How Nine Start-up Founders Grew Their Businesses from ‘Humble Beginnings’

Dell’s "Beginnings" campaign celebrates companies that have grown from humble beginnings into some of America’s most iconic brands. These companies, such as Gilt, The Knot,, Shutterfly and TripAdvisor all began with the ideas and passion of dreamers who wanted to make something good great and something unimaginable possible.

To further extend the campaign, Dell last week launched a social platform called Your (More) as a destination for entrepreneurs to connect with one another and share their stories. The portal offers businesses the opportunity to submit their mission statements and background on their entrepreneurial journeys for a chance to be featured on the front page of To create a profile, you can upload your company details directly to

Growing a business from dorm-room startup into household name requires flexibility, intense passion, dedication and determination, and Your (More) aims to inspire current and future entrepreneurs by demonstrating that even today’s most successful businesses had to start from somewhere (just look at

Drew Houston who wrote the first lines of code for Dropbox at a bus stop after realizing he left his USB stick at home!).

Making the leap from great idea to thriving business doesn’t come without calculated risk and heaps of growing pains along the way. Members of the Dell Founders Club, all of whom are working to solve tough problems in industries as diverse as data analytics, industrial office supplies and telemedicine drive this point home with the below anecdotes from their early days. Click here to get the full scoop on each of these companies.

  • After a car accident in New Mexico, Chris Witt’s father died en route to the nearest hospital. His life could have been saved if EMS staff had been able to relay critical information in real-time. Chris met Jonathon Feit, who had previously been in training to become a field medic, and the two founded Beyond Lucid Technologies to reduce the information and technology gaps for the 120 million ambulance transfers that happen in the US every year.
  • Bottlenose was founded by Nova Spivack and Dominiek ter Heide. Their first office was a surfboard off the shore of Enoshima, Japan where they conceived of an idea to build stream intelligence technology to analyze the world’s real-time collective consciousness for the first time.
  • It took two brothers from Brooklyn to recognize that developers were a severely underserved market. After years in the managed hosting industry, Ben and Moisey Uretzky decided to build DigitalOcean from the ground up, adding CMO Mitch Wainer to lead their marketing efforts. The small but mighty team took their newborn company to TechStars where they gained invaluable knowledge and connections to take their company to the next level.

  • After spending hours in urgent care with his daughter who had a simple ear infection, HealthSpot founder Steve Cashman decided to revolutionize the healthcare industry by making access to doctors and diagnostics easy and affordable through a first class, ‘Apple-like’ patient experience.
  • Fantoo was founded by Jordan Fantaay, a serial entrepreneur in the technology industry for over 18 years, who was fed up with his email lifestyle and made the decision to dedicate the next few years of his life to solving this problem rather than waiting for a solution to come along.
  • Neverware founder Jonathan Hefter spent years in his parents’ basement working on his startup while also serving as a volunteer firefighter – he would sit at the firehouse, coding in his boxers while waiting for his gear to wash.
  • Drinking mango daiquiris on the beach, P.D. Morrison’s wife told him he needed to put his drink down and get out of the sun when he told her he was going to buy a new business. He then found a niche with his company PDME in providing added-value services for the office and industrial supply industries and has grown it into an over $35M a year business.
  • Erik Severinghaus left his job as an IBM consultant and dropped his life savings into Simple Relevance. For a time, his team worked out of an office known as the “Fail Cube,” before moving into a co-working center for digital startups in Chicago. They’re now serving Fortune 500 clients and growing at a rate of 20 percent month-over-month.
  • Speek was founded by two friends over drinks on a business trip in NYC who went from joking about annoying conference calls to sketching their idea for Speek on a cocktail napkin. Two months later, they had built their first MVP.

To explore other entrepreneurial stories or to submit your own, visit  

About the Author: Ingrid Vanderveldt