Teen Entrepreneur Strikes Yahoo Deal and 10 Other Humble Beginnings

VIDEO: Nick d'Aloisio, 17, created smartphone app Summly while studying for exams.
ABCNEWS.com

From dorm rooms on college campuses and their parents' garages, the world's most successful inventors and innovators have dreamed up some of the biggest companies in history from very humble beginnings.

Now, England's newest child millionaire, 17-year-old Nick d'Aloisio, joins the ranks of tech prodigies whose ideas sprang from their childhood environment. D'Aloisio dreamed up his news reader app, Summly, while studying for exams one day, according to Reuters.

D'Aloiso follows in the footsteps of other young tech inventors, including Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, who started his website from a Harvard dorm room as a sophomore in college.

Here's a look at Summly's beginnings and those of 10 other successful companies. Their roots go back to a few dorm rooms or garages. You'll never guess which billionaire began his company in a church crypt.

Classroom

PHOTO: Nick D'Aloisio
Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg via Getty Images
1.
Nick d'Aloisio

Tech prodigy Nick d'Aloisio became the youngest entrepreneur to receive seed funding from a venture capitalist when he dreamed up Summly at the age of 15.

D'Aloiso used the money to rent local office space and develop his news reader app, which will now be integrated into Yahoo's mobile technology, according to the company.

D'Aloisio has not yet graduated high school.

In a deal announced Monday, Yahoo reportedly paid millions to acquire Summly and d'Aloisio's developer skills. He will work out of the company's London office while he completes school, the AP reported.

"I would have never imagined being in this position so suddenly," d'Aloisio wrote on his website after the announcement Monday.

Dorm

PHOTO: The Kirkland House Yard is seen in this undated file photo.
RickA05/Wikimedia Commons
The Kirkland House Yard is seen in this undated file photo.
2.
Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook

The story of Facebook's creation was made a part of popular culture in the film "The Social Network." Mark Zuckerberg, now 28, began the project in a dorm room at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. He lived in Kirkland House, named after Reverend John Thorton Kirkland, a previous president of the university.

Founded: 2004

Dorm

3.
Michael Dell, founder of Dell

A $1,000 investment helped Dell founder Michael Dell launch the technology company from his dormitory at the University of Texas. The then 19-year-old Dell would grow the operation into a multibillion dollar company based in Round Rock, Texas.

Founded: 1984

Garage

4.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, co-founders of Apple Inc.

Apple, the company that would grow to become one of the most valuable in the world, has its roots in the family garage of co-founder Steve Jobs. Thirty-five years later, Jobs, who died in October 2011, would push for the town of Cupertino, Calif. to approve a building reminiscent of a spaceship to house the growing Apple staff. During a City Council meeting, Jobs said, "We're the largest taxpayer in Cupertino, so we would like to continue to stay here and pay taxes."

Founded: April 1, 1976

Garage

5.
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com

Jeff Bezos started Amazon as an online bookstore. It is now the largest online retailer in the world. The company's meteoric rise includes an entry into selling tablets. The Kindle, which combines e-book features and tablet computing, is now the company's best-selling item.

Founded: 1994

Garage

6.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google

The business that would become the top Internet search company was operated from a garage at the home of Susan Wojcicki, currently a vice president at the company. Wojcicki, a new homeowner at the time, would rent garage space in her Menlo Park home to Page and Brin, who were then, Stanford students, for $1,700 a month, according to USA Today. The company now has locations all over the world including France, China and Kenya.

Founded: 1998

Garage

7.
Elliot and Ruth Handler and Harold Mattson, co-founders of Mattel

The creators of Barbie and Ken did not have a dream house or space when it came time to launch what would become the nation's top toy company. Instead, the three utilized the garage space of designer and co-founder Harold Mattson to kick-start Mattel, according to the Los Angeles Times. With locations around the world, the company's corporate headquarters in El Segundo, Calif., has 2,000 employees.

Founded: 1945

Garage

8.
Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, co-founders of Hewlett-Packard

Hewlett and Packard, Stanford University graduate students, worked out of a garage in Palo Alto in 1939 to build their first product: an audio oscillator. The two youngsters got off to a good start by selling eight of the devices to Walt Disney Studios.

Founded: 1939

Garage

9.
Bill Gates and Paul Allen, co-founders of Microsoft

The duo that introduced the world to Windows teamed up in a garage to start what they initially called Phoenix Software. Their MS-DOS and Windows operating systems became world standards.

Microsoft's current CEO, Steve Ballmer, Gates' friend from his Harvard days, has faced tight competition from other operating systems and devices, like those of Apple and Google. But in April, Microsoft reported better-than-expected financial results in its third quarter, with higher revenue in its Windows division and total earnings of $5.1 billion.

Allen resigned from his position on Microsoft's board in 2000. In 2008, Gates relinquished day-to-day responsibilities to concentrate on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but he remains Microsoft's chairman.

Founded: 1975

Garage

PHOTO: The logo for Columbia Winery is displayed in this file photo.
Columbia Winery
The logo for Columbia Winery is displayed in this file photo.
10.
Columbia Winery

The premium wine company was founded by 10 friends, including six University of Washington professors. The group did not have a state-of-the-art-home for their wine. In the early days, Dr. Lloyd Woodburne would create the wine in a garage in Seattle's Laurelhurst neighborhood.

The winery's late "Master of Wine," David Lake, produced the "first series of vineyard-designated wines in the state," producing Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Gris, according to the company's website. The winery, which exports to Canada, Europe and the Pacific Rim, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Founded: 1962

Church Crypt

11.
Richard Branson, co-founder of Virgin Group

In 2003, Richard Branson shared the origins of the Virgin Group's humble beginnings with The Evening Chronicle. The man who wears many hats told the paper, "It is easy to forget that Rolls Royce started as a workshop at the turn of the century...."

"Indeed, such are the origins of almost every large British business of the 21st century, including the Virgin group, which now consists of several large companies employing 30,000 British people, but was started by four of us in an old church crypt in the late 60s."

Founded: 1970

The private company had revenue of approximately $21 billion in 2011.

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