Archive for Millennial Entrepreneurs

Kaylena Marie’s Bakery: A Vision of an Entrepreneur

Back at home in Orchard Park, a girl who graduated one year before me in high school opened up her own artisan bakery in town! Kaylena Marie Eisenhower is a twenty-year-old entrepreneur who started selling her baked goods online at a very young age. Throughout high school, Kaylena continued to cater and sell various baked goods, even if that meant waking up very early in the morning to send out shipments before school started at 7. After graduating high school, Kaylena spent 2 years studying Culinary Arts to further her education. During this last year, Kaylena transformed a small rental space into a gorgeous artisan cafe, where anyone can order pastries, sandwiches, coffee, and a whole lot more. The store spaced has been transformed into a beautiful, comfortable atmosphere. Before coming back to GCC, I stopped by the bakery for the first time. The bakery opened at 8am, and there was a line outside of her shop waiting for the freshly baked goods. With the help of her family and friends, Kaylena has offered Orchard Park a wonderful space for community, creativity, and bliss.

Convenient Store At Your Door

Yakir Gola and Rafael Ilishayev launched goPuff when they were only sophomores at Drexel University in 2013. GoPuff is your convenient store on wheels, bringing over 3,000 items ranging from snacks and drinks to necessities and electronics – straight to your front door in 30 minutes or less. The idea came to them as car-less freshmen roommates constantly asking for rides to get basic necessities or cigarettes. There were apps for full-blown grocery shopping or gourmet food, but what about just a plain old convenient store run? – and goPuff was born.

Image result for gopuff

Before they had even fully launched, they were already getting orders from fellow college students and residents of Philadelphia. At first, the roommates worked 17-18 hour shifts with their (new) cars to deliver the snacks and goodies, but with time came employees and they now have dozens of drivers in twelve different cities across the US.Image result for gopuff

Gola and Ilishayev don’t see other food delivery services as their competitors – they see the brick and mortar convenient stores as their primary competition. Competition is a loose term however – in 2014, they already had 25,000 customers in Philadelphia alone just a year after launch.

While it’s unfortunate that their services don’t extend to Grove City, they are constantly expanding and setting up camp in more major cities across America. So the next time you’re in a big city with a hankering for Ben & Jerry’s, goPuff’s got your back.

Dropbox- A Coder Turned Entrepreneur

Drew Houston, co-founder and CEO of Dropbox, has all the symptoms of being an entrepreneur! The creation story of his company, Houston claims, came from an idea that came to him after constantly forgetting his USB flash drive during his studies at MIT.  During his time as a student he found a multitude of problems with storage services and decided to set out to solve this problem for himself.  Little did he know that his solution would end up benefiting millions of others as well.

Image result for Drew houston

In 2007, he and his co-founder Arash Ferdowsi were able to secure enough funding to begin the development of the program were soon launched Dropbox. Within 24-hours of its launch, Dropbox “had 75,000 people signup for the wait-list.”  When they were only expecting 15,000, tops.  Dropbox had an enormous success rate, and, by the end of 2013 Dropbox had gained over 200 million users.

So what sets this company apart from others? Well Dropbox is a technology company that claims to build simple, powerful products for people and businesses.  Unlike many other companies, Dropbox is innovative in that they value the creation of products that are easy to use and are built on trust. When people put their files in Dropbox, they can trust they’re secure and their data is their own. The users’ privacy has always been their first priority, and it always will be.  Image result for dropbox images

Houston believed that technology should get out of the way, so there’s no limit to what people can do. And his tightly-knit team seems very committed to realizing ambitious ideas and making technology work for the world, and I’m sure that the best from them is still to come.

“Sometimes you just get this feeling — it’s a compulsion or an obsession. You can’t stop thinking about it. You just have to work on this thing,” words from the entrepreneur himself, Drew Houston.

Tumbl(r) Into Success- David Karp

David Karp, inventor of Tumblr, discovered his passion for entrepreneurship at a young age.  He was only 14 when he got his first internship with an animation producer.  Karp was fascinated with the whole industry and started digging into it further.  He started learning more and more programming languages and eventually became very skilled in programming and coding.  This drive would soon take him far and give him the platform that he needed to excel.

In 2007, at the young age of 20, Karp launched the opening of the successful platform called Tumblr.  Tumblr was an idea that Karp came up with.  It is a mix of twitter, Youtube and WordPress.  It gives each user the ability to have their own blog where they can post blogs, pictures and video.  After the first 24 hours of the launch, Tumblr had 75,000 users.  And it soon grew to be a huge and time consuming platform.   His intention with Tumblr was to give the consulting business he owned the attention that he needed for it.  He soon realized that he was incapable of balancing both of these businesses, and shut down his consulting business to run with Tumblr full time.

Image result for tumblr logo

Tumblr continued to grow and had proved itself as an extremely successful startup.  As of December 1, 2016, Tumblr hosts over 324.7 million blogs.  Although it hasn’t come close to reaching the 100 billion value of Zuckerberg’s Facebook , Tumblr’s 800 million dollar value is nothing to pass up.  Karp was included in Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2013.  He used his entrepreneurial mind to design his company in such a way that it was innovative in an age of blogging and networking.  Where others looked at the revolutions of blogging and social networking and saw new tools for communication, Karp saw possibilities for making them easier and more intuitive. Tumblr lowered the bar to creating a beautiful, dynamic website and raised the payoff in the form of positive social reinforcement.

LearnVest- Alexa Von Tobel

Alexa Von Tobel, who received an A.B. in Psychology at Harvard College, is a prime example of a young entrepreneur.  She came up with the idea for LearnVest while working at Morgan Stanley when she realized she and most other people had never had any formal education about how to manage their personal finances. From this stemmed an innovative company.  Alexa von Tobel entered Harvard Business School, but ended up taking a leave of absence too launched LearnVest.  Related image

LearnVest is a financial planning company, which Von Tobel founded. It sells personal finance software to those who don’t know how to handle their personal finances.  What sets this company and idea apart from others is that with LearnVest, financial planning is geared to be affordable, accessible, and even delightful for everyone who uses their services.  Whether you need help to budget better, save for big trips, maximize your investments, or something in between, the company goes above and beyond to let you know that they are there to help you make progress on your money.  LearnVest, unlike other finance companies focuses on not only keeping track of your finances, but educating you on how they are handled and how they can be improved.

Image result for learnvest founder

Alexa Von Tobel has been included in many prestigious list such as Business Insider’s 2010 “Silicon Alley 100,” Inc. Magazine’s “30 under 30: The Top Young Entrepreneurs of 2010,” “Women to Watch” by Forbes, “18 Women Changing the World” in Marie Claire, and BusinessWeek’s annual list of “Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs.”  In 2012, she was selected as a Fortune “Most Powerful Women Entrepreneur”.  Von Tobel demonstrated traits such as a knowledge of a lack of fulfillment of a need/want, ambition, and passion.  Traits and principles which I believe all entrepreneurs should possess.  For these reasons, Von Tobel eventually went on to be selected as an inaugural member of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship.



bangsDid you know there’s a hip shoe on the market that is all about supporting entrepreneurs!?

After graduating from Clemson with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Mandarin, Hannah Davis flew to China to teach English to schoolchildren. During her time there, she was inspired by a fellow teacher whose zesty fashion sense often featured an overlooked fashion staple; she loved sporting simple canvas Chinese work shoes.

Hannah knew she’d like to introduce a similar sneaker to the US market. The name BANGS, which is the Mandarin word for help, embodies the mission of this unique social enterprise which aspires to empower and pour into the entrepreneurs- the world changers of tomorrow.

Today, BANGS turns out several colors and styles of shoes, each of which give 20% of profits in the form of loans to entrepreneurs. New entrepreneurs are being selected every month and to date, BANGS has funded 226 entrepreneurs in 49 countries.

Wear good. Support today’s dreamers, and tomorrow’s business-people. Shop BANGS. bangs-cover


On March 1, 2010 Activision reported the firing of two senior employees to the Security and Exchange Commission. One of these employees was Jason West the Infinity Ward president, game director, co-CCO, and CTO. The other was Vince Zampella the CEO and co-founder of Infinity Ward.

They were dismissed and replaced by Activision, the same company who helped fund their own company Infinity Ward during the golden days of their Call of Duty franchise.

-Jason West on left and Vince Zampella on right

On April 12, 2010, the Los Angeles Times wrote an article about West and Zampella’s new ambitious venture. They were forming a new game developing studio called Respawn Entertainment.

West and Zampella got funding from Electronic Arts (EA) while keeping all intellectual property. After hearing about West and Zampella leaving and starting a new project, a bunch of their old employees from Infinity Ward left to join thier LLC, Respawn.

In June 2013, they debuted Titanfall their new and revolutionary take on first person shooters. The game was released on March 11, 2014 only for xbox. By October 5th of 2015 IGN reported that Titanfall’s sales passed 10 million globally (awesome for a game only on xbox). Recently they have been even more successful with their multi-platform sequel, Titanfall 2.

-Respawn developing team

Official site:

Los Angeles Times article on Respawn:

IGN article on 1o million in Titanfall sales:



Once upon a time, on a cool October night in San Francisco a pair of roommates by the names of Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were just too broke to pay rent on their apartment. They had to get money and get it fast so what did they do? Three air mattresses later and they had an Airbed and Breakfast for people who were attending a conference nearby and didn’t have a hotel room because all of the hotels were full. The pair were then able to get paid by renting said air mattresses and thus were able to pay rent. The end…or maybe not. Why not use this ingenious idea on a bigger scale? That’s exactly what Chesky thought. A few months later Airbnb was started. Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace in which people can rent out their spaces to travelers for both a cheaper price and a more authentic experience. This clever business gives college students and younger families the ability to travel cheaper and better and also allows homeowners to make extra money even while they are away from their homes. Airbnb now connects people to over 34,000 cities, 191 countries, and even 1,400 different castles. So how about we take a trip? Maybe to a castle?


Have you ever received a bad hair cut? Melody McCloskey has, and she turned this experience into a business. McCloskey in the founder and CEO of StyleSeat, which is an app that connects hair stylists and customers looking for a haircut.

McCloskey was tired of the hassle of booking hair appointments. She found it frustrating when she called a salon sometimes stylists wouldn’t answer the phone or when they did, you just received a random appointment with a random stylist that wasn’t even good at what she wanted to be done. McCloskey decided to fix this problem with her app. StyleSeat makes it easy to book hair appointments with specific stylists. You can search for stylists by where you are and even by what the stylist specializes in. This is such a wonderful tool not only for people in need of a haircut, also stylists. Stylists can promote themselves for what they are really good at and what they prefer to do.

Melody McCloskey really stood out to me because she experienced a problem and made it into a successful business idea. This is such a great entrepreneurial quality to have. I love how she tapped into an industry that pretty much everyone utilizes and made it better. The cosmetology industry is already a saturated industry, but McCloskey found a way to innovate and come up with something new.




ReelFruit by Affiong Williams

If you’re looking for some great stories of innovation and successful start-ups, I would suggest looking for them in Africa. Recently, entrepreneurs in African nations have been realizing their potential at an astounding rate. A fantastic example of this is Affiong Williams and her company ReelFruit.

Williams, who was one of Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30 in 2015, founded her fruit processing company in Nigeria in 2012. The company sells dried fruit and nut snacks, but the impact is much larger. Williams has said that she founded the company because she saw a gap in the market and that “there is untapped opportunity in processing and value addition of raw materials.” She has also said, “I also believe it’s a very budding sector, there is a lot of opportunity as well as the job creation which I think is quite important to me as an entrepreneur to be able to play in an industry that would create a lot of jobs.”

Clearly, Williams is passionate about developing the agribusiness sector of the Nigerian economy as well as the the rural farmers themselves. This info-graphic can be found on their website:reelfruit-infographic

The company’s current product line includes dried mango, pineapple, cashew, banana and coconut snacks. As an ambitious individual, Williams is working on raising capital to open a new, larger factory to produce and package more product as well as expand the product line.

Williams has said, “I hope to be on the cover of FORBES AFRICA in five years’ time.” This company is going places. Look for ReelFruit to expand and to have an incredible impact on the agribusiness economy of Nigeria and beyond.