We hear of Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google starting at home and in a garage - but we do not hear of Yankee Candle as much. A boy in 1969 could not afford a Christmas gift for his mom - so he determined that a melted crayon was better suited than showing up empty handed. And thus he would melt her heart.
The takeaway challenge is brief but deep and something we can learn from a sweet 16 year old boy: While times have changed, and the value of the dollar has changed the truth remains timeless – learn to hone the discretion between innovation vs. investments.
Before you invest monetary value into your venture, seek counsel and be proactive in research. It took just one neighbor to see the homemade candle that Mike Kittredge of Yankee Candle would bestow his mother with - And so she ordered it for herself. The story goes that he sold it to her – and used the proceeds to make two more: One for his mom and one more to sell.
Here are a few others who let loose their entrepreneur spirits and honed innovative enterprises in their garages:
Mattell: The face of the company may be more recognizable as Barbie dolls, Fisher-Price and Hotwheels (the list goes on) but this man-cave-garage quickly turned a cash-cave for Harold “Matt” Matson and Ruth and Elliot Handler. Circa 1945, this El Segundo Company steadily introduced the toy industry to revolutionized gaming for diverse ages and demographics. And it all started with picture frame scraps and dollhouses.
Harley Davidson: With their three piece suits and top hats, William S. Harley, at just 20 years old, and friend Arthur Davidson did not resemble the modern black, white and orange leather vested Harley riders we see on highways now. But from 1901 until 1905 they were able to take a drawing to make a bike and recreate the concept into a motorized model.
During the First World War, their ingenuity supported the troops surpassing over 10,000 machines. They gave new meaning to the roaring 20’s as the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. This success culminated because from their first failed experiment - they said it was a valuable learning experience.
Disney: We quote him; we watch his movies; we know his name is Walt, but it was his Uncle Robert’s garage to which we owe a portion of this blog’s symbolic gratitude. Along with brother Roy, Walt began his productions with Alice in Wonderland and since then every day has been a wonderland. With a high school diploma, family values, wild imagination and strong work ethic he created a world-renowned empire.
The Garage: Empty boxes. Overflowing boxes, unable to shut. Oil, paint and water spillage, rotted wood, rusty metal, roller skates, squeaky toys, loose bolts and was that a stray cat? We are lucky if we can park our vehicle in the garage. But for some they have used this storage addition, whether attached to the home or not, as a resource for their business dreams. Maybe it started as a means for survival, maybe a source or outlet for their brain to breathe. But their garages had just as much potential as their gutsy and they would use it. Did they know they would outgrow it? Did they know they would succeed? Did they know that we, the future would have a future for it?
So where are your origins? For some, it’s a garage. For some it’s their mom’s basement, some their living room, their college dorm room, their pressboard desk or their laptop or even a smartphone.
For us, it’s The Couch and now wherever you are in your journey we welcome you to join The Project. We can help you get from the ground to the garage and get you on The Green Couch.
-The Green Couch