David vs Goliath: 10 underdogs that came out on top

Tiny but mighty: these examples of strong-willed underdogs show that size doesn't nearly matter as much as perseverance.

Everybody loves an underdog. Whether it’s a small-time business trying to hold onto their name in the face of a mega corporation, or someone facing down an illness to reach success, or even warriors with no chances of winning trying to buy some time, there are those who have dared to defy the odds.

Fighting the odds is always a risky – and scary – business. But it’s even more terrifying when the odds are really against you. Still, everyone roots for the underdog, and every so often, it pays off.

This infographic from Rouletteonline.net highlights top 10 underdogs who took on a challenge way out of their league, and won anyway. From taking on the city of New York to fighting against dyslexia, or challenging British Airways, these underdogs have made their mark in standing up for the little guys and proving naysayers wrong.

Witches, wizards, and Simon Cowell

These “Davids” have squared off against a range of “Goliaths”, from huge music corporations to learning disabilities.

  • The Blair Witch Project – This 1999 production was one of the first examples of a “found footage” film. It had a budget of only $60,000 – but went on to make over 10,000 times that much in the box office.
  • J.K. Rowling – The author was divorced, depressed, and broke. Despite rejection after rejection by publishers, she eventually managed to get Bloomsbury to take on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The rest is wizarding history.
  • Rhythmix vs Simon Cowell – The band now known as Little Mix was originally intended to have a different name: Rhythmix. Simon Cowell and his company attempted to trademark the name, but a small children’s charity with the same name fought back, and a social media campaign forced the music titans to back down.
  • Gary Cohn vs Dyslexia – His parents were once told that he’d be lucky to grow up to be a truck driver thanks to his dyslexia. But battling through, Cohn was hired by Goldman Sachs and made partner inside four years, and has gone from strength to strength since.
  • Richard Branson vs British Airways – Though Branson is now himself a top dog rather than an underdog, there was once a time when Virgin was a small company trying to find a place in a number of industries, including air travel. BA used dirty tactics to steal customers and illegal tampering with company files – but Branson took them to court and forced them to make a public apology (and pay damages).

For more big companies being taken down a peg and local governments caving to equality, check out the full infographic here.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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