Four multi-billion dollar companies that started in a garage

Starting up

2 February 2018

When you're launching your startup, it can be daunting to look at the tech giants who've come before you. But it's important not to compare your first step with someone else's thousandth: even the biggest businesses had to start somewhere.

Today's spare-room startup could be tomorrow's multi-billion pound organisation – just like these four once were...


Amazon launched in 1994 as an online bookstore, out of Jeff Bezos' garage in the Washington suburb of Bellevue. A bell would ring every time a purchase was made, and the company's handful of employees would gather around to check if they knew the buyer. Bezos had strong plans in place for his company's growth, and within a month they'd sold books to people in 45 countries and all 50 of the US's states.

In 1997, he took the company public. In January 2018, Bezos was officially named the richest person in history with a net worth of more than $105 billion. Meanwhile, JP Morgan believe that the market cap of Amazon itself could be up to $1 trillion.


Apple is currently the most valuable company in the world, and the front-runner in the race to a $1 trillion valuation, a price-tag that would likely have surprised Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak when they launched the company from a California garage in 1976.

The very first Apple I computers were hand-built in a garage in Cupertino by the two college dropouts, along with a small team. The next generation Apple II computers, the first to have a keyboard and a monitor, revolutionised the computer industry with sales jumping from $7.8 million in 1978 to $177 million in 1980 when the company went public.


Another household name with simple beginnings, Google was initially registered at a garage in California's Menlo Park. The company started in 1996, when founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin started a research project into search engines. Instead of counting the number of times a keyword was mentioned on a page, they decided to look at other factors – such as relationships between pages – in order to determine rank.

The domain name was registered in 1997, and the company was incorporated in 1998 after a round of investment. Brin and Page attempted to sell Google to Excite for $1 million in 1999, but the offer was rejected. Today Google is worth around $101.8 billion and, along with Apple and Amazon, is in the race to be the first $1 trillion company.


If you don't have a garage, don't worry – Mark Zuckerberg launched the world's most famous social network (and one of the world's most valuable companies) from his university dorm room. It started as a 'hot or not' ratings app called Face Mash, using photographs he'd sourced from Harvard's student administration files. Later, he turned the idea into a universal version of the university's student directory, which was called Thefacebook.

Now valued at more than $500 billion, Facebook has over two billion monthly active users.

Coming up with your idea is just the first step. With good planning and a clear vision, you could easily join the ranks of these multi-billion dollar companies, and build a company that has a lasting legacy – even if you are starting in a spare bedroom, kitchen table or garage.

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