It’s no secret that the past few years have been tricky to navigate for millennials, especially those who have sought an education. Between 2004 and 2014, the number of student borrowers rose by 89%; during the same time period, the average national student debt grew by 77%. When one considers the tremendous financial hurdles millennials face—enormous debt insecurity, coupled with the ever-growing market dominance of massive corporations—it might seem impossible for millennial entrepreneurs to exist at all.
But despite these challenges, a brave few are still daring to break the 9-to-5 grind, set out on their own, and embark on ventures which add value to their communities. Below are some of the most incredible new businesses started by extraordinary young people, proving beyond a doubt that one doesn’t need decades of experience to launch a successful business.
Ryan and Adam Goldston: Athletic Propulsion Labs
These twin brothers started their brand of high-end, fashionable athletic sneakers from the confines of their USC dorm room. The shoes offered two market advantages: one, they looked super cool. And two, they were equipped with a patented “Load N’ Launch Propelium Sole” that enabled them to instantly increase a wearer’s vertical leap. The shoes and their creators may have faded into obscurity had not a miracle occurred: the shoes were banned by the NBA for the 2010-2011 season for providing “an unfair competitive advantage.” Within hours of the ban, the shoe sales had skyrocketed. “It was the equivalent of $150 million in marketing, but it was absolutely free,” said Adam Goldston in an interview.
That initial PR boost was all the brothers needed to get their sneaker-clad foot in the door. Since then, the pair has seen their company’s revenues grow by 3,500% each year. Last year, they launched a line of running shoes which they claim can improve a wearer’s speed by up to nine seconds per mile by using compression-force technology—not bad for two kids from California.
Grace Choi: Mink Makeup Printer
Grace Choi had a few cards up her sleeve that enabled her to excel in the field of entrepreneurship. One, her father was an aerospace engineer and small business owner who taught her crucial skills from a young age. Two, she boasts an undergraduate degree from Cornell and an MBA from Harvard Business School. And three, she was snapped up as the personal assistant to Cornell inventor, professor, and physician, Dr. Martin Prince, who further mentored her in the field.
But it was Choi herself who came up with an idea that sent shockwaves through the internet when she presented it at a New York technology conference in 2014. It sounds like something out of a SciFi movie: by using Choi’s “3D” Mink Makeup Printer, a user can pull up a photo—any photo—onto his or her computer; click on a color—any color—in a photo-editing tool such as Photoshop; and print the exact shade onto a blank eyeshadow, lipstick, or BB cream base. The invention promised to, in Choi’s words, “put beauty in the control and power of the consumer” and disrupt a $55 billion beauty industry.
While Choi didn’t win the startup competition, her presentation went viral, attracting the attention of top makeup companies and investors. As of right now, Choi is focusing on manufacturing and distributing her device, as well as seeking out beauty bloggers and influencers to promote it. When the product is ready to launch, a sign-up sheet on her website allows interested buyers to be the first to know.
Brian Streem, Jason Goodman and Jeff Brink: AeroCine
Ever since taking the media spotlight in 2012, drones have captured the fascination—and horror—of the American public, both as tools of surveillance and robotic weapons of war. But when drones first came to the public eye, they also captured the attention of three young entrepreneurs for a far different reason: their potential use in the field of cinematography.
The young men–Brian Streem, Jeff Brink, and Jason Goodman–were neither rocket scientists not roboticists when they developed their idea for AeroCine, an aerial cinematography company that uses drones to fly cameras for movie, television, advertising, and real estate purposes. They were simply film school students who saw the potential to introduce the world to an incredible new frontier in film.
Streem in particular was fascinated by the idea of placing a camera in places that are too dangerous, remote, or difficult for humans to access. In 2015, he proved his point by filming The Fallout, a 5-minute documentary shot in Chernobyl, Ukraine. The drone-mounted was able to capture the eerie silence of the abandoned facility in a way that had never been done before. The film won the 2015 New York City Drone Film Festival category for Architecture and gained the trio international acclaim.
Since then, Fleem and company have traveled the world to source the best subjects for their aerial equipment. The company offers two drones for rent worldwide, along with its 3-person flight team (a pilot, camera man, and aircraft technician.) With thousands of dollars at risk with each flight, the equipment needs an experienced pilot at the helm.
Millennials Are A Bright Entrepreneurial Future
The subject of millennials and their potential as entrepreneurs has been the subject of much debate. Publications like The Atlantic have called millennial entrepreneurship a “common media myth” in the face of a recession-wounded economy and massive student debt levels. And according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the percent of business-owners under 30 has fallen by 65 percent since the 1980s and is now at a quarter-century low.
However, other data allows room for a more positive outlook. For those young people who have quit their jobs to pursue their own projects, 90% say they are optimistic about their business prospects in the upcoming year, 76% say they’ve had a successful year so far, and 44% say they hired new employees in the first year’s half, according to a recent poll.
In his book The Business of Good, social entrepreneur Jason Herber put it best: “Millennials aren’t keen on waiting. It isn’t in their DNA. They don’t wait for taxis, they take Uber. They don’t wait for emails, they text. They don’t wait to work up the corporate ladder, they start their own business. So it should come as no surprise that they have no interest in waiting to make a difference. They inherited a flawed world and have a zeal to repair it that’s unique to their generation. It’s as if the generation has been hardwired to believe in the fierce urgency of now.” As the young people in this article prove, that statement is all too true.
- Posted by getyoufound
- On 2016-10-05
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