Billionaire Entrepreneurships That Started in a Basement

When you think of billionaire companies, you probably think of huge office buildings and giant computer stations. However, there are many companies with a valuation of over $1 billion that got their start in something much less grand. At the beginning, many of the founders of these companies were working from a basement — typically their parents’ or grandparents’ basements. Take a look at some successful companies that started in a basement, then delve further into some of the billion-dollar ones.

basements infographic

Tech and Other Successful Companies That Started in Parents’ Basements
Created By:  JES

Epic Games: $15 Billion

Even if you don’t think you’ve heard of Epic Games, you’ve almost certainly heard of the company’s most popular video game, Fortnite. This game is one of the most popular in the world, with fans all around the globe. This company started in 1991, when Tim Sweeney started designing video games in his parents’ basement as “Epic MegaGames.” With the company’s success from Fortnite and other games, it’s achieved a $15 billion valuation.

Qualtrics: $11.1 Billion

From the beginning, Qualtrics was a family endeavor. Their father came up with the idea, then Jared wrote the code and Ryan worked customer-side, both working in their parents’ basement. Eventually, Qualtrics became one of the most well-known software companies in the world, serving both academics and private companies alike.

FUBU: $6 Billion

Daymond John, who might be most well-known for his starring role in Shark Tank, is also the man behind bestselling streetwear label FUBU. The company started with only $40 in capital, and Daymond had to work out of his mother’s basement in Queens. By selling to hip hop artists, who would wear his clothes in their music videos, FUBU became a crucial part of the urban music scene.

Virgin Group: $4.7 Billion

The biggest impact of Virgin Group has been its ability to invest in a variety of companies. The original entrepreneur in the group, Richard Branson, started his first company — a student magazine — when he was 16, working out of his co-founder’s basement. A stroke of luck occurred when his mother received nearly $125, or over $1,000 in today’s money, through an unclaimed lost and found. With that money, they were able to continue their entrepreneurship to build the nearly $5 billion company of today.

Under Armour: $3.5 Billion

The idea behind Under Armour was simple: founder Kevin Plank realized that his cotton T-shirts got soaked with sweat, but his compression shorts did not. He used his grandmother’s basement to design T-shirts made of the same fabric as those synthetic shorts. At one point, USA Today ran a front-page photo with a quarterback wearing an Under Armour shirt, and since then, it’s been a staple in the fitness community.

Yankee Candle: $1.75 Billion

Although today Yankee Candle makes some of the most luxurious candles out there, they got their initial start with Michael Kittredge II making candles from melted crayons in his parents’ basement. By putting the maximum amount of fragrance in each candle, he started making scented candles a household name, rather than just a novelty. In 1998, it sold for $500 million, and in 2013, it sold again for $1.75 billion.

Kaplan: $1.5 Billion

This company gets its name from Stanley Kaplan, who started a tutoring service in 1938. He realized that with the number of immigrant families in his area, many of those students needed personalized help preparing for a standardized exam. He started tutoring in his parents’ basement, then built the company for decades until he sold it to The Washington Post Company. This tutoring is still massively important; as of 2018, annual revenue was over $1.5 billion.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are plenty of companies that got their start in basements. None of these companies would be making an impact on the world without someone’s basement to help them through. This might be the push you were looking for to make your basement even more livable, so the next billion-dollar company might start there.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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