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4 Famous brands and their REAL origins to inspire you

Read about how companies like Facebook and Subway really began, and what lessons can be learned from these inspiring stories by the business and MBA students of tomorrow.

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We’re surrounded by brands. We know their logos, taglines and most popular products by heart; but what do we really know about how they began? You may be interested to learn about their real origins and how they have changed over time. These multi-billion dollar companies have very interesting beginnings, and are valuable lessons for future Business and MBA students who want to make a similar impact on the world:



The sub sandwich restaurant is popping up in more new places than McDonalds nowadays, and the green and yellow brand are becoming a lunch and dinner-time favourite across the world. Fred DeLuca originally decided to open up a sandwich shop in Connecticut to pay for his tuition fees to become a doctor. Fifty years later, the chain is 37,000 outlets strong and the only cure being “prescribed” is for the hunger pains of office-workers and students

Lesson: A great idea may come as a result of pursuing another goal.

Interested in: Food and Drink Production



As depicted in The Social Network, the original Facebook was ‘Face Mash’; a programme created by founder (and then-student Mark Zuckerberg) which hacked into the internal Harvard campus network, allowing students to rate their fellow students based on their looks. It was wildly popular on campus in just a few days, but was shut down quickly.  Zuckerberg wasn’t deterred and soon afterwards he started work on Facebook.

Lesson: It’s sometimes OK to cause a stir and be a bit rebellious.

Interested in: Computer Science, including Computer Programming Languages and Software Engineering



Originally, Avon had nothing to do with makeup; instead sales reps sold books door-to-door. However, not many housewives were receptive and so perfume was offered as a way to lure them to buy the books. It worked so well that founder David H. McConnell jumped into the perfume business instead, and over time, Avon has come to include all female beauty products.

And what about the famous ‘Avon calling’ call? McConnell saw that many of his customers were struggling to pay their bills but possessed many of the key qualities he wanted in his sales force; and so recruited them from his route to work around their busy home lives – a process which continues to this day. 

Lesson: The best staff may come from the most unlikely places.

Interested in: Beauty Therapy, including Beauty Care Services



One of the leading auto manufacturers in the world, Ford founder Henry Ford didn’t always have success. His first automobile company Detroit Automobile Company went under after just two years; and it took two further attempts and the Model T release in 1908 before Ford started making traction.

Lesson: If you fail, try again and learn from your mistakes.

Interested in: Vehicle Engineering, Manufacturing and Production


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About Author

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Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.

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