Business start up stories


It all started somewhere!

Household brands all began their lives as a much smaller version of the giant they became. Or did they?? Here’s some interesting, fun and inspirational facts about the early beginnings of a few familiar names, with just a little bit of related advice thrown in for good measure:

Change tastes sweet

What we know: Ben & Jerry’s was originally going to be a bagel company. However it turned out that they just couldn’t raise the money for the bagel making equipment. So, instead they took a $5 ice cream making course.


Cheque the address

What we know: Google was originally named Googol.

When the first cheque came through the door addressed to Google Inc., Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin rushed to create a bank account under that name so that they could cash it in.


Make the most of what you’ve got

What we know: Google’s first Computer Storage Unit was built from Lego.

Google needed a lot of space to test their page rank algorithm. The largest disk available at the time was 40GB, so to save on money they created a storage rack of ten connected 40GB hard drives – constructed from Lego.


It’s never too late

What we know: Colonel Sanders started the KFC franchise at a sprightly 62

The Colonel held numerous jobs, including running a service station where he started to serve chicken dishes, and running a motel and restaurant where he finalised his ‘secret fried chicken recipe’. So at almost pensionable age he franchised “Kentucky Fried Chicken” for the first time, to a restaurant in Utah. Receiving $0.04 per chicken sold, at 65 he sold the restaurant he owned and with his savings and $105 from social security he toured the US looking for more restaurants to franchise his recipe to.


The human element

What we know: Photography saved Airbnb’s struggling start-up!

Almost immediately after launch Airbnb began to struggle. Their revenue was a meagre $200 a week and their founder’s credit cards were seriously maxed out. Following a review of their search listings for New York City to figure out what was going on, they noticed that the quality of photos for the listings were terrible. No wonder no one was booking. Their solution? Visit their customers in New York with a rented camera to replace the current images with high-quality photos. Just one-week later revenue had doubled and they were on their way.


Look forward

What we know: The Netflix name predicted digital streaming content

The Netflix idea, originally DVD by mail, was developed when only 2% of US households had DVD players. However, they not only anticipated the growth of the DVD format, they were also confident that the market would move towards streaming and so the Netflix name was born, far removed from DVD by mail. This put significant distance between them and their market competitor Blockbuster during the transition to digital.