From humble beginnings come great things

Do you remember your first business venture? Whether it was washing cars or baking cakes, we all once made that leap into the world of business at one point. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that most of the world’s biggest companies began in a similar way; as just an ambitious vision in someone’s garage or bedroom.


You would be very surprised how many companies actually began this way. Take one extremely famous social networking company who we all know and no doubt use for example. This particular company had its beginnings in the dormitory room of a Harvard student. Another example would be the world’s biggest computer manufacturer, who had it’s beginnings in a two-car garage. At Kalexiko, we love a good success story. Humble beginnings that become great success stories are one thing that really make us tick; hence why we love to nurture clients from their days as small start-ups right through into bigger companies. So, to celebrate humble beginnings we bring to you some of the  success stories that inspire us the most.



Long before the iPad and iPhone, Apple was born in the garage of a young Hewlett-Packard employee, Steve Wozniak. He and his friend and soon to be business partner Steve Jobs began the company on the first April 1976. The pair approached a local electronic shop to see if they would be interested in purchasing a personal computer that had been built by Wozniak. The owner was interested and requested 50 units, and Apple was born. Wozniak and Jobs, who were both penniless high-school dropouts at the time, went to a local computer parts supplier and ordered the parts they needed on credit. Shortly later the Apple II computer was being manufactured. By 1980 the Apple III was released and the company employed several thousand workers. Fast forward thirty years to today and the Apple company is a staple household name with a product lines that dominate almost every area of tech.  The remarkable story of Apple, from its humble beginnings in Wozniak’s garage (pictured above) has become a favourite success story of our times.



I think it is agreeable to say that at some point we have all relied on Amazon at some point. Where would we be without it? It is like an online Aladdin’s cave for shoppers; as well as being the lifeline for those with busy lifestyles needing to make a special birthday purchase…yes we have all been there! Believe it or not, Amazon started out in 1995 as an online bookstore based in a two-car garage in Bellevue. The image you are looking at above is the original Amazon Webpage. Upon its initial launch, Amazon only stocked books. Fast forward to today and the online retailer is the biggest of its kind; stocking everything from guitars to golf balls, there is nothing you cannot find on Amazon. Amazon has also been a pioneer in the eBook phenomenon; with their own Kindle being the most popular of all the eBooks out there and the Kindle Fire being the most popular item purchased from the retailer last year.



The story of Facebook is very well known after it was made into the 2010 film, The Social Network. The social networking giant began as The Facebook, a social networking site created in the dormitory of Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg. The site was created in 2004 as a network exclusively for the Harvard student population.  Within 24 hours, the site had 1200 Harvard student members and after a month over half the undergraduate population had a profile. The Facebook became “Facebook” in August 2005 and spread worldwide with anyone with a legit email address being able to create an account. Facebooktoday has over a billion users and is valued at over $50 billion dollars. The original site’s interface is the one you see above, embellished with Zuckerberg’s face and the original “The Facebook” title. Interestingly, throughout a myriad of re-design tweaks and changes, Facebook have retained their traditional blue and white colour theme.



YouTube is the most popular video search engine today. It has been calculated that viewers watch more than 4 billion hours worth of video each month and 72 hours of video are uploaded every minute. The inception of YouTube occurred in 2005. Three employees of PayPal; Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim created the company in 2005. The video search engine started with its office in a garage as part of an angel-funded enterprise. The domain name was purchased on the 14th February 2005 and the first video ever uploaded shows co-founder Jawed Karim at the San Diego Zoo. Fast forward to today, YouTube is host to channels held by every possible organisation imaginable, a hub of music and cultural content and part of Google’s enterprise as well the start-up point of many of today’s up and coming entertainers. YouTube has seen a number of interface redesigns throughout it’s existence but has maintained its colour theme and basic design of the logo.  The image shown above is one of YouTube’s first designs.



Personally I believe this is one of the most interesting cases of humble beginnings in history. Like many other technology companies, HP began in a garage. Stanford University graduates Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started HP in 1939 with their first workshop, this was based in a humble two car garage in Palo Alto. Their first product was an audio oscillator. The story of HP becomes really interesting upon one of their first customers entering the story; who was none other than Walt Disney. Disney brought eight of the devices for use in testing sound equipment whilst recording Fantasia in 1940. HP entered the computer market in 1966 with the manufacture of the HP 2116A and by the end of the 1980’s HP had a full range of computing equipment; ranging from large scientific machines to Personal Computers. In 2002 HP required Compaq and is now recognised as the biggest manufacturer of PC’s worldwide. The image above shows the garage where Hewlett and Packard first worked from.



eBay began in 1995 under the name of Auction Web. It was created by Pierre Omidyar in the living room of his home in Silicon Valley. The above image is the original Auction Web site interface. In a very similar vein to the first Amazon website, it is hard to believe that the enormous auction site began in such a way. The first ever item to be sold on the site was a broken laser pointer by Omidyar himself, the transaction was completed shortly after he had finished writing the sites code. By June 1996 Auction Web had generated around $10,000 in revenue and by the end of its first year it had over 41,000 registered users. In September 1997, Auction Web changed its name to eBay and continued on a path of phenomenal growth. The company underwent a rebranding in 2012, sacrificing the logo that stayed with the company from its early days in favour of the newer and more vibrant logo, featuring the Univers font. An interesting fact that surrounds the genesis of eBay is that it was started up as a means to obtain difficult to find Pez dispensers for Omidyar’s wife. This was later confirmed as a stunt to generate publicity.



Google; the mammoth company of the internet. This title can be backed up by Google’s huge involvement and domination in nearly all the facets of the internet. Though, the giant corporation began with very humble beginnings in 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were studying for their PHDs as Stanford University California. Google was originally called Backrub- a reference to its use of back links when crawling the web. Backrub was renamed Google in 1997  and the domain was purchased. Google corporation was formed in 1998 and the company has been on a steady expansion since. Google have been successful in almost every area of the internet, including email, their own web browser, Chrome is the most popular web browser, it is the most used search engine today. Google has also extended into other realms of tech, affirming itself as one of the most exciting companies today. It has seen a huge amount of recent publicity with its steady work on Project Glass.



When it was started in March 2006, Twitter was very far away from the social network site of choice for celebrities expressing their daily pondering and the place where you will probably catch news before it is even aired on TV. Twitter began in 2006 on the 21st of March with its creator Jack Dorcey sending the first Tweet; “Just setting up my Twtter”. The public launch of the site occurred on the 15th of July 2006 and by 2007 there were 400,000 Tweets sent every three months. By 2008 this figure had become 100,00,000 and by the end of 2012 this figure was 250,000,000 a day. The site was valued at 8.4 billion dollars at the end of last year and continues to ascend. Interestingly the almost unidentifiable webpage in the image above is the original Twitter page. the “Larry the Bird” logo which has come to represent Twitter was adopted in September 2010.


So, are you feeling inspired?

Of course, there are so many more stories out there we would have loved to have featured. These are just a few of our personal favourites at the Kalexiko HQ. If you feel that we have missed any that you personally really find inspirational; don’t hesitate to leave us a comment saying why that particular story inspires you. In the meantime, we hope that these examples provide you with the inspiration and drive to make it happen. The world’s your oyster!