In an issue of SUCCESS devoted to side-hustling, to pursuing something more, to not making excuses and to achieving dreams no matter how large, it only made sense to unveil the magazine’s first ever 30-under-30 list.
This diverse group of people, each of them 30 or younger, provide the ultimate testament to the new American Dream of the YouEconomy. The 30-under-30 create not only personal wealth or financial stability, but even more important, individual meaning, connection, influence and contribution to their communities and the world at large. They are fiercely independent, each of them driven by an internalized mission and living toward it with the full dedication of their skills, passions and motivations.
As you meet each of these incredible young people and learn about their wildly unique and original pursuits, consider the qualities and the values that unite them. Over and over again, the 30-under-30 exemplify the foundational elements of success in business, life and personal growth.
Brennan Agranoff, 19
Founder of HoopSwagg, an athletic sock company
When Agranoff was 12, he bought some super-colorful socks on Instagram. His friends were immediately jealous, and an idea was born.
“All of my friends and the kids at school wanted to know how they could get their hands on a pair. I saw the demand for them, so I began to research how I could create similar socks on my own. Nine months later, after extensive research, I began to develop samples and proved the model would work by selling them on eBay.”
Now, HoopSwagg does more than $1 million in sales each year.
Hector Lopez, 29 + Eddy Homez, 29 + Omar Arambula, 29
Co-founders of Instasize, a photo-editing app
This trio of college friends created Instasize in 2012 as a way to help consumers resize photos from their rectangular format to a square format for Instagram. Last year, Instasize hit $14 million in revenue and 12 million monthly users.
Lopez: Success is the direct result of overcoming failure.
Homez: Success and gratitude go hand-in-hand. We often forget to acknowledge and celebrate what we’ve accomplished because we are already pursuing the next goal or line item. I’ve found that taking time to practice gratitude every day keeps things in perspective.
Arambula: Do I enjoy what I am doing? Am I creating something of value? If I can answer yes to these two questions, that to me is the definition of success.
Will Ahmed, 29
Founder and CEO of WHOOP, an athletic performance company
WHOOP creates wearable technology for both elite athletes and fitness enthusiasts to help them improve their performances by measuring things like recovery, sleep and strain.
“I was always into sports and exercise. I was captain of the Harvard squash team and competed as a college athlete, but I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing to my body when I was training. I was someone who used to over-train, and I was surrounded by other athletes who would get injured or misinterpret fitness peaks. As a result, I got very interested in physiology and ultimately read 500 medical papers while I was in school.”
LaForce Baker, 29
Founder and executive chef at Moon Meals, Inc., a healthy, grab-and-go meal service
“I got into this line of work out of a personal journey to take control of my health. I grew up without a lot of access to healthy meals on the South Side of Chicago, and therefore became very fat. I taught myself how to make healthier versions of my favorite meals so that I could lose weight and complete a marathon.”
Moon Meals has 10 employees who service 187 locations.
Lisa Barnett, 29
Co-founder and CMO of Little Spoon, an organic baby food company
Before co-founding Little Spoon, Barnett worked in venture capital for the maternity space. While there, she learned that the first two years of a child’s nutrition affect their health for the rest of their life.
“I have a niece, Adalyn, and she is my world. I would give anything for her well-being. When my sister told me that the baby food off the shelf was older than my niece was, I couldn’t believe it! Around that time, my co-founders approached me with the idea of making fresh, nutritious food available to parents everywhere, and I immediately knew I had to be a part of this mission.”
Matt Hyder, 26
Creator of Recoup Fitness, which creates hot and cold therapy products
“I barely graduated from high school with a 1.9 GPA. My high school counselor told me I wouldn’t amount to anything. I keep those words and others with me. I have them written down. Whenever I feel like quitting, I read those words, and they light a fire underneath me. I would rather die than have to look at those people and tell them they are right. I am going to keep proving them all wrong.”
Jeff Cayley, 29
Founder and CEO of Worldwide Cyclery, a custom high-end mountain bike company
Cayley’s definition of success involves doing things that bring him joy. So what exactly are those things? He says they include, but are not limited to:
- Playing the game of business
- Riding bikes
- Adrenaline rushes
- Helping and supporting the people he loves
- Doing something significant with his time that makes the planet a better place in some way
“There are lots of boxes I want to tick, and I continue to strive to tick them all and smile while doing so.”
Ben Cogan, 29
Co-founder of Hubble, a contact lens subscription service
Hubble, a company founded by Ben Cogan and Jesse Horwitz, eliminates the middleman by selling daily contact lenses directly to the consumer. Their model works through a $30 per month subscription service.
How do you define success?
My personal definition of success is the realization of a solved problem that comes from both inspiration and persistence.
Prince Ea, 30
Filmmaker, speaker and activist
Born as Richard Williams, Prince Ea is a spoken-word artist, filmmaker and activist covering topics like climate change, racism and body image.
“I started over a decade ago simply wanting to use my words to make a difference. I personally was so moved by the power of words and hoped to someday have that same influence on others with my own. I knew that if I could leverage social media, then my impact would be solid.”
Prince Ea’s long-term goal? “To help 7 billion people become self-realized, stable and able to fulfill their God-given potential.”
Jordan Lee Dooley, 24
Speaker, blogger and podcast host focused on helping women live more intentional lives
“As entrepreneurs, it can be so easy to get caught up in the business plan and the bottom line that we totally miss the mark when it comes to really connecting with and understanding our market. You can have the coolest idea, the best product or the strongest work ethic and still struggle to make progress because you’ve overlooked the most important thing: connection. The only reason I am where I am today, and this early in my life, is because I really paid attention to what people were responding to and focused on building connection before trying to build a brand.”
Ankur Jain, 29
Co-founder and CEO of Kairos, a venture capital fund, and former founder and CEO of Humin
Jain is a serial entrepreneur who founded his first company, MyOnlineQuiz.com, at just 11 years old. He went on to study at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania before founding Humin, a technology company that was acquired by Tinder.
Now, his primary focus is on Kairos, a venture capital fund that helps startups dedicated to solving global problems in the realms of healthcare, education, clean water and more. Since its inception during Jain’s college days, Kairos has helped over 100 companies grow.
Adelaida Diaz-Roa, 27
Co-founder of Nomo FOMO, a social travel platform, and the Lontananza Foundation, a childhood education nonprofit in Colombia
“I like to joke around and say that I’ve known I wanted to go into business since the first time I ever played Monopoly. I was probably 10 years old. The trading, the uncertainty, the excitement, the helping, the strategizing—it was all so fun for me.”
Did you know?
Diaz-Roa was also a co-founder of Villy Custom, a custom bike company that appeared on Shark Tank.
Laura Johnson, 27
Founder of You & Yours Distilling Co., a gin and vodka distillery in San Diego
What is your advice for anyone interested in becoming an entrepreneur like yourself?
Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, and that’s OK. Be honest with yourself and make sure you have 1000 percent conviction in your business idea and are ready to take on anything necessary to make it happen.
Jake Kassan, 28
CEO and co-founder of MVMT, a watch and accessories brand
“I dropped out of college and went into credit card debt to start [my] brand. I couldn’t find a watch that I resonated with, so I decided to make my own.”
There’s nothing wrong with a little failure.
Kassan had three businesses before MVMT. All of them failed. But he says the experience was crucial in order for MVMT to be successful. To date, MVMT has sold over 1.5 million watches.
Crystal Lee, 27
Host of This is SF, a local CBS TV show that highlights businesses and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area
“One of my favorite parts of solopreneurship is that having full, all-in ownership of a venture is a great way to learn how to make wise decisions in a short time frame. As Yoda tells us, ‘Do or do not, there is no try.’ Only by fully committing to your work and your choices can any of the time invested be worthwhile.”
Lee is also the co-founder of LifeSite, an online safety deposit box.
Asia Monet Ray, 13
With an Instagram following in the millions, Asia Monet Ray has impressed the world with her dancing and, more recently, her singing. She was first featured on Lifetime’s Dance Moms, and then got her own Lifetime show, Raising Asia.
“What I like most about having my own brand/business is the creative decision-making and having control of what represents me. Keeping things organic on all my [social media] platforms is very important to me.”
Emma Kozlowski, 28
Creator of Emma Lyn Designs, a custom accessories company
Seven years ago, Kozlowski taught herself to sew because she wanted a clutch that could fit her phone, keys and money. Her bold-patterned creations caught the eyes of her friends and family, who suggested she sell them on Etsy. Eventually, she created her own website in which consumers can create their own custom clutch.
“I love the feeling of accomplishing something that I am proud of and knowing that I did that all on my own. To me, being a solopreneur is the true definition of the saying hard work pays off.”
Bethany Mota, 23
YouTube personality and social media influencer
Mota originally garnered attention for posting her “haul” videos on YouTube, in which she showcased her makeup and clothing purchases from various retailers for her digital audience. Her popularity exploded, and led her to garner an immense online following. She caught the eye of several major retailers, who partnered with Mota to launch her own lines of clothing, perfume, accessories and school supplies. Mota since went on to write a book, travel the world hosting speaking engagements, and has partnered with several international charitable organizations.
By the Numbers:
Instagram: 5.1+ million followers
Facebook: 1.6+ million fans
Twitter: 5.3+ million followers
YouTube: 10.3+ million subscribers
Nanxi Liu, 29
Co-founder and CFO of Nanoly Bioscience and co-founder and CEO of Enplug
Liu started two very different companies: Nanoly Bioscience, which develops polymers that eliminate refrigeration for vaccines, and Enplug, an open software company that manages content on digital displays.
“Because I have a lot of interests, my work allows me the flexibility to pursue my passions across multiple industries, whether it’s healthcare, investing or entertainment.”
Little Known Fact
Liu received an Emmy for her role as a producer on the Amazon show The Bay.
Usama Riaz, 23
UpWork freelance software engineer and founder and CEO of Minibit, a software development company that creates mobile apps
“Freelancing is unique because it allows anyone with an appropriate skill set to work on problems of their choosing. Paired with a little bit of determination and hard work, freelancing can also be very lucrative. Freelancing has allowed me to work on really interesting software that may never have been approved in a risk-averse business setting.”
Right now, Riaz’s business generates about $25,000 per month in revenue.
Jeff Seid, 25
Fitness trainer, author and social media influencer
With over 3.5 million Instagram followers and over 2.5 million Facebook fans, Seid has a knack for connecting with others. He also runs a clothing company, SeidWear, and an online personal training business.
“The best thing about solopreneurship is the freedom it entails by being your own boss. I could literally move anywhere in the world and continue my career if I have access to WiFi. This just shows the power of social media. If utilized correctly, it can provide all the freedom ever desired.”
Alina Morse, 14
CEO of Zollipops, an all-natural, sugar-free candy company that promotes oral health
“I love candy and was tired of hearing ‘No, that’s too much sugar’ from my parents, so I decided to create a healthy candy and turn my passion for business into something delicious that could help people smile all over the world.”
Daquan Oliver, 27
Founder of WeThrive, an entrepreneurial program allowing middle school and high school students to create real business ventures
Oliver founded WeThrive as a result of a promise he made himself at 14 years old. He grew up in a single-mother, low-income household, and witnessed firsthand the struggles that many Americans today face.
“To ensure that all of my mother’s hard work and sacrifice would not be in vain, I made a promise that I would be successful despite all obstacles in my path, and that I would help other oppressed, under-resourced or otherwise disenfranchised individuals do the same. This promise is what I measure my personal definition of success against. Running WeThrive has allowed me to deliver on my promise.”
Kelly Belknap, 27 + Matilda Sandström, 24
Co-founders of Adventurist Backpack Co.
Belknap and Sandström create minimalist backpacks designed for travel. For every backpack sold, Adventurist provides 25 meals to families in need across the U.S.
During a backpacking trip around the world in 2017, the duo witnessed something heartbreaking. Tons of families they encountered were struggling with hunger, an issue they had heard about countless times but had never seen first-hand. They decided to do something about it.
“Wanting to do what we could to help, we prepared meals each morning and filled up our backpacks, handing the meals out to anyone in need throughout the day. After returning home to the U.S. and knowing that there are still so many families in need in our own communities and cities, Adventurist Backpack Co. was started.”
Little Known Fact
While traveling, Belknap and Sandström were able to fit 25 meals in their backpacks, which is why they continue providing 25 meals from each backpack sale to this day.
Marisa Sergi, 25
Founder of RedHead Wine
Sergi is a third-generation winemaker with a degree in Viticulture and Enology from Cornell University. In college, she proposed creating a wine label for her capstone project, and RedHead Wine was born. She worked for a California winery for a year after graduating, then decided to cash in her savings and officially launch her own brand.
Little Known Fact
“In my elementary school memory book when I was only 10 years old, I officially declared I wanted to be a winemaker when I grow up.”
Kris Sanchez, 27
Creator and CEO of UberFacts, a social media brand that features interesting, random facts
Sanchez started UberFacts in 2011. He would scour the internet for any piece of information that would delight, entertain or perplex others. Now, his brand has over 20 million followers across multiple social media platforms.
What is your advice for anyone interested in becoming an entrepreneur like yourself?
Sanchez: Try everything and do a lot of brainstorming. I had a million bad ideas before I found one that worked, and I don’t even think I found the idea. It found me.
Victor Santos, 27
Co-founder and CEO of Airfox, a financial services company for underserved populations
Santos launched Airfox in 2018 with the goal of empowering millions of families across the world to take control of their finances using a simple, low-cost mobile app. Their first target market is Brazil.
Drawing From Within
“My experience growing up in Brazil, a country where the discrepancy between the wealthy and poor is vast, inspired me to create solutions that can empower those who are excluded from traditional financial services.”
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of SUCCESS magazine.