Sunday, 23 November 2014

10 Young Entrepreneurs to Follow in 2014

Young people have always been able to see things in new and innovative ways.

Lately, they’ve been taking that vision and founding businesses.

The trend took off with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, who founded Apple and Microsoft in 1976 at the age of 21. Then came Mark Zuckerberg, who programmed Facebook while still a student at Harvard University and became a billionaire by the age of 23.

Now Zuckerberg’s Facebook is being challenged by a new generation of young entrepreneurs. These kids aren’t just digital natives, they’re mobile and social natives. The list of ten young entrepreneurs below is full of bright minds that will be re-imagining the world in 2014 — and not one of them is older than 23.


Madison Robinson

Founder of Fish Flops

Age: 15

Madison first had the idea for light-up flip flops for kids when she was only eight-years-old. Seven years later, Robinson’s Fish Flops are being sold in national department store’s like Nordstrom’s. Over 60,000 Fish Flops have been sold, whichThe Daily Mail estimates as “retail sales of at least 1.2 million.”

Lucas Duplan

Founder and CEO of Clinkle

Age: 22

Duplan is the Stanford computer science drop-out behind the world’s biggest app that doesn’t exist yet.

Clinkle’s mission is to completely replace your wallet with your phone. But thanks to a cloak of secrecy, nobody in the general public knows what makes Clinkle different from well-positioned competitors like Square and Google Wallet.

Duplan assures us that they’re “building something fundamentally different from everything else out there.” That would certainly explain the record-setting $25 million in seed funding the company raised in 2013 from the likes of Richard Branson and Peter Thiel (former CEO of PayPal).

There are rumors that Clinkle’s killer advantage is that it makes seamless phone-to-phone transactions through high-frequency sound – but then there’s also speculation that Duplan’s poor management of the company is driving employees away in droves.

If Clinkle goes up in flames in 2014, it may discourage further venture funding for young entrepreneurs. If it succeeds, you may just be paying for your next cup of coffee without reaching for your wallet.

Khoa Phan

Freelance Vine Editor

Age: 23

Back when I profiled the ten YouTube channels with the most subscribers, I saw that many of the video creators with the biggest audience were those that had adopted the video platform early and immediately started building a brand for their channel.

23-year-old Khoa Phan started his vine account the day after Twitter bought the service for $30 million and he’s been growing with the benefit of the inside track ever since. Mashable listed Phan as one of the top ten users to follow on Vine but he’s nowhere close to Vine’s most subscribed account (as of January 2014 Nash Grier and KingBach are neck and neck at 4.8 million followers each).

But thanks to Khoa’s polished construction-paper-meets-stop-motion style and “have a good day” personality, he’s been more marketable than other top Vine users. Phan has inked lucrative video production deals with a bevy of big-name clients: Snapple, MTV, (RED), Livestrong, and Peanuts Worldwide. It will be interesting to follow Khoa Phan and see if he can transition his 7 second videos from a successful service business to an online empire.

Stacey Ferreira

Cofounder of MySocialCloud

Age: 21

Have you ever forgotten an important online password? MySocialCloud looks to end that problem permanently by securely storing all of your usernames and passwords in one place.

Ferreira was only 18 when she cofounded MySocialCloud with her brother Scott. By the age of 20, they had raised $1,000,000 in venture capital from the likes of Richard Branson and Alex Welch (CEO/Founder of Photobucket).

Ferreira is currently speaking, co-writing a book, and working on her second start-up.

Eden Full

Creator of SunSaluter

Age: 21

Eden Full was still in high school when she started developing the SunSaluter, a solar panel that rotates with the movement of the sun to maximize efficiency. It’s tracking mechanism uses thermal expansion instead of an electric motor, making it relatively low maintenance and low cost.

When Full applied to Princeton, she mentioned the SunSaluter in her application letter. She got in – and soon got in with a professor who worked in Kenya over the summer and offered to give her a little bit of funding. In the summer of 2010, Full went to Kenya to try to implement her prototype in the real world

The hands-on experience showed Full how far her SunSaluter had to go if it wanted to be a complete success. Eden told Entrepreneur, “I learned that while our product worked, it didn’t work well. The trip taught me what the people there actually need and how to design better for them.”

Making the prototype better would require her full attention and more money, so Full applied for the $100,000 Thiel Scholarship and won in May 2012. Full took a year off school to further develop the SunSaluter and the company she’s built around it (Rosseicollis Technologies Inc.).

To date, Eden Full has helped over 6,000 people get clean water and power. She returned to Princetonto study Mechanical Engineering in Fall 2013, but she’s still managing the Rosseicollis team via email. Can the SunSaluter continue to grow and reach it’s goal of helping 1.5 billion people while Full is a full-time student?

Nick D’aloisio

Founder of Summly

Age: 18

The Wall Street Journal just named their Technology Innovator of 2013 with an article declaring that he “has changed the way we read.”

In March 2011, D’aloisio released Trimit, an iOS application that analyzed text content and condensed it into a summary of either 1000, 500, or 140 characters. The app was good enough to be featured by Apple and to garner $300,000 in venture capital from Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing.

D’aloisio used the funds to create a new-and-improved version of the app called Summly. Summly was acquired by Yahoo in March 2013 for $30 million. Nick is currently going to school in the UK while helping Yahoo develop their news digest.

“I absolutely want to start another company,” D’aloisio told the Wall Street Journal. “Serial entrepreneurs get addicted to creation. I want to be passionate. I feel really bad when I’m not doing something new.”

Caroline Walerud

Co-Founder/CEO of Volumental

Age: 23

Volumental started as a robotics research project at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. But when they developed a breakthrough 3D scanning technology, it quickly became a breakout business with $330,000 in soft funding from a Swedish innovation agency and articles in Tech Crunch and Mashable.

Volumental has built “the world’s first cloud-based 3D scanner.” It’s real innovation is in automation and ease of use. All you need to use it is a browser with a depth camera and you’ll be able to easily make models of anything around your house (even your self).

Caroline Walerud is the 23-year-old co-founder and CEO of Volumental and the only young entrepreneur on this list who you can view as a 3D model. Last year, she led the company on a successful Kickstarter campaign ($27,362) in order for them to hire a new employee who would be dedicated to making the 3D models something that you can actually print out.

In December 2013, Walerud was named Super Talent 2013 by the Swedish Business magazine Veckans Affärer. But as the CEO of company that’s automating and simplifying the ability to create 3D models and print them, by December 2014 she might be a household name globally.

Brian Wong

Co-founder of Kiip

Age: 22

Kiip is helping companies link virtual achievements to real-life commercial promotions. It might come in the form of a coupon after beating a level on your favorite game or a free bottle of vitamin water after completing a five mile run.

It’s all based on the idea that marketing at a ‘moment of achievement’ finds people at their most engaged and receptive. Wong came up with the idea while watching people immersed in their iPads on an airplane and founded the company in July 2010 alongside Courtney Guertin and Amadeus Demarzi. They’ve since raised $15.4 million in venture capital.

How’s this for a ‘moment of achievement': Kiip reaches “70 million users through 1,500 games and apps” (Forbes). And the company has established partnerships with some of the worlds biggest companies, including McDonald’s, Sony, and Amazon.

In 2013, Kiip was one of Fast Company’s 50 most innovative companies. In 2014, Wong says the goal is profitability.

Evan Spiegel

CEO and Founder of Snapchat

Age: 23

Snapchat is turning social networking upside-down by emphasizing privacy and impermanence. The Snapchat app has been growing end over end. It went from 200 million “snaps” (images) uploaded per day to 350 million in just four months (June-September 2013).

In 2013, Facebook saw a decrease in daily use among teens (16% in the US), which is Snapchat’s primary demographic. That explains why Zuckerberg reportedly offered $3 Billion cash for Snapchat – and why Spiegel refused.

If Snapchat can maintain its growth and find a way to monetize, then Spiegel will be the world’s next young billionaire. But with Snapchat’s recent security breach and Spiegel’s reputation as an “arrogant” novice those are two big ifs.

Whatever Spiegel and Snapchat do in 2014, the world will be watching.

Palmer Luckey

Founder of Oculus VR

Age: 21

Oculus VR is developing the virtual reality headset that Business Insider called “most definitely the future of gaming.”

Palmer Luckey is the 21-year-old who started it all by developing the initial headset, incorporating with two partners, and launching a 2012 Kickstarter campaign that raised $2.4 million.

2013 brought even greater success: $91 million in venture funding, 50 employees, and a growing community of indie developers around the world creating applications for the Oculus Rift prototype.

At CES 2014, they’ve debuted a brand new, high-definition prototype called Crystal Cove and it’s already the talk of the show. Oculus is shooting for a consumer release of their first virtual reality headset by Q3 2014. If all goes as planned, they won’t just upend the videogame industry; they’ll create a revolutionary new ‘virtual experience’ industry all its own.

A New Generation of Young Entrepreneurs

While it’s exciting to think about what these ten young entrepreneurs will accomplish in 2014, the young entrepreneur movement is much bigger than just the ten names above. A recent poll from the Kaufman Foundation found that more than half of millennial have started or want to start their own business.

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