5 Giant Companies that Started with No Money
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Entrepreneurs - October 16, 2023

5 Giant Companies that Started with No Money

In the world of business success stories, there are some extraordinary tales of giant companies that started with very little or no money. These are stories of small beginnings, often in garages or college dorms, which turned into major corporations. These stories show us the amazing things that can happen when people have great ideas, work hard, and stay committed to their goals. 

Throughout business history, there are many of these inspiring stories, where companies went from having almost nothing to becoming incredibly successful. In this article, we’ll take a journey through time and learn about these famous companies that overcame financial challenges to become global leaders. Their stories are a testament to the human spirit and the limitless potential of creative ideas.


Shutterstock, a prime example of turning passion into profit, was founded by Jon Oringer, a software developer and amateur photographer. Having no money but brimming with valuable assets in the form of 30,000 high-quality photos from his personal collection, Oringer recognized the universal need for top-notch images in the business world. Leveraging his technical skills, he launched a subscription-based stock photo service. This innovative idea grew rapidly as more photographers contributed, transforming Shutterstock into a go-to resource for marketers and achieving a remarkable valuation of over $2 billion. Starting a business from scratch? 


In 2004, Tobias Lütke and Scott Lake aimed to establish an online snowboard store but encountered software systems that fell short of their needs. Tobias, a software engineer, used his expertise to create custom software with a user-friendly interface, addressing these issues. Recognizing its broader potential, they shifted focus to helping others sell online without investing significant capital. Shopify, their brainchild, now supports over 300,000 individual sellers, generating a remarkable $20 million in monthly revenue as one of the giant companies in the world.


Surprisingly, GoFundMe, the world’s largest crowdfunding platform, was not initially funded itself, as it had no money. Co-founders Brad Damphouse and Andrew Ballester opted for a bootstrap approach. They developed software to facilitate fundraising for charitable purposes, earning a small percentage of the funds raised. Leveraging the power of social media, particularly Facebook, to connect with potential donors, the platform rapidly gained popularity. Today, GoFundMe is valued at an impressive $600 million, proving that innovative ideas and smart execution can lead to substantial success, even without an initial financial boost.


eBay, the colossal online marketplace, had the most humble beginnings with no money. Founder Pierre Omidyar started it as a side project, initially not looking to make money. It was only when his Internet service provider insisted on upgrading his account due to soaring site traffic that he began charging users. Omidyar’s vision was grounded in the principle that fairness in markets comes from equal access to information. He harnessed the internet to turn this vision into reality. 

Just six months after its inception, he introduced the game-changing concept of the feedback forum in response to user complaints. Today, eBay’s worth exceeds an astonishing $30 billion, illustrating how an idealistic vision, paired with innovation, can transform a small endeavor into a colossal success, even without a financial head start.


MailChimp, the email marketing service we’ve come to rely on, had very modest beginnings. In 2000, founder and CEO Ben Chestnut was managing a design consulting business and found himself inundated with client requests for custom email newsletters. Not particularly keen on this task, he decided to harness his computer skills to create a tool that could generate newsletters automatically. This tool later became the powerhouse, which is MailChimp, now valued at a remarkable $400 million. It’s a shining example of how proficiency in computer skills can propel a simple idea into a significant success story.

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