April 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of Inc. magazine's debut issue, and we've thought long and hard about how best to mark that milestone. In 1989, when Inc. turned 10, our founder, Bernard Goldhirsh, noted the publication's "opportunity to shed light on company builders for the rest of America to appreciate," and that he "saw the world of company builders as the continuum of economic creation in this country." Thus, Inc.'s mission was "to encourage a large number of entrepreneurs to work away if this process of creation and economic growth were to continue."
Inc. remains proud to encourage creation and growth. That's why, for our 40th birthday, we created the Founders Project.
The Founders Project will take Inc.'s mission off the page and screen and into the real world. Over the course of 2019, we'll be selecting 40 successful entrepreneurs, business experts, and leaders and pairing them with 40 founders who are just starting out or find themselves at a crossroads.
Gary Hirshberg is a familiar face to longtime Inc. readers: He co-founded Stonyfield Farm in 1983, back when organic food was barely on the radar. He built it into a company whose revenue topped $400 million even while maintaining a strong social and environmental mission. Since selling the company, Hirshberg has advocated for sustainability and consumer health issues, and mentored hundreds of up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
Inc. is teaming Hirshberg with Emily Darchuk, a food scientist who helped create dishes for astronauts. She recently launched Wheyward Spirit, which converts discarded byproducts from dairy farms into a vodkalike liquor. She seeks guidance on funding, marketing, supply, and distribution--and there could be no better guide for her than Hirshberg. We'll track the mentorship over the course of the year, and keep you updated on their progress.
Each Founders Project pairing will be different. Some may involve finding investors. Some may focus on a specific business challenge. Some may turn up in videos on Inc.com. If your company is interested in being matched with a Founders Project mentor, you can apply here.
We hope you will join us in this mission. By doing so, you'll keep the contributions of entrepreneurship vital for the next 40 years--and beyond.