What must you have to launch your startup? Money? A large office? The most important thing is to believe in yourself, even if you encounter roadblocks. That is how most companies we hear about now came to be. Most of the companies with worldwide recognition began as startups in college dorm rooms and then grew into what they are.
Below are 9 such companies.
1. Federal Express
As an undergraduate at Yale University, Fred Smith wrote an economics paper about goods that are transported in the United States. He discovered that shippers relied mostly on trucks and passenger airplanes to transport cargo, and this made him think of a better transport system. His next paper suggested a transportation system in which a plane could carry the same cargo more efficiently. However, he didn’t go deep on how to run that type of a company. Even though he got a ‘C’ in his paper, it did not deter him from launching the company in 1971.
Three years into the business, FedEx was on the brink of bankruptcy as it was making huge losses as a result of high fuel costs. It reached a point where the company only had $5000. Smith went to General Dynamics to request for more funding but was turned down. With all these setbacks, most people would have given up. Fred Smith didn’t. That weekend, Smith took the remaining cash ($5000) and went to a Las Vegas casino to play Black Jack.
Luck was on his side as he managed to go back with $32 000, an amount which was enough to cater for fuel for the planes and continue with operations for a few more days. Later on, FedEx was able to get more funding. It is now a giant company present in over 220 countries.
Even though the messages shared on Snapchat do not last for long, what is important is that its users will remain. Snapchat is an exciting way to communicate about the exciting things that you do each day.
It was founded by Stanford University students Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy and has gained worldwide recognition. At some point, it was reported that Snapchat turned down billion-dollar offers ($3 billion from Facebook).
The story of Facebook is well known all over. It was founded by Harvard student Mark Zuckerburg and his fellow students in 2004. As of June 2017, Facebook had 2 billion active users worldwide.
Even though it started out as a website that was limited to Harvard students, it expanded to universities around Boston, the Ivy League and later on other universities and high schools. As soon as it was announced in 2006 that Facebook was open to all users over the age of 13, it officially took off.
Microsoft, a company founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, is a giant in the world of technology. Their story commenced when these two programming gurus came together while in high school. Bill Gates later got enrolled into the prestigious Harvard University. However, after only one year in college, Paul Allen managed to convince him to drop out so that they could embark on their project. Little did they know that their brainchild would evolve into this giant monster that has dominated the tech industry.
They, however, struggled initially to establish themselves. Then Gates and Allen struck gold when they licensed their MS-DOS system to IBM in 1981. The rest, as they say, is history.
Almost 3 years before Google (1994), David Filo and Jerry Yang, two graduates from Stanford created a site they named ‘Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.’ It was designed to act as a directory for searching other websites, arranged in order. It was later renamed Yahoo! (Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle).
In the ‘90s, it turned out to be one of the most popular search engines. However, even though it has faced stiff competition from Google, Yahoo remains one of the first and largest websites in the world.
In 1984, Michael Dell was an undergraduate student at Texas University who conducted business from his dorm room under the name PC’s limited. He sold custom-built computers made from stock parts.
He dropped out of college after he got $1000 from his family and decided to concentrate on his growing business. In 1985, his company designed its first self-designed computer called the Turbo-PC that was purchased at $795.
Dell’s company sold its machines directly to consumers. The computers were customized for each person. In the company’s first year of production, Dell made more than $73 million.
WordPress came up in 2003 when Houston University undergraduate student Matt Mullenweg decided to partner with Mike Little and Michael Valdrigh to design a Content Management System.
It is an open-source and free tool written in PHP and has a text editor and other menus that enable the changing and tweaking of the site’s design. WordPress has about 126 million visitors monthly.
In 1996, as research students at Stanford, Larry Page and Sergey Brin created a new web searching concept that was better than the existing search engines at that time. Rather than ranking results based on the number of searches, Google was designed to rank websites based on their relevance. This concept was termed as PageRank, and they designed a new search engine termed BackRub that was based on it. Later on, Google was adopted as the name of the search engine.
In January 2013, Google announced that they had earned US$50 billion in 2012. Today, Google is the most popular search engine.
As roommates at the University of Virginia, Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian created Reddit in 2005. It’s an entertainment, news and social networking site whereby people register and submit content which includes pictures and text posts. Moreover, users can vote to determine the position of the various submissions on the site’s page.
It was purchased by Conde Nast Publications in 2006 and is based in San Francisco, California.
The above is just but some of the successful companies that began as college startups. There are many others; Napster, Time Magazine, Dropbox, Kinko’s Def Jam Records, etc.