Starting a business takes money. Venture capitalists, angel investors and banks sometimes swoop in to help out a business at the start, but more often than not an entrepreneur is on his or her own unless they can catch investors’ attention. However, having a large amount of start-up cash doesn’t necessarily mean you can build a large business. The tech bust was littered with well-capitalized companies that died. In this slideshow we’ll look at entrepreneurs who started big business with very little start-up money.
Now known as Subway, DeLuca’s sandwich empire has made him a billionaire. Peter Buck has also been rewarded with a fortune for trusting in his young friend. It’s worth noting that $1,000 in 1965 would be almost $7,000 today. It’s still an impressive feat to grow that into a billion-dollar business, and Subway is the startup story that all others are measured against.
In 1996, the cost of desktop computers was dropping steadily as clone PCs began trickling into an already competitive market. Margins were thin going on thinner. Alex Aguila and Nelson Gonzalez went into the business despite this, and they went in charging more than even the branded PCs. They did have two things going for them. One, they knew their market. Two, they took the cash up front.
With $10,000 in start-up capital, the pair began taking orders (cash upfront) for PCs customized for hardcore gamers. They barely scraped by the first year, but favorable reviews from gaming publications turned Alienware into the elite brand of gaming. Alienware’s niche made it too attractive to pass up. The company was doing over $100 million in sales when it was acquired by Dell in 2006.