The Top Young Entrepreneurs in 2017 —Who they are, what they do, and how can we learn from them.
Top Young Entrepreneurs in 2017 —In Friday’s article, we took a closer look at the best advice, success tips, and questions to ask young entrepreneurs. It’s no secret there are a lot of business opportunities in the world. However, it can be overwhelming trying to choose the right opportunity to turn into a successful business.
To encourage and guide our young entrepreneurs, we’ve compiled a list of the top young entrepreneurs in 2017. They’re taking the industry by storm, creating innovative solutions, maintaining a social conscience, and turning a profit
Top Young Entrepreneurs in 2017 — Justin Lafazan
Justin Lafazan, age 21, is one of the top entrepreneurs in 2017. He is a consultant, speaker, investor, and best-selling author for the young entrepreneurial community. While he may still be a student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, he has been making waves ever since taking a gap year to pursue his passion—encouraging young entrepreneurs to follow their dreams. His work has been featured on TedTalks, Forbes, and The Huffington Post.
Lafazan has always had a passion for encouraging young people to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. To help young people get ahead, he created Students4Students College Advisory, a full-service higher education consulting agency. The idea is to provide college counseling services, mainly providing opportunities for college students to share relevant insights about the admissions process with prospective students. Something that is needed to help those without support navigate the difficult task of getting into college and paying for it.
Most impressively, Lafazan created Next Gen Summit—a conference partnered with Walmart, Facebook, Google, GoDaddy, Uber, Verizon, and others to empower and support the next generation of entrepreneurs. It has become a ‘can’t-miss’ event by some of the top-ranking magazines and entrepreneurial websites.
Fun Fact: In 2015, Lafazan published a best-selling book entitled, What Wakes You Up?. He chose to donate 100% of the launch profits to the Next Gen Foundation, a nonprofit organization that gives scholarships to help empower young people who may not otherwise be able to pursue their dreams without higher education.
Top Young Entrepreneurs in 2017 —Matthew Humphrey
In 2017, Forbes selected Matthew Humphrey, age 29, as one of their distinguished 30 Under 30 honorees. Humphrey, at the age of 13, attended Carnegie Mellon University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2007 from the School of Computer Science and an MBA in 2008 from the Tepper School of Business.
Since graduating, Humphrey has co-founded eight tech startups and invested in more than 100 other businesses in retail analytics, video delivery, e-commerce, and more. He turned his entrepreneurial spirit to the world of finance, focusing on the mortgage market. After the burst of the housing bubble in 2007 and 2008, banks made it difficult to get a mortgage, especially for property investors who flip houses. Humphrey identified this and jumped at the business opportunity to create a solution.
In 2013, he founded LendingHome, a San Francisco based company that has spent years building technology to help real estate investors get mortgages faster and simpler than ever before. In the last few years, the company has grown to have over 250 employees, raised over $100 million in venture backing, and funded over $1.2 billion in mortgages by rebuilding a traditional mortgage lending bank form the ground-up with technology. It has also expanded its market to first-time home buyers, making the dream of owning a home possible through a more simplified mortgage system that is readily available.
Humphrey’s Best Advice to Young Entrepreneurs: Find the smartest person or the most accomplished person who will take you seriously, work for them for free, and see everything you can learn.
Top Young Entrepreneurs in 2017 —Stacey Ferreira
Stacey Ferreira took the world by storm in her TEDxNYU talk on the idea that “Millennials are doomed”. Instead, the 24-year-old proclaims that communication gaps between Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials have resulted in a work environment where 50% of employed persons do not like their job. Ferreira states that unhappiness in the workplace is the result of a clash in opinions and failure to collaborate among the different generations.
Ferreira took her own advice and applied her passion to business. She wanted to shape her career into something that could not only give her a fulfilling purpose in life but give her happiness. The New York University’s Gallatin School drop-out made waves when she won the Theil Fellowship in 2015. The fellowship allows top young entrepreneurs to drop out of college and build their company. Ferreira along with her partners founded Forge, an on-demand labor marketplace. The goal is to give a platform to those unhappy in their current job to find something they love that makes them excited to wake up every morning.
Fun Fact: Ever been saved from having reset a password for all your different online accounts? If you’re using MySocialCloud, you have Ferreira to thank for that as she is a co-founder along with her brother for the online bookmark vault and password manager.
Top Young Entrepreneurs in 2017 —Sean Petterson
Sean Petterson is the Founder and CEO of StrongArm Technologies. The 27-year-old used his degree in industrial design and mechanical engineering to design a product that saves lives every day. His company produces wearable protective technology to help industrial workers avoid injury.
Petterson saw the needs for this product, because not only could it help employees, it could also help lower costs to employers. Workplace injuries are a major problem for industrial workers. More than 3% of manufacturing workers suffered a workplace injury in 2015. It’s cheaper for companies to buy equipment to protect their workers rather than pay workmen’s compensation bills.
StrongArm Technologies produces exoskeletons that align the body to reduce arm fatigue, avoid muscle strains and sprains, and prevent back injuries. Today, StrongArm Technologies has raised several million dollars from investors and have some top-ranking customers, including the military shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries.
Fun Fact: Petterson’s father was a construction worker. He wanted to build this product to protect workers so that they could return each day safely to their families.
Top Young Entrepreneurs in 2017 —Thiabult Duchemin
Thibault Duchemin is the CEO and Founder of AVA—an app founded in 2015 that is aimed at empowering deaf people by allowing them to follow group conversations with several people. With over 360 million people worldwide suffering from hearing loss, AVA is an app that is much needed today. After the success of AVA, Duchemin and his team are already in development to release more than just an app. They plan on releasing more products to cater to the aging population that is becoming hard of hearing.
Duchemin was the only one of his family who did not suffer from hearing loss. Before coming to the United States, he became worried for his family and how they would be able to communicate effectively if he was not there to interpret for them. AVA does just that. It’s an app that incorporates breakthroughs in speech recognition and speaker identification, which allow the hearing impaired to know what is said and who said it. The app is extremely easy to use—people download it, connect to each other’s phone, enable your phone’s microphone, and you’re ready to go!
Fun Fact: Duchemin was born in France, but came to the United States to take advantage of educational opportunities. He was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2017 and highlighted as a successful immigrant and entrepreneur.
Top Young Entrepreneurs in 2017 —Whitney Wolfe
Whitney Wolfe, age 27, caught the attention of millions when she left the popular dating app, Tinder, and created a rival dating app, Bumble. Since its creation in 2014, Bumble has gained over 12 million registered users who use the app for more than one hour each day.
After leaving Tinder over sexual harassment claims that were later settled, Wolfe took her experience and decided to change the dating app game. She wanted to give women the power to initiate a conversation, versus Tinder where it is frowned upon for women to initiate. Bumble allows women to start a conversation within 24 hours of ‘matching’ or else the match expires. A match can extend a match by 24 hours in the hopes the woman will start a conversation. The 24-hour rule was created in the hopes that someone would initiate a conversation because they wanted to, not to keep a number of ‘back-up matches’.
Wolfe wanted the focus of the app to be on women and how it could benefit them in the dating world. She believed that Tinder was primarily focused on the satisfaction of male consumers. She has succeeded, as Bumble is now preferred by women as a dating app because they feel their matches are more wholesome, versus Tinder where they felt it was quantity over quality.
Wolfe’s Best Advice to Young Entrepreneurs: When leading your team, measure success in the positive impact you have on the consumers, not what people, who doubted you from the start and rooted for your failure, have to say about it.
Top Young Entrepreneurs in 2017 —Liam Berkeley
Liam Berkley, age 24, solved the hardest dilemma most young people have—wanting a pet but not being able to commit to one due to work, school, and living situations. His company, Bark’N’Borrow, was founded in 2014 and has raised over $21 million dollars in venture capital funds.
The idea is simple: a dog owner and a dog borrower create profiles with specifications on what they’re looking for and their housing environment. The two can then browse for prospective ‘dog dates’. You can take the dog for a walk or keep it overnight. Berkley wanted the app to be free and engage people who could not afford pets. After a successful launch, they did add a professional tier that allows dog owners to find long-term sitters and regular dog walkers. The app charges a small fee for this service.
Bark’N’Borrow has been widely successful as studies show pet ownership and companionship have many health benefits—boosts endorphins, relieves stress, calms nerves, promotes more exercise, and much more. The app also benefits the pets that would typically be left alone during the day by an owner who has to attend work or other obligations.
Fun Fact: Berkley started the app because he and his girlfriend wanted a dog, but could not have one at the time.
Top Young Entrepreneurs in 2017 —The Roundup
From dating apps to exoskeleton products, the top young entrepreneurs of 2017 have revolutionized what it means to follow your dreams. They’ve made a success from what others would consider failures and the ‘give up’ point. They’re also doing away with the notion that the under 30 crowd is not bringing anything new to the market. These young entrepreneurs are proving the disbelievers wrong.
Let their success show, that it’s never too early to go after what you want. There are a number of resources out there to help young entrepreneurs succeed. What are you waiting for? Opportunities are at your fingertips!