“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”- Oscar Wilde
You look at the the biggest corporations and think I surely can’t do something that big – you may as well look at a tree and think I can’t grow something that big. And that is difference in a normal person and a visionary – a visionary sees the potential tree where others will see a mere seed. Humble beginnings prove nothing. Even Christ’s church started on a single rock. The whole living world was born of a single cell. And ideas, ideas can grow anywhere – Just as Lotuses grow in mud; the best and most beautiful of ideas find their first spark in darkness of some remote corner, by souls desperately refusing to go the easy way and are seen by the world only when they have acquired full flame. We hereby bring you the ideas that had to seek shelter in people’s garages. here are the Multi Million Dollar Companies that started in a Garage.
- Google Inc.
Google is perhaps world’s only company whose name has become a verb. It is the World’s most valuable brand and is also most trafficked website. Moreover, its homepage is most valued real estate for any company to advertise on. Yet Google hasn’t given in to the temptation of lending it for advertisement – it is already that rich. The Godfather of all companies had very humble beginnings. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, graduates of Stanford University, who rented a garage from their friend, Susan Wojcicki, in September of 1998. They had a thing for internet and wanted to make it more accessible. Google was born out of their effort to create a program that would search for information and order the results according to their value. They actually tried to sell it to Excite for $1 million – and to think later rejected! These days Google has acquired Youtube and has also branched into several other websites and applications like Gmail, Google+, and Google Drive.
Just for Fun: Google is not without its sense of fun. It gives ‘answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything’ (google the quoted phrase) – as given in Douglas Adam’s famous book ‘Hitchicker’s Guide to the Galaxy’
Garage Address: 232 Santa Margarita Ave, Menlo Park, California
- Apple Inc.
Today, most people think of electronic gadgets instead of fruits when they hear the word ‘Apple’. Its present day address at Apple Campus, 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, California is just too cool but it too had its humble beginning. Yes, Apple too was born in a garage. In 1976, Steve Jobs at 21 years and Steve Wozniak at 26 years founded Apple Computers in the garage of Steve Jobs’ parents’ house in Cupertino, CA.
They started by selling 50 units of Wozniak’s brain-child, Apple I, as a motherboard Computer at USD 500 apiece to a local retailer. Jobs was the one who took the purchase order to one of parts distributors and ordered the parts. “The Steves” built 50 computers with the help of their small team in 30 days. Very soon they were developing the Apple II, world’s first mass produced personal computer. However, the big break came in from Macintosh computers and products. Now, Apple has brought a technological revolution with its various devices, including Mac PC, iPhones, iPods, and iPads.
Just for Fun: Steve Jobs also created two companies besides Apple, one of them is Pixar, the company that revolutionized the animation industry. It was later acquired by Disney.
Garage Address: 2066 Crist Dr, Los Altos, California (in picture Steve Jobs outside his parents’ garage)
About four out of five computers in the world use Windows operating system and so, Microsoft is another name that need no introduction. Now ruling the world of Software industry, Microsoft was once founded in a rather small Albuquerque
Mattel is the company that makes the Barbie dolls – just in case you didn’t know. Now world’s leading manufacturer of toys and board games, Mattel started as a side business in a garage in southern California in 1945, when Harold Matson, and the married couple, Elliot and Ruth Handler, sellers of picture frames, operating from a garage workshop in Southern California In 1945; started using picture frame scrapes to create dollhouses to get the most out of the materials. Seeing the dolls sell better than picture frames, the firm expanded into the toy market, by creating its first musical toys. By 1948, Mattel was incorporated, with headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Today Mattel is world’s highest grossing toy company and its product line includes Barbie, Scrabble Fisher Price product line and Matchbox cars.
Barbie was not born till March 9, 1959 – her official birthday. The idea was born when one day Ruth Handler while watching her daughter Barbara play with paper dolls, noticed that she often enjoyed giving them adult roles. Back then, all children dolls were representation of infant. A business woman, she was quick to realize the potential of unmet demand.
Just for Fun: Barbie has an on-off boyfriend doll- Ken. He was in toy story 3.
Garage Address: Some place in Southern California
Jeff Bezos was spurred into creating Amazon.com at time when there was boom in Internet business back in 1994 by what he will later call ‘regret minimization framework’ – that is described as his efforts to fend fight off his regrets for not participating sooner in the online business. In the beginning, it was from his garage in Bellevue, Washington with an initial investment of USD 40,000. Starting as an online book store in a garage, Amazon.com was able to sell its first book in July 1995 and issued its IPO in 1997. It is now U.S.A.’s largest online retailer having diversified to apparel, video games, DVDs, CDs, video downloads/streaming, MP3 downloads/streaming, software, electronics, furniture and everything from A to Z.
Garage Address: 10704 NE 28th, Bellevue, Washington
About 45 minutes’ drive down the road from Disneyland Park in Anaheim, CA, there’s a house in Los Angeles where “Disney Brother Cartoon Studio” was created and that was the “The First Disney Studio”. It was created by Walt and Roy Disney in 1923 and in a one-car garage out back. They started by creating ‘Alice Comedies’, which were actually a part of the original Alice in Wonderland animation series. After a long series of ups and down, the company finally found its break in… yes, you guessed it, Mickey Mouse. Today, Disney. Inc is the World’s second highest-grossing media conglomerate.
Just for Fun: Mickey Mouse was originally named ‘Mortimed Mouse’, however Walt changed the name because his wife, Lillian changed the name.
Grarge Address: 4651 Kingswell Ave, Los Angeles, California (in picture)
- Hewlett-Packard (HP)
Hewlett-Packard company was founded by two friends, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, in …. where else but Packard’s garage in Palo Alto in 1939 – and with initial capital of only USD 538. They found their big break with an audio oscillator titled HP200A, which they sold to Walt Disney to improve its sound system for the movie Fantasia. Walt Disney bought eight oscillators. Today, the Packard’s garage is famous as the birthplace of not only HP but also the whole culture of Silicon Valley. The company is one of leading manufacturers of computers and related products in the world.
Just for Fun: Hewlett and Packard tossed a coin to decide whether the company they founded would be called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlet, Packard won the toss but did a ‘you first’ for his friend.
Garage Address: 367 Addison Ave, Palo Alto, California (in picture, Mr. Hewlett and Mr. Packard outside Packard’s garage)
- Harley Davidson, Inc.
A 21-year-old William S. Harley drew up a plan to create a small engine to power a bicycle in 1901 – the first ancestor of what shall later be called Motorcycle. Over the next two years, Harley and his childhood friend, Arthur Davidson, will build their motor-bicycle in their friend’s 10 by 15-foot wooden shed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Okay, it wasn’t exactly a garage but that is only because they didn’t have cars – and so it counts. Harley-Davidson was offically founded in 1903 and is now world’s most well-known motorcycle company.
Garage address: Somewhere in northern Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Lotus Cars
Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman had started Lotus Cars at an age of twenty years in 1948 by building a racing car in the stables behind The Railway Hotel in Hornsey, North London. Chapman used a 1930s Austin Seven and he made Lotus Mark I using a drill. Today Lotus Cars is one of the leading racing car manufacturers in the world.
Now here is the Garage address: 472 Hornsey Rd, London N19 4EF, U K
- Maglite Garage
This story is in its own way the most inspirational one in this blog. Forced to move back from his war-torn home of Croatia back to America in 1950 and knowing very little English, Tony Maglica settled in Los Angeles and took jobs wherever he could find them. Having saved USD 125, Tony put a down-payment in 1955 on his first lathe and promised to pay the rest of price in monthly installments. He started working in a garage out of Los Angeles to manufacture precision parts. He incorporated Mag Instrument in 1974 and released their first flashlight in 1979. As of today, Maglite is the standard issue flashlight for all police officers in the US. The one you see in hands of US cops in movies.
Now the Garage address: Somewhere in Los Angeles, California
I hear you saying they are all foreign companies. In India, you have to deal with bureaucracy and there is no demand – and to have a garage is a luxury. I heard you, you might have a point but just for you here is bonus story from our motherland:
Now a billion dollar company, Flipkart started as a mere online book ordering website way back in 2007. The founding duo of Flipkart were not related to each other, Sachin and Binny Bansal had been working in the Amazon company in same team when they decided to start their own online website. Both brought in an initial investment of about two lakh rupees each and were given INR 10,000 monthly allowance from their parents for nearly 18 months which helped them see through the long gestation period. And yes, garages are luxury in India – they started operating from a small rented two bedroom flat in a Bengaluru suburb, Koramangala. which has now grown to three buildings. Company’s first customer order was from Andra Pradesh when someone ordered the book ‘Leaving Microsoft to Change the World’ by John Wood! You saw the message in that title.
As for its humble beginnings, Sachin Bansal recalls, “We used to stand outside Gnagaram Book stores on church street and hand over Flipkart bookmarks to the people coming out of the shop. In order to make sure that our targeting was right, we could give bookmarks to only those people who have made purchases, who were coming out with books in hands.”
Want some more advice: “Don’t start out alone, it helps to have a co-founder when things are not going your way. You have not done your job well, until you find a stranger who is willing to open his/her wallet to give you money for product/services you are offering.”
And, so there you have it. Yes, you might fail – those who look up at stars have a chance of stumbling down, but they are also the only ones who can reach out to them. We shall close with immortal words from Lao Tzu:
“The tree which fills the arms grew from tiniest sprout;
The tower of nine storeys rose from a small heap of earth;
The journey of a thousand miles commenced with a single step.”