11 Niche Websites That Started Small And Ended Up Being Worth Huge Amounts
- The Internet Is Providing More Opportunity For Entrepreneurs Than Ever Before
- You Don't Have To Build The Next Facebook In Order To Have A Successful Website
Building A Website Has The Potential To Transform Your Business
Whether you build a social media platform, an eCommerce store or even a simple blog, building a website gives you the ability to reach a worldwide audience.
And you don't have to build the next Amazon or Facebook in order to achieve success online.
Here are 11 examples of websites and online companies that have acquired huge valuations through their online presence...and a number of them did it from scratch.
1TechCrunch.com Was A Blog That Sold For $40million
In 2005, at the age of 35, Michael Arrington, like so many others at the time, started a blog. The difference with his blog and that of everyone else at the time is that 6 years later he sold it for $40million - how did he do it?
He focussed on a subject that meant a great deal to him and was passionate about. This is a key yet often overlooked concept when starting a business and is the one thing Arrington attributes to his success.
In a competitive space like blogging those who made it were the ones that didn't give up. Those who just wanted to monetise their online content quickly always gave up too soon.
2Scott DeLong Sold ViralNova For $100m
Amongst content websites startups Scott DeLong has achieved legendary status as one of the biggest success stories in recent years in content marketing and he did it pretty much by himself.
DeLong had been building websites for a number of years with some success but it wasn't until he decided to shamelessly promote his content with the most "click-baity" headlines and images that his business took off.
Remember those Facebook ads you saw 6 or 7 years ago that would read, "You won't believe what this lottery millionaire couple did next". He was one of the pioneers of those annoying yet "clickworthy" articles we all hated ourselves for clicking on.
3Zulily.com Started In 2009 And Sold For $2.4bn In 2015
Co-Founders Darrell Cavens and Mark Vadon admit to being like an "old married couple". The best friends who met during their time at the startup Blue Nile in the 90s are similar to Apple's famous founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
CEO Cavens is the technical one with a reputation for delivering high quality software systems and Vadon is the "Steve Jobs" type with a focus on the bigger picture of the company.
In 2009, with both me bringing up young families they realised that there was room for another player in the online retailing space with a specific focus on young mothers.
4Paul Chapman Started A Million Dollar Website In 2016
“If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die”. These wise words from investment guru Warren Buffet were what inspired Trevor Chapman as a penniless student to take a risk with his life.
Chapman was working 12 hour days as a door to door salesman when he realised that his efforts were not going to scale and he didn't want to be doing it for the next 40 years of his life.
His solution was to start a drop shipping company and in late 2016 he had built the eCommerce website LDSman.com.
5College Dropout Sean Kelly Started A Million Dollar ECommerce Company At 22
The student turned entrepreneur started the website in May 2016, which has gone on to double in revenue year on year.
Whilst the youngster has achieved tremendous success in such a short space of time his future didn't always look as bright as it does now.
Kelly dropped out of Rutgers University after failing his math class in his freshman year and decided to pursue a career online.
6Aaron Patzer Sold Mint.com For $170 Million In 2 Years
Personal Finance has always been a competitive sector, even back in 2007 when Mint.com was founded it was dominated by the likes of Microsoft and Quicken.
During his 20s Aaron Patzer was working as a software engineer for a number of startups where he saw an opportunity for a personal finance app that was simple to use and fully featured.
He quickly assembled a team to put his idea into reality and whilst his product was superior it was the way that the 27-year-old marketed his new company that resulted in the rapid growth.
7Personal Finance Blogger Makes $1million Per Year
In 2012 Michelle Schroeder-Gardner had just graduated with a Finance MBA. She was broke and had around $38,000 of student debt to her name.
Desperate not to be saddled with debt for the rest of her life, Michelle started blogging about personal finance and what she had learnt during her time as a student.
The Blog, MakingSenseOfCents.com, was started in late 2011 and while it took a little time in acquiring traffic the more that the hard working graduate learnt about different traffic sources and search engine optimisation the more popular her blog became.
8Chewy.com Is The First ECommerce Site That Sold For Over $1billion
Chewy.com is a favourite for pet lovers around the world but for those who don't have any four legged friends at home they may be unaware of the companies extraordinary story of success.
As the brainchild of Ryan Cohen in 2011, Chewy.com was originally started as a response to the poor customer experience that Cohen had when shopping for his poodle.
The college dropout decided that there was an opportunity for a customer focussed online pet shop after reading about Jeff Bezos' 1997 Amazon shareholder letter.
9Million Dollar Sports Blog Started By Mitch Wilson Is Worth Millions
Mitch Wilson is living his dream life in Maui, Hawaii thanks to what started off as a joke email to his circle friends.
The email detailed "Miami Mitch's" picks over the weekend for the college football games they all loved. Mitch picked the winner and the reasons why. How did his friends react?
They loved it. In fact Mitch's friends recommended he start a blog that gave his recommendations on a daily basis.
Buoyed by the enthusiasm, sportschatplace.com was born.
Rather than slapping some Google Adsense ads on the site the entrepreneur realised the power of authenticity and set out to grow his audience organically. It took longer but was more powerful.
10Small Business Bloggers Now Make $7.1million A Year
In 2013 David Waring and Marc Prosser started a blog about their number one passion in life...small businesses.
Rather than creating generic content like most do (ahem) they decided to deliver high quality articles written by experts in their relative fields. The website fitsmallbusiness.com would offer entrepreneurs a unique and detailed look at how others addressed the day to day challenges that all businesses face.
The genius of having high quality long form content is that the time spent on the site was high which led their content to skyrocket up the Google rankings.
Another key to the pairs approach and to make them stand out was the absence of display ads on their site. They wanted their readers to engage in all of their content rather than having them there long enough to click on an ad.
11The Million Dollar Home Page - An Innovative Approach To Advertising
Back in September 2005 Alex Tew was a broke student who, like many of his peers, just wanted to make some cash as quick as possible to fund his lifestyle.
After some brainstorming, which included the "Gum Slinger" (a used gum holder) he decided on building a website with a simple yet effective twist.
The site would be comprised of a "board" which consisted of 1,000,000 pixels. Can you see where this is going?
Tew was offering businesses a chance to purchase pixel space on the board. $1 per pixel and minimum order of $100.
What Are You Waiting For?
The primary takeaway from these articles is to get started now!
In the words of Viral Nova's Scott Delong, "If you want to start a site, just do it. Don't over plan it. Launch today, adapt tomorrow. Your plan will need to evolve anyway".
No one knows how far the internet is going to grow and in 50 years time we may be looking back at this period and regard it as the best time to have started a website and built an online presence.
Don't let that opportunity pass.