Small Businesses That Made it Big by Disrupting Their Industries

Every major business started somewhere - often by young bootstrapped entrepreneurs with big ideas. We live in a world full of innovative startups, where a great idea can completely change an industry or community. Some of the massive billion-dollar businesses we see today started from a basement without much more than a few dollars. And how did they do it? Innovation, risk, determination, and creating new opportunities.

There are loads of great examples of small businesses that started with a unique idea and used it to reshape their community. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest disruptors and innovators today and how they went from a small startup to industry leaders.

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All entrepreneurs want to do something new, but very few have completely disrupted their industries and changed the way consumers approach certain products and services. All significant businesses start out small with a simple idea, and some end up growing from a small business to a ruler of their sector. Here are ten extraordinary businesses that have changed the game disrupting their industries.

goPuff

goPuff

goPuff was started with a simple idea by two college students. Fast forward eight years and the company has managed to raise $1 billion in funding to continue its expansion.

goPuff offers an app with over 3000 listed items that you would find on a regular convenience store. goPuff added a new spin on the convenience store by offering 30-minute delivery windows and a standard minimal delivery fee. Customers can place an order when they get a sudden craving for late-night snacks, and a delivery person will show up at their door within half an hour.

This startup has disrupted the major convenience store industry by operating in over 500 cities across the US. goPuff continues to innovate and develop, offering a wide range of products with greater convenience. The company now has 3000 employees and has recently closed a round of funding that raised an additional $750 million.

JUST

Just eggs

We know about the power and popularity of plant-based foods and JUST has reshaped the game. This San Francisco-based company has developed an innovative plant-based egg product made from mung beans. Compared to chicken eggs, JUST’s product is higher in protein, uses 98% less water, emits 93% less CO2, and requires 86% less land. The end result looks and acts just like a regular egg.

JUST has sold the equivalent of over 40 million eggs since its inception. This company has attracted the likes of Bill Gates and Marc Benioff in its backing and has developed even more innovative products after new rounds of venture funding.

This is a company that started out with a simple idea and used it to disrupt the food industry. JUST’s plant-based eggs can be found in thousands of stores and are sold to restaurants and food services through various distributors.

Duolingo

Duolingo

Since Duolingo’s rise in popularity, learning a new language has never been the same. This innovative startup was developed with the idea of making it easier to learn a new language by changing the format. A user-friendly language app was born. Duolingo offers easy, engaging lessons that can be done through your smartphone. Since launching, the Pittsburgh-based startup has become the world’s most downloaded education app.

Valued at over $1 billion, this education disruptor isn’t slowing down any time soon. They have changed the way the world approaches learning a language, and they have inspired various other language apps to follow suit. A true industry disruption success story.

Stripe

Stripe was started in 2010 with the simple idea to make online payments easier. Not financially easier for buyers, but by fixing common coding and design issues that placed a hurdle in front of setting up digital payments. Stripe was born - an instant payment platform focused on developers. The eCommerce space has never been the same again.

Since the massive boom in eCommerce due to the 2020 pandemic, Stripe managed to secure $600 million in new funding. The company now has an estimated $36 billion evaluation. Stripe continues to innovate the industry with its formation of Stripe Capital - a smart solution to providing small business loans.

Stripe started with a small idea and took it to massive heights. This now industry giant has set the new standard in the online payments industry, earning the company the top spot in the latest CNBC Disruptor 50 list.


ClassPass

ClassPass

The global fitness industry has been booming. The entire industry has an estimated value of $100 billion, opening up a huge space for new businesses to find innovative solutions to get in on the action. ClassPass is one of these small businesses that has disrupted their community. This company started in New York, and it is now available to people in 28 different countries.

The platform lets customers buy credits for various health and wellness classes. ClassPass has recently been valued at $1 billion. This disruptor has changed the way we go about booking fitness classes - reshaping and innovating the industry globally.

Vacasa

Vacasa

Vacasa started as a small business based in Oregon and has grown to a $1 billion company used by people worldwide. This disruptor has targeted the vacation rental properties industry by offering a smart solution to managing properties. Vacation properties have been an increasingly popular investment, and as more people buy them, Vacasa’s business grows.

Currently, this company manages over 23,000 vacation properties. They take a portion of the rent that each home generates. Vacasa saw an industry rising in popularity and found a new way to approach it and get a foot in the door. Their unique business idea has made a significant impact on the vacation rentals industry.

Indigo Agriculture

Indigo Agriculture

Launched in 2014, Indigo Agriculture has since managed to raise $850 million in financing for their industry-changing business. This Boston-based agricultural tech startup is focused on sustainable and traceable farming. This is achieved through their unique seed treatments that optimize the health of plants and increase farming yields. Indigo Agriculture uses natural microbiology and technology to enhance sustainability and health in farming and to boost farmers’ profits.

This industry disruptor has used technology as a tool to change the face of agriculture. Since its inception, Indigo Agriculture has started various initiatives to promote a healthier and more sustainable global farming community. This includes its digital Indigo Marketplace, its carbon offering, its Indigo Atlas food security initiative, and more.

Indigo Agriculture has shown the world that a small startup can revolutionize a major industry like agriculture with the right tools and innovations. Indigo Agriculture is now valued at $3.5 billion with six global locations.

SoFi

SoFi

In 2011, SoFi launched as a student loans financing company. Today, SoFi offers a complete suite of financial tools for all kinds of people. Their platform includes online trading with stocks and ETFs. Other than Investing, their products also cover Insurance and Money.

SoFi has been around for some time, and it has been successfully disrupting the banking and finance industry. As consumers are shifting away from using physical banks, SoFi has been offering increasingly more services - providing a new tech solution to personal finance. The brand has also stepped up during the Covid-19 pandemic, offering new services and products to address the various challenges individuals and small businesses face.

This ambitious finance company has 1 million members using their platform. SoFi is now valued at around $4.8 million.

Heal

This startup has been going for six years, and they recently had to pivot their business model in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Heal’s on-demand healthcare business started as a business that combines doctor house visits with technology. Now, Heal is making use of telemedicine.

The startup’s goal was to make healthcare more accessible for people who may struggle to get to a doctor’s office. This is exactly what they have been able to achieve, as their healthcare services can now be accessed by 75 million Americans.

Heal uses artificial intelligence, deep learning, and Internet of Things technology to disrupt their industry and provide a new type of solution for accessible healthcare.

Checkr

Checkr is a San Francisco-based startup that has found a unique niche. Their business runs background checks on contractors. This appeals to companies that need a fast solution and efficient solution to background checks - a demand that has been increasing in today's economy.

Since its inception, Checkr has run over 42 million background checks. They have also raised over $300 million in venture capital and plan on offering a wider range of smart solutions for employers.

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Conclusion

There are many innovators out there, but very few of them have able to disrupt their entire industry. The thriving businesses we listed above found new ways to outsmart their competition and create new opportunities in the market. Understanding their moves might help your own small business to reshape its industry and become the next billion-dollar idea.

Disruption doesn't happen overnight, and it requires risk and determination. When businesses get it right though, they can reap the rewards of shifting the focus of their industry and creating a whole new market, rising miles above their competitors.


Written by Tom

Tom is a marketing content writer at Wishpond. If he’s not creating content, you can find him playing with his dogs, reading a recipe book, or drinking strong coffee.