Sometimes people will start a business with the intent of growing it into a multi-million-dollar company. Other times, people will start a business on the side to help themselves get rid of debt, or to supplement their income for a more comfortable lifestyle. In some cases, those who planned to have a nationally recognized brand never achieved their goals, while those who just wanted to supplement their income ended up making it big.
What’s the difference between a business that achieves wild success and one that never takes off? There are a few different factors, but one of the biggest is the idea behind the company. People will spend endless amounts of time reading eBooks on improving their business, but because their product or service doesn’t solve a problem, it may never make it as big as they hope. Innovative businesses aren’t necessarily new or never-heard-of ideas; they offer a solution to a problem.
One example of a product with a solution is eChecks. While paper checks are fine, the hassle of having to physically fill it out and then deliver or mail it has caused many people to turn to alternative payment methods. eChecks, though, take away the inconvenience by letting you fill out the check electronically and then email it to the recipient.
You might be surprised to learn that some of the biggest companies started at home and not all of them were founded with the intent of becoming a nationally recognized brand. Here are five innovative businesses that solved a problem that consumers faced and have grown into the companies they are today:
Groupon was co-founded by Andrew Mason who, at the time, was a music major who was working on his graduate degree in public policy. In 2007, he launched a web platform called The Point which used social media to rally people around a certain goal or cause. At one point, a group of people decided that their goal was to save money, and eventually, the company shifted its focus to group buying and founded Groupon that offered its very first deal of two pizzas for the price of one at a local Chicago restaurant. After just a year and a half, the company grew and was valued at over $1 billion.
Kevin Plank—a former fullback at the University of Maryland—became frustrated with the heavy, unbreathable clothing he wore under his jersey. Getting fed up, he created clothing he could wear under his uniform that used moisture-wicking fabric. He found that it stayed dry and worked so well that after he graduated in 1996, he began manufacturing it out of his grandmother’s basement and drove up and down the East Coast selling it from the trunk of his car. He later branded it Under Armour, and since then, it has become an internationally recognized and loved brand.
Mothers always want what’s best for their children and often look for ways to provide their babies and kids with stimulating educational experiences. In 1996, stay-at-home mom Julie Aigner-Clark came up with the idea for the popular Baby Einstein videos, and she and her husband invested their savings to produce the first publication—a VHS tape featuring toys and other visuals with classical music playing in the background. In just two years, the company grew to $1 million in revenue, and as it continued to grow, it was eventually sold to The Walt Disney Company.
In 2003, Jon Oringer decided to create his online marketplace with photos that people could download for professional or personal use. He used his camera and amateur photography skills to take over 100,000 photos which he then narrowed down to 30,000 and uploaded to the site, selling a subscription for unlimited downloads for only $49 a month. He named his photo marketplace Shutterstock, and the demand quickly exceeded what he could supply so he hired on contributors who have helped make the company what it is today. Shutterstock now offers videos, vectors, and even music for various uses.
Pinterest was founded in 2009 by Ben Silbermann who originally went to school to become a doctor like both of his parents and sisters. While in school, he realized he was more interested in business and entrepreneurship, so he changed his course of direction and entered into the business space. He eventually moved to California where he worked at Google but became frustrated that he was unable to build products. He left his job at Google, but right about that time the economy tanked, and he was left in a tight spot.
Eventually, he and his friend started a catalog that was on the phone, but they still ran into complications. After a while, they pivoted to Pinterest and began developing it into the platform we know and love today.
Not all big-name businesses were started by well-known and respected entrepreneurs. Like the five companies mentioned above, some of the biggest and best brands were started at home by someone nobody knew. As they grew, though, their companies solved problems and changed the lives of their consumers. Whether you want to start a business to make it big or want to supplement your income, starting a business from home could help you do exactly that.
What is your favorite business that was started in someone’s home?
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