Billion-Dollar Entrepreneurships Started Out of Basements

When you think of a business, you likely think of an office building, something where you can go to get all your things in order. However, it’s actually very common for businesses to get things started in a much less glamorous location, like your home’s garage or basement. Such is the case with a wide variety of well-known and ultra-successful companies. Take a look at these companies that got their start in a basement and delve further into a few of the ones worth billions of dollars now.

Tech and Other Successful Companies That Started in Parents’ Basements Created By: JES

Epic Games – $15 Billion

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Even if you think you’ve never heard of Epic Games, you’ve at least almost certainly heard of their smash hit video game Fortnite. However, while Fortnite is a very lucrative game, Epic Games got its start in 1991, when Tim Sweeney started designing video games from his parents’ basement in Maryland. This was on the cusp of the widespread release of computer games, and Tim Sweeney got in on the ground floor. With the success of Fortnite, as well as the successes of various games that came before it, Epic Games now has a valuation of $15 billion.

Qualtrics – $11.1 Billion

One of the most widely-used pieces of software you may never have heard of is Qualtrics. That’s because Qualtrics is especially useful for academics conducting field research, but it’s relatively unknown outside of those circles. However, the company has a wide reach and is indispensable for many researchers who need a better way to survey various populations. In 2002, the company got its start when Ryan Smith convinced his brother Jared to leave his job at Google so he could manage the business’s technical aspects. By selling the product to consumers and companies, Qualtrics grew to its current $11.1 billion valuations.

FUBU – $6 Billion

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Streetwear is nothing if not a moneymaker, and Daymond John, perhaps most well-known for his starring role on Shark Tank, knows it. He launched FUBU, his streetwear label, from his mother’s basement, using his mother’s sewing machine to create the styles. Then, he talked to local hip hop artists, requesting they wear his clothes in their music videos. That simple trick of selling to hip hop artists directly was what made FUBU such a big deal nowadays. By capitalizing on the urban music scene in Queens, FUBU became a sensation, and it now has a $6 billion valuation.

SoftKey – $5.7 Billion in Today’s Money

Although the company doesn’t exist anymore, SoftKey was huge during its heyday. It got its start through another Shark Tank star, Kevin O’Leary, who received a $10,000 investment from his mother and a place to work in her basement. SoftKey sold CD-ROMs all throughout the 1990s, becoming a mainstay of many CD-ROM manufacturers and lovers. In 1999, Kevin O’Leary sold the company to Mattel for $3.65 billion, or $5.7 billion in today’s money, which is a huge reason that he’s such a big investor nowadays.

Virgin Group – $4.7 Billion

Even though Virgin Group doesn’t sell things by itself, it does invest a lot of money into companies that sell products and provide services. This company got its start when entrepreneur Richard Branson was only 16; he started selling student magazines out of his co-founder’s basement. The two had absolutely no capital, though they encountered a stroke of luck when Branson’s mother got $125 from an unclaimed lost and found. Today, Virgin Group continues to impress with its variety of investments, giving it a valuation of over $4.7 billion.

Under Armour – $3.5 Billion

In 1996, Kevin Plank made a curious discovery: when he worked out, his cotton T-shirts would get soaked with sweat, but his synthetic compression shorts would not. From there, he got started working out of his grandmother’s basement in Washington, D.C to design moisture-wicking T-shirts. He got his big break when USA Today published a front-page photo of an Oakland Raiders quarterback wearing one of his shirts. Today, the company has a $3.5 billion valuation.

Yankee Candle – $1.75 Billion

If you’ve ever perused a whole aisle of scented candles at your local superstore, you probably have Michael Kittredge II to thank for that. Scented candles have existed for a long time, but they used to be nothing but a novelty. In the 1960s, he started making candles from melted crayons in his parents’ basement. He added the maximum amount of fragrance in each candle, elevating scented candles from the realm of a novelty to something that’s much more of an everyday indulgence. In 2013, the company Michael Kittredge II built sold for $1.75 billion.

Kaplan – $1.5 Billion

Tutoring giant Kaplan got its start all the way back in 1938. The eponymous Stanley Kaplan realized that many of the immigrant families in his native Brooklyn were worried about upcoming standardized tests; many of them didn’t have an extremely firm grasp on the subjects they were learning in school. To help these families through the upcoming standardized tests, he started tutoring many of them from the basement of his parents’ home in Brooklyn. The method of tutoring he used stuck, and the company grew at a tremendous rate. In 2018, 80 years after its founding, it had $1.5 billion in revenue.


As you can see, a basement can be a hugely important part of the development of a new company. Whether you have an entrepreneurial concept already in mind or you’re just hoping that something will come along at some point, you may want to invest some money into making sure your home’s basement is healthy and well-maintained. Not only will it provide a space for you to brainstorm, but it’ll also make the rest of your home more healthy as well.
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