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Don't park in your garage!

Des Dearlove looks at the humble beginnings of some big successes in the business world. You don’t use your garage to park your motor ...

By Des Dearlove 01 December 2006

Des Dearlove looks at the humble beginnings of some big successes in the business world. You don’t use your garage to park your motor car, do you? (Gasp.)
SoundingsBusinesses start with a bright idea, a glimpse of a gap in the market, a once-in-alifetime opportunity. And then what? Well, then you have to make it happen. But where? For some, the answer is a cupboard under the stairs or the spare bedroom. For others the answer is the garage.

Garages loom large in corporate history – though, admittedly, not as large as overweening ambition, greed and the willingness to work 24 hours every day. Garage start-ups have launched a thousand businesses. Some have conquered the world. Others have remained where they began, constrained by location and inspiration, as surely as others have found garageland an inspiration.

Garages have been called America’s secret weapon. There are plenty to choose from – 97 per cent of new American houses have attached garages, and the trend over recent years has been to two- or three-car garages. Starting a business in a three-car garage is rather like learning to drive in an automatic car; the result is the same, but the experience quite different.

While it is true that some of the biggest businesses that began life in garages have been American – Hewlett-Packard, Apple, Ford, and many more, garages are universal. A garage in Korea is as viable a corporate HQ as one in Madrid or Cleveland. Alongside the American corporate titans are a host of other global garage success stories.

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