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Starting a business from the ground up is a colossal task. Not only does it take years of planning and research, but also incredible determination and an unmatched drive for success.
The last decade has witnessed a surge of innovation and entrepreneurship, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of startups being created year by year.
While many of these startups end up being left on the cutting room floor, a select few have surpassed even the greatest of expectations of their founders – rising to become some of the most successful and well-known companies today.
In this article, we’ll be counting down the top 10 most successful startups of the last decade, showcasing their remarkable achievements over the past ten years and the impact they've had on the global business landscape.
Founded in 2012 by Benoît Dageville, Thierry Cruanes and Marcin Żukowski, Snowflake rose from a tiny tech startup into one of the most successful data warehousing companies in the world. The journey began with the realisation that traditional data warehousing solutions were struggling to keep up with the exponential growth of data and the increasing demand for real-time analytics. Snowflake's founders set out to build a data platform that could scale effortlessly, perform efficiently, and operate seamlessly in the cloud – building what has become one of the most popular cloud-based warehousing platforms on the market.
Now headquartered in California, Snowflake has continued to innovate and expand over the years. Unlike traditional data warehousing solutions, Snowflake's cloud-native architecture allows businesses to store and manage vast amounts of data with unmatched flexibility and efficiency. This separation of storage and computing enables users to scale resources independently, ensuring optimal performance and unmatched cost-effectiveness in the cloud.
The story of DoorDash began with a simple yet revolutionary idea – to create a seamless platform connecting customers with local restaurants for food delivery. And in an increasingly fast-paced world, the demand for convenient food delivery solutions had never been higher. DoorDash’s user-friendly platform was an instant hit in the US, enabling customers to order from their favourite restaurants with just a few taps on their smartphones.
But it wasn’t until the pandemic that the value of DoorDash’s product really became clear. As restaurants faced restrictions on dine-in services, DoorDash's platform became essential for enabling food establishments to reach customers and maintain their business operations. This surge in demand propelled DoorDash's growth, making it a go-to solution for contactless food delivery during the pandemic and catapulting it to new heights in terms of revenue and market share. In December 2020, DoorDash successfully went public, further validating its status as a dominant player in the food delivery market. The IPO marked a significant milestone for the company and demonstrated investor confidence in its long-term potential.
Zoom’s rise to success is a tale of remarkable entrepreneurial success driven by innovation, strategic decision-making and impeccable timing. Founded in 2011 by Eric Yuan, a former engineer at Cisco Webex, Zoom began as a Skype competitor with the goal of revolutionising online collaboration. Mr Yuan believed that existing video conferencing solutions were too cumbersome and lacked the simplicity required to connect people seamlessly. Drawing from his experience in the industry, he designed Zoom with a strong focus on ease of use, crystal-clear audio, and high-definition video quality.
In 2013, Zoom made a strategic decision to target the enterprise market, offering a freemium model to entice users and introducing premium plans with enhanced features for businesses. This allowed Zoom to both individual and corporate markets effectively, leading to impressive growth in both sectors. Then, in 2020, Zoom experienced a meteoric rise unlike anything before. As the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of people to work, learn, and socialize remotely, the demand for video conferencing solutions skyrocketed. Zoom, with its ease of use and reliable performance, emerged as the go-to platform for virtual meetings, webinars, and online events. The sudden surge in users, often referred to as the "Zoom boom," catapulted the company's popularity to unprecedented heights. Zoom's daily meeting participants skyrocketed from approximately 10 million in December 2019 to over 300 million in April 2020, a remarkable testament to its versatility and scalability.
Founded in 2009 by Ethan Brown, Beyond Meat set out to address the environmental and health concerns of traditional animal-based meat production while providing a delicious and nutritious alternative for consumers. The company’s early days were marked by rigorous experimentation and continuous improvement. The company collaborated with top chefs and food experts to fine-tune its products and ensure they replicated the sensory experience of traditional meat. The result was a range of plant-based burgers, sausages, and ground "meat" that closely resembled their animal-based counterparts.
One of Beyond Meat's major breakthroughs came in 2013 when it partnered with Whole Foods Market to launch its Beyond Burger, becoming the first plant-based meat substitute to be sold alongside traditional meat products in the meat aisle. This strategic placement helped Beyond Meat reach mainstream consumers and challenge the traditional norms of the grocery store. Today, Beyond Meat products can be found in grocery stores, restaurants, and food service outlets worldwide, illustrating the extent of its impact on the way people consume and perceive food.
Founded in 2013 by Baiju Bhatt and Vlad Tenev, Robinhood has revolutionised the financial industry by offering commission-free trading and democratising access to the stock market for everyone. In its early days, Robinhood faced scepticism from traditional brokerage firms that relied on commission fees as a significant revenue stream. However, the founders were undeterred, believing that commission-free trading could attract a new generation of investors.
One of the key drivers of Robinhood's early success was its referral program. By offering free shares of stock to users who referred friends to join the platform, Robinhood rapidly expanded its user base through word-of-mouth marketing. This viral growth fuelled the company's momentum and positioned it as a popular choice for novice investors. As Robinhood gained traction, the company continued to innovate. In 2015, it introduced Robinhood Gold, a premium subscription service that provided access to extended trading hours and margin trading. This move allowed Robinhood to tap into additional revenue streams and cater to more experienced traders. Today, Robinhood continues to evolve and expand, introducing options including cryptocurrency trading, options trading, and cash management solutions. Its impact on the financial industry goes beyond just commission-free trading; it has redefined the relationship between brokerage firms and retail investors, ushering in a new era of democratized finance and empowering individuals to take control of their financial futures.
Often referred to as Northern California’s most mysterious tech company, Palantir Technologies' journey from a tiny startup to a data analytics powerhouse is not your typical silicon valley success story. Founded in 2003 by Peter Thiel and Alex Karp, the early days of Palantir were marked with a series of bold ambitions. The company focused on targetting the intelligence and defence sectors with their cutting-edge data analytics platform, Palantir Gotham – a tool which empowered analysts to connect, analyse, and visualise extensive data from various sources. Gotham quickly caught on, providing companies with unprecedented insights and a comprehensive understanding of complex situations.
But Palantir didn't stop there. In 2009, they took a bold step and ventured into the commercial market with Palantir Foundry, a versatile platform designed to cater to a variety of different industries. Soon enough, Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions, and governmental agencies around the world turned to Palantir for their data needs, solidifying its position as a trusted and reliable data analytics provider. Today, Planatir Technologies is among the most successful data analytics companies in the world. Their relentless pursuit of making data accessible and actionable has reshaped the landscape of data analytics, and as they continue to navigate the future, their journey serves as an inspiring testament to the limitless possibilities of tech startups.
In 2012, Bloomberg reported that Stripe had just raised an $18MM round with Sequoia at a $100MM valuation. Then, in 2015 Stripe announced even bigger news: a strategic partnership and investment from Visa to provide better online and mobile experiences for Visa, while Stripe benefits from the giant’s global reach and host of powerful tools and technologies. But this adventure has humble beginnings. A brainchild of Irish brothers Patrick and John Collision, Stripe was founded in 2010, and quickly embarked on a mission to revolutionize the digital payment landscape.
But it wasn't just bells and whistles that catapulted Stripe to the top. The Collision brothers’ relentless focus on user experience and security instilled confidence in businesses, while their robust security measures kept sensitive data under lock and key. The company's user-friendly API and developer-friendly approach also made it stand out in an incredibly crowded marketplace, attracting businesses of all sizes, from small startups to Fortune 500 companies. As tech giants like Apple, Google, and Amazon joined hands with Stripe, their influence only grew. not only validating their prowess but also propelling them to the forefront of the industry. Today, Stripe's relentless pursuit of technological advancement has made it a titan of the online payment space, processing colossal sums of transactions and serving as the backbone for countless businesses worldwide. Its journey from a fledgling startup to an industry leader serves as a shining testament to the power of innovation, adaptability, and a laser focus on customer needs.
In 2001, the now notorious Elon Musk purchased a seat on the board of the Mars Society, a non-profit organisation advocating Mars exploration. With his interest in colonising the Red Planet, the billionaire proposed a mission to establish an interplanetary greenhouse. His companies PayPal and Zip2 for just under $2 billion and founded his own space transportation manufacturer, SpaceX. The company’s ultimate goal was to reach Mars. However, before that, it would first need to start from scratch and build a consumer base to fund its mission.
The company’s game-changing moment came in 2012 when it successfully launched the Falcon 9 rocket, which delivered the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Statio. This accomplishment solidified SpaceX's position as a serious contender in the commercial space industry, leading to numerous contracts with NASA and other entities for resupply missions and satellite launches. Today, Musk’s unwavering determination. has allowed it to achieve groundbreaking feats. In 2020, the company achieved another major milestone when it launched astronauts to the ISS aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft, marking the first time a privately-developed spacecraft carried astronauts into orbit. Today, SpaceX stands as a shining example of how a startup with a bold vision and relentless pursuit of innovation can redefine an entire industry. While Musk may not be seemingly more involved in the recently-rebranding Twitter X and Tesla, SpaceX's trailblazing advancements have positioned the company as a driving force in space exploration, inspiring generations to dream big and reach for the stars.
Uber's rise from a humble startup to an industry powerhouse is a captivating saga of disruption, innovation, and transforming the way people move around in cities. Founded in 2009 by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, Uber set out to transform the traditional taxi industry by providing a more convenient and efficient ride-hailing service. In its early days, Uber faced resistance and regulatory challenges from established taxi operators and city governments. However, the company's innovative approach and the use of mobile technology to connect riders with drivers quickly caught on. The user-friendly app and cashless payment system made the entire process seamless, setting a new standard for urban transportation.
As Uber expanded into new markets and cities, its aggressive expansion was marked by the introduced various new service options, such as UberX, UberPOOL, and UberEATS, expanding its offerings beyond ride-hailing and venturing into the food delivery sector. Then, in May 2019, Uber went public, marking a significant milestone in its journey as an industry titan. The IPO further validated Uber's position as a dominant player in the mobility and logistics space. Today, Uber's impact on urban transportation is momentous, and it has reshaped the way people move and interact with cities.
Airbnb was born in 2007 when founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk welcomed three guests to their San Francisco home, and since grown to over 4 million Hosts who have welcomed 1.4 billion guest arrivals in almost every country across the globe. But long before Airbnb persuaded strangers to sleep in each others’ homes and became a company with $93.6 billion market cap, it was just an idea to earn extra more to pay rent. The company's breakthrough moment came during the 2008 Democratic National Convention when a shortage of hotel rooms in Denver, Colorado, led to the first Airbnb hosts opening their homes to convention attendees. The event proved the viability of the concept and kick-started the growth of Airbnb's platform.
As Airbnb expanded its services to include entire homes and unique accommodations like castles, treehouses, and boats, it solidified its position as a pioneer of the sharing economy. The democratisation of travel that Airbnb offered resonated with budget-conscious travellers, who found cost-effective alternatives to traditional hotels and accommodations. This value proposition, paired with Airbnb’s aggressive expansion strategy, played a significant role in attracting a wide demographic of users. Today, it has a valuation of almost $100 billion and has reshaped the global travel industry. With millions of listings in nearly every country, the platform continues to connect hosts and guests, fostering cultural exchange and transforming the way people experience travel and accommodation.
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