Some of the Most Famous Non-VC-Backed Tech Start-Ups

Startup Business

Many people believe that only businesses funded by VCs can grow and become famous. However, they are wrong; VC is not always the denominator of every successful venture. Some people have started with little capital or none at all and made it big. They began with a few thousand dollars and increased them little by little to create a multi-billion empire. The non-VC backed tech start-ups are successful in their way. While some of them have accumulated a lot financially and are doing well, they still remain simple, and it’s hard to believe the success they have achieved. However, they are a force to reckon with. Read on below to see how they started and grew to become what they are today.


Ben Chestnut is the CEO and co-founder of MailChimp. He used to run a design consultation business and his many customers needed newsletters. He did not like designing them and that led to the creation of a system to streamline the process of creating the newsletter. That’s how MailChimp was born in the year 2000; today it’s a $400 million business known all over the world.


Lynda was a web designing teacher, but the books her students used were bland. She decided to create some films for her them; it was the late 1990s, and almost 20 years later, she created a whole library of content and tech assets. This is what LinkedIn saw and was convinced enough to buy the company at $1.5 billion.


PluralSight provides software training remotely. It was created in nine years through bootstrapping and today, it has over six thousand courses for different tech subjects including Javascript and C# and its worth over one billion dollars.


Shopify was founded by people who were trying to create an efficient shopping cart in e-commerce dedicated to snowboarders. Since they could not find a solution, they came up with their unique solution using the red-hot Ruby on Rails framework. It became a solution for many other people, and they ran independently using their generated revenues for six years. However, later they got funding from VCs and they IPOed, which enabled them to reach a $40 billion valuation.

Braintree Payments

Business online has been hard because of many fraudsters looking for ways to scam unsuspecting buyers. Braintree created an efficient tech solution for sellers and buyers and worked for four years. It raised $69 million through two venture capital financing and later it was acquired at $800 million.


Shutterstock was created by Jon Oringer, who was an amateur photographer, but a professional software developer. He started with over thirty thousand photos from his library. Today the photo services are famous and worth over $2 billion. He funded the capital with his savings and later grew to become a self-made billionaire.


This company was started as a simple, unique spreadsheet. The owner was looking for the best flight deal and today its one of the biggest tech companies in Edinburgh with more than 500 employees. The company grew from 2000 without VC-back up, and by 2007, it has raised 6 million, and in 2016 it was at $192 million.

A business can grow to become famous without getting millions to fund it. One can use savings, grants or presales to create huge capital to support a tech business to the next level. Before you start planning meets with venture capitalists think of possible ways to fund your company. The stories above about various companies that started from nothing are a clear indicator that it’s possible. Take venture capital as a choice but not as a compulsion

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