if he improved the design of the running shoe, it would offer a massive advantage to competitors on the track.
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Bill Bowerman was Knight's coach at the time and helped the student test out his theory by testing his products on other college students.

Bowerman co-founded the company which struggled to make any sales in its first couple of years but has subsequently gone on to become the biggest sports brand in the world.

Possibly The Most Famous Garage Startup - Apple

Founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Apple's backstory is perhaps one of the most famous in the world of business.

The pair, who were in their early twenties at the time, sold their cars and personal possessions in order to fund their ambitious project from Job's parents' garage in Los Altos, California, of building a computer from scratch.

After making their first sale of 50 units for $500 (around $3000 today) each, the company never looked back.
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Years later, after a rather acrimonious split, Jobs famously returned to rejuvenate the struggling company during the 2000s as Microsoft had almost pushed it out of the marketplace.

Jobs managed to turn things around by capturing his innovative spirit that led him to create the company 30 years earlier.

The company is now worth over $2 trillion.
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Kevin Plank Founded Under Armour In His Grandma's Basement

At the age of 24, Kevin Plank took the plunge into the business world when he founded sports apparel company, Under Armour.

The innovative product was designed to eliminate the sweat soaked t-shirt scenario that football players would face on a daily basis due to the intense nature of their practice and games.

Plank spent years perfecting the product and it was during this time he was operating out of his Grandma's basement in Georgetown, Washington D.C.
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The company was founded in 1996 and just 1 year later, Plank had secured his first $100,000 in orders which led him to set up a factory in Ohio.

The idea was so good and innovative that sporting giants like Nike quickly came out with their own version of the quick-dry apparel but by this time, Under Armour had secured a dominant position in the market as the orders came flooding in.

Plank still keeps the memory of working in his Grandma's basement at the forefront of his work even when the company is valued at over $8 billion.

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Michael Dell Changed How We Interact With Computers

Founded in 1984 by Texas college student, Michael Dell, the company was originally called "PC's Limited" (he obviously didn't want to waste too much time thinking about a company name).

After becoming increasingly frustrated about how inaccessible modern technology was becoming and that you had to build your personal computer's by installing one piece of hardware at a time, Dell sought to change the landscape by selling custom built computer's tailored to the end user's specific needs.
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The company was headquartered in the teenagers dorm room but after a few months the ambitious entrepreneur dropped out of college to pursue his business interests full-time.

The companies growth was phenomenal as within his first year of operating it grossed more than $73 million in sales.

The youngster had come up with an innovative idea and there was a huge demand for it.

Today the business is worth over $60 billion and employs over 160,000 people.

Mattel Started Out In A Garage In Southern California

Toy manufacturer Mattel started its operations in California at the end of the Second World War in 1945.

However, the company didn't start out as the toy company that it would later become known for after producing the iconic Barbie doll.

Founders Harold Matson and Ruth Handler started out creating picture frames out of Handler's garage in Southern California. It was only when they decided not to waste the left-over materials that they started creating doll houses.
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It was reported that Ruth was responsible for bringing the company's first order for the doll houses when she was working for Paramount Pictures and she sold the items to a nearby furniture store.

When the doll houses started selling more than the picture frames the entrepreneurs quit the picture frame business to focus solely on children's toys.

Fun fact - The famous Barbie Doll is named after Ruth's daughter Barbara.

The company is now worth over $10 billion.
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Tony Maglica Made It The Hard Way

Born in Croatia, 1930 Tony Maglica witnessed poverty and suffering like no other today after his country was devastated from the Second World War.

Like so many in Europe at the time he knew he had to get away in order to make a better life for himself. He settled in Los Angeles in the early 50s and after saving $125 from working odds and ends, he acquired his first lathe and subsequently founded Maglite in 1955.
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Speaking very little english at the time, the determined Maglica worked for years out his garage perfecting his inventions and growing the business from his workshop.

By 1979 the company released its first flashlight which became the industry standard as they supplied all police officers all across the US.
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Gymshark Started Out In Ben Francis' Parents Back Room

In 2012 Ben Francis was studying at college during the day and working as a delivery boy at his local Pizza Hut at night before he started one of the fastest growing businesses in the UK, clothing giant Gymshark.

Starting out with little money, but with a fascination in computers, he built a drop-shipping website whilst living with his parents, as he learnt the ins and outs of the marketing industry.
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Life was hectic for the entrepreneur teenager who was trying to balance his studies together with his part time job whilst also making the original clothing himself with a knitting machine he bought online.

Something had to give.

He decided to go full time with Gymshark and started operating out of his parents backroom and garage.

When the orders exploded he had to move out and within 8 years the company was valued at over $1billion.

Zuckerberg Invented Facebook In His Dorm Room Then Moved To A Garage

Mark Zuckerberg was the Harvard college student who invented the biggest social media platform in the world, Facebook...and he started it from his dorm room.

In the beginning the tech genius teamed up with his roommates to develop and expand the increasingly popular social media website.

By the Summer of 2004 Zuckerberg had moved to a small house in Palo Alto (where many other tech startups go to 'incubate') before signing a $500,000 investment deal with a Venture Capital firm.
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By starting out at such a young age, Zuckerberg had to learn about business as he went along as there was no time to reflect given the rapid growth of the company.

He has since tried to maintain the 'startup' atmosphere that served them so well whilst operating out of a garage in Palo Alto as he advises his employees to "Move Fast and Break Things" in order to progress.
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Spanx Founder Sara Blakely Was "every Department" At The Beginning

After failing to to become a lawyer, Sara Blakeley worked selling fax machines for 7 years during the 90s before she realised that this isn't how she wanted to spend her life.

During this time as a saleswoman Blakeley had developed all the necessary skills to sell a product that she didn't care about and realised that she would be unstoppable if she started a business selling something that she was passionate about.

Enter Spanx - an undergarment design for women that the 27-year-old founded in 1998.
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Blakeley felt there weren't enough options for women in undergarment business and started creating and selling her own brand.

Operating out of her apartment she was working 24/7 to get her products out there and she was doing everything from packaging to modelling.

The hard work paid off as the mother of four is now worth over $1billion.
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Yankee Candle Started Out As A Homemade Christmas Present

in 1969 Michael Kittredge was a 16-year-old struggling to think of a Christmas present for his mother...we have all been there.

Rather than doing what most of us do and opt for the box of chocolates, the Massachusetts born Kittredge got creative and melted down all the crayons he had in the house into a candle and presented it in an empty milk carton.

Most mother's would be grateful for anything on Christmas Day, so the teenager thought nothing of it when she appeared to be delighted with his latest innovation.
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However, the youngster took notice when local neighbours started making requests for the candle that he had made as an emergency last-minute present.

After realising that there was a gap in the market for his product, with a little help from his school friends, the young entrepreneur founded the company, Yankee Candle.

The company went gone on to be a huge success with over 300 stores nationwide and was later sold for billions of dollars.

You Don't Need Much To Start

From college dropouts to amateur hobbyists, there is a common thread between all these succesful startups...they had a vision of where they wanted to go.

Everything else they figured out as they went along and didn't let things like startup capital or office space hold them back.

If you believe in your product do what is necessary to get it off the ground.
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