3O UNDER 3O
600 GAME CHANGERS, IN 20 INDUSTRIES, TRANSFORMING THE WORLD
Our ffth annual 30 Under 30 list again recognizes America’s top young entrepreneurs and game changers—600
strong, in 20 diferent fields. The process is intense—dozens of FORBES reporters vet thousands of names, with a panel of legends in each category overseeing the fnal cut. And the results are impressive: Behold, the future (and present) leaders of pretty much everything.
Stephen Curry, 27
Point Guard, Golden State Warriors
Splash Brother. Father. leader. Champion. Stephen Curry’s nba pedigree and superhuman physical talent destined him for basketball greatness. his father, dell, was one of the top shooters of his era, his nba career spanning 16 seasons from 1986 to 2002 with fve diferent teams. on any given night, his son’s stat line induces double takes from fans and players alike. “it’s a dream come true to play basketball for a living,” says Curry. “i obviously want to get the most out of it and have a great career. But there is more to life than basketball.”
that is precisely what makes Curry’s brand so valuable. last year youth-oriented clothier express ofered him an endorsement deal as the line’s frst brand ambassador and celebrity spokesmodel. Under armour also believes in Curry, making him its face of basketball. his initial sponsorship deal, signed in 2013, was for a modest $4 million, but last year, after Under armour saw 41% annual growth in its frst-quarter footwear revenue, it was quick to ink an extension through 2024 for an undisclosed (though undoubtedly large) sum, plus an equity stake in the company. this march he also became a part owner of Boston-based private coaching venture Coachup, which has more than 13,000 coaches who work with 100,000-plus young athletes nationally. — Bailey Brautigan, Jennifer Eum, Daniel Kleinman
Tyler Haney, 27
Founder, outdoor Voices
GROWING UP IN Boulder, Colo., Haney was a jock: She ran crosscountry, played basketball and considered going to a college where she could compete in track and feld. But she couldn’t shake an interest in fashion, and instead matriculated at New York’s famed Parsons School of Design, where she soon found a way to marry her two interests.
As part of her degree program, she created a fve-piece collection of essential activewear, and Outdoor Voices was born. The brand’s memorable name “comes from when you’re little and your mom’s like, ‘Use your indoor voice,’ ” Haney says. So far the workout-apparel company’s minimalist, technical aesthetic and digitalfrst strategy have earned it over $8 million in venture backing, with the most recent round led by General Catalyst Partners of Cambridge, Mass. Despite her high-profle investors, Haney says funding didn’t come easy; her team met with, and was turned down by, some 70 investors. She adds: “I don’t have experience on my side, but I have persistence.” —Clare O’connor, Kathryn Dill
Emerson Spartz, 28
“NEGATIVE STORIES GET CLICKS, BUT they tend not to get shares,” says Spartz, by way of explaining the feel-good stories dominating your Facebook feed as opposed to the doom and gloom of mainstream news. Spartz should know. Shortly after he started homeschooling at age 12, he launched MuggleNet, which grew into one of the most popular Harry Potter fan sites (favorite book: Goblet of Fire; favorite character: luna lovegood). After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 2009, Spartz and his now wife, Gaby, launched Gives Me Hope (GMH), a Chicken Soup for the Soul rif for Millennials where the site’s users share inspiring, true stories that answer the question “What gives you hope?”
“We’re pathological optimists,” Spartz says. GMH led to Dose Media, which uses fnely tuned algorithms to comb the Web for trending topics, stories and memes, after which editors and writers create similar content for Dose—recent posts include a listicle of 15 “NSFW” (not safe for work) celebrity wardrobe malfunctions and a video of a magic trick that one orangutan found “hilarious.” Dose pulls in digital ad dollars from its 50 million monthly visitors, and it recently completed a $25 million fnancing round. The key to a story going viral? “You have to feel a lot of emotion. You have to be overwhelmed with emotion to actually be inspired to share.” — Emily Inverso, Glynnis Macnicol
Ashley Graham, 28
A size 14 who wears A 36 triple-d bra, plus-size model Graham landed fve magazine covers in the last year plus a bikini ad in the 2015 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. “i’ve had success in breaking the mold in the fashion industry,” she says. she credits “my hot body. it sounds a little misogynistic, but i also think that it’s great because i have a body that the average-size American woman has. And i’m using it to let other women know that you are beautiful.”
Graham got her start at age 12, when a modeling scout plucked her out of a crowd at a shopping mall in omaha, near her hometown of lincoln, Nebr. After signing with Ford and moving to New York at 17, she lost her way for a year, gorging on pizza and ballooning to a size 18. she’s since become what she calls a “body activist,” advocating for the 50% of American women who wear a size 14 or larger, an $18 billion market. she also has her own $1.6 million (sales) lingerie line with canadian retailer Addition elle. proof that she’s not only changing the way women are seen but also how they see themselves and shop. —Susan Adams, Keren Blankfeld, Michael Solomon
John Boyega, 23
As the new male lead in Star Wars: The Force
Awakens, John Boyega should get used to seeing his face on action fgures and lunch boxes: his frst major-studio movie is also expected to be one of the highest-grossing flms in history. the $200 million episode is a galaxy away from the roles Boyega played in Fox’s 24: Live Another Day miniseries and the sundance-acclaimed indie flm
Imperial Dreams, but it’s a part that could defne his career just as prior installments did for harrison Ford and carrie Fisher. it’s a role that almost didn’t happen: “my frst audition was all over the place,” recalls Boyega. “i was, like, two minutes late, but because of the opportunity, it felt like two hours.” with a star turn in a flm poised to blast box-offce records, that’s one callback to be grateful for. —Natalie Robehmed, Zack O’malley Greenburg, Madeline Berg
Jeroen cappaert, 27
Cofounder, Spire Global
cappaert’s Spire Global uses wine-bottle-size nano-satellites to listen to (rather than look at) what’s happening on earth, focusing primarily on the world’s oceans. They apply that data to garner insights about global trade, weather, shipping and supply chains, illegal fshing—even pirates. “We’re focused on the three-quarters of the world that almost nobody looks at,” says cappaert. founded in 2012, the company, with ofces in San francisco, Glasgow and Singapore, has raised $65 million to date and launched eight satellites.
cappaert’s role in the company is payload design and satellite avionics. he was a researcher at nasa ames before cofounding Spire and has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Belgium’s Katholieke universiteit leuven and another in space studies from international Space university in france. he’s also published several papers with intimidating titles like “Weighing Geoengineering: an interdisciplinary assessment of the Space-based Solar Shield.” But he still has his feet frmly on the ground: “i love technology. i love getting my hands dirty and soldering wires and poking at things with probes.” — Alex Knapp, Sarah Hedgecock, Matthew Herper
Marcela Sapone, 29
Cofounder, Hello Alfred
This former Mckinsey consultant wants to help Millennials get their lives in order with hello alfred, a tech-savvy butler service priced for common folk. for $32 a week an “alfred” will organize your Batcave and manage on-demand services like handy and instacart to keep the kitchen sparkling, laundry hamper empty and refrigerator stocked. “We want you to spend your time on the things that really are meaningful to you,” says Sapone, who founded alfred in 2014 with fellow harvard Business School alum Jessica Beck.
hello alfred now operates in Boston and new york city and has raised $12.5 million from Vcs like Spark capital, nea and Sherpa capital. in 2014 Sapone and Beck were the frst women to win the coveted Techcrunch Disrupt Sf startup competition. “Women start businesses that seem cute on the surface, but that’s when you should be really afraid. What we’re doing is really meaningful and is going to change how people live.” — Bruce Upbin, Steven Bertoni, Shelby Carpenter with the Forbes Tech team
annie lawless, 28
Cofounder, Suja juice
lawless STANDS atop a Brand valued at $300 million—and she did it by focusing on the very foundation of the food pyramid. Suja Juice, the organic juice company she cofounded in 2012, has surged in popularity (and sales, which are estimated to hit $70 million in 2015) thanks to its rejection of added sugar, genetically modifed fruit and other manufactured chemical additives. The company’s growth has impressed giants: in august cocacola bought a 30% stake for $90 million, and Goldman Sachs snapped up an additional 20% for $60 million.
The cash infusion will help Suja amp up its production and reach an even wider audience. “There’s a major shift happening that’s way bigger than us,” lawless says. “people are realizing that what we’ve been consuming has been making us fat and sick.” Juicing has “blown up” in the last fve years, she continues. “now people are wondering, ‘how can we make it even more nutritious and more convenient to get all these unique ingredients in our bodies?’ ” — Maggie Mcgrath, Abram Brown, Natalie Sportelli
Jewel Burks, 26
AN ENTREPRENEUR FROM A FAMILY of entrepreneurs, Burks began her career at Google before her grandmother’s breast cancer diagnosis led her to decide to move back home to Atlanta. There she took a job at Mcmaster-carr, a top U.S. industrial parts distributor. But when it came to hunting down specific gears and other bits of machinery from its stock of 550,000 products, it was a far cry from what she was used to at the search giant. “I was surprised that there was this huge company that was having fails in their technology on a daily basis,” she says. “I wanted to create a better way.”
That experience spurred her to conceive Partpic. Built with computer vision technology, it allows customers to use a smartphone to search for a needed part—whether for an automobile or a drill press—and order it quickly. She cofounded the company with Jason Crain, another former Googler, who was working at Shazam, and got the company going with the help of a few Georgia Tech programmers. The pair has raised $1.5 million to date, but their biggest validation was meeting President Obama last summer for the first-ever White House Demo Day. — Alex Knapp, Joann Muller, Dan Alexander, Karsten Strauss
Shawn Mendes, 17
THE CANADIAN CROONER HAS followed the path of countrymen Justin Bieber and Drake, parlaying a rabid online fan base into a major-label record deal—and a spot on our list. Mendes’ break came courtesy of Vine, where he gained millions of followers singing six-second covers of pop songs. Andrew Gertler, who founded the management company AG Artists and also appears on this year’s Under 30 list, recognized his talent, became his manager and got him a deal with Island Records.
This year Mendes released his first studio album, Handwritten, and it went to No. 1 on the charts in the U.S., Canada and Norway thanks in part to the hit single “Stitches.” He spent the summer opening for Taylor Swift in preparation for a headlining tour of his own. When did he realize he could have a career as a musician? “Maybe yesterday,” he says. “Seriously, I’m 17. … The way I keep myself sane is by thinking of it as fun.” — Zack O’malley Greenburg, Natalie Robehmed, Sidnee Douyon
Ross Mccray, 24
Video Consumption is fragmenting. folks are just as likely to watch the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory on their laptop or smartphone as they are on the big tv in the living room. But for advertisers it’s been tough to deliver consistent brand messages across all those screens. Mccray, a self-professed lifelong hacker, sought to help advertisers do just that when he cofounded Videoamp in 2014. the company has developed a technology that gives advertisers the ability to plan, buy and measure digital video ads across devices. Likewise it enables companies that sell ads, such as networks or publishers, package their inventory in bulk.
“the problem we wanted to solve was the cross-screen dilemma,” said Mccray, who had an earlier stint helping advertisers boost their Youtube views. Videoamp late last year announced a $15 million round—bringing total funding to more than $17 million. Based in santa Monica, Calif., it has four ofces in the u.s. and one in the netherlands, and boasts more than 50 clients, including Microsoft and peet’s Cofee & tea. —Jennifer Rooney, Vicky Valet
timothy Hwang, 23
timothy Hwang is on a Mission to “unlock government data and invent the future of law.” Hwang’s introduction to politics came through service as a feld organizer for the obama ’08 campaign at age 16, followed by election to a seat on Maryland’s Montgomery County school Board, one of the nation’s largest districts, at 17. the summer before his senior year at princeton university, he and his two fellow cofounders pooled together $25,000 and started fiscalnote from a Motel 6 in silicon Valley.
it’s a fast-growing business that takes a Moneyball approach to politics. for example, will pennsylvania be the next state to adopt rigorous standards that cover on-demand ride services such as uber and Lyft? the answer often lies, as it does with baseball, in fnding hidden patterns in statistics. fiscalnote analyzes data gleaned from state statutes, congressional regulations and court rulings to discern likely outcomes for pending legislation and rulings. that supply of data is then sold to clients like Humana and southwest airlines. “we can actually start to predict the outcomes of court cases and litigation,” says Hwang. fiscalnote has over $18 million in funding, including $7 million from Chinese social networking platform Renren, and has grown to some 100 employees. — Christopher Denhart, Corinne Jurney, Daniel Fisher, Avik Roy
Vlad tenev, 28
the son of two world Bank staffers, tenev grew up valuing large institutions as opposed to entrepreneurship. But in 2011 the Bulgarian-born, washington, d.c.-bred tenev dropped out of ucla’s math ph.d. program to build high-tech trading software for hedge funds and banks with college buddy Baiju Bhatt. they eventually switched their focus to retail consumers, aiming to use technology, design and rock-bottom pricing to undercut existing retail brokers like e-trade and fidelity.
their company, Robinhood, is a commission-free stock trading app available to anyone with a smartphone. Launched a year ago, the app looks like it should be used to hail a ride, but more than $2 billion in trades have been executed on the platform, completely free of charge. they hope to make money via the interest on cash in customers’ accounts and by lending people money to buy stocks on margin. they have raised $66 million from top investors. “financial services is blending in with information technology,” says tenev. “the next-generation fnancial companies getting started right now are all to some extent software companies.” —Nathan Vardi, Samantha Sharf
Matthew Ramirez, 26
Ramirez uses artificial intelligence to teach students how to write. the idea came to the former PH.D. candidate at the university of california, Berkeley’s prestigious english program when he was teaching writing to oversize freshman classes. With some 120 papers per semester to grade, “i found that students weren’t getting feedback quickly enough,” he says. “i realized that we could capture, algorithmically, about 90% of what we were teaching.” it turns out writing—style, eloquence, clarity and logic, he says—falls into statistical patterns. “so i decided to encode that.” Born in Mcallen, tex. on the Mexican border, Ramirez grew up with mostly poor, nonnative english speakers and attended the local community college for one year before graduating from the university of texas at austin. Writelab now has $2.5 million in funding and has already been deployed in 53 schools, ranging from low-income high schools to ivy league colleges. “Our biggest gamble is betting that everyone can use this, regardless of their demographic or competency level.”
Clara Sieg, 29
PARTNER, REVOLUTION VENTURES
SIEG WAS IN HER MID-20S and trying her hand at banking when her firm sat down with AOL billionaire Steve Case and his partners at Revolution to help them set up their first growth-stage investment fund in 2010. As she got to know Case and his fellow venture capitalists, she realized she wanted to be on their side of the table. So in 2012 when West Coast partner David Golden approached her about cofounding Revolution’s first venture fund and opening a San Francisco ofce, Sieg jumped at the chance. She’s since helped lead the fundraising for the firm’s first two institutional funds, a combined $650 million to invest in startups.
Sieg’s investments often go outside the Silicon Valley bubble, focusing on companies based in such places as New York City, Denver and Montreal. She already sits on the board of four companies, including Busbud, a bus travel site, and Framebridge, an online framing service. Although Revolution’s venture practice sat on the sidelines in 2015 because of what it saw as an overpriced market, Sieg is on the verge of closing the firm’s first early-stage deal in months. The youngest partner at Revolution, she’s especially interested in insurance companies: “The economics are incredible, and it hasn’t really been brought online yet,” she says. But whether it’s working with insurance software or nontech businesses like Sweetgreen, the popular salad chain, Sieg takes the same approach: “Work hard, be nice to people and you’ll get somewhere.” — Alex Konrad
Dakin Sloss, 25
The modern oil and gas industry has equipped every nook and cranny of its operations with sensors. But the voluminous amounts of data, including second-by-second records of temperatures, pressures and fow volumes, generated by this equipment are still not totally understood. Twenty-fve-year-old Sloss is building a business around that problem with his software startup Tachyus. his software combines machine learning with physicsbased modeling to inform operators how best to engineer their wells—where to drill, how much to drill and using what method. Sloss says the software boosts production about 20% on average, and he has raised $20 million in venture fnancing. Founded in 2013, Tachyus’ software is already being used on 6,350 wells operating in 13 felds, mostly in California.
Before Tachyus Sloss cofounded opengov, a software company aiming to modernize how government agencies run their fnances. at one point Sloss had ambitions in academia, with plans to pursue a PH.D. in theoretical physics. “i got sick of how slow academia moved,” he says. “i wanted to build something that had a more realtime impact on the world.” —Christopher Helman, Aaron Tilley
Jordan maron, 23
When Jordan maron STARTED posting clips of himself playing videogames on youtube, he wasn’t looking to get famous. “i wanted to get better at Call of Duty,” he says. But audiences loved his sense of humor, and several of his creations— like animated music videos set in the sandbox construction game minecraft—became massive viral hits.
Four years after taking his hobby full-time, the internet video star now known as “Captainsparklez” has one of the hottest brands in gaming, with nearly 9 million youtube subscribers and a catalog of nearly 3,000 videos that have been watched, cumulatively, over 2 billion times. advertisers are beating down his door for game endorsements, sponsored videos and merchandise deals: he’s even got an action fgure you can buy at Toys “r” us. But maron’s biggest achievement this year happened behind the screen: in may his game studio Xreal released its frst title, a mobile game called Fortress Fury. it’s been downloaded some 2 million times. —David M. Ewalt
ian Crosby, 29
FEW entrepreneurs Will Say The BEST part of running a business is accounting—so ian Crosby started Bench to help startups balance the books. “i was a bookkeeper in college, and i saw the pain,” says Crosby. “We solve that pain by taking everything of the entrepreneur’s hands.” his Vancouver-based frm, Bench, blends slick software and human number crunchers to give small businesses an industrial-strength accounting department for preparing fnancial statements, tracking expenses and planning for taxes.
Crosby, a former Bain consultant, started Bench (with cofounder Jordan menashy) in 2012 and joined incubator Techstars the same year. The accounting shop has since raised $15 million from venture funds Quotidian, altos, alpine meridian and lerer hippeau. “i might be a bit deluded, but i like to think that— maybe in ten years—people will think of accounting as something that’s sexy.”
—Bruce Upbin, Steven Bertoni, Shelby Carpenter with the Forbes Tech team
christopher Gray, 24
For seven months during high school in Alabama, christopher Gray spent close to 12 hours a week searching and applying (sometimes on his cellphone) for college scholarships. By the time he set foot on drexel University’s campus as a freshman, he had racked up enough money to cover his tuition and all conceivable undergraduate expenses and then some. “i was high-achieving,” he says, “but i had to choose either fnding the money for college or not going at all.”
Fast-forward a couple of years, and Gray was volunteering with low-income students just like him in Philadelphia public schools to help them fnd ways to pay for college. it didn’t take long to realize he couldn’t help everyone one-on-one. With cofounders Nick Pirollo, 25, and Bryson Alef, 24, in 2014 he built Scholly. Using an eight-parameter algorithm, the app and Web platform connects eligible students with prescreened scholarships. Since its launch more than 600,000 users have joined and $20 million in scholarships has been given out. For now Scholly pairs students only with privately funded scholarships. Next up? connecting students with public-university scholarships. — Michela Tindera, Emily Canal