Archive for Millennial Entrepreneurs

Chalmers Brown | Due.com

Chalmers Brown is a software engineer and entrepreneur who is currently working on his fifth startup, Due.com. Due helps small businesses with invoices and payment processing so that they can receive the money that they earned.

Brown’s entrepreneurial story started at Rutgers University, where he began a business to help local students earn money selling their used textbooks. He found a very immediate need that he could meet and turned it into a business. As his education in software engineering advanced, he started developing software back ends for social media companies, healthcare providers, and other businesses.

Due.com emerged from the experiences and relationships he made during his early entrepreneurial years, as he connected to freelancers and started to understand what they could use to make their processes easier. He spotted pain in an experience, and turned it into a business that delivers millions of invoices every year across the globe.

Although the business is very small and simple, the beauty of Due.com is the great need it meets for many people. While many people try to make starting a business complex and formulaic, Brown found a intersection of passion and pain and launched from there.

There’s an ‘I’ in Popcorn—or There is Now

Pipsnacks is a company founded five years ago on the premise of reimagining snack foods. Founded by brother and sister Jen and Jeff Martin, Pipsnacks’ main product is Pipcorn. “What is Pipcorn,” you may ask. Well, simply put, it is miniature popcorn. While the hulls of Pipcorn are thinner, and therefore easy to eat and digest (not to mention get out of your teeth), the product is also gluten free, non-GMO, vegan (except for a particular flavor which has ghee, a milk product), and whole grain.

Pipsnacks has gone from selling their product in brown paper bags to a successful online company, and have had a number of achievements, ranging from being on Oprah, starting a mini-factory, getting funding from Shark Tank, and getting on shelves in retailers like Target and Costco.

Tonami’s Creations: For Children Aged 4 to 95 Years

Tonami’s Creations is the creation of Tonami Abiona, 7 year-old Nigerian entrepreneur who loves to draw, paint, color, write, and create.

At the humble age of five, Tonami began creating her own books of sorts, collections of art and stories. She gave them to her friends, wanting to spread her love for creation, and encouraged them to do the same thing. Her simple art form soon turned into a business opportunity when she was approached by Kid Entrepreneurs, “an organization that is primarily focused on raising the next generation of entrepreneurs;” they wanted to showcase her product!

A few pivots later, Tonami, with the help of her computer engineer and entrepreneur mum and financial analyst dad, arrived at what is now the My Story Book Kit. This product is “a creative writing resource for young readers, writers and illustrators,” containing a detailed instruction manual that guides kids through the contents and their own story-writing process. The kit encourages kids to be creative, and sharpens problem skills, all the while helping with personal and educational development.

Tonami’s branding is, quite frankly, genius. It’s a brand by kids, for kids, but appealing to parents, teachers, and gift-givers as well. The business increases their presence by showcasing at events and offering their products through different retailers. They also market the My Story Book Kit as a great gift idea and sell t-shirts to increase brand awareness.

Taking an everyday piece of joy and turning it into a business, Tonami’s Creations has re-created the way kids around the world look at creativity. To see their website, click here.

Will Paterson

Image result for will patterson designWill Paterson is an England designer with specialties in Company Identity and Branding for his clients. He has an established website and is active on YouTube and Instagram. On his website, he displays his hand lettering and logo design work. He speaks about his goals as a designer and specifically mentions that he wants to take his talents and continually expand them into new avenues as he adapts to the changing markets. On his YouTube channel, he has a multitude of videos explaining logo design from a very broad aspect to specific important details of logo designs.  He is continually putting out content for his followers, from courses on design programs to critiques of designs his followers send to him. It ranges from educational to entertaining and I believe it is a great variety so that he reaches as many people as possible.

Image result for will patterson designHow is Will an Entrepreneur? As a designer he has to adapt and be flexible to be available to potential clients, he has a passion for giving an image and identity to companies, he creates with his hand writing, and he networks through his various social media platforms. With all that, bottom-line, he creates an interesting and successful product for a market that is looking for his work. And with his work he has made the effort to not only be a creator but a teacher through his following on Instagram and YouTube.

Check him out on his website here.

EchoMark and EchoSure

David Narrow has created substantial waves as an entrepreneur in the field of healthcare. At the mere age of 25, he is the CEO of Sonavex and creator of EchoMark and EchoSure.

David’s career with Sonavex began when he noticed that doctors would often have trouble locating previous surgical sites on patients. Locating these surgical sites is crucial for doctors if they are performing a follow-up procedure on a site. Usually the sites would be marked with implants that could be viewed later with an ultrasound. However, the implants that were currently being used were often difficult to accurately pinpoint in the ultrasounds. David realized that the healthcare industry needed a better implant that could be more easily seen and located with an ultrasound. So he started Sonavex and designed EchoMark.

EchoMark is a surgical implant made from a polymer material that is harmless to the human body. At the end of surgery, a doctor can insert EchoMark into the surgical site to mark it for later procedures. EchoMark’s unique shape causes the sound waves of an ultrasound to bounce off of it at multiple angles, enabling doctors and nurses to distinguish its location more quickly and accurately than previous surgical markers. If a second surgery in the area is not needed, EchoMark dissolves within 18-24 months after insertion, without needing to be removed. David’s product aptly filled an important need in healthcare, but it wasn’t long before he found a new need to tackle.

Another problem that medical professionals face is the occurrence of blood clots in patients who have undergone any surgical procedure in which veins or arteries are reconnected. Over 550,000 patients per year experience this type of surgery, which always involves the risk of blood clots. If a clot occurs and is not diagnosed and treated quickly, the patient may experience serious harm and have to undergo even more extensive surgeries. In response to this problem, David designed EchoSure, an ultrasound system that monitors patients’ newly connected blood vessels for clots. The system automatically alerts medical personnel of flow loss in a vessel. EchoSure’s intuitive interface allows medical professionals to use it without needing any training in ultrasound. As such, EchoSure acts as an early warning system against blood clots, allowing for rapid diagnosis and treatment before they can cause substantial damage.

David Narrow’s creativity and innovation to solve problems in healthcare have benefited numerous patients and have paved the way for even more valuable technology.

The Mind Behind Mozilla Firefox

Blake Ross epitomizes what it means to be a millennial entrepreneur. But before Blake’s story is told, here’s a word about Netscape.

In the late 1990s, Netscape Communications Corporation, an internet suite, was competing against the Microsoft giant, Internet Explorer. One could hardly call it competing, though, because Internet Explorer was beating their competition to a pulp. Netscape needed a better product in order to survive against Internet Explorer. So in 1998, Netscape made development of their new version open source, meaning that any programmers could help develop it. This is where Blake enters scene.

Blake loved programming, and by the age of 10 he had constructed his first website. At the age of 15, he started developing with Netscape. He and two others, David Hyatt and Joe Hewitt, would eventually become the major minds behind Mozilla Firefox through the Netscape open source project. In 2004, at the age of 19, Blake helped release the first version of Firefox. By 2010, Firefox surpassed Internet Explorer as the most popular web browser in Europe, and Firefox continues to be successful to this day.

Blake started working on another project in 2006 called Parakey. It was a computer interface that he wanted to be able to perform the same functions as an operating system. Shortly after its development in 2007, Facebook bought Parakey for a multi-million dollar deal.

Blake Ross excellently shows the benefits of starting young and getting out into the entrepreneurial world as soon as possible. He took something that he enjoyed doing and was able to use his skills to do big things in the field of technology.

myYearbook (MeetMe)

In 2005, David and Catherine Cook, both high school students, came up with an idea for an online yearbook as opposed to the traditional hard copy. This brother and sister team started “myYearbook,” it became popular with schools who would pay to have their yearbook on the site. Over the years however, David and Catherine would figure out ways to expand myYearbook’s reach including making it available for older demographics, introducing online chatting, gaming, and moving into different countries as well. They ended up merging with Quepasa Corporation and renamed their company to MeetMe. Today MeetMe is worth over 100 million dollars. This is just another example of how a simple, yet innovative, idea can be extremely successful and make a dent in any market. 

Silbermann and Sharp: Pinterest

Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp, co-founders of Pinterest, both used their prior experiences in the technology and the internet to start a very successful business of their own. Silbermann was a Google employee until he left to design apps on his own. However, these failed to gain any traction, until eventually he designed a product inspired by his own love of collecting things.

Similarly, Sharp worked at Facebook as a product designer. He met Silbermann in New York, and then joined his team to make Pinterest a reality.

Pinterest is really about idea sharing. People enjoy telling others about their ideas, and Pinterest gives them a platform to not only do so but also to gauge how a community will respond to it. It is a great place to see other peoples ideas as well, and find inspiration for many different things.

This business idea is a great example of collision in a liquid network. In the realm of technology and the internet, two men with the experience and ideas necessary collided to make a business that could possibly eclipse Facebook and other social media giants.

Without one another, the idea would just be a pair of hunches, and nothing would have come from it. However, in a community where ideas can bounce around, change, and grow, true innovations can be born.

PGH Startup Weekend: Amelia App for Women

Do you ever wonder what could be acheived in 54 hours? In 2016, Pittsburgh Startup Weekend Women’s Edition was hosted for the first time ever… and as a result, the winning team Go Jane Go’s Amelia App is now in the beta testing phase. Kate’s idea to create an app to connect women with other professionals in cities away from home was given a chance to develop when she and her sister Ellen attended Startup Weekend and met UX Designer Sanjana. Together they were able to create a solid foundation for their venture while not only winning the competion, but receiving resources to help them in their quest to develop it. These three individuals skills paired with the proper resources and enviroment accelorated the creation of a community womens app.

This year at Pittsburgh Startup Weekend, three of the top winning teams were comprised of some your own fellow GROVERS, with business ideas for Active Home, Chute and The Good Find… so be on the lookout for these potential businesses in the future!

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Jack Kim- Benelab Search Engine

Jack Kim is a young entrepreneur that is still in high school in Seattle. He is the founder of a search engine called Benelab that is designed to make philanthropy easier by generating donations. Jack’s project is not-for-profit and he plans to donate all of the revenue generated by Benelab. Jack quickly learned the power of a search engine’s ability to generate wealth from very little traffic through his work with search engines in the past. After developing an outline for his idea, Jack got a team of his high school classmates together to start working on the project. So far, Benelab has been incredibly successful at generating wealth, and all of this wealth is then donated to different charities and organizations to help the less fortunate. Benelab provides an easy yet effective way of enabling everday internet users to participate in philanthropy, even if they do not realize it.

“Many people think of charity as something limited to the rich or “good”, but in reality it’s something that can and should be incorporated into anyone’s daily life – you just have to know how.” – Jack Kim