Top 10 Companies That Hit Massive Scale With Surprisingly Small Teams

By Getrude Mathayo / Published January 26, 2022 | 11:22 am




KEY POINTS

When we talk about small teams, we think about five to twenty people running a tight ship. But BuiltWith has managed to generate around $14 million per year with just a sole employee.


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KEY TAKEAWAYS


Streamyard is a live streaming studio in your browser. Interview guests, brand your broadcast, and much more.

The two founders of Streamyard bootstrapped to $12M in ARR without any employees. They reached $30M ARR with 19 employees before selling to Hopin for $250 million.


When we talk about small teams, we think about five to twenty people running a tight ship. Small businesses and startups, in particular, have long fascinated us. The concept of taking something from an idea to a fully-functioning business making a profit with a close-knit team is a dream for many.

Companies around the globe, in every industry, have spent the past 12 months confronting challenges both practical and existential. Some have failed. Many have simply survived. A select few have flourished, remaking their businesses and illuminating the way forward for others.

Many of these companies have subsequently earned billion-dollar valuations, some even have billions of dollars in revenue, but none started with anything other than what would be considered a seed round.

  1. Streamyard

Streamyard is a live streaming studio in your browser. Interview guests, brand your broadcast, and much more. The two founders of Streamyard bootstrapped to $12M in ARR without any employees. They reached $30M ARR with 19 employees before selling to Hopin for $250 million.

  1. Among Us

Among Us is an online multiplayer game from the developers at InnerSloth that has players working together to fix their crumbling spaceship while figuring out who the imposters are. The popular game Among Us reached 500 million active users with only 4 employees.

  1. Instagram

Developed in San Francisco by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, Instagram was initially called Burbn and acted as an app that allowed people to check in where they were on their mobile. The photo-sharing app was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion with only 13 team members.

Everyone thought it was insanely overvalued at the time, but now it will go down as one of the greatest acquisitions of all time

  1. CoderPad

CoderPad is a technical interview platform to help candidates easily share their skills and ensure you understand how they work. The company reached $4m in annual revenue with just 4 employees. They’ve since raised funding to scale the company.

  1. WhatsApp

WhatsApp had 55 employees when it was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion in 2015. That puts it at an average of 345 million dollars an employee. But before the biggest social media network on the planet took an interest, WhatsApp was quietly going about its business, becoming the de facto way for people to message each other.

  1. Plenty of Fish

Marcus Frind started dating the site Plenty of Fish in 2003 to improve his resume. By 2008 it was netting him $10 million per year as the only employee, and he was part-time. Later he scaled a team to 75 people before selling to Match Group for $575 million

  1. Ahrefs

Ahrefs is an All-in-one SEO toolset, with free Learning materials and a passionate Community & support. SEO research software Ahrefs hit more than $50M in annual recurring revenue with just 50 employees

  1. ConvertKit

ConvertKit is a full-featured email service provider (ESP) created by Nathan Barry. The Creator Marketing Platform is at $29 million in revenue with 68 people on the team. Its mission is to provide financial independence to everyone.

  1. Stardew Valley

Eric Barone built Stardew Valley to add to his resume & get a job after graduating with a CS degree. He did everything himself with no employees. 4 years after launch he sold over 10 million copies across all platforms, estimated at over $150 million in revenue

  1. BuiltWith

When we talk about small teams, we think about five to twenty people running a tight ship. But BuiltWith has managed to generate around $14 million per year with just a sole employee.

The company covers 50,000-plus internet technologies, including analytics, advertising, web hosting, and CMS, looking at how internet tech changes on a weekly basis to provide lead generation.

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