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These Companies Thrived During Recessions. Here’s How.


Recessions happen— they have for centuries. During recessions many businesses unfortunately go under, but a handful thrive, and some are even born in the midst of a financial crisis. How is that possible? Well, we’re going to look at some renowned companies that truly took lemons and turned them into lemonade. Let’s see just how they succeeded during unprecedented economic turmoil.


“Netflix is massive, of course it survived 2008” is what you might be thinking. Yet, the (now) media giant first released its streaming service around the same time as the Great Recession— responding to struggling video rental stores. Netflix partnered with companies like Xbox so users could stream through those devices. It’s through these innovations and partnerships that helped it actually grow during 2008 while many were struggling to stay afloat.


Citigroup is one of the only banks to have grown in the aftermath of 2008. How? It worked on branding, quality, and community outreach when other banks did not. The bank’s smart marketing promoted their brand story and growth following major economic distress.


I bet you didn’t expect Lego to end up on this list. Toys are not exactly a necessity after all… Well, when the US was primarily feeling the stress of the 2008 financial crisis, Lego realized it was time to expand into the global market— building revenue in Europe and Asia. The company reached an all-time high profitability during this time.


This one is more obvious. Groupon actually launched in the middle of the Great Recession. Startups typically do well during economic downturns because they can pinpoint a vital need, and fill it. Groupon did just that by offering hefty discounts during a time when consumers needed to save money more than ever.


Mailchimp was founded during the economic downturn of 2001 and was stronger because of it. When 2008 rolled around, the company changed its entire business model to become a freemium business. Many people signed up to the integrated marketing platform because it was free. Afterwards, its revenue soared.


Warby Parker is another company that was founded amid the Great Recession, because they filled a very large gap in the optical market. Pre-Warby Parker it was difficult to purchase an affordable (and fashionable) pair of prescription glasses online. Thus, the company was born— at a time when customers really needed an affordable optical solution.

Sure, starting a business during an economic crisis seems daunting, but it’s actually one of the best times to notice pain points and gaps in the marketplace. The economy will recover, and your innovation will likely pay off.