When we think of big companies around the world, we often imagine huge office spaces and rich founders behind them. Only when we take a deeper dive into the history do we realize that these companies weren’t always so big or that their founders weren’t always so rich. They too started somewhere and more often than others, they resorted to building their new enterprise in their garages. The entrepreneurs listed in this “garage-to-riches” list did not start with millions of dollars in their bank accounts. What separated them from the rest is their desire to succeed and to build something big.
The company that is worth billions today was in fact created in 1994 as an online bookstore by Jeff Bezos in his garage in Washington. The shopping website was designed to sell books to 48 different countries, but it wasn’t until July 1995 that he sold his first book. Since then, he has built Amazon into the largest online shopping store in the world.
Yes, the world’s most famous and beloved search engine was actually started in a garage. In September of 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin rented a garage from a friend, Susan Wojcicki, and worked for months to develop what would be known as Google. Today, Google is the most commonly used search engine in the world.
One of the most popular companies in the world was in fact started in a California garage by three young men – Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne. They developed the first Apple computer in 1976 in the garage of Steve Jobs’ parents’ house and today, it is the biggest technology company in the world.
Microsoft is the world leader in producing software, operating systems, games and gaming consoles. The company, worth over $1 trillion, was once created in a small Albuquerque garage by Bill Gates and his friend Paul Allen. After a few years of hard work, the two created the world’s first Windows operating system on November 20, 1985. Today, more than 80% of computers worldwide run on Windows operating system.
Disney’s first film studio was Walt Disney’s uncle’s garage in Los Angeles back in 1923. Walt Disney and his brother Roy started filming Alice Comedies, part of Alice’s Wonderland, but faced a lot of hardship. Eventually, they were able to find success and investors, turning the small startup into a big company with a current net worth of $130 billion.
6. Hewlett-Packard (HP)
In 1939, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, founded HP in Packard’s garage with a budget of $538. The duo got their biggest break when Walt Disney purchased eight audio oscillators (HP200A), to improve its sound system for the movie Fantasia. Today, the powerful and active company develops computers, laptops, and other computer-centric accessories with advanced technologies.
7. Harley Davidson
The world’s first Harley was built in a small wooden shed with the words Harley-Davidson Motor Company scribbled on a sign above the door. 21-year-old William Harley laid out a blueprint that would add a motor to a bicycle and one year later, Harley and Arthur Davidson built their first bike!
In 1945, before Mattel became the American toy manufacturing company, Harold “Matt” Matson and Ruth and Elliot Handler founded Mattel to sell picture frames inside a Southern California garage. Elliot started making dollhouse furniture out of leftover wood, which turned out to be a huge success, pushing her to focus solely on manufacturing toys. In 1959, Ruth invented the Barbie doll, named after her daughter, Barbara.
Michael Dell is another famous entrepreneur who started his own business in his garage. In 1984, Michael Dell was designing customized computers for people while attending college. A year later, he dropped out in order to expand his business. Within a year, his business venture turned profitable and today, the company is worth $70 billion.
Before becoming the world’s leading supplier of athletic gear, Nike was called Blue Ribbon Sports. In the beginning, Blue Ribbon Sports operated exclusively out of the trunk of Phil Knight’s car. That’s right, Nike started in the trunk of a car. Two years later, they launched their own line of footwear, bearing a newly designed “swoosh”. In 1978, the company was officially renamed to Nike.