In today’s tough economy, it’s hard to make a living — let alone start your own business. The competition is fierce, and it could take many years to turn a profit or simply break even. Small businesses and family-run shops in every neighborhood depend on loyal customers, and as a result the local economy benefits. Many mom-and-pop shops are overrun by larger, nationwide competitors, but what happens when a small business hits the ground running and becomes a worldwide success story?
Small Starts That Led To Huge Companies
These businesses went through all the ups and downs to create products you use every day. Now that they’re household names, their small beginnings might come as a surprise. Click through to find out more about how …
The Most Magical Place On Earth Was Created In A Garage
Whether you are visiting one of the world class theme parks or watching one of the many animated classics, it is impossible to avoid Disney products. Founded in 1923, The Walt Disney Company is one of the largest multi-media companies in the universe – its revenue surpassed $52 billion dollars in the year 2015.
Mickey Mouse wasn’t born in a mansion with a silver spoon in his mouth, though. The company launched in the garage of Walt Disney’s uncle Robert Disney in Los Angeles, California. The one-car garage is where parts of the original Alice in Wonderland were filmed, giving new meaning to working out of your garage.
America’s Most Rebellious Ride Got Geared Up In A Backyard
Nothing says epic like driving a motorcycle down a desolate road into the sunset. Harley-Davidson is the top brand, and it has become a name associated with the coolest of riders. The company’s start wasn’t as epic, though.
It all started in 1901 when 21-year-old William S. Harley set out to create a bicycle run by a small engine. The first motorcycle became a reality after two years of collaboration between William S. Harley and his childhood friend Arthur Davidson in a wooden shed in Davidson’s backyard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. History was born in that 10 by 15 foot shed. Daredevils and rebels everywhere are forever grateful.
Society’s Ambiance Was Set Aflame In One Man’s Garage
Candles are calming and can brighten any room or mood. Whenever you are looking to fill your nose with the most lavish and satisfying scents your first stop is the local Yankee Candle, and it is crucial to leave with a variety of seasonal favorites.
The Yankee Candle Company is the MVP of candle sales, but it wasn’t always the top dog. The company was started by 16-year-old Michael Kittredge in his garage in Massachusetts. His choice of material? Melted crayons, and it all started as a birthday gift for his mother. His neighbors showed interest in the homemade scented candles, and the Yankee Candle Company was born.
The Beginning Of Racing Cars Was A Slow Start
The race car industry is booming in the United States. NASCAR is one of America’s favorite pastimes, but it wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for a determined young man in 1948. LOTUS is one of the world’s largest race car manufacturers, but it wasn’t always a huge company.
Twenty-year-old Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman began building the first Lotus race car in stables behind the Railway Hotel in London using a 1930s power drill. He actually built the first model Lotus Mark I at that very location, a pretty impressive accomplishment for one young man.
One Of The Biggest Computer Companies Had A Slow Start
It’s difficult to accomplish anything without a computer. From shopping online to surfing the web, computer devices bring us closer to the entire world. Hewlett-Packard, one of the world’s largest technology companies, began in Dave Packard’s garage in 1939.
Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard began the company with a small investment of $538, and this small beginning in Palo Alto, California is now known as the birthplace of Silicon Valley. All it takes is a few hundred dollars, a garage, some ingenuity and inspiration to transform the world completely. HP is now a household name, and rightfully so.
The Online Marketplace Was Completely Transformed In A Garage
You can buy literally anything online. Online shopping can even be addicting, but it wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for a man creating an online bookstore that would morph into one of the largest online commerce companies in the world.
A man by the name of Jeff Bezos created Amazon.com as an online bookstore initially in 1994. It all started in his garage in Bellevue, Washington. He sold his first book in July of 1995, but it became something much more. Amazon has transformed into the largest online retailer in the entire world, all from a man’s garage.
This Company Shined A Light On The World, But It’s Beginnings Were Dim
Maglite is the standard flashlight for police forces, but the company’s roots are much more humble. An immigrant named Tony Maglica moved to the United States from Croatia in 1950 in search of the American dream. He settled in Los Angeles, taking any odd jobs that would make him some money.
In the year 1955, he made a down-payment of $125 on a lathe, and shortly after he started working in a garage on precision parts. This led to the release of his first flashlight in 1979. Maglica is the poster child for perseverance and homegrown success, and he proves that anything is possible once you set your mind to it.
This Toy Company Was All Child’s Play In The Beginning
Mattel is a household name when it comes to children’s toys, but fans of this booming business may find it surprising that the company began selling picture frames. Mattel was created by Harold “Matt” Matson and Elliot Handler in a garage in Southern California in 1945.
The picture frame company decided to make the most out of extra material by creating dollhouses out of the surplus of frames. These side-project toys began selling better than the picture frames, so Matson and Handler decided to shift their focus to toys. Mattel is now the largest and most profitable toy company in the entire world.
This Technology Giant Didn’t Always Stand Tall
Microsoft is pretty much the first name you think of when it comes to computer software. This monumental brand was started in a garage in Albuquerque, New Mexico by friends Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975. The first Microsoft operating system was licensed for a measly $80,000.
A few years later they developed their most prized possession, the Windows operating system. The Windows operating system is now the most popular software on the planet. Over 80% of computers across the globe use this software, making Microsoft a legend in its own right. Gates and Allen never imagined they would create something so global out of a garage.
Nothing Compares To The Popular Fruit That Changed The World
Apple is a technology game changer. The cell phone, computer, and music player markets are saturated by this tech giant, and it all began when 21-year-old Steve Jobs and 26-year-old Steve Wozniak sold 50 Apple I computers for $500 apiece at a local store.
These 50 computers were built by hand by Jobs and his team in an impressive 30-day span from a garage in Cupertino, California. The company Apple needs no introduction today, and Steve Jobs is widely known as one of the greatest public speakers that ever lived. It all began with an idea out of a Californian garage.
This Tech Company Can Tell You Anything, Including Its Humble History
Google is the go-to search engine, and I can almost guarantee you have a Google tab open as you read this! The tech giant didn’t emerge from a huge laboratory or office space as many would imagine.
Google was created in 1998 from the garage of Susan Wojcicki’s garage in California, by Stanford Graduate students Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The duo found it hard to maintain the site and manage their studies, and they attempted to sell it to Excite for a million dollars. The company probably regrets rejecting this offer, since Google is the most visited site in the entire world.
This Health Store Giant Wasn’t Always A Success Story
Whole Foods Market is widely known as a leader in health-conscious food products, but it wasn’t always a huge hit. Its beginnings were due to 25-year-old John Mackey and 21-year-old Renee Lawson Hardy, who borrowed money to open a natural food store in Austin, Texas in 1978.
The couple was evicted from their apartment a year later, and they were forced to live in the store and shower in the Hobart dishwasher. Two years later they merged with another natural food store to create the first Whole Foods Market in 1980. Whole Foods is now a Fortune 500 company, but it all started with a couple’s dream.
This Fashion Brand Began With An Immigrant’s Vision
Nordstrom is a store widely known for its fashion, but its creation wasn’t as glamorous. Sixteen-year-old John W. Nordstrom moved to the United States from Sweden in 1887, with only five dollars in his pocket.
He lived a life of hard labor until age 26, and then he went mining for gold and was able to make an impressive $13,000 from his efforts. He opened the first Nordstrom shoe store in Seattle, Washington in 1901, and it has since grown to unbelievable retail proportions. It is a multi-billion dollar company now, all because a young immigrant wouldn’t give up.
This Computer Company Started Out Of A College Dorm Room
Dell is one of most widely-known computer companies, but it wasn’t always a large corporation with a mountain of success. The company began as PCs Limited, and it was created by Michael Dell in his University of Texas dorm room in 1984.
He dropped out of college to focus on his business full-time, and by 1988 his company was worth $80 million… a smart decision on this student’s part. Dell is now a household name, thanks to a determined college student who had an idea. A million dollar idea from a college dropout is nothing less than legendary.
This Chewing Gum Company Had To Start From Scratch
Wrigley Gum is any person’s go-to for minty freshness or a variety of other flavors. This company’s history is not just filled with chewing gum facts, in fact, the company initially produced soap. Twenty-nine-year-old William Wrigley Jr. relocated to Chicago from Philadelphia with only $32 to spend.
He began selling soap, and then the company switched to baking power. The company finally settled on selling chewing gum, with his first product Juicy Fruit launched in 1893. Wrigley is now one of the best-selling chewing gum companies in the entire world. Wrigley’s ingenuity and spirit of business helped him to see success.
This Coffee Giant Was Given Life Through A Loan
It’s difficult to find a street corner without a Starbucks in sight. The company’s started wasn’t as clear, and it all started when three men in the academic field decided to invest in an idea in 1971.
An English teacher by the name of Jerry Baldwin, a history professor named Zev Siegl, and a writer by the name of Gordon Bowker decided to each invest $1,350 of their earnings into the first Starbucks shop of Seattle, Washington. The first store was named Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice, and the three men had to borrow another $5,000 to keep the business going. Starbucks has since prospered across the nation with great success.
This Bidding eCommerce Website Took Off Within The Creator’s Home
If you are looking for a product on the Internet and you want it cheap, everyone knows to turn to eBay. The company was first called AuctionWeb, and it was created in the home of founder Pierre Omidyar in Silicon Valley, California in 1995.
By mid-1996 Omidyar had made over $10,000 through the eBay website, and he hired his first employee that same year. Omidyar left his day job as a computer programmer to invest all his time into this fast-growing commerce website. His decision paid off, and eBay is now a Fortune 500 company. All it takes is an idea in the living room of your home.
This Company Had The Guts To Make It In The Beer Industry
Beer is a drink many enjoy during celebrations, parties, and holidays. One of the most popular beers is Coors Light, and the story behind the Molson Coors company is more than inspiring.
The company was founded by a 16-year-old German immigrant named Adolph Coors, who was forced to work in a brewery to support his siblings. Upon moving to the United States at the age of 21 in 1868, and with an initial investment of $2,000 in 1872 his brewing company has seen monumental success. Coors now has over 6.2 billion dollars in revenue, and it couldn’t have been done without an immigrant’s persistence.
Fast-Food Wouldn’t Be The Same Without This Iconic Brand
Taco Bell is a major player in the fast-food industry, known for its variety of Mexican-ish choices and late-night menu options. This fast-food giant didn’t start with its stake in Mexican-American cuisine.
A man by the name of Glen Bell began a hot dog stand in San Bernardino, California in the year 1946. Bell began selling tacos out of the side window of the stand for 19 cents each, and this proved to be a hit. Bell began focusing just on selling tacos, and in 1962 he created Taco Bell. His alternative menu proved to be his winning ticket to fast-food fame.
A Jewelry Empire Started With Simple Stationary
Tiffany & Company is a jewelry company known for its elegance and class. This glamorous company did not always focus on intricate rings, bracelets, and necklaces, and its beginnings in 1837 were focused on stationary.
The “Tiffany, Young and Ellis” stationary shop was founded in 1837 in New York City by Charles Lewis Tiffany. His first day of profits equaled $4.98, but Tiffany switched his focus to jewelry when he realized that’s what his customers really enjoyed. Tiffany has made its presence known in the jewelry world, but the company does still sell stationary. It just goes to show this corporation really knows how to keep its history alive.