The World’s Most Innovative Companies in 2017 That Were Founded by 20-Something’s
This year marks the 10th Edition of Fast Company compiling a list of the 50 most innovative companies in the world – those that tap both heart strings and purse strings, and it should come as no surprise that there are some pretty damn cool twenty-something’s behind a lot of them.
Airbnb was founded by Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky in 2007 when they were both 27-years-old. The friends had met five years earlier at Rhode Island School of Design and were struggling to pay rent. They found out there was a design room conference coming to San Francisco where they lived and the city’s hotels were fully booked, so they came up with the idea of renting out three airbeds on their living-room floor and cooking their guests breakfast. The rest is history.
The young entrepreneurs have embarked on a journey to reimagine travel by putting incredible experiences at their users’ fingertips and the business is continuing to expand. Last November Chesky introduced ‘Experiences’ which is local adventures that extend Airbnb’s host-based hospitality into tours and multiway itineraries.
Emily Weiss is the brains and beauty behind Into The Gloss, the beauty blog that developed a cult-like following thanks to it’s dedication to testing every beauty product under the sun so that we don’t have to. She hustled her way from an intern at Teen Vogue before assisting the style director at Vogue where her fascination for the beauty cabinets of the world’s most glamorous women began.
Weiss launched Glossier in 2014 when she was 28 years old, using the feedback from products reviewed on Into The Gloss and today it is a tightly-edited collection of modern beauty essentials for real women. Their most replenished product, Milky Jelly face wash, was the result of asking readers what they would want in their “dream cleanser”. The brand’s modern, minimalist packaging is designed to look good on social media, and Glossier products arrive in a reusable pink pouch that doubles as an Instagram backdrop.
A self-professed sneakerhead, Kevin Ma devoured everything to do with sneakers and streetwear while studying at the University of British Columbia in the early 2000s. As media shifted online, though, Ma’s search for a reliable online source for the same news came up short. So he decided to create an outlet himself at the young age of 22 and call it Hypebeast, a slightly sarcastic play on the term for someone who gets caught up in a product’s hype.
“In the world of hype and cool, you need to be the coolest platform selling the coolest products,” says Ma, founder of the Hong Kong–based streetwear site. Championing edgy brands such as Raf Simons, Vetements, and Hood by Air, Ma’s site has grown from a simple sneaker-obsessed review place to a multifaceted business of everything urban fashion and culture, including his own Hypebeast brand, female-focused Hypebae, and an online marketplace called HBX that sells everything from Yeezy Boosts to Leica cameras.
Perhaps the youngest mogul on this list, Evan Spiegel was only 21 years old when he came up with the idea for Snapchat and today consumers, advertisers, influencers, media brands, and rivals are increasingly viewing the world through Snapchat’s lens. All Spiegel wanted to do was something different to his competitors: he wanted private messages to disappear after they were read, he wanted to create content that was viewed vertically instead of horizontally because that was the way we held our phones and he didn’t want to ask users for personal information and consequently bombard them with advertisements which he felt were “creepy”.
In the past 18 months, the app has released a ton of features, from digital masks and filters to face-swapping to group chat and it now claims more than 150 million daily users. In 2016 it exceeded it’s goal to generate more than $300 million in revenue.
Founded by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, Uber was born out of a situation Kalanick faced in Paris when he was unable to find a taxi to get to a conference. Realizing that this was an issue faced by countless travellers around the world, the duo decided to launch Uber and the service is now available all over the world. All they wanted to do was simplify and improve the basic taxi experience: Uber cabs are actually private vehicles whose owners are registered with Uber as drivers so they don’t provide cars. Travellers can book an Uber using the app and when the user’s GPS is turned on, Uber notifies the drivers who are closest to their location, ensuring that the customer gets a cab as soon as possible at the accurate pickup time.
Last August, it launched a program in Pittsburgh that allowed people to summon a self-driving car from their phones. At the same time, Uber acquired autonomous-trucking startup Otto. Together, these moves put the company, valued at $68 billion, at the forefront of transportation’s next wave.