Most people who set out to start a business do so to fulfil a passion and solve a problem, not to make millions – though it does happen! In fact, most startups are conceived on a shoestring budget, often tucked away in a suburban kitchen, garage or even the odd university dorm room.
Every so often, one of these small businesses defies all odds and grows to float on the stock exchange, bringing in huge growth, wealth and even fame.
Here we take a look at some of the most innovative, creative and surprising startups that originated from humble beginnings to cause a stir on the stock exchange.
Before it was the behemoth of the computer and business world, Apple – the brainchild of university dropouts Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak – was another startup running from a garage. The pair’s mission was to create the first PC; computers that were small and accessible enough for personal and professional use.
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After some commercial hits and misses, Apple launched its initial public offering (IPO) in late 1980, listing 4.2 million shares valued at US$22 each.
While Steve Jobs’ famously unrelenting and visionary approach to simplicity in form and marketing made Apple the superstars of product design today, it wasn’t always smooth sailing.
Jobs and Wozniak both left the company in 1985, the former due to internal politics.
After returning in 1997, Jobs convinced the board to fire CEO Gil Amelio and took on the role that made him a household name.
After steadily restoring the value of the company with the release of the iMac, iPod, MacBook, iPhone, AppStore, iPad and Siri, Jobs led Apple to oust oil company ExxonMobil as the world’s most valuable company on the stock exchange in 2011. While Apple is occasionally pushed off its perch by Google, it is generally considered the most valuable stock in the world.
Buddy Platform is the Australian startup behind the “Buddy Ohm” sensor units, a product that monitors commercial property electricity, gas, solar and water expenditure in real-time updates.
Building managers can act on this information, making on-the-spot decisions and/or setting automatic alerts to ensure conservation of resources – all in the name of reducing costs.
This ingenious Australian startup benefits from some big-name backing, with Microsoft and pop star Lady Gaga included in its ranks of seed investors.
In 2015 Business Insider reported that Buddy Platform floated on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) as a “backdoor listing”, as opposed to a conventional IPO, via Western Australian company Potash Minerals.
Late last year, Buddy Platform’s shares reportedly rose a whopping 300% in a mere six months, due to a fortunate distribution deal struck with major international telcos.
Founder and chief executive David McLauchlan said this was due to the fact the Buddy Platform system resulted in a higher reliance on mobile networks.
“It’s absolutely perfect for them [telcos]. There isn’t a carrier in the world that isn’t interested in putting more stuff on their network that they can monetise,” McLauchlan said in October.
Airport shuttle transport service Jayride – which provides transport services between airports and cities in Australia, New Zealand, the US, UK and Ireland – recently announced their debut on the ASX after an oversubscribed $1.5 million IPO in late 2017.
Rod Bishop, who founded the Sydney startup in 2012, decided to go public to establish a solid foundation for future growth of the brand.
“It’s about looking towards the future. Being a public company gives us a lot of forward movement for growth and a lot of credibility for accessing new partnerships,” Bishop recently told StartupSmart.
“When we were a private startup that people didn’t know very well, it was harder to get certain deals. Like when we first met with Flight Centre – the process of landing that partnership was long and hard,” he said.
The company is planning to use its IPO funds for further international expansion, commercial partnerships and new tech integrations.
Who would’ve thought that a little search algorithm playfully dubbed “Backrub” would grow to become the omnipresent Google we know today?
Formulated in 1996 as a university research project by Stanford students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the duo thankfully decided to change the name to Google (a derivative of the mathematical concept ‘googol’) when they officiated the private company in friend Susan Wojcicki’s garage in 1998. (Wojcicki went on to become CEO of YouTube.)
After some notable failures to sell the company, Google’s first IPO occurred in August 2004, where they offered a little under 20 million shares to the public priced at US$85 each. As they say, the rest is history.
At the time of publishing, Google’s stocks were on offer for an impressive US$1113 each.
Created by Australian computer scientist Peter van der Made, BrainChip’s flagship innovation is a microchip that can independently learn, integrate and remember information much like the human brain, based on detecting and recognising patterns without the need for pre-programming.
The startup developed the branch of artificial intelligence via a system that simulates how human neurons function.
The company floated on the ASX in 2015 after its acquisition by Aziana Limited (now BRN), which at the time boosted Aziana’s share price by 125%. Since that time the company has acquired custom software developer Spikenet, which had been utilising BrainChip’s technology to further its hardware implementation goals.
In BrainChip’s latest quarterly update, the company reported, among other achievements, a “successful placement which raised A$21.5 million”.
With applications that assist forecasting, law and intelligence organisations, and with possible future integration into smartphones, drones and driverless cars, the market for BrainChip’s technology has a projected worth in the billions and offers a compelling glimpse into the future of technology.
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