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7 examples of a Side Gig becoming successful

A side gig is something most of us pursue. With various responsibilities and financial burdens, many of us can not leave our regular jobs and are forced to do something on the side. This may be because your regular job does not pay enough to meet your expenses, or maybe you are hoping that your side gig may one day become your main gig. We are here to tell you this is very much possible! In this article, we will list down 10 examples of the best side gigs that turned into multi-million (and in many cases, billion) dollar companies.

Read: Five Million-Dollar Business Ideas


macbook pro on brown wooden table

Twitter is currently one of the biggest social networking websites/applications in the world right now. That is why its interesting to note that Twitter started as just a side gig. Initially, Twitter started as a side project of the podcasting platform Odeo during a company hackathon. It was a mere outlet for a few employees, but CEO Evan Williams supported the idea. Eventually, his determination paid off and Twitter went on to change the way we communicate online, despite its naysayers and nonbelievers.

Read: Noah Glass: Betrayed Founder of Twitter


black flat screen computer monitor

Github is every programmer’s dream website. As per their website, “GitHub brings together the world’s largest community of developers to discover, share, and build better software”. However, very few people know that Github started as a side gig for the two founders Chris Wanstrath and PJ Hyett. The two partners were building websites for CNET, the tech news site. They were upset with how difficult it was to change open source code and hence built their own repository, working nights and weekends. Today, Github is worth billions of dollars and is the go-to place for developers and programmers all over the world.


Instagram logo in space gray iPhone 6

Instagram has a very successful and dramatic story of its rise. The photo-sharing app started as Burbn, a location-based app for whiskey lovers. People would be able to share their location, pictures, or whatever they desired on the app. While people were not sharing locations, they were sharing pictures, which inspired founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. They had an idea: They would launch a photo-sharing app, Instagram. Instagram would go on to become one of the biggest social media platforms in the world, eventually selling the company in stock and cash to Facebook for $1 Billion.

Read: History of Instagram: The Dramatic Rise


Craigslist founder Craig Newmark was a former IBM employee who had just moved to San Fransisco in the 90s. Since he was new in the city and did not know anyone, he made an email list for local events to help him meet people. Hence, this is where the name Craigslist comes from. Soon, the idea caught on, and people starting using it for purposes other than to meet up. Inspired, Craig quit his day job and started Craigslist, eventually turning it into a billion-dollar business.

Khan Academy

MacBook Pro near white open book

Sal Khan used to tutor his cousins on the side to earn some extra cash. While doing so, they encouraged him to give online lessons as they preferred his online presence. This inspired Sal to start Khan Academy. He started with a few video-clips on youtube, pursuing the idea on the side while working as a hedge fund analyst during the day. As the videos gained momentum, Khan quit his job and now runs one of the most well-known (free) online tutoring video services. A blessing for students around the world!


Gagan Bayani, the Founder of Udemy, was an IT consultant for Accenture. However, he was unhappy with his job (as many people are) and eventually decided to pursue his side gig, Udemy, instead. Udemy is an online platform where anyone can create and sell online courses. Today, Udemy has more than 42,000 courses available with the website raising up to $170 million to date. Not bad for a side gig, eh?


Slack founder Stewart Butterfield was already a sensation before Slack became famous. Stewart wanted to build a game but was distracted in his goals when his other creation, Flickr, became an overnight sensation and was sold to Yahoo. Eventually, Stewart had to give up his quest for a game and instead shifted towards the online communication tool his team had built internally. This “little tool” was Slack, the fastest startup to ever hit a billion-dollar valuation (in just 1.25 years). Does this make Slack the greatest ever side gig in history?

Read: Startups founded during a recession

All these side gigs had one thing in common: A founder who believed in the idea when others wanted to shun it. So to all of those out there wanting to pursue their side hustles, take inspiration, and never give up!

Let us know about your side gigs in the comments below!

Syed Muhammad Ismail
Syed Muhammad Ismail

Writer and Content Developer at PACE Business.

With interests in Sports and Business, Ismail combined the two when he started his entrepreneurial journey. Along with the PACE Business, he has been running a sports management company, manufacturing Awards and Memorabilia for International sporting events.
Check us out at: @sparkinnv

Articles: 61

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