Meet the 30 Under 30 Coolest Entrepreneurs
Brynn Jinnett, The Refine MethodAdam D'Angelo and Charlie Cheever, QuoraGianna Driver, Gianna Fair TradeJordan Goldman, UnigoDrew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, DropboxAlexa Andrzejewski, Soraya Darabi, and Ted Grubb, FoodspottingMatt Mickiewicz, 99designsKevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, InstagramRochelle Behrens, The Shirt by Rochelle BehrensJared Hecht and Steve Martocci, GroupMeJennifer Schnidman Medbery, Drop the ChalkSiamak Taghaddos and David Hauser, GrasshopperHayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp, BirchboxMatt Lauzon, GemvaraMatthew Corrin, FreshiiKevin Owocki, Dan Osit, and Adam Sachs, IgnighterDavid Gorodyansky and Eugene Malobrodsky, AnchorFreeAdam Goldstein and Steve Huffman, HipmunkAdriann Wanner and Christopher Kelly, evoJetsAdam Witty, Advantage Media GroupSeth Priebatsch, Scvngr and LevelUp Andy Su and Jessica Mah, inDineroHussein Fazal and Kristaps Ronka, AdParlorJason Ross, JackThreads.comJennifer Green and Misa Chien, Nom Nom TruckSheena Lindahl, Michael Simmons, and Arel Moodie, Extreme Entrepreneurship TourDaniel Gomez Iniguez, SolbenAnkur Jain, Kairos SocietyChristopher Kelly and Ryan Simonetti, Sentry CentersJason Baptiste and Andres Barreto, Onswipe
Jinnett, a professional ballerina who danced in Black Swan, wanted to help mere mortals who longed for dancer-like bodies. So she developed The Refine Method, circuits of resistance training mixed with high-intensity cardio that she teaches at her Manhattan studio. In March, New York magazine named The Refine Method the "Hottest New Workout of 2011." Jinnett plans to open a second studio in July. Read more.
Adam D'Angelo says the road to Q & A website Quora's success has been relatively smooth even though the company didn't start with a traditional business plan. Instead D'Angelo says they relied on trial and error. Last year, the start-up received $11 million in first round funding from Benchmark Capital's Matt Cohler, and the site has reportedly upwards of 500,000 users. Quora's mission is to sustain the high quality of the content for which the site is known. Read more.
Driver, the daughter of an abused Philippina mail-order bride, went from living in a women's shelter with her mom, to The Wharton School on full scholarship, to staring her own company. All products sold on Gianna Fair Trade are made by impoverished women worldwide, and contribute to their economic well-being. Read more.
Frustrated with the lack of college information that came directly from students, Goldman created Unigo. With approximately 150,000 student-written reviews from more than 4,000 colleges, it's one of the biggest sources of college information on the Web. Goldman's savvy strategic partnerships with companies like The Wall Street Journal and McGraw-Hill will land the company mid-seven-figure revenues this year. Read more.
Drew Houston says file-syncing service Dropbox started the same as most tech start ups: "Two guys in their boxers, coding in a dark room." But the idea, which was born from his frustration with the disconnect between his own digital devices, has resonated with millions of individuals and businesses. Today, Dropbox boasts more than 25 million registered users, and sees more than a million files saved every five minutes. Read more.
Ever take a photo of your entrée? Now there’s a name for that behavior, thanks so the Foodspotting app. It was dreamed up by Alexa Andrzejewski, who originally envisioned a field guide to food in the form of a photo-book. But designer and programmer Ted Grubb convinced her to keep it technical, and the app launched last year. Shortly after, the duo brought on New York Media veteran Soraya Darabi as cofounder and head of business. Read more.
Need a new business logo, a website, or a little graphic design work? Matt Mickiewicz’s 99 Designs can hook you up. It's an online marketplace that's like Craigslist for designers: post your project, name your price, and then choose the designer you like best. Mickiewicz just landed $35 million in venture capital and says he’ll double his staff in within the next year. Read more.
This photo-sharing smart-phone application has been downloaded by four million people who use it to add stylistic filters, frames, and effects to photos. Founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who both went through Stanford's Mayfield Fellows program, now have $7 million in funding and are focused on becoming "a leader in the mobile space." Read more.
Behrens, a former Washington, D.C., lobbyist, now devotes herself to the politics of cleavage. Frustrated with shirts that gap at the bust, she created The Shirt, which has a hidden second placket that prevents "gapage." Sales soared after the product was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show last January as a fashion "must have;" in the first few months of this year, she's sold almost 10,000 shirts. Read more.
Tired of texting one friend at a time? GroupMe is an app that allows users to create a private group to which they can send text messages or make conference calls. It’s free and works on every kind of phone, not just smartphones. Hecht and Martocci, who made a big splash at SXSW this year, have in excess of $11 million in funding. GroupMe sends more than two million messages a day. Read more.
Schnidman Medbury's company, makes an online educational software package called Kickboard, which helps teachers track and analyze student progress. A former Teach for America volunteer and New Orleans charter school math teacher, Schnidman Medbury convinced 15 charter schools in the Big Easy to use her software. So far, she's had 100 percent customer retention. Read more.
These two former Babson College classmates started their company, originally called GotVMail, as a virtual phone system for small businesses. They recently re-branded it as Grasshopper Group which, with more than $15 million in revenue, provides a variety of services to entrepreneurs. Last year, the founders helped convince President Obama to create a National Entrepreneurs Day by circulating a petition that generated thousands of signatures. Read more.
Katia Beauchamp wished for an in-the-know friend in the beauty business. Instead, she founded Birchbox with her Harvard Business School friend, Hayley Barna. For $10 a month, subscribers receive a box of four to five curated samples from major cosmetic companies. They can then buy full-sized versions of the items they like from Birchbox. The partners are expecting revenues of $7 million this year. Read more.
Lauzon is disrupting the highly traditional jewelry industry by allowing customers to design their own baubles on Gemvara, where they can choose from more than a billion different iterations of metals, stones, and designs. The company, which is funded to the tune of $25 million, had a $10 million run rate at the end of last year. Read more.
Matthew Corrin's soup-and-salad franchise start-up, Freshii, has grown to nearly 50 locations in four countries. His recipe for success? "Fresh food. Custom built. Fast." Corrin was 23, living in New York City, and trying to figure out his next career move when a trip to a greasy deli in Midtown convinced him that there should be a healthier—and friendlier—option. That aha moment was the seed of inspiration for Freshii.Read more.
The three co-founders of Ignighter, a group dating service, woke up one morning and realized their site was a hit. But there was twist. The company was actually scraping bottom in the United States, but had become hugely popular among Indian singles, signing up nearly 2 million users in under three years. With $3 million in funding,the company changed its focus completely and is now concentrating on Asian markets. Read more.
Virtually overnight, the two co-founders of AnchorFree, a tech start-up in Silicon Valley that disrupts censorship, found themselves with millions of new users. That's because the company’s product, HotSpot Shield, allowed millions of Egyptians to access Twitter and Facebook during the revolution in January. Now, the company is targeting the billions of Internet users that face government Web censorship around the world. Read more.
Just last year, recent grad Adam Goldstein approached Reddit founder Steve Huffman with an idea: a radically simplified, painless, travel-search website. With seed funding from Y Combinator followed by more than $5 million in seed and Series A funding, the pair set up an office in San Francisco's Hamm's building and set to work creating Hipmunk, a site that ranks flights based on the agony they would inflict on the traveler. Read more.
Wanner cut her teeth as director of sales at another fractional jet service, but soon decided she could do it better on her own. She and co-founder Christopher Kelly (see Sentry Centers) draw on a pool of 7,000 aircraft from a worldwide network to "provide the right jet at the right time for the right price." With 35 percent annual growth, the company is on track for $1.8 million in revenue this year. Read more.
Adam Witty had never written a book, let alone published one before he started Advantage Media Group at 23. But his "sell it, then build it" philosophy allowed him to scale the company into a full-service media company. What started from the spare bedroom in his house is now an international media company that sells books in 25,000 bookstores and retailers around the world. Read more.
Seth Priebatsch left Princeton to work on Scvngr, a mobile scavenger-hunt platform and location-aware check-in app. Today, his Boston-based company has grown to 80 people, attracted $15 million in investment, and this year launched a daily deals website and application called LevelUp. It's focused on an area other daily deals sites neglect: boosting customer loyalty. Read more.
Jessica Mah was studying computer science at the UC-Berkeley and running InternshipIn, a company that matched students with internships, when she couldn’t find a money management tool right for small business. So along with Andy Su she founded inDinero. Now armed with $500,000 in investment, their online dashboard lets online sellers and other entrepreneurs manage their finances. Read more.
When Facebook launched its API, allowing developers to build games and applications for the social medium, Kristaps Ronka and Hussein Fazal "just started building things for fun." Today, AdParlor is one of less than 100 companies that has access to the Facebook Ads API. The company is the exclusive manager of Groupon's entire Facebook Ad spend as well as managing the Facebook Ad spends for Ubisoft, SEGA, Playfirst, Casual Collective, Cie Games and many others. Read more.
Jason Ross was always been the person his friends would turn to for the latest on cool things. He also loved great discounts. So he founded JackThreads.com, a flash sale members-only site that sells street wear and contemporary clothing for men. The site has over 450 brands, almost one million members, and is on track to post $25 million in revenue this year. Read more.
A craving for Vietnamese food inspired Chien and Green to borrow $25,000 from friends and family and go into the food truck business. Now they have two trucks that sell Vietnamese bahn mi sandwiches on the streets of Los Angeles. Social media buzz and an appearance on a two-month reality show will help grow the company to more than $1 million this year. Read more.
Simmons and Lindahl, who are married, started speaking about entrepreneurship on college campuses when they were juniors at New York University. In 2007, they were joined by Arel Moodie, a high energy motivational speaker. Today, Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour puts on 100 entrepreneur events, conferences, and panels a year. Speakers include 30 Under 30 alum Ryan Allis, 27, who leads iContact, a $50 million e-mail marketing company. Read more.
Daniel Gomez Iniguez began experimenting with biodiesel as part of a high school research project. Today, Solben—which is a made-up name that combines the Spanish words for "solutions" and "biodiesel"—sells technology for biodiesel production from non-food products like algae and Jatropha, a plant. Solben's sales were more than $1 million in 2010 and the partners predict $3 million in sales this year. Read more.
When he was a sophomore at The Wharton School, Jain started the Kairos Society, a not-for-profit network of college entrepreneurs dedicated to "solving the world’s greatest challenges." Since the group’s first event in early 2009, Kairos has grown to almost 700 members, or "fellows," and has become an adviser to Startup America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Jain helped put together a group of young immigrant entrepreneurs to help the chamber lobby Capitol Hill to change visa regulations. Read more.
Simonetti and Kelly, college buddies at Villanova, had started several other companies together by the time Simonetti came up with the idea for Sentry Centers. The concept: take unused space in office buildings and renovate it as off-site meeting destinations. The partners, who predict $8.7 million in revenue this year, will open a second New York facility in August and are planning more for Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York City. Read more.
Baptiste and Barreto were tech bloggers who wanted to make their content look awesome. So they created Onswipe, a browser-based platform that allows publishers of all sizes to make their content look "beautiful and app-like" on tablet devices such as iPad. The company launched on June 20 with a handful of impressive media partners including Hearst's Marie Claire and The Washington Post Company's Slate. Read more.