Many of the biggest tech giants in the world got their start in garages, so it can seem like garages get all the credit when it comes to startup processes. However, when you start looking into startups, you’ll start to notice a variety of companies that first started life in a basement. Basements are hugely popular for startups for the same reason as garages: it keeps startup costs down and profits up. Here are some companies that started in basements, as well as a variety of the most interesting tech-based ones on the list.
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Created By: JES
Although Virgin Group is an investor company rather than a uniquely tech-based company, they are known for investing in a variety of tech-based businesses that need startup or maintenance capital. Sir Richard Branson, who started Virgin Group, started his first company at just 16, working on a student magazine out of another founder’s basement. They paid their first bills with some money Branson’s mother got from an unclaimed lost and found. Today, Virgin Group boasts an astounding $4.7 billion.
Although SoftKey doesn’t really exist anymore, that doesn’t mean it had no impact on the world at large. In fact, SoftKey was one of the largest distributors of CD-ROMs in the world during their heyday. Shark Tank judge Kevin O’Leary started the business in a basement utilizing a loan of $10,000 from his mother. Plus, O’Leary got out long before the downfall of SoftKey; he sold it to Mattel for $3.64 billion in 1999, which is equivalent to around $5.7 billion in today’s money.
If you haven’t heard of Epic Games, chances are you’ve at least heard of their most popular game, Fortnite. Fortnite is an internationally well-known game, and it’s done a lot to launch Epic Games to success, but Epic Games got its start nearly three decades ago in 1991. The company started when Tim Sweeney realized that the new art concept of “computer games” could have a lot of money in them and started designing video games in his parents’ basement in Maryland. Today, the company has a valuation of $15 billion from all of its various franchises.
One of the most interesting things about Voltage Security is that it actually didn’t start life as a business concept. In fact, it got its start as a computer science class research project. The three co-founders working on the project incorporated as a business in 2002, but they still worked in a basement office in Stanford University’s Packard Engineering Building for a year. Once they won the Stanford BASES Entrepreneurs Challenge and gained $150,000 in capital, they were able to move to regular offices. In 2015, Voltage Security accepted an offer for HP to acquire them, having raised $39 million in funding.
For many people, invoicing is an incredibly important part of their business operations. Some small businesses wouldn’t exist today without a third-party invoicing software to help them with their invoices. However, in 2004, this was a pretty significant niche. Mike McDerment was only able to find 10 customers every month, and he worked out of his parents’ basement in Toronto to keep operating costs low. Eventually he was able to branch out, and today, the company has a valuation between $172 and $258 million.
As you can see, there are all sorts of intriguing tech-based companies that started out in a basement. Whether you’re interested in tech, you have an idea for a company, or you just want to be prepared for the next million-dollar idea, having a well-functioning basement could be an important part of the puzzle. Consider maintaining your basement so you’re prepared for the next step.