Four businesses which defied the critics and won

Motivation and fun

15 February 2018

Many business success stories start the same way: with someone being told they couldn't do it.

But thanks to smart ideas, dedication and a little luck, they proved their doubters wrong.

However, this can make launching a business a nerve-wracking experience. When the people around you are afraid that you won't be able to make it, you need something to keep up your courage.

That's why we compiled these business success stories of entrepreneurs who face huge odds and still came out on top. Take a look and get inspired.

Manufacturers didn't want Dyson

James Dyson came up with his idea for dual cyclone vacuum cleaners in 1978. It took him five years (and over five thousand prototypes) to get his invention ready, but when he showed it to British manufacturers none of them wanted it. After a disastrous licensing deal with American company Amway, Dyson borrowed $900,000 and started to manufacture the product himself. Today he still owns 100% of the company, and has a net worth of £7.8 billion.

Nobody thought Apple's iPhone would succeed

When Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007, it was met with plenty of criticism from industry insiders. TechCrunch predicted it would fail, and writer John Dvorak advised that Apple should "pull the plug" on the product. Microsoft's CEO at the time, Steve Ballmer, said "there is no chance the iPhone is going to get any significant market share" and Jim Balsillie, the co-CEO of the company behind BlackBerry, dismissed it as "one more entrant into an already very busy space." Today, this one product provides more than two-thirds of the revenue of the world's largest company.

Netflix took on Blockbuster – and won

In 2000, Blockbuster turned down several offers to buy newcomer Netflix for $50 million. The company was starting to disrupt the at-home entertainment marketplace by doing away with physical stores and refusing to charge late fees – an important part of Blockbuster's revenue model. But at the time it was relying on old-fashioned methods: sending DVDs in the post. Ten years later, the high street video rental chain went bankrupt, while Netflix brought in revenue of $2.16 billion with its streaming video service and Oscar-nominated original content.

Under Armour took over a saturated market

The sportswear space was dominated by huge brands in the 90s, but that didn't stop Kevin Plank from launching his label Under Armour. He came up with the idea of microfibre undershirts while playing American football at university, and in 1996 took them to market. By 1999, professional athletes under contract with other labels were requesting Under Armour. Sony Vaccaro of Nike said in 2010: "If you asked me who could be equal to Nike in the future, the only company I can think about is Under Armour."

You don't have to beat the odds on your own. With the help of AXA business insurance, you can get a level of business protection that’s right for you. So you can focus on executing your vision and building a legacy to be proud of.

All businesses start with a story. Protect yours.

Businesses start with a bold step and a restless determination to succeed. So if you’ve got a business story to share, tell us about it using #AXABusinessStories.