This episode is brought to you by Wondery in partnership with Dell Technologies. In honor of small businesses, we’re featuring inspiring stories of successful companies that started out small.
In 1972, pinball machines and mechanical games ruled the arcades. Then, Atari founders Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney came up with a game on a television screen controlled by two players. Pong helped catapult Atari from a start-up to the leader of video games, where it would stay – almost unopposed – for the next decade.
Once Atari made Pong, the company took off like a rocket. But for Dietrich Mateschitz, success was a slog. When he returned home to Austria from a trip to Thailand in 1982, he brought an idea for an energy drink with him. His creation was expensive and tasted foul, and would be rejected over and over. But a slick marketing campaign made it the symbol of club cool and fuel for daredevils — and it took North America by storm.