3 Internet Start Up Ideas That Were Turned Into Multi-Million Businesses

Foursquare’s Start-Up Story

While some of the world’s biggest internet phenomenon can spark from the thin air of life-in-motion, other concepts are slowly developed from several meetups. Sometimes, there are several conversations and ideas that have to mold into one dynamic app. Naveen Selvadurai and Dennis Crawley, Founders of the mega-popular app Foursquare took a slow, methodical approach but developed their idea from several life experiences.

The logo of Foursquare.com

The logo of Foursquare.com

After having a bunch of different conversations at different coffee shops and restaurants, the question became, “how do you remember where we went?” More importantly, the conversation shifted; “how do we discover new places in our towns and cities?” The idea of Foursquare began with that in mind, helping people discover and connect wherever they are whenever they want.

Selvadurai would bring the concepts of analytics and ‘checking in’ to Foursquare to make it interesting. Crawley meanwhile, would add the element of gaming to make it more fun and addictive experience. But this idea couldn’t remain an idea for long. Both Crawley and Selvadurai forced their mental thoughts into a real working app; giving themselves a deadline to present their concept to the public at the 2009 SXSW festival. Their tenacity paid off because, by the end of that summer, they’d raised enough money to hire their first employee. A cult following would soon emerge and the rest is history. Today, Foursquare has a user base of over 10 million people, with over 35,000 people ‘checking in’ each day.

How StumbleUpon Was Started

The logo of StumbleUpon.com

The logo of StumbleUpon.com

Not every startup is born a superstar. While some websites catch on like wildfire to the public, others stake their claim by remaining scrappy. StumbleUpon is an example of the engaged, determined dot.com that refuses to lose. In fact, it continues to gain, with over 500,000 new users signing up each month.
But that wasn’t the case 14 years ago. Two grad students; Garrett Camp and Geoff Smith remembered when it was barely on the radar, acting as a subscriber service on a then relatively unknown Firefox extension. Back then, a few magazine articles and some low-level promotion got them a few thousand subscribers, but the site was far from the powerhouse it was today.
Five years after its inception, Camp and Smith had reached a breaking point. StumbleUpon had gradually gained some traction, earning themselves around 600,000 subscribers at the time. They were finished with grad school and had two options; get a full-time job or find funding for their resilient tech business.
Silicon Valley was their land of milk and honey, as they were able to put together an incredible $1.5 million seed round in 2006. But money wasn’t the only valuable thing they stumbled upon in the San Francisco area.
Their founders also offered valuable advice and helped the young duo develop their business in Silicon Valley. After carefully hiring a hungry team full of savvy marketers and business professionals, StumbleUpon had gained their footing in the tech world. One year later in 2007, eBay would acquire the upstart company for a cool $75 million.

How RetailMeNot’s Start-Up Idea Was Born

While other startup stories can range from the spectacular to the dramatic, there are quite a few that fall in the stereotypes that aspiring entrepreneurs continue to ignore. RetailMeNot‘s Australian founders Guy King and Bevan Clark are examples of the superstar startup millionaire’s handbook: finding something they love to do and putting in a heck of a lot of sweat equity.
In their case, they had a passion not just for finding deals but giving those deals to the people.
With over $30 million in revenues worldwide and 90 million unique visitors across the globe, you’d think this is an age-old company that’s been around forever. In fact, this company hasn’t reached its 10th birthday, as King and Clark started the company in 2006. Their mantra of doing what you love and “scratching that itch” is what brought them to the success they have today.

RetailMeNot.com's Logo

RetailMeNot.com’s Logo

Mixed with their entrepreneurial spirit, King and Clark took advantage of the internet’s obsession with daily deals and coupons before they became a mainstream fad. RetailMeNot was positioned as an aggregation of the web’s most popular coupon sites. Distributing over 500,000 coupons from over 50,000 stores, King and Clark were finding deals on everything from baby products, electronics, travel, accessories and just about everything else. Their gamble had ultimately paid off just four years later as they were acquired by Whaleshark Media in 2010.

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