Millennials get a bad rap. Many believe this generation is self-absorbed and lazy. In reality, when it comes to the workplace, millennials just tend to place a greater value on company culture, corporate social responsibility, and work/life balance. Plus, thanks to previous generations, they have access to technology, and they know how to leverage it. As the late Apple founder Steve Jobs said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Check out these 10 innovative entrepreneurs—all under 30—hustling to make their mark and busting through stereotypes in the process.
West Coast Wunderkinds
Andrew Gazdecki (28) had a light bulb moment in college. While running a job board focused on connecting local companies with mobile app developers, he noticed a lot where requesting near-identical products and functionalities. So, he created what’s become the leading mobile app publishing platform in the world; providing a faster, easier, and more cost-effective way to create mobile applications for small and medium-sized businesses to help compete with larger companies.
Using their Google backgrounds, CEO Devaki Raj (27) and her two co-founders, Nicolas Borensztein (29) and Pablo Garcia (31) combine deep learning and computer vision with human-in-the-loop to automate the discovery of objects at scale. Focusing on autonomous vehicles and satellite imagery, their software is able to categorize 70 percent to 99 percent of what it sees, bringing in humans only to assist with the hard stuff.
Five years ago, Karen X. Cheng (29) resigned from Microsoft with a video parody set to Don McClean’s “American Pie.” She posted it on YouTube, TechCrunch found it, and the video went viral. Now she’s a one-woman creative agency, who writes and directs viral videos for brands such as Beats and Credit Karma.
Han Jin (29) is putting virtual reality into the hands of consumers. His company’s Lucid Cam (under $500) uses two eyes to take in the world, (like humans do) and then converts those images into three-dimensional photos or video that can be viewed through Google Cardboard or Lucid’s $30 phone case. Jin even uses LucidCam to stay in touch with his family back in Germany and China.
Co-founders Max Mankin (27) and Tony Pan believe in affordable and reliable electricity for all. Their goal is to replace expensive mechanical engines and turbines with paper-thin heat-to-electricity generators, so that they can provide power to anyone, anywhere, at any time.
With his high school 17 miles away, Mike Radenbaugh (27) stitched together an electric-powered bike to get him there and back. Today, Radenbaugh, along with his childhood best friend Ty Collins (28), and college friend Marimar White-Espin (27) sells electric bikes (for on and off-road use) directly to customers online. The company is expected to bring in $30 million in revenue this year—up from $7 million in 2016.
At age 12, co-founder Vladimir Tenev (30) invested in the stock market and came away with $1,000. Four years ago, he and Baiju Bhatt combined mobile tech and the stock market to create Robinhood. There’s no commission and you can trade right from the smartphone app.
Four years ago, trying to ship her online handbags orders was costing Laura Behrens Wu (25) valuable time and money. So, she decided to tackle these inefficiencies by creating one API and dashboard that ecommerce businesses, marketplaces, and platforms are able to connect to multiple shipping carriers around the world. Businesses can get shipping rates, print labels, automate international documents, track shipments, and facilitate returns.
Jovin Cronin-Wilesmith (26), Tim Luckow (28), and Milana Rabkin (29) are looking to take the ‘starving’ out of being an artist. While streaming platforms like Spotify are great for distributing music, trying to track payments and revenue is a pain. Stem offers a financial platform that unifies and manages contracts, distribution, payments and data for creatives. This streamlines the process of collecting money to splitting payments among collaborators in a clear and timely manner.
Meanwhile in the Southwest…
Preparing for college can be stressful, and cousins Shanil Wazirali (27) and Sagar Hemani (25) want to help ease students’ anxiety. Their company consolidates student shopping needs into one big box that’s all color-coordinated and delivered to their dorm room. For under $300, the ‘Doin’ It Big’ box contains over 60 items including bedding, towels, and storage organization.