100 years of start-ups: Where did it all begin?


This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: 100 years of start-ups: Where did it all begin?.

The most prolific multinational corporations of today had to start somewhere. Years of hard work, investment and a little bit of good luck meant some of the budding startups of 100 years ago have gone on to become some of the biggest brands in the world today. But how did they do it?

The government-backed Start Up Loans Company has taken a look back at where it all began and produced an interactive timeline featuring some of the world's major brands: Amazon, Jaguar Land Rover, IKEA, Marriot, Microsoft, Samsung, Starbucks, Tesco, Unilever, Walmart, Amstrad and Poundland.

The timeline shares some little-known facts and details some key turning points over the past 100 years that have shaped the businesses we know today.

For example, did you know...

  • Samsung's initial offering in 1938 was exporting dried fish, fruit and vegetables to China
  • In 1990, Steve Smith opened the first Poundland thanks to a £50,000 loan from his father... and the store took in £13,000 on its first day
  • In 1983, a 31-year old Bill Gates became a billionaire following the release of Microsoft Windows and the company going public
  • Tesco began in 1919 when Jack Cohen opened a market stall in the East End of London and made £1 profit from sales of £4

David English, Chief Marketing Officer at The Start Up Loans Company, said: "This timeline details the journey of some the biggest brands in the world. It just goes to show that it wasn't always as glamorous as it is now, and often these companies started out doing something completely different.

"We wanted to show how hard work, business sense and the right amount of money can go a long way. Who knows where launching a start-up might take you?"

You can read the piece here: www.startuploans.co.uk/100-years-start-ups


  • The Start Up Loans company is a government-backed organisation that provides loans between £500 and £25,000 at a 6% fixed rate per annum to new and early stage businesses
  • In addition to finance, all recipients are offered up to 12 months of mentoring support
  • The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, first formed the scheme in 2012.

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