Global Companies From Humble Side Hustles

Due to inflation and rising life standards, millions of people nowadays do side jobs despite having full-time ones already. The surprising fact of these side hustle phenomena is that the jobs on the side can somehow produce life-changing income. Even more unbelievable, they make those who used to be full-time employees owners of multi-million companies and billionaires.

And why not? These days, a personal business can be run from just about anywhere. You just need a dream and a smartphone with a decent data connection, and you can turn your nugget of an idea into pure gold.

Here are seven global businesses that started out as side hustles, along with their origin stories.

One of the most popular stories of side jobs that have rocketed and dominated the business world belonged to Steve Jobs and his creation, Apple. In the 1970’s, no one would recognize him as he was a worldwide business sensation. Back then, he was only an ordinary employee of Atari who was working on the side with his tech savvy friend, Steve Wozniak in his parents’ garage to create their own kind personal computer. A few years later, they did manage to launch Apple I and Apple II, which turned out to be a huge success in an instant. They plunged into the business and in spite of the fact that Apple once hit a low point, the company managed to rebound and claim its domination in 1997. Since then, its success has never been questioned. Currently, the value of this company has reached $750 billion.

The second humble beginning story comes from Under Armour, a worldwide leading sports attire company. Sir Richard Benson, a billionaire and the Virgin Group founder, once said that one of the best businesses can be the result of personal frustrations and bad experiences. He then suggests those aspiring to be entrepreneurs to open their eyes to catch a glimpse of such unsatisfying experiences and see the opportunity to do it better to start a business. This advice has been proven to be true by the birth of Under Armour. Triggered by his irritating experince wearing uncomfortable sports outfits, Kevin Plank, a former Maryland footballer, made his own undershirt that could stay dry no matter how rigorous the exercise was. Knowing that the product would work well for other athletes, he decided to produce and sell them on the streets. The product was well received and in two years’ time, Kevin Plank was able to afford a warehouse and head offices for his own sporting goods brand. The business took off and now the company makes almost $4 million in a year.

The third is the behind-the-scene story of the well-known social media platform Instagram. It dated back to 2010 when smartphone cameras were on the rise. The idea of Instagram came across Kevin Systrom’s mind while he was still working at Nextstop. Along with his friend Mike Krieger, who also graduated from Stanford University, the two of them decided to launch an app that combined the function of Foursquare with photography. The app, which was called Burbn at that time, did not seem to be well received by the public. However, what began with a few rented desks and a shared building started paying off after the focus of the app was changed almost totally into mobile photo sharing and a new app name was given, Instagram. The business has been thriving since then. In fact, only within two years, the app was valued and bought at $1 billion by Facebook. Instagram popularity continues ‘til this day with 400 million daily visitors and 700 million registered users.

Fourth, it is from the early history of Etsy, a famous selling and buying platform for artistic, customized goods and designs. The story started when Rob Kalin, one of the three Etsy founders, could not find a way on how to sell the furniture he had made. He had tried offering them to several shops, but they turned him down. He then came up with an idea to create his own website to market and sell the goods. Working together with his two co-founders, Chris Maguire and Haim Schoppik, the online market place for handmade and customized goods was launched. Despite the hurls in the management over the years, the company still claims its market domination with millions of artisans and active buyers. In fact, the company’s 2016 revenue was worth $365 million, which increased quite significantly from its last year’s revenue at $273 million.

Other similar stories have happened to quite a lot of people. There are Skot Carruth, a former accountant who moonlighted as website maker and ended up having a design and digital innovation company Philosophie with a nearly 8 figure revenue; Kristen Berry, who once worked in advertising while making graphic design products on the side and is now earning almost $1 million from her very own website,; and Amani Roberts with his DJ company called The Amani Experience, which he started building while still working as a corporate employee.

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