Starting a business from scratch is not easy. In fact, the majority of start-ups fail. However, that doesn’t mean there also aren’t plenty of success stories. In fact, some recent start-ups are now worth more than a billion dollars, and many of them are already household names. Hopefully learning about how others have found success will inspire you in your own entrepreneurial ambitions, or perhaps aid you in figuring out why your own business struggles to find success.
You might have heard the name Palantir a couple of years ago because the government used the data start-up to help it track down and kill Osama Bin Laden. The company joined the billion dollar club in 2011, and for the past five years has been working with seemingly every government intelligence agency as well as the military. The data company isn’t limited to fighting terrorists, however. It is also expanding its customer base to corporate America from analyzing drug data to detecting financial fraud. What was the start-up’s secret over the data giants such as IBM? It offered a cleaner, faster service with a much smaller price tag.
It is hard to imagine that something as simple as a card reader for an iPhone would be worth billions of dollars, but Square just shows that filling a need really is a critical ingredient of business success. Signing up for a traditional cash register was time consuming and expensive for small business owners. Square solved this issue by offering a service that is easy to sign up for and inexpensive to use. Meanwhile, unlike many tech companies, the card reader company started making money off of its clientele right away.
Dropbox garnered much of its success by taking a difficult task that many others had struggled with, including Apple, and making it look easy. In other words, keeping documents updated across platforms takes a really good product, and Dropbox succeeded in offering that. The sheer easiness and convenience of Dropbox alone is what has turned it into a company valued at billions of dollars today, showing the world that a product doesn’t have to be sexy to be successful.
Creativity was what drove movie animation giant Dreamworks to success, so how was that creativity fostered? Much of the company’s success lies in its talent management program. Dreamworks has a policy of open and candid communication between all of its employees, including the CEO who updates employees with a daily blog post. The company also allows any employees to submit pitches for movie ideas and select which projects they would like to work on. It just goes to show that employees truly are one of the most important assets of any company.
The home automation company Vivint is worth $2 billion and continues to grow. The business was first founded as an alarm company and recently made the switch to the new name. The company’s CEO, Todd Pedersen, credits the success of the start-up to being customer-driven, observant and frugal. The company has done particularly well in the arena of solar energy, offering consumers an affordable way to use solar power by eliminating the upfront costs.