The world’s largest retailer was started by Jeff Bezos in 1994. Amazon was initially started as an online bookstore. Bezos had the idea after hearing about the rise in internet use and after learning that mail order catalogs were not required to collect sales taxes in states where they lack a physical presence. Bezos and a few employees ran the company from his garage after quitting his job as Vice President of a successful Wall Street Investment Firm.
They then expanded operations into a two-bedroom house and eventually developed a test site. Amazon.com went public in 1997. In 2016, Amazon is now worth an estimated $300 Billion.
Sarah Blakely took her $5,000 savings to start up Spanx. During an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Blakely told Winfrey that she got the idea for Spanx after hearing Oprah mention that she cut off the feet of pantyhose in order to wear them with sandals. It took her a year to create the first prototype that she tried out on friends and family, which was unheard of at the time. She was running the company out of her apartment and was still a fax machine salesperson at the time.
Since Spanx is a private company and does not release financial information, we do not know the annual revenue of the company. However, we do know that Blakely owns the entirety of the brand. Blakely is now reportedly worth $1.1 billion .
In the beginning Minecraft was developed by Swedish programmer Markus “Notch” Persson. It was later taken over by Mojang. It is second only to Tetris is being the best selling computer game. It also currently holds the title for most downloaded game.
Persson started working on Minecraft while working a full-time job. Once the game began to gain popularity, he quit his job to work on Minecraft. In 2015, he sold his company for $2.5 billion.
Originally nicknamed “BackRub”, the PageRank technology that defined Google was created by Sergey Brin and Larry Page in 1996. Brin and Page founded Google while they were getting their PHDs at Stanford. Their goal was simple, they wanted to create a place where you could find anything. But instead of using the number of times a search term appeared on a page as a primary method like most search engines of the day, Brin and Page focused on better system that analyzed the relationships between websites.
Working on the Google project from their dorm room, they were reluctant to become entrepreneurs because they didn’t want to shelve their PHDs and rush into the hype of the “dot-com” craze. But after Google began to receive about 10,000 searches a day, they decided to take it seriously. Google was initially based in the garage of a friend in Menlo Park, California.
The company went public in 2004. As of 2016, Google averages 100 billion monthly searches.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple in 1976. The original name was Apple Computers Inc, and its primary goal was to develop computers. The company grew under Jobs’s lead. The company was originally operated out of Job’s parents’ garage. Apple is now the most valuable company in the world.
6. Under Armour
A 23 year old Kevin Plank set out to create a solution to sweat soaked shirt that he had to suffer from every time he played football. So he went down to his basement and created Under Armor. Plank was a fullback at the University of Maryland, and after graduation, he developed his first prototype of the shirt.
He gave the shirts to his Maryland teammates and friends who had gone on to play in the NFL. Originally he sold them from the trunk of his car. Within a year, he had enough of a following to open his own warehouse.
A big break for the company came in 1999 when Warner Brother’s contacted Under Amour to outfit the feature films Any Given Sunday and The Replacements. The company’s revenues for 2018 is approximately $5.2 billion.
Founder Craig Newmark started Craigslist in 1995 as an email distribution list to friends. Initially Newmark posted notices of social events in the San Francisco area. However, Newmark was surprised when people started to use the distribution list to post other items such as jobs listing.
Craigslist incorporated as a private for-profit company in 1999 and Newmark left his full time job as a programmer to run Craigslist full time. Craigslist is still a private company that does not disclose financial information. It is assumed that Craigslist is worth well over $1 Billion. In 2012 Peter Thiel said “Craigslist would be worth something like $5 billion if it were run more like a company than a commune”.
William “Bill” Redington Hewlett and David “Dave” Packard started up Hewlett-Packard in a one car garage in Palo Alto, California in 1939. They originally spent $538 dollars to rent the space. There were times in their product creating that they even used the family oven to finish test products. There first financially successful product was a precision audio oscillator.
Even with tough competition from companies like Dell and Apple, HP reported a fiscal 2015 net revenue of $103.4 billion.
Microsoft was created in a garage in Albuquerque by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975 . After dropping out of college, the two focused on programming language software. The garage they worked from was only big enough to fit two people.
Microsoft is now a multinational technology company with an annual revenue averaging 93 billion in 2015. Microsoft’s operating system is used by 80% of computers worldwide.
When Walt Disney was 16, he dropped out of school to join the Army but was rejected for being underage. The Walt Disney Company was founded on October 16, 1923, by Walt Disney and Roy O. Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio.
Walt’s firsts film studio was his uncle’s garage. Walt rigged up a cartoon stand in his Uncle Robert’s garage, using dry-goods boxes and spare lumber. These days, Disney has multiple studio locations and reports a revenue of $53 billion in 2015.