Majority of the big businesses you see today, with branches worldwide, began as mere startups with little capital and small market cover. In fact, a sizable number of these businesses were started at a time when there were no funding schemes like crowd funding, Shark Tank, Angel Investors and other financial platforms to borrow money from.
So the creators had to make certain strategic moves to transform the startups into the huge business empires that they are today. If you taught your business idea is so small that it cannot grow into a national or global brand, wait till you read about the inspiring stories of some of the huge successful businesses today that started out from almost nothing. Here are 5 startups with humble beginnings and surprisingly huge results that will inspire you:
Starbucks is no doubt a status symbol today. Everyone wants to order Starbucks coffee so that they can take a photo and post it on facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter. But most of us know little or completely have no idea how this brand started. Starbucks was actually founded in 1971 by three people-writer Gordon Bowker, History teacher Zev Siegel and English teacher Jerry Baldwin- who were former students of the University of Francisco. They opened their very first store in Seattle called Starbucks Coffee, Tea & Spice with their own investment capital of $1,350. The store mainly dealt in selling dark roast coffee beans and teaching customers how to grind and use the beans in brewing coffee at home.
It was years later, when the three founders were struggling to keep the business afloat, that Howard Schultz- a former employee who would later on become Starbuck’s CEO-offered to help. This witty guy introduced them to the idea of selling freshly brewed coffee, tea and espresso drinks. The founders were a bit hesitant at first but later accepted this business model. Schultz later bought the company, transforming it into a mega chain business.
In 1992, over two decades after its formation, Starbucks went public and featured as one of the most successful IPOs that year. Since then, it has morphed into a solid global brand and as of 2016; Starbucks had braches in more than 24,000 locations and a total of 238,000 employees.
2. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)
Colonel Harland Sanders first began selling chicken from his roadside restaurant in Utah during the Great Depression. Before venturing into fried chicken business, he was an insurance salesman and at some point, a gas station employee. Sanders was 62 years old when he moved towards making profit from his chicken recipe. Despite being that old, he didn’t let go of his dream of making his business a global brand. At some point ‘Colonel Sanders’, his brand icon, became a pop culture icon. And that was his breakthrough.
KFC is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky and boasts of being the second largest chain restaurant in world .As of 2015, KFC had presence in 123 countries and more than 20,000 locations.
At first, the co-founders of Apple-Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak– were nothing but tech hobbyists trying to experiment with one thing and another. In their early years of working together, they managed to build ‘blue boxes’, which basically allowed people to make long distance calls for free. Inspired by the build-it-yourself approach used in 1974 to make the first microcomputer, the duo-together with Ronald Wayne- developed Apple I personal computer with a typewriter-like keyboard and ability to connect with TV. For the first batch, the team built 50 units of Apple I in a small garage, which they sold $500 a piece.
A journey that started in a garage in 1976 slowly transformed to be one of the most valuable and reputable brands in the world decades later. In the 2016 financial year, Apple recorded and annual revenue of $215.639 billion, which is no doubt staggering.
Founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, Amazon was nothing more than an online bookstore ran from a garage. Bezos actually took advantage of the booming ‘dot com’ at the time and launched the online store. Barely a year after its launch, the store was selling books in America and 45 other countries, generating about $20,000 per week in sales. Over a period of ten years, Amazon had introduced a couple of other products onto its platform including clothing, CDs and electronic items. By 2004, Amazon’s annual revenue sat at a whopping $6.9 billion. The revue further grew to $8.5 billion the following year and has since been moving up steadily. In the 2017 financial year, the net revenue of this giant e-commerce store was at $178 billion up from 135.99 billion the previous year.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google, started out as a bunch of computer geeks in college but with a dream. They started working on BackRub-which later became Google- from a garage. After developing the whole concept on Google, they officially launched it in 1998. They did enjoy funding from numerous investors at that time in including from Jeff Bezos. In 1999, operations started getting a little out of hand and so they decided to sell Google to the then successful Excite search engine. Larry and Sergey wanted to sell it at $1 million but an Excite venture capitalist brought the price down to $750,000. Even so, the CEO of Excite still rejected Google. The two didn’t give up on their idea, they kept pushing. And Google is one of the largest tech companies in the world right now!
These are just a few of examples of ventures that started out small and even with lots challenges along the way, still managed to stand the test of time to become the biggest businesses the world has ever known. This goes to prove that, as humble as your beginning might be, so long as you have an idea that can transform people’s lives, you need to continue pursuing it. The end result is all that matters.