5 Successful Businesses That Started As Side Hustles

5 Successful Businesses That Started As Side Hustles

October 19, 2020 0

With side hustles becoming increasingly popular in Africa, you may be thinking about starting one yourself. This sounds like the perfect idea considering that life responsibilities make quitting your job for a new business unwise. There is a huge chance that you have a few friends that go to work and run a business by the side. Although not many sides hustle become successful businesses, eventually, the stories of the successful ones can help guide you towards your own success story.

Here are five successful businesses that started as side hustles:

1.    APPLE

5 Successful Businesses That Started As Side Hustles

It may come as a shock to you that the “almighty” Apple Company began as a side hustle. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, the two co-founders of this $1.3 trillion corporation, began building computers as employees of HP and Atari respectively. Despite working for two different employers, Job and Wozniak used their spare time to build a mechanism that would change the world.

They built their first computer, which they called Apple by using Atari’s spare parts (Business Insider, 2020). Out of excitement, the two friends revealed their invention to Job’s boss but he refused to invest in their dream. However, Job and Wozniak continued working on their dream in a garage during their spare time. Little did they know that they were about to hit a gold mine.

Several years down the line, Apple became a force to be reckoned with in the tech industry with several inventions like the iPod. The emergence of iPhones and iTunes – a music player app that later grew into an online music hub became the turning point for the company. Theirs is a story of pure determination and unrivalled motivation.

2.    ESTY

The famous vintage e-commerce website, Esty also began as a side business. The organisation runs a platform that helps entrepreneurs sell their products to consumers around the world. Like many side hustles, Rob Kalin founded Esty in a small apartment in Brooklyn, New York. The business was created to help build an online platform that will help artists, manufacturers, and crafters sell their vintage crafts and goods.

Having started the e-commerce website with 2 of his friends, in 2005, Rob Kalin had no idea that the breakthrough they needed was around the corner. Esty experienced remarkable growth within 2 years with about 450,000 sellers registering on the platform. In the same year, Esty’s recorded annual sales were $26 million. Fast forward to 2018, Esty generated a revenue of almost $603.7 million and recorded $41.2 million in net income. Hence, making it one of the most successful e-commerce businesses in the world.

3.    SPANX

Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, started her shapewear company as a side hustle. She was a saleswoman at Danka – a company that supplies office equipment. She had an innovative idea to cut out the feet of her pantyhose as she prepared to go out on a night in 1998. Being inspired by the result of her innovation, Sara decided to turn her newly found passion into a business.

Sara began her business by studying manufacturers and writing her patent at night since she had to work during the day. Eventually, her determination and commitment paid off. Sara successfully secured a deal with a hosiery manufacturer. While keeping her job as a saleswoman, Sara, worked on her design prototype at nights and during weekends.

Despite the challenges of having to work during the day and at night, Sara started her shapewear company in 2000. She became a self-made billionaire in 2012 and is currently worth $1.1 billion.


5 Successful Businesses That Started As Side Hustles

Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, began working on his social media platform while working as a programmer at a podcast company known as Odeo. The company later crumbled after Apple began allowing podcasts on iTunes. As a result, Evan Williams, the CEO of Odeo hosted a hack fest that saw Jack announce his project “Twttr”.  Jack’s friend, Noah Glass, improvised on the idea as the trio began working on Jack’s dream child at Noah’s apartment.

In July 2006, Jack was ready to launch his dream child officially – Twttr with his first message reading “just setting up my Twttr” (Startup Stories, 2018). Twttr – later renamed to Twitter, grew into a company in 2007 with Jack being named CEO. The idea came into the spotlight as a result of a setback; it has grown to become one of the most popular social media platforms in the world. Now worth over $5 billion, Twitter recorded about 152 million active users in December 2019.


In 2004, Salman Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, started tutoring his cousin through phone and Yahoo Doodle. Although he was working at a hedge fund, Khan’s commitment and passion for teaching others influenced more family members to join his tutorials. Being overwhelmed by the demand for his attention, Khan was forced to upload videos of his tutorials on YouTube.

Despite commencing Khan Academy as a business in 2008, Khan kept working on it as a side hustle while working for his employer. However, in 2009, he decided to quit his job and dedicate the whole of his time to his passion. He desires that anyone in any part of the world will have access to free world-class education.

While many people saw the intention of Khan to offer “free” world-class education to everyone as crazy, he continued working tirelessly to see his dream come true. Khan Academy received a grant from both Bill and Melinda Gates and Google for $1.5 million and $2 million respectively.

You also can turn your dream and passion into a goldmine. The secret to successful side hustle is ensuring that you only do what you love and have passion for. This way, you will remain motivated and determined, even when things aren’t going as expected.

Folarin Olalekan
Folarin Olalekan
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