Small Companies That Grew To Become Monsters

The growth of minnow companies

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Newspapers like the Guardian like to play down the idea that small businesses make it big. It’s a myth, they say, that you can set up your own business and then make a fortune. But that point of view has never been further from the truth, thanks to digital technology. Plus, we’ve got plenty of examples of companies that did start off small, but eventually became monsters. You may have even heard of some of them.

Levi Roots

Once upon a time, Levi Roots had a music career. But alas, not all that many people bought his music. And so he decided that the way to get rich quick was by setting up his own business. He started as a sole trader in London’s Notting Hill market selling his famous sauce. Soon it was evident he was onto something, and so he applied to be on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den. They gave him £50,000 which he then used to build his brand. Thanks to that seed money he now has a business worth over £40 million. And his products are in every supermarket in the UK.

Ben And Jerry

Ben and Jerry in 2016 is the last word in luxury, comforting ice cream. But it wasn’t always that way. The founders of the brand, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield started the business after they dropped out of college. In 1977, both men took an ice cream making course. The next year, business loan brokers lent them $4,000 on top of $8,000 they stumped up themselves. And they started what they now describe as a “dilapidated” ice cream parlour in Burlington. Since then the business, as you know, has gone big. Back in 2000, they sold their company to the conglomerate Unilever for $326 million. And since then, Unilever hasn’t managed to better the incredible brand they created.

The Body Shop
The founder of the Body Shop, Anita Roddick, was a woman on a mission. She was the child of Italian immigrants of the second world war. And, it seems, they taught her the value of working hard and doing business. During the 1970s and 1980s, she was motivated to start her new company, based on strict ethics of animal welfare. The Body Shop was born. However, it was still some time until it was successful. It was only when there was a general public backlash against the use of cosmetic testing on animals that the Body Shop hit the big time. During the 1990s, the company grew to a national chain in the UK. And it was eventually bought by L’Oreal in 2006 for £652 million.

My Year Book
My Year Book now called Meet Me was launched by 15-year-old Catherine Cook in 2005. Within a year, the value of the website grew to over $4 million. This incredible growth has continued ever since. And the number of people going to the site has increased considerably. Now it is regularly ranked among the top 25 sites in the US by volume of traffic. It currently generates revenues in excess of $20 million a year.

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