Many startups including garage door repairs and phone repair shops among others often wonder how long it takes to grow their ventures to multi-billion corporations. Challenges like inadequate cash flow, access to competent human resources, and lack of visibility can stifle growth.

However, there’s nothing new about such problems; many top corporations had modest beginnings and experienced similar problems. You’re probably wondering whether top corporations like Google, Nike, Amazon, Kroger, or Pizza Hut started small. Read on to discover how the companies became the top giants we see today.

1. Plenty of Fish


What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Plenty of Fish? Fishing-related activities, like fishing, eating smoked fish in fine dining restaurants, grilling fish, and other such ideas come to mind. But it couldn’t be further from the truth. Plenty of Fish is a Canadian-based dating website that was established in 2003.

Markus Frind, its founder, launched it as a side hustle to improve his resume. Since he didn’t like reading books, he created a website using a recently developed programming language, ASP.NET.

The website had blown up within two weeks as people signed up to find their mates. Being a mere online startup, Markus never raised any venture capital to develop or run the website, yet it was able to generate millions in profits within a few years.

Match Group offered to purchase Plenty of Fish for $575 million in cash, which Markus accepted. At the time, the company had 90 million registered users and 3.6 million active daily users. Markus retained full ownership of the company, which now has 75 employees. He also put in more hours than the 10-hour week he needed when the company was young.

2. YouTube

When you want to watch or share a music video, movie, news, or live stream of a corporate video, the first place you visit is YouTube. This top corporation is still the most popular video-sharing platform, albeit the rise of other channels like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat. But do you ever wonder how it all started?

Three friends, Jawed Karim, Steven Chen, and Chad Hurley, founded the platform in February of 2005. The idea of launching a video-sharing service came to mind after a controversy involving the singer and celebrity Janet Jackson. She had exposed her body while performing at the Super Bowl, and the three friends couldn’t find the clip online.

This prompted them to create a platform for people to share videos. Initially, they wanted to develop YouTube as an online dating service but transformed it into a video-sharing platform. They asked women to upload videos on YouTube for $100, which didn’t pan out as expected as they couldn’t garner enough videos on the platform. As a result, the friends allowed people to upload all kinds of videos on the platform.

By May 2005, the platform had blown up, attracting brands like Nike to advertise, and in December 2005, the trio launched the website. At that time, YouTube was receiving 8 million daily views.

3. Apple

Apple is another top corporation that relishes its small beginnings, having been founded by college dropouts Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in 1976. The two friends envisioned creating computers small enough to fit in people’s homes and offices.

They took to the task at Job’s garage and developed the Apple 1, which they sold without a keyboard, monitor, or casing. The two friends developed and then introduced the Apple II, the first computer with color graphics. This new feature increased computer sales tremendously ($7.8-$117 million) in 1980 when the company went public.

Although Apple carried one without its founders, it faced lots of competition from Microsoft. In 1997, the board of directors asked for help from Steve Jobs, who transformed it into the Apple we see today. He introduced a range of products, including the mp3 player, iPod, iBook, Apple TV, and the iPhone, as well as services like Apple phone repair shop services.

4. Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut is another top corporation with a humble beginning. The famous pizza joint was started in 1958 by two brothers, Dan and Frank Carney, also students at Wichita University. They borrowed $600 from their mother to open a pizza eatery in Wichita, Kansas, which they named Pizza Hut. The business attracted many friends and family who wanted to try out the new food trend in America.

Being a new sensation in the market, the business thrived almost instantly, opening other branches across the country. The two brothers opened the first franchise restaurant in Topeka, but it has expanded to 11,000 restaurants in 90 countries.

Pizza Hut has moved locations over the years to cater to the growing clientele. In 1986, the business moved to Wichita State University, which remains a landmark, before settling on the east side of the Wichita State University campus in 2017.

5. Kroger

Kroger is one of the top corporations that has reimagined how we do grocery shopping. It’s a one-stop shop for groceries, meat, canned goods, BBQ food, and baked products. It’s the first grocery store to sell all such products under one roof.

Its history can be traced to over 100 years ago when Barney Kroger decided to open a grocery store in Cincinnati. He comes from a humble background of a German immigrant who owned a grocery store. However, they had to close shop in 1873, forcing Barney to drop out of school at 13 years to support his family.

He looked for work as a driver at a tea company and saved up to start a business. With only $350 in savings and $350 from a friend, he rented a store at Pearl Street and opened a grocery shop. Unfortunately, floods ruined his first store in 1884; hence, he decided to open another one in 1890. By the end of that year, they had opened seven other stores in downtown Cincinnati. Kroger has since grown into the large corporation we know today with 2800 supermarkets in 35 states, 26 of which are in Cincinnati. Kroger’s success can be attributed to its commitment to high-quality products and services, hard work, and attention to detail.

Also, spearheading innovations such as providing a one-stop shop to customers set the business apart from competitors. In the 1900s, the business delivered groceries using a horse-drawn wagon to customers’ homes, then upgraded to Model Ts, and today, Kroger is experimenting with drone delivery.

6. Nike

This top corporation dates back to 1971, when it was formally established. Before its incorporation, its founders, Phil Knight, and Bill Bowerman, had been experimenting with various sports shoe models to find one that could optimize a runner’s performance. Their relationship dates back to 1964 when Phil was a student at the University of Oregon, and Bill was a coach. Bill’s fascination with improving runners’ shoes got him trying different models after learning from a local pawn shop.

Bill would take one of the shoes, tailor them to another design, and hand them to Knight to try them during practice. The shoes were so good that Knight’s teammate Otis wore them during the 1960 Olympics 400-meter dash. The duo started their Blue Ribbon Sports shoes, cheaper than dominating sports shoes like Pumas and Adidas. Bowerman then found a way to improve the shoes to improve support to runners. He added a soft sponge rubber at the top of the heel and the forefoot, cushioned innersole, and a firm rubber outsole. This new design, Tiger Cortez, was so sensational that it caused a rift between Knight and his Japanese supplier.

The supplier felt Knight and Bill were selling their version of Tiger Cortez under a new Nike line. The rift was so sharp that the Japanese supplier filed a lawsuit splitting the two companies. Bill went ahead to establish their line of sports shoes, Nike.

7. Disney

Disney’s story dates back to 1923, when he and his brother Roy founded the Disney Cartoon Studio. Now known as the Walt Disney Company, it has its fair share of humble beginnings. Walt, the founder, knew he was a talented artist in his youthful years.

He would draw cartoons for publications for Kansas City Film Ad Company, and it was here that he developed an interest in animation. At the same time, he was running Laugh-O-Gram Studio, where he developed the famous Alice Wonderland short film. Although the company was declared bankrupt in 1923, Walt secured a contract to develop six other films. This contract led him to establish another company, Walt Disney, alongside his brother and Virginia Davis, the film’s lead actor.

The film was so successful that Disney began working on another film, Mickey Mouse. The project was another sensation, making Walt Disney Company popular in the film industry. The top corporation has since produced the most popular acclaimed films, including The Best Summer Camp movie. Disney also owns Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, ABC, Lucasfilm, Pixar, and ESPN.

8. Google

We use Google to find out about everything. Whether you’re looking for a nice restaurant in your neighborhood, a reliable local dry cleaner, or single-family units on sale, Google is there to guide you. But do you ever wonder how this top corporation began?

The company was founded in a dorm at Stanford University. Sergey Brin had been assigned to Larry Page to show him around the University and struck a friendship. The two friends decided to develop a search engine that would use links to determine a page’s rank on the World Wide Web. At the time, they called it the search engine Backrub.

Later, they renamed it Google to reflect their mission to organize online information and make it accessible. In the following years, Larry and Sergey sought funding from Silicon Valley investors and secured $100,000. They used the money to move to their first office (a garage at Melon Park) and purchase desktops and a ping-pong table. Things were still a little hazy then, evident from Google’s initial server based on Lego. However, the company has since become the search engine we rely on to get information about everything today.

9. Hewlett-Packard

You probably have a garage at home; all you do is stuff it with old items, park your car, or repair garage doors to keep it functional. Surprisingly, it was in such a setting that Hewlett-Packard, one of the top corporations in developing laptops and computers, was founded.

In 1939, David Packard and Bill Hewlett embarked on a part-time hassle to develop audio oscillators and light bulbs. With a background in electrical engineering and space at a one-car garage in Palo Alto, California, the two friends developed a product line of audio oscillators. They were so lucky that they found their first client right outside their gate- the Walt Disney Corporation

Their first product was the HP200A, an audio oscillator more affordable than similar products. The company continued developing other tech-related products, including semiconductors, but in 1966, it decided to develop its first computer, the HP 2116A. This turnaround saw HP become the biggest producer of our computers. The top corporation was also responsible for developing personal computers, printers, scientific calculators, and the desk calculator.

10. Amazon

Amazon, a global giant in the online marketplace, was founded in 1994. At the time, Jeff Bezos, the founder, named it Cadabra, but he later changed it to Amazon Inc. The young Princeton graduate would sell books from a garage in his rental space in Bellevue, Washington.

He tried many scientific projects here, transforming the garage space into a laboratory. A year later, he launched to leverage the digital space to increase sales. At the time, Amazon made losses until 1996, when its sales rose to $8.5 million.

Although the company was still making losses, it was a positive sign as it had doubled its revenue. In 1998, Jeff decided to increase his product catalog beyond books, which saw the company’s profit skyrocket to $73 million by the last quarter of 2003. Amazon has since been on an upward trajectory, becoming the world’s biggest e-commerce website we see today. Its vast product catalog, ranging from gardening equipment, books, clothing, cosmetics, vape products, and more, has transformed it into the go-to website for many consumers.

This lineup of top corporations shows that every giant company has a humble beginning. It encourages entrepreneurs to be resilient in their pursuit and not to give up at the sight of failure. Any company can grow to a top corporation with hard work and commitment.

Leave a Reply