When starting a new business, you never know where you will end up with it, most experienced founders know this for a fact. If the business lasts long enough, the company can even take some pretty funny paths and end up in totally unexpected places. Let’s take a look at how some famous companies evolved from their first products.

1. Nokia

Known for its electonic products and unbreakable cell phones, Nokia actually started in 1865 as a paper mill. Its first product? TOILET PAPER!

2. Lego

The plastic empire of Lego didn’t start with oil by-products, but with products made of good old wood, such as this wooden duck made in 1932.

3. Sony

In 1946, when starting out, Sony produced an electrical rice cooker.

4. Samsung

At its beginnings in 1938, the Korean giant was a much more modest company that exported fruits and fish. Talk about a radical change!

5. Nintendo

In 1889, Nintendo launched in the field of games already, but obviously not with video games. At the times, they were specialized in playing cards.

6. Nike

In 1964, Nike wasn’t named Nike and it wasn’t selling its own shoes, but imported Japanese track shoes under the name Blue Ribbon Sports. Then it changed name, you know the rest of the story.

7. LG

You certainly know LG for its eletronic products, but it started out as a… cosmetics company. Their facial creams and toothpaste were successful, which eventually led to their household products.

8. Colgate

Colgate started in 1806 by selling soap and candles, then found its true calling with toothpaste and neverending advertising campaigns.


IKEA’s foudner Ingvar Kamprad was known for being a natural-born salesman from a very young age. He started out by selling pens at first, but also Christmas cards, matches and wallets.

10. Lamborghini

Last one in this list, but probably the best, because it comes with a funny story. Ferruccio Lamborghini, the founder and owner of the eponymous brand, did’nt produce cars in his beginnings, but… tractors! One day, while discussing with his friend Enzo Ferrari, he complained about his own Ferrari. Enzo Ferraro told him: “you may be able to drive a tractor, but you will never be able to handle a Ferrari properly”. That was enough to get Lamborghini to start working on his own car brand.


Starting and growing a business is a true adventure, you may know where it starts, but you don’t know where you will end up with it, as the examples above clearly show. As a designer, this should remind you that you need to keep up with trends and stay open minded about where you can take your business. Did you start as a freelance graphic designer? Well, at the end of your life, you may become a business owner that sells packaged flowers, who knows?

About the Author

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Mirko Humbert

Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily. He is also a graphic designer and the founder of WP Expert.