Some of your favorite brands began as startup success stories. It’s not about how much money you have, but the product you pitch. Check out some of the most successful companies and their journeys to becoming the giants they are today.
Starbucks’ humble beginnings began back in 1971 in Seattle, founded by three University of San Francisco alumni, Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker – two of the founders were teachers and one was a writer. If you can imgine, Starbucks didn’t start out slinging Frappuccinos, Cake Pops and brand-heavy beverage vessels, slathered with their signature mermaid. Starbucks started by selling beans and beans only, inspired by coffee roasting legend Alfred Peet.
It wasn’t until years later when a former employee of Starbucks, Howard Schultz bought the company and turned it into the mega brand it is today.
We all know Apple’s story: Jobs, Wozniak and Wayne in a garage club – a club lead by a college dropout. The story has everything a good tale needs, conflict, money, resolution, failure and fear. It is perhaps one of the most inspiring stories as it proves that you don’t need millions of dollars to make your initial product, but instead, fill a desperate need in the market, but perhaps more importantly, a product that consumers have not yet seen.
KFC was one of the first chains to go international. At 62 years old Harland Sanders, or The Colonel, began his journey to monetize his chicken recipe, and at his age he had already had his fair share of career choices from gas station attendant to insurance salesman. He began by selling chicken in Utah at a roadside stop during the Great Depression – a recipe for failure, you would assume, but it was Sanders who brought a much needed fast food break from Hamburgers to consumers, by recognizing and filling a gap.
In 1954, Ray Kroc visited a small restaurant in California that had purchased several multi-mixers, where he found brothers Dick and Mac McDonald and was rather intrigued by their daily operations that consisted serving from a small menu of fast food items (burgers, fries and drinks), which made it possible for the McDonald’s brothers to concentrate on the foundation of fast food today: quality, speed and service.
Kroc eventually pitched his vision of creating McDonald’s restaurants all over the U.S. to the McDonald’s brothers and in 1955, he founded McDonald’s System, Inc. and by 1958, McDonald’s had sold 100 million hamburgers. The reason McDonald’s still does amazingly today, is because of the fundamental rules, original recipes, and most importantly, worldwide standards still practiced internationally.
Google began in January 1996 as a research project at Stanford University by two PhD students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Page and Brin theorized about creating a better search engine system by improving the conventional ranks of current systems, and analyzed the relationships between websites by counting the number of times a search term appeared.
Their technology was called Page Rank – and it determined every site’s relevance by the amount of pages linking back to the original site. Eventually. the two settled on a new name, registered the domain, hired their first employee and the rest is history. In 2011, Google surpassed one billion unique visits for the first time and we all know what’s going on with Google now.