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Top Entrepreneurs 2011

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Do a quick search for important entrepreneurs. Do you see any wrinkles on those faces? You sure don’t—some of them might even still have baby fat. Inc. does a yearly list of the top 30 entrepreneurs under 30. Business MBA decided to find out how ten of these young adults are making huge impressions on business and on the world. 

Matt Mickiewicz, 99designs Co-Founder—27 Years Old

  • Mickiewicz’s business partner, Mark Harbottle, is 37
  • Founded 2007
  • Located in San Francisco and Melbourne
  • 27 employees, with plans to double that number over the next year
  • No official revenue released—“eight figures”
  • 99designs is a hub for businesses to find graphic designers without having to do all the searching themselves
  • Recent acquisition of Series A funding from venture capitalists Accel Partners—$35 million
  • According to Matt, the United States is home to 74,000 graphic designers
  • 99designs lists 100,000+ graphic designers
  • 80% of the company’s business comes from word-of-mouth
  • 77,000+ projects completed so far


Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowski, Dropbox Founders, 28 and 25 Years Old

  • Founded 2007
  • Located in San Francisco
  • 50 employees
  • No official revenue released
  • Lets users access and share files from nearly anywhere using a file sync cloud
  • 3 months in, landed $7.2 million in funding from venture capitalists and individual investors
  • The how-to video posted on Digg boosted beta waitlisting from 5,000 to 75,000 people in a few hours
  • Available in English, Spanish, French, German and Japanese
  • 25 million users
  • 1 million files saved every 5 minutes
  • Plans up to 100 GB of storage


Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, Instagram Founders—25 and 27 Years Old

  • Founded 2009
  • Located in San Francisco—Twitter’s old office, to be exact
  • 4 employees (yes, 4)
  • No official revenue released
  • Allows photo editing in an app, along with location sharing
  • After it launched in the App Store at midnight on October 6, 2010, Instagram had 10,000 users in just a few hours
  • Now 7+ million users
  • 150+ million photos uploaded in the first 9 months
  • 1.3 million photos per day
  • 15 photos per second
  • Flickr didn’t even reach 100 million photos until nearly 2 years after launch
  • 16 options for photo editing
  • $7 million funding from Benchmark Capital
  • Plans for revenue: paid extra filters, exclusive accounts, advertising

Hussein Fazal and Kristaps Ronka, AdParlor Founders—29 and 24 Years Old

  • Founded 2008
  • Located in Toronto, Canada
  • 15 employees
  • No official revenue released—“tens of millions”
  • After Facebook’s 2007 API, the pair began designing apps for fun
  • Along the way, they noticed Facebook didn’t have any solid ad networks
  • Ronka dropped out of school as the pair began coding and started AdParlor
  • One of fewer than 100 companies with access to Facebook’s ad API
  • Over 100,000 ads daily on Facebook
  • Over 500 million impressions


Alexa Andrzejewski, Soraya Darabi, and Ted Grubb, Foodspotting Founders—27, 27, and 29 Years Old

  • Founded 2009
  • Located in San Francisco and New York City
  • 10 employees
  • No official revenue released
  • An iPhone app allowing people to search for food by dish, not cuisine, while seeing photographs of the meals and getting the locations of the restaurants serving it
  • Grubb was a programmer, but knew nothing about app development—so he learned in order to create Foodspotting
    • He programmed the prototype app in a tent in the wilderness!
  • In the beginning, Foodspotting was 1 of just 6 location-based apps in the iTunes App Store
  • $3 million in angel funding after highly successful run at Start-up Weekend in SF
  • 600,000+ foods now “spotted” on the app
  • 101,615+ follows on Twitter
  • Partnering with The Travel Channel and Zagat


Jason Baptiste and Andres Barreto, Onswipe Founders, 25 and 24 Years Old

  • Founded 2010
  • Located in New York City
  • 12 employees
  • No official revenue released
  • Provides mobile website optimization for all levels of publishers
  • Content becomes interactive, customizable, “app-like”
  • Received over $6 million in funding from companies like Spark Capital and Lightbank before platform launched
  • Invented a WordPress plug-in specially for the iPad
  • Now, a deal with WP has Onswipe running 18.6 million blogs for iPad
  • Barreto is also a founder of Grooveshark and PulsoSocial—“TechCrunch for Latin America”

Siamak Taghaddos and David Hauser, Grasshopper Founders—Both 29 Years Old

  • Founded 2003
  • Located in Needham, Mass.
  • 50 employees
  • No official revenue released
  • A voicemail/call routing system using its own phone number
  • Began with existing software, but developed their own proprietary software
  • Plans for all sizes of business: $9.95 to $199.00 per month
  • Grasshopper Group founded in 2010: will produce many products for entrepreneurs
  • May 2010: Created and circulated petition for National Entrepreneurs Day
    • President Obama one-upped them and made National Entrepreneur Week in November
  • Growth of 1,983% in 2007
  • Growth of just 5% during the worst part of the recession
  • However, Grasshopper is due to grow 20% on top of 2010’s revenue, with more than $15 million


Matthew Corrin, Freshii Founder—29 Years Old

  • Founded 2005, with seed money from his parents
  • Based in Chicago, with locations around the world—first location in Toronto
  • 50+ locations in 4 countries—United States, Canada, Austria, and UAE
  • 500+ employees
  • No official revenue released—est. $50 million
  • Custom fresh food—salads, soups, wraps, bowls—made affordable
  • A calorie, fat, sodium, cholesterol and protein counter tallies each online order’s total by ingredient
  • Aim to open 700 more stores—½ corporate, ½ franchise—in the next 5 years
  • To open a franchise: $30,000 up-front, 6% royalty, 3% advertising fees
    • Typical start-up fee: $250,000
  • Corrin had never worked in food service or retail before opening

Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp, Birchbox Founders—27 and 28 Years Old

  • Founded 2010
  • Located in New York City
  • 25 employees
  • Projected revenue for 2011: $7 million
  • $10 per month for a shipment of 4-5 samples of beauty/cosmetic products to customers’ doors
  • At launch, Birchbox already had 660 members by word-of-mouth!
  • A beta test e-mail was sent to 40 friends in March 2010—and resulted in a waiting list of about 3,000
  • Currently about 45,000 members
  • Just 1 month after launch, $1.4 million seed
  • Accel Partners and First Round invested
  • Cosmetic giant Benefit was the first to join the project


Daniel Gomez Iniguez, Solben Co-Founder—20 Years Old

  • Founded 2009
  • Located in Monterrey, Mexico
  • 15 employees
  • Revenue for 2010: $1 million
  • Projected Revenue for 2011: $3 million
  • An alternative energy project begun for a high school senior project
  • Sells technology for making biodiesel out of algae and plants, as opposed to cooking oil or animal fats
  • 2010 GSEA Global Social Impact Award Winner
  • 1st Place Entrepreneur Award 2010 in the Mexican Stock Exchange

Top Business People