We all love stories of underdogs who made it against all odds, both in movies and in real life. It’s always refreshing and inspiring when you hear about poor people who fought to become rich. We can’t help but admire the entrepreneurs who beat the odds to run successful businesses, especially when no one gave them a chance. Their influence is particularly obvious in cities like Toronto, which has experienced growth in a time when most other major cities have suffered due to current global economic conditions.  The best part about these companies is that the bigger they are, the more jobs they are able to create. For example, job opportunities are aplenty due to such a positive business environment.

To make a business work when your budget is not that generous requires bootstrapping. Bootstrapping is a strategy meant to reduce costs in order to have more operating cash, with capital consisting of personal savings and cash flow management. The following companies did exactly that: they started out with a great idea and spent as little money as possible to gain profit.


This company practically paved the way for all other bootstrapped organizations and is one of the most successful stories. Its project management tool, called Basecamp, has over 3.000.000 users worldwide. What’s remarkable about 37Signals is that the founder actually felt inspired by the lack of capital. Not having more than enough money forced him to be more productive, since he was entirely responsible of the generated income.  Talk about adding fuel to a fire!


When it comes to online ticket sellers, Goldstar takes the cake. What started with a great idea and again – a small capital investment – ended up growing into something really big. The people behind Goldstar discovered an innovative new way to fill venues for live entertainment events by offering discounts for the unsold tickets.  It was and still is a win-win situation for everyone involved.


Do you have a great product for sale or a great business idea, but just don’t know how to market it? If so, you’re not alone!  We are proud to introduce you to Envato, which provides a worldwide marketplace where people can buy and sell goods, while at the same time learn new skills.  It truly gives new meaning to the words “earn and learn.”  The company takes care of marketing your products and successfully selling them online.  Curiously enough, the people behind the company had no previous business experience to their names – just this brilliant idea and some money.


Imagine this scenario: you’re surfing on the Internet using your laptop, on your typical job-seek grind, hoping to make a better living, when all of a sudden, your laptop breaks down. Oh the horror! You can’t afford to buy a new one, so you have to replace the damaged part, which is a difficult task when you don’t know where to find compatible hard drives and the like. Basically, this is how SparkFun started: with a man who was looking for replacement parts for his electronics.  The rest, as they say, is history…


Have you created some awesome web apps and you don’t know how to distribute them? Or do you want to have access to the newest and best web apps? Then AppSumo is your solution!  AppSumo teaches you how to sell your products and presents you with some the best programs on the market, offered at unbeatable prices.  Oh yeah, it also has a daily deal platform into it… and some pretty amusing copywriting.  AppSumo is well rounded (literally!) and is good for a fair share of laughs.  So what are you waiting for, Sumoling?

Starting a successful business doesn’t necessarily mean having a ton of money.  Some of the best companies have been founded on a shoestring budget and been built by nothing more than a lot of hard work.  Hard work, dedication and innovation are the true keys to success.

Abby Evans is an avid blogger who writes on everything from how to find jobs in Toronto to outlining the principals of how to write a killer blog post.