7 Famous Companies That Started out in Someone's Garage

Many companies around the world have started in someone's garage at some point. Here are 7 of the most notable.
Christopher McFadden
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Starting out from humble beginnings in someone's garage, these 7 of the world's most valuable brands are true "rags to riches" stories. So, if you are planning on founding your own company in your garage, rest assured you have not been the first to do so.


What is considered as a startup company?

A startup company is typically defined as one that is in its early stages of development. Such companies tend to have an idea or prototype product that has been designed to solve a perceived problem of some sort.

Such companies will generally be looking for seed capital from friends, family, banks and venture capitalists to get going -- though not always.

"A startup (or startup-up) is a company typically in the early stages of its development. These entrepreneurial ventures are typically started by 1-3 founders who focus on capitalizing upon a perceived market demand by developing a viable product, service, or platform" - Startups.com

Did Bill Gates start Microsoft in a garage?

Indeed he did. Back in 1975, Bill Gates and his friend Paul Allen founded Microsoft from a small garage space in Albuquerque, New Mexico

The pair decided to focus on software only (rather than hardware) which appears to have been a very savvy decision. They worked with IBM in their early days and licensed their first revolutionary operating system for a mere $80,000

Today they are one of the biggest tech companies in the world. 

Which companies started in a garage?

There are a surprising number of multimillion-dollar companies that started out from garages. We've highlighted 7 of the most notable further down the article, but others include: 

  • Dell
  • Hewlett Packard
  • Yankee Candles 
  • Lotus Cars
  • Facebook
  • YouTube

Other than these, here are 7 more world-famous companies that also started out in someone's garage. Trust us when we say this list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.

1. Did you know Amazon started out in a garage?

Source: Andrei Stanescu/iStock

Back in 1994, Jeff Bezos started Amazon as a small online bookstore from the garage of his house at 10704 NE 28th in Bellevue, Washington. The company sold its first book in 1995 and Bezos knew he was onto a good thing.

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The website would grow exponentially over the next few years, and Bezos would take Amazon public in 1997. Its IPO raised an amazing $54 million on the NASDAQ exchange.

From the very beginnings, he knew Amazon would eventually sell other products online; not just books. And so, in 1998, Amazon.com began to sell computer games and music through its online store. 

At around the same time, it also began to expand globally. Today Amazon is one of the largest online stores in the world and has made Bezos one of the richest men in the world. 

2. Disney also started out in a garage

Source: Shakir Superville/Flickr

Disney is another global giant that once started out in a garage. At the time of its founding in 1923, Walt Disney was living at 4651 Kingswell Ave. in Los Angeles, California.

Disney and his brother started The Disney Brothers Studio in their uncle's one-car garage about 45 minutes from where Disneyland Park, Anaheim, California is now located. Within this tiny space, the pair created their now-famous Alice Comedies that would later inspire Disney's version of "Alice in Wonderland". 

This series of animations would quickly become a huge success and would catapult the brothers on a journey that would eventually forge the world's biggest entertainment empire in the world. 

3. Apple famously started out in a garage

Source: Nikada/iStock

Another global company that started out in a garage was Apple. It was founded in 1976 and its founding members, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were only 21 and 26 years old respectively.

They began building the very first Apple computer in the garage of Steve Job's parents' house at 2066 Crist Drive in Los Altos, California. Very soon after, the pair managed to sell 50 units of Wozniak's Apple 1 for around $500 a piece to a local computer store.

The pair enlisted some help to fulfill the order in no less than 30 days. Today they are one of the largest tech companies in the world. 

4. Maglite also started out from a garage

startups from garage maglite
Source: raymondclarkeimages/Flickr

Yet another world-dominating brand that started out from a garage was Maglite. Founded in the 1950s, Tony Maglica started the company from a garage after migrating from Croatia to America in 1950. 

He fled his native Croatia to escape the devastation wrought on the country by the Second World War and the iron-grip of Communist control. 

Lacking a lot of funds, Maglica used $125 he'd saved to buy a lathe and start a workshop that would become Maglite from a garage in Los Angeles, California. The company would eventually incorporate it in 1974 and would release its first flashlight in 1979. 

5. Harley-Davidson also started out in a garage

startups from garages harley davidson
Source: avalinakreska/Pixabay

Yet another multi-million dollar company to start out in a garage was Harley-Davidson. Back at the turn of the 1900s, a young William S. Harley drew up plans to create his own small-engined motorcycle.

A few years later, he teamed up with his childhood friend, Arthur Davidson, to turn the plans into reality in a small, undisclosed garage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The company as officially founded in 1903 and it has grown to become one of the world's most recognized and trusted motorcycle brands. 

6. Google famously started out from a garage

startups from garages google
Source: Shawn Collins/Flickr

The undisputed behemoth of the internet, Google, also started out in a garage. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin started what would become an internet behemoth from a small garage located at 32 Santa Margarita Avenue, Menlo Park, California.

The garage was own by Susan Wojcicki, a friend of theirs, who rented it to in late 1998. Page and Brin worked tirelessly for months developing the proto-Google website. 

Their hard work paid off, and after being rejected by Excite to buy it for $1 million, Google would grow to become worth many, many billions of dollars today. 

7. Mattel also started out in a garage

garage startups mattel
Source: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

And lastly, but by no means the least, is Mattel. This giant toy manufacturing started its days back in 1945. 

Founders Harold "Matt" Matson and Elliot Handler started the company from an undisclosed garage in Southern California making picture frames.

At the time, the pair had such little money that they resorted to using picture frames scrapes to create some of their early dollhouses. These eventually began outselling their picture frames.

Matson and Handler's hard work, and literal scraping by, paid off and Mattel would grow to become one of the world's largest toy companies. 

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