From Small Beginnings: Successful Companies That Started in a Garage

Design & Inspiration · 22nd December 2017

Have you ever thought about dedicating your garage space to your own private pursuits? Maybe you have a hobby that you’d really like to dig into, or you have an idea for a project that you could start if only you had the space. For some, the garage is better used not as a storage area or car parking space, but a place to get work done. To build something special.

Sounds like a fairytale, doesn’t it? But some of the world’s most successful companies got their start in the humble surroundings of a home garage. In this article, we’re taking a look at some of them.


Google’s rise has been meteoric. Not only has the company cornered the online and information world, but it is also at the forefront of technology. Google has developed smartphones, operating systems and even offered high tech assistance to NASA in their exploration of the universe. But did you know that the first signs of Google life came from a garage in California?

Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s first official Google office came in the form of rented garage space from Susan Wojcicki (current CEO of YouTube). From there, the pair spent the next five months building algorithms, indexes and putting the pieces of Google together. Now, the company is one of the most valuable in the world, but it all started with day and night toil in a makeshift garage office.



Chances are you’ve had at least one item delivered to you from Amazon in the last week or so. What has become the world’s most efficient, popular and profitable online retailers started in 1994. That was the year when founder Jeff Bezos began selling books from his home garage in Bellevue, Washington. Bezos sold and shipped his first book in 1995. The company didn’t turn a profit until 2001, but that didn’t stop it from becoming the online retailer of choice. Now, Amazon ships just about anything you can think of, with an estimated 80 million Amazon Prime members worldwide.


Walt Disney

It’s not just modern tech companies that have built themselves up from the bottom. Back in 1923, when young Walt Disney was trying to forge a career in the movie industry, he eventually found his way back to animated cartoons – something he already had experience in. Living with his uncle Robert, Disney was able to build a makeshift wooden cartoon studio in Robert’s garage. There, he worked on editing and animation before officially forming the first official Disney Studio later in the year, just down the road in small room rented by a local realty office.


The Yankee Candle Company

The story goes that, in 1969, sixteen year old Mike Kittredge couldn’t afford his mother a Christmas present. So, he scavenged items from around the house to make her something special instead. What he made was a scented candle, constructed from crayons and paraffin wax in his garage. A neighbour saw it and convinced Mike to sell it to them. The payment allowed him to make two more candles – the one for his mother and another to sell. The foundation of the Yankee Candle Company begins there, handcrafted in a garage before young Mike was able to expand, and eventually turn the company into what it is today.


Apple or Microsoft?

Some huge companies can say with pride that their initial spark came from a garage space. For a while, Apple was included in that same circle. But, as it turns out, the garage roots of Apple are a myth – as stated by co-founder Steve Wozniak. The popular story is that the original Apple computers and motherboards were manufactured in a California garage. But, while Steve Jobs and Wozniak did often congregate in a home garage, no actual work was done there.


The same cannot be said about Apple’s fierce rival Microsoft. In 1975, Bill Gates and Paul Allen formulated a programming language – BASIC – from a garage in Albuquerque, new Mexico. They were then able to develop other programming languages and an operating system that was to become Windows. Now, Windows is used on millions of personal computers across the globe, and Bill Gates remains one of the richest people alive to this day.

Continuing its homegrown roots, Microsoft has its own division called ‘Microsoft Garage’.This is where Microsoft employees can work on their own personal projects, using equipment and tools provided by Microsoft themselves. Who knows how many revolutionary tech products are being thought of right now from the Microsoft Garage?



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