When you think of the biggest U.S. companies you probably imagine huge offices, hundreds if not thousands of employees, and international recognition. However, beyond the prestige of an organization’s  success, many of the most well known brands originated from humble beginnings. Many of us today are familiar with the start-up success of Facebook, but often forget about the many other mega-companies that started small as well.  Whether the original founders struggled with repeated failures or the first employees worked out of a garage, these companies prove that with the power of a dream and hard work anything is possible.


This massive online retailer began in 1994 by Jeff Bezos and would change the e-commerce world forever. Amazon did not start out as the everything and anything retailer it is today, but sold books primarily. He set up Amazon in his garage and worked hard on his business model. Amazon did not experience over night success, as Jeff dealt with many failures during the creation of the company. Despite the hardships, Amazon proved its worth to investors and became the top e-commerce site.


Founded by J. Willard Marriott in 1927, this company began very differently than the Marriott hotels we know today. J. Willard opened his food stand ‘The Hot Shoppe” in Washington D.C. selling A&W root beers. His restaurant business expanded to Baltimore and the company became involved in food service management for government buildings and schools. It wasn’t until 1957 when Marriott opened their first hotel in Virginia. Marriott would go on to become one of the largest hotel chains in the world. J. Willard’s small food stand became an international hotel chain with hard work and a vision for customer service.


As one of the biggest athletic retailers in the world, it’s hard to believe that such a huge company began in the trunk of a car. In 1964 Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight founded Blue Ribbon Sports, which would later become known as Nike. They were dedicated to creating the best durable and light weight running shoes, as Bowerman coached track at University of Oregon and Knight was one of his runners. The pair originally served as distributors for Japanese running shoes before solely selling their own product. The company expanded, changed their named to Nike, and became known across the world. Nike’s slogan “Just Do It” became one of the most recognized ad slogans of the 20th Century.

It’s not uncommon for gigantic corporations to have small roots. After all, everyone had to start somewhere!