Everyone loves a rags to riches story. The majority of us aren’t royalty or offspring of oil barons, but spend our time merely attempting to make ends meet while trying our best to make the most of our time while we’re here. That’s why when we see a story of triumph, like a journey from modest pastures to fields of great success, we find it awe-inspiring.
Here were people, just like us, who with great vision, sacrifice and innovation, seized an opportunity to achieve. Funnily enough, nothing can typify this sentiment more than the spawning of some of the world’s biggest and most influential companies. Many of them started out in very humble workplace arrangements. It’s hard to believe. When we think of the big corporations and conglomerates of today, we think of skyscrapers and executive living, not computers paired alongside pedestal fans and gardening equipment. It’s truly amazing that some of the world’s leading companies, of which arguably bear influence over the direction of mankind, all began operating out of a home garage.
Don’t believe it? Read on to see how the modern world was defined and changed all thanks to a few trusty lock up, (we hope), garages!
It’s September 1998, and a couple of Stanford graduates, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, decide to rent a garage from a friend, Susan Wojcicki. They worked day and night over the following months to develop an online search engine called ‘Google’. Their goal was to create a platform that could pull all the information on the web into one portal accessible for anyone (and anywhere) that had an internet connection.
Fast-forward 18 years and Google is the most used search engine available, as well as the most visited domain in existence. This was no accident. Page and Brin were not your average students – they were prodigies, blessed with capabilities worthy of transfiguring the world. Think about just how big Google is for a second. In your immediate surroundings, fathom how many people use it, need it, rely on it. Stats highlight that every minute that passes, 2 million searches are conducted on Google.
Since its inception, Google has firmly cemented its global domination and is only getting bigger. They recently announced developments in things like basic artificial intelligence. This all stemmed from a small room attached to a house. For Page and Brin to succeed, all they needed was a garage setting to compliment and fuel their brilliant minds – and thus Google was born. When Google bought out Youtube, they made Ms. Wojcicki (their initial garage landlord) CEO as a token of appreciation.
It’s weird to think that Microsoft, creator of the most popular software in the world, with a market share of 80%, was conceived in the garage of a small suburb in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bill Gates, alongside friend Paul Allen, worked on a small software program in partnership with IBM. These early days lead to the creation of the landmark software application ‘Windows’.
Microsoft is now one of the biggest companies in the world, worth several hundred billion in capital. More than a billion computers worldwide are running Windows. As the company constantly updates and refines its programs, it will no doubt get bigger. The company also channels a large amount of its wealth for philanthropic purposes. Microsoft, under the guise and encouragement of Gates, is always starting new charities to help aid and assist people or regions in need, most notably in Africa. Donations to notable causes and organisations are now a fundamental pillar in Microsoft’s company values. As of today, Microsoft is the leading software provider worldwide and has lead to Gates being dubbed the 4th most powerful man in the world. A simple garage is all it took to get it all going.
The story of Amazon is much like the river; long, meandering and wild, yet compelling and inspiring. Its founder, Jeff Bezos, worked in computer science on Wall Street throughout the early 90s, building networks in international trading. After being exposed to the rapid growth in internet based business, Bezos left his well paid job in New York in pursuit of his own venture, driving cross country to relocate in Seattle, drafting the formative plans for an internet-based shopping centre along the way. This road trip led to the creation of what is now the biggest online retailer in the world, Amazon.
Arriving in Seattle, Bezos set up shop in his garage, pooling together his ingenuity and creative resources to pave the way for a corporate juggernaut that is today the pinnacle of E-commerce and online shopping. The company sits around $65 billion in value, serving customers worldwide. Funny to think it all started from selling a book out of a garage. Now, people associate Amazon with the retailer more so than the breathtaking river.
In 1923, brothers Walt and Roy Disney, who were looking to start their careers as artists, politely asked their uncle if they could use his garage to make films (you know, as one typically does). Unsure of what exactly Walt and Roy were referring to, he kindly permitted. The works that were created in this garage, all due to the generosity of Walt and Roy’s uncle, would influence storytelling, filmmaking, and the worldwide landscape of media and entertainment. Their legacy continues to touch the hearts and imaginations of generations upon generations to this very day.
This success, like all great stories, didn’t come without its challenges. There was a high chance the Disney company was going to be as prolific as Bambi’s mother’s screen time. Disney faced overwhelming rejection from investors in the early stages of production. However, the animated film eventually triumphed, and Disney became one of the highest earning film studios in the world. Today, it’s one of the biggest media entities, leading the way in family animation with Pixar and blockbuster entertainment with Marvel movies and Star Wars. All it took was great imagination, a generous uncle, and a modest garage to help inspire stories that touch our hearts still to this day and create a show business empire.
Probably the most popular garage story, a lot of us are very aware of Apple’s humble beginnings. Founder Steve Jobs, given the scarcity of the industry at the time, opted to work from his parents’ home garage to create ‘Apple’ along with pals Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. This was in negotiation and strict agreement with Steve’s adopted parents, Paul and Clara. This garage would become the birthplace of Apple 1, Apple’s first major computing product. This was the beginning of what would lead to a journey of worldwide technological advancement.
Apple’s journey was one that encompassed tumultuous and cyclonic events in its early years, which saw creator, Jobs, leave and then later return to establish Apple as one of the biggest tech giants in the world. Innovative products like the ipod, macbook, iphone, imac, and ipad have transformed the way in which the world connects and engages. Apple’s success is best highlighted by the fact it was the first company in the United States to be valued at $700 billion and is the largest publicly traded corporation in the world by market capitalization. Next time you look at your iphone, or order a much needed coffee courtesy of an ipad, thank Paul and Clara Jobs for generously sub-letting their garage.
It’s overwhelming to think that the world has been so heavily influenced by inventions and innovations conceived in plain old garages. A room usually reserved for cars, storage, garden equipment, and unwanted furniture is also apparently a recurring source of creative, highly lucrative, and influential ideas. If you’re looking for an office space to fuel your startup or entrepreneurship, remind yourself of the admirable stories mentioned here, where creative geniuses opted for a garage over an overpriced feng shui workplace.
By combining the wealth of these ideas created in garages, the figures reach north of several trillion dollars. Let that sink in. You can’t help but imagine what would’ve happened if the individuals mentioned throughout hadn’t locked their garage doors. Ideas are synonymous with theft, so if you decide to follow the footsteps of these great innovators from the contemporary world, be sure to research how to lock up, service, and maintain your garage.