10 Young Entrepreneurs to Watch
Smart, driven, and full of ambition, these 10 young entrepreneurs are making waves in the world of business. From Virginia to the Silicon Valley, selling sleep to playing cupid, these innovators are rethinking, reimagining and reshaping our world. Take a closer look at how these 10 entrepreneurs are turning their passions into profit, addressing social issues with creative thinking, and using technology to help make people’s lives easier.
- Stewart Butterfield, Co-Founder and CEO of Slack
- Chris Campbell, Founder of ReviewTrackers
- Jahan Khanna, Co-Founder and CTO of Sidecar
- Philip Krim, Co-Founder and CEO of Casper
- Hillary Lewis, Founder and President of Lumi Organics
- Jessica Mah, Co-Founder and CEO of inDinero.com
- Kelsey Minarik, Founder and President of RejuvaHealth
- David Simnick, Co-Founder and CEO of SoapBox Soaps
- Joanna Weidenmiller, Founder and CEO of 1-Page
- Whitney Wolfe, Founder and CEO of Bumble
Co-Founder and CEO of Slack
Stewart Butterfield is a Canadian-born entrepreneur best known for being a co-founder of the photo-sharing website Flickr—and more recently, Slack, a $2.8 billion startup that makes a team messaging app for office workers. Dubbed “team communication for the 21st century,” Slack puts everything team members need to communicate all in one place. In a recent interview with The New York Times, Butterfield says, “I really admire good restaurants. I don’t necessarily mean expensive ones. I mean restaurants that are well run with a seamless kind of flow. I notice things like whether the servers keep an eye on each other’s tables. If someone needs the check, they’ll tell each other. I think everyone likes working in an environment like that.” Since its public release in February 2014, Slack users have grown at a weekly rate of 5 to 10 percent. In the past year, the company has garnered $1.5 million in revenue and raised $60 million in venture capital.
Founder of ReviewTrackers
Whether you are a large major brand, a small mom-and-pop shop, or one individual looking to help companies secure more “word-of-mouth” endorsements, everyone can benefit from a positive rating or review. ReviewTrackers, Chris Campbell’s award-winning startup, provides review harvesting and management software for tens of thousands of businesses looking to monitor their reviews, manage their business reputation, and understand their customers. Launched in 2012, the company was named SMB Future Digital Marketing Star by BIA/Kelsey; it was also a SXSW Accelerator Innovative Web Technologies finalist in 2013 and recently raised $2 million in funding from a group of Midwest-based investors.
Co-Founder and CTO of Sidecar
A nationally recognized expert on transportation technology, Jahan Khanna is dedicated to transforming the way we travel. The co-founder and CTO of SideCar, Khanna is the technological mastermind behind the nation’s leading on-demand rideshare community. SideCar is a digital app that connects everyday drivers with passengers—and now businesses seeking same-day delivery solutions. The company operates in 11 cities and has completed nearly 100,000 deliveries in five months. In college, Jahan gained notoriety as the lead programmer on the “Magic Bus Project,” a transit application that told passengers how long they’d wait for the next bus. The school project became Shepherd Intelligent Systems, a transportation software company that was later adopted by universities nationwide.
Co-Founder and CEO of Casper
Want to catch some Z’s? Casper co-founder and CEO Phillip Krim is revolutionizing the way people sleep. Launched in 2014, the sleep startup’s premise is an incredibly comfortable mattress, affordably priced, and available only online. Developed in-house by a team of product engineers with experience from IDEO and NASA, the critically acclaimed sleep surface is delivered to your doorstep in a box no bigger than a set of golf clubs. With no marketing beyond $50-off social coupons and a devout following of online advocates, Casper’s unique bed-in-a-box venture has taken off—recording $20 million in sales in 10 months.
Founder and President of Lumi Organics
Eat your fruits and vegetables! Hillary Lewis, founder and president of Lumi Organics, realizes it’s sometimes easier said than done. It’s the premise on which the MBA graduate built her business of small-batch, cold pressed juices—she wanted to make a product that makes it easy for people to make healthier choices. Each 16-ounce Lumi juice contains nearly two pounds of fresh, organic produce with no additives or preservatives. All juices are pasteurized with high-pressure processing, instead of the standard heat or chemical processes that often destroy key nutrients. “With heat, you lose over 40 percent and sometimes even more nutrients from the juice,” Lewis told DCInno. “Lumi offers a great way to get your vitamins and minerals on-the-go, without sacrificing taste or health value.” Based in Charlottesville, Virginia, Lumi currently produces more than 5,000,16-ounce bottles of juice a week and employs 13 people.
Co-Founder and CEO of inDinero.com
Jessica Mah was 20 when she helped found InDinero. Her goal was to help business owners and entrepreneurs manage their back-office affairs using her startup’s accounting software. As it turned out, she could barely manage her own company, much less help others. “A few years ago, I really didn’t know that much,” Mah told The New York Times. “I almost crashed the company.” Fast-forward six years; Mah has a new story to tell. With her co-founder, Andy Su, the two rethought their product and restructured the company. She has grown the Silicon Valley-based company from zero to multi-million dollar revenues and boasts more than 75 employees. Mah has been featured in the Forbes and Inc. “30 Under 30” lists as well as one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People of 2011.”
Founder and President of RejuvaHealth
At 21, Kelsey Minarik was an unlikely candidate for compression stockings. Until on a flight, she developed a dangerous medical condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Her doctor recommended wearing compression stockings to alleviate pain and prevent future complications. While she fell in love with the stockings’ function, she couldn’t stand how they looked. So she decided to design her own. Today, she is the founder and president of RejuvaHealth, a brand for active men and women who want high performance compression without compromising style. From handsome herringbone prints to sassy chevron designs, her fashionable line of stockings, socks, and leggings are just what the doctor ordered.
Co-Founder and CEO of SoapBox Soaps
What if you could change the world through everyday purchases? It’s the premise on which 27-year-old former Eagle Scout David Simnick co-founded SoapBox Soaps—a personal care product company with a social mission. Every purchase of a SoapBox product triggers a donation of soap, clean water, or vitamins to someone in need. Since launching in 2010, the company has donated internationally to a number of countries in four continents, as well as provided soap to various food pantries and homeless shelters in the United States. In a recent interview, Simnick told The Washington Post, “I learned that if you are honest and earnest and willing to put in more time than anyone else, the results will show.” Earlier this year, the company landed $1.1 million from investors to help fund an expansion to retailers that include Target, CVS, Sam’s Club, Giant, Martin’s, and Stop & Shop.
Founder and CEO of 1-Page
Joanna Weidenmiller has a reputation for breaking barriers. An elite college athlete, she earned straight A’s majoring in foreign affairs and went to work as an agent for the FBI. However, she quickly learned the FBI’s bureaucracy did not mesh with her entrepreneurial spirit. She left the bureau to help build a sales and marketing outsourcing firm that quickly became one of the largest in the country, with offices across the U.S. Rather than continue growing it herself, she sold it when she was 24. Most recently, Weidenmiller made headlines when she decided to list her latest startup venture, 1-Page, as a penny stock on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). It was the first Silicon Valley company to do this, and the gamble has paid off. According to Fast Company, the stock has gone up more than 600% and the HR technology company’s valuation has soared to more than $160 million.
Founder and CEO of Bumble
One of the co-founders of Tinder, 25-year-old Whitney Wolfe knows a thing or two about digital dating. After leaving the company last year, she’s back on the startup scene with Bumble, a new dating app. While it works a lot like most dating apps, there is one big difference. With Bumble, the women are in charge — only women can send a message first. “It’s not a dating app, it’s a movement,” she told TIME magazine. “This could change the way women and men treat each other, women and men date, and women feel about themselves.” Bumble launched in December 2014 and seems to be catching on. Wolfe claims there are around half a million users sending 200,000 messages per day and that Bumble is growing about 15 percent every week.