More and more businesses are launching in today's rapidly growing globalized marketplace, no doubt partially due (if not mostly due) to the fact that the Internet is such a large portion of the consumer market nowadays. No matter what industry you are in, competition is fierce, and being innovative to get your business and your product out there is crucial to your success. One area where this is truer than any other is in the world of software development and online tools; businesses in these arenas face more competition than ever, and some of their competition comes with the price tag of "free" to entice potential customers to them. The following five businesses are startups that have recently come into some great success by incredible means; they have picked themselves up by their bootstraps and had truly innovative ideas and practices and committed to them, something that companies do not frequently do nowadays. It is said that one of the most important things you can do while running a business is to have an eye on your competition, so take the time to note these companies for their successes.


There are so many different options for accounting software on the market, so what makes FreshBooks any different, exactly? Well, this cloud based software is oriented towards service-providing small businesses, so they understand their clientele and what they need. FreshBooks also does not charge much for their impressive array of services. Considering they started out with only ten customers and have now reached over five million, it would be safe to assume that FreshBooks is a startup success story to be marked down.


While there are many businesses that focus on serving other businesses or providing some sort of technological service to a non-tech savvy person or group of customers, there are not so many businesses that are focused on providing technical services to the technical minded. GitHub is a Wikipedia for programmers (of sorts) and it has had astronomical success; after all, with more and more programmers working in many different industries, having access to all sorts of information they might have forgotten since college or never learned is bound to be an indispensable tool. After turning down a deal from Microsoft, GitHub has reached over 4 million users, definitely far surpassing Microsoft's buyout offer of $300k.


Marketing and all of the tasks that go along with it can be a bit much for a business owner to keep track of, especially with all the other things that they have to worry about--and forget it if they do not have a marketing or PR team; at that point, much of their business is done through word of mouth advertising and social media if anything at all. MailChimp takes some of the work out of marketing for business owners by allowing them to manage their marketing contacts, send out marketing emails, and effortlessly track the results of your marketing campaigns. Why are they amazing? They have had exponential growth from 100,000 users to 1.2 million users in three years and they continue to grow at a steady rate.


Payment processing is one of, if not the most, important aspect to operating your business, since it is literally how you get paid. Even though there are free payment processing systems available to consumers like PayPal, the founder of Braintree decided that he would opt out of providing a free service and would have a paid, premium service available to business owners. The results? Surprising. 99% of their customers came to them through word of mouth and within a few short years of opening, they were doing business in the billion dollar realm. They were eventually bought out by PayPal, but they still offer the same premium service, just with a little bit of added financial security behind them now.


Every business is going to need software to run as smoothly as possible, and 37signals is the company to make it. Their business model is simple--they make quality software for people who request it. They have created an entire web development framework, and the writing of one of their founders has become an inspiration to entrepreneurs that came after them--pretty influential for a Silicon Valley startup!

Published on: Sep 23, 2014
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