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5 brands that started from the ground up

Posted by Shivali Anand

September 23, 2021    |     4-minute read (622 words)

A small budget does not necessarily imply a small business. The entrepreneurs profiled in this blog began their ventures by staying lean, yet eventually their businesses evolved into significant players in their fields. Here's the lowdown on how lean their companies were able to become.

  1. Nike
Knight, a former track and field athlete, co-founded Nike in 1964 with his coach, Bill Bowerman. Now a worldwide footwear, clothing and accessory company, in Nike’s early days, the founders sold their shoes from the trunks of cars at track meets because they had no formal sales office. Knight and Bowerman had enough money to recruit their first full-time employee in 1965. The next year, Nike launched its first retail store in Santa Monica, California, with First National Bank of Oregon providing the company with its first commercial capital of $3,000. The current net worth of Nike has been estimated at around $30 billion by Statista, thanks to the rising number of shops and online sales.

  1. Ford Motor Co.
In 1903, Henry Ford established Ford Motor Co., an automotive manufacturer that had to overcome several challenges and pivot through many different stages. Until the first car was ready in 1908, Ford worked from a rented residence. Previously, vehicles had been produced one at a time to conserve money and increase profit margins. Ford created the world's first moving automobile assembly line in 1913, allowing for quick and efficient car production. This approach cut work time in half, from a usual 12-hour period to just two hours. As a result, total production costs and time were reduced, lowering the unit price of the Model T — the most popular automobile — from $850 to $290.

  1. The Walt Disney Company 
Disney was a cartoonist, animator, voice actor, film producer and one of the world’s most inspiring animations and cartoon business entrepreneurs. He was not born into wealth, but perseverance and hard work helped him achieve success with The Walt Disney Company. Disney lived in his office, ate beans and showered at train stations while working on the animation for "Alice's Wonderland" in the 1920s so he wouldn't have to pay for a home. Thanks to those austere early days, the Walt Disney Company is now worth an estimated $130 billion.

  1. Walmart
Sam Walton worked his way up to owning the famous Walmart retail chain. He started out by borrowing money from his father-in-law to start a small collection of businesses before creating the first Walmart in 1962. Over the next 30 years, the company expanded globally, becoming the world's largest corporation by 2010. Even after becoming the richest man in the United States, Walton lived modestly, driving a pickup vehicle with missing hubcaps and working from a small Arkansas office.

  1. Bausch & Lomb | founder John Jacob Bausch
In 1853, Bausch founded one of the first optical service firms in Rochester, New York, which subsequently grew into the multinational company Bausch & Lomb Inc. which manufactures glasses, contact lenses and other eyewear. Henry Lomb, a friend of Bausch, invested $60 in the store and joined him as a partner in 1855. Despite losing two fingers in a buzz saw mishap, Bausch received rudimentary professional training in grinding lenses and constructing eyeglasses from his older brother and used that knowledge to complete all the labor himself when creating the spectacles. Bausch scraped by on $4 a week in the firm's early days, using old shoes as fuel.

Bausch constructed the first machine in America to make eyeglasses in 1860, and he was granted exclusive rights to make optical instruments out of vulcanite rubber. He experimented with creating eyeglass frames from the material the following year. Fast forward to 2007, when Bausch & Lomb was sold for over $8 billion.

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