Top 10 Companies that Started in Garages

Many world famous companies began inconspicuously. Some of the most famous and richest founders took their first steps in a garage. For well-motivated entrepreneurs, location doesn’t matter. Here are ten of the world’s largest companies that started in a garage and succeded. Those entrepreneurs know how to avoid mistakes.


The history of Walt Disney is a movie with a happy ending. In 1923, a young boy devoted to his passion decided to create movie studio in a one-car garage that belonged to his uncle. Walt and his older brother Roy started filming the Alice Comedies, a part of the original Alice’s Wonderland. Today, Disney is the highest grossing media conglomerate in the world.


Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak embody the English expression “from rags to riches.” Their American dream began in 1976 when they created the Apple Computer. Initially, they were selling 50 units of Wozniak’s Apple I Computer at $500 apiece to a local retailer. Jobs took the purchase order to a parts distributor and ordered the parts. The Steves and their small team hand-built 50 computers in 30 days from a garage in Cupertino, CA. It was their humble beginning. Nowadays, Apple is among the leaders of the computer market, and Steve Jobs became a symbol for the “quality over quantity” approach.

Lotus Cars

In 1948, at the age of 20, Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman created a business that started in a garage. He started Lotus Cars by building the first Lotus racing car in stables behind The Railway Hotel in Hornsey, North London. Chapman used a 1930s Austin Seven and a power drill to create the Lotus Mark I.

Harley Davidson

William S. Harley’s talent came to light in 1901, when at the age of 20 he drew up plans to build a small engine to power a bicycle. Over the next two years, Harley worked in cooperation with his childhood friend, Arthur Davidson. Together, in a wooden shed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, they built their first motor-bicycle. Later came success; their constructions proved to be highly popular. Nowadays, Harley Davidson is a synonym of quality and luxury in the motorcycle industry.


Google is another example of the business started in a garage. This tech industry giant was founded in September 1998 by Stanford Graduate students – Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The inventors unsuccessfully tried to sell their concept to Excite for $1 million. Excite rejected the offer, and now Google is the most trafficked site in the world.


Harold “Matt” Matson and Elliot Handler founded Mattel in a garage in Southern California as a picture frame company in 1945. To get the most out of their materials, they started using pictures created from frame scraps to create dollhouses. 57 years later they created their most famous doll, Barbie.


In 1939 William “Bill” Redington Hewlett and Dave Packard founded HP in Packard’s garage. Their initial investment was only $538. Still, they were able to multiply capital and achieve unprecedented success. Their first product was an audio oscillator, with one of their first customers being Walt Disney. He purchased eight oscillators to develop the sound system for the movie Fantasia.


Online bookstore Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994. At the time, it was based in his garage in Bellevue, Washington. Bezos sold his first book in July 1995. In 1997, two years later, he issued his IPO. Today, Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer and a leader in the market of sales.


1950s USA – a poor Croatian immigrant speaking poor English came to America. He invested $125 in a lathe. With his little investment, he became successful. It sounds like fiction, but this is a biography of Anthony Maglica. Initially, he used a garage in the area to manufacture precision parts. After years of hard work, he incorporated Mag Instrument in 1974 and released their first flashlight in 1979. Nowadays, Maglite is the standard issue flashlight for all police officers in the US.

Yankee Candle Company

Michael Kittredge, Yankee Candle Company founder, knows best the sweet taste of success. In 1969 as a 16-years old teenager, he made his first fragrance candle in his garage as a gift for his mother. He made it out of melted crayons. His neighbors took notice and expressed interest in buying Kittredge’s candles, so Michael started mass-producing them. Four years later, Kittredge left the garage and moved the Yankee Candle Company to an old mill in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

The garage entrepreneurs and successful businesses described above started from nothing. But their success shows that no matter if it’s a garage, a basement, or a dorm room, every business has humble beginnings. Nowadays, a potential entrepreneur has a plenty of possibilities to succeed – from angel investors. After all, it’s not about where a person starts, but where he or she ends up.


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