A bad time to start a business? Not for these iconic companies

Whilst the UK is not currently in a recession, due to the exceptional circumstances that we have experienced over the past few months, the economy has taken an enormous hit and a recession seems inevitable.

With countless businesses worldwide struggling in the current economic climate, you might think that setting up a new business is a crazy idea. However, some of the most well-known global businesses were actually established during a recession, and have thrived. Here are just some of these iconic companies:

Walt Disney

Arguably one of the most recognisable brands in the world, it may surprise you that the huge corporation that is Walt Disney began in the midst of the worst financial crisis in history. The 1929 Great Depression lasted until the late 1930s, but nevertheless two brothers, Walt and Roy Disney incorporated their own production company. Throughout the depression Walt Disney Productions created cartoons aimed to boost the spirits of those suffering in the economic climate. With hits such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs released during this time, the company made £1.25 million.


What started out as two friends renting out an air mattress in their living room, turned into a lucrative opportunity as the 2008 recession hit. The pair capitalised on the short-term living market when people were unable to take on the cost of hotels. When the recession passed and their business model had been proven successful, the new company, AIRBNB received significant funding and expanded into an international market. Now worth £31 billion, AIRBNB is the perfect example of a business adapting to an economic crisis.


Not long after the Great Depression there was a smaller recession between 1937 and 1939. During this time, William Hewlett and David Packard decided to begin an electronics company out of a garage (as many a technology company started), named Hewlett Packard. Their first customer was, ironically, Walt Disney, who purchased products from the company to support the production of the now iconic Fantasia. At the end of their first year, the pair had turned an initial investment of £425 into £5000 (equivalent to £399,057 today).

There are countless other household names on that make it onto this list, including Microsoft, Electronic Arts and FedEx.  Of course, this list of businesses that were established during a recession also includes Entyce Creative. Established during the 2008 recession, Directors Jane and Libby understand the challenges and the triumphs that go hand in hand with starting a business in a time of economic difficulty.

If you are considering setting up a business during or after the pandemic, take a look at Director Libby’s top tips for doing so.