You may think that success in business is reserved for established tycoons and Wall Street professionals. What a lot of people don’t see is the proliferation of young entrepreneurs who are making waves before they even hit the big 3-0. In this list, we’ll look at the top 10 men and women who have made their marks in the past years before they celebrate their 30th birthday.
These entrepreneurs have inspiring stories, and even more inspiring products that can encourage anyone to find business opportunities in niche products and industries.
(#1) Steve Espinosa, 24 (AppStack)
AppStack is a tool that helps developers and business owners create mobile websites in a matter of minutes. Because businesses are now looking to expand their visibility on the mobile Internet market, it’s clear to see how Steve Espinosa was able to capitalize on this demand. He tested out of high school at 16 years old and was married by 19.
AppStack is funded by Google Ventures and Tomorrow Ventures and is used by over 4,000 small to medium businesses for their mobile presence. After making only $8,000 in 2011, he is projected to make over $4 million this year alone.
(#2) Ray Land, 25 (Fabulous Coach Lines)
Ray Land wanted to be a truck driver when he was a kid, and started building his multi-million dollar business when he was only 17. He initially booked trips for churches, school clubs and families, complete with an itinerary, matching t-shirts, a bus and an animated tour guide – a role he was happy to play. Soon enough, reservations for his trips increased and he bought his own coach from eBay.
(#3) Allison Lami Sawyer, 29 (Rebellion Photonics)
After receiving her MBA degree, her entrepreneurship professor told Allison Lami Sawyer that she wasn’t good enough to become the CEO of her own company, Rebellion Photonics. Not only was she able to prove her old professor wrong, she was able to secure government and military contracts worth over $2 million in just two years after her company was launched.
The company’s main product is a fluorescent imaging camera that can capture chemicals and be connected to microscopes. They are now developing a product that will be able to spot “a gas leak within fifteen microseconds of a leak”. In 2011, Allison Lami Sawyer received a salary of under a million. This year, she is projected to earn $2.5 million.
(#4) Ziver Berg, 29 (Zivelo)
Ziver Berg began his first business when he was 18 years old, creating a website that allowed different kiosk manufacturers to sell their products online. He then partnered with a Taiwan-based metal fabricator and sought to produce and sell his own kiosks. A short time later, he had to shut his company down after burning through a $4 million investment in only seven months.
Learning from his mistakes, Ziver Berg established Zivelo and is now the world’s second-largest kiosk producer, with Fortune 500 clients such as Mercedes Benz and Hilton Hotels. He now has a US-based partner for metal fabrication and with this partnership, they were able to make $900,000 on their first year alone. The entrepreneur predicts a $9 million sales income for 2012.
(#5) Daniel Ek, 29 (Spotify)
Daniel Ek began making money when he was only 14 by coding and programming websites for local businesses for $5,000 per website. 15 years later, Daniel Ek founded Spotify, a service that lets users listen to any song over the Internet for free. Premium memberships allow users to skip the ads and stream music through mobile devices.
Spotify now has over three million premium members worldwide and its services was launched in the United States last June. The company has made over $200 million in 2011 alone and is expected to triple that amount by the end of 2012. Aside from income from the membership fees, Spotify also makes money through advertisements that users will see when they use the app or the program.
(#6-#7) Fan Bi, 24 and Danny Wong, 21 (Blank Label)
It is no secret that hipsters all over the country have money to burn and they are very particular with their unique fashion choices. Fan Bi and Danny Wong started a men’s wear fashion company targeted to this rebellious yet trendy market sector. They operate exclusively online, offering unique custom-made clothing in the price range of $70 to $140 per shirt. They have a manufacturing partner in China which has allowed them to lower the cost of their products.
Veering away from their marketing for rebellious, angst-ridden 20-somethings, they now focus on comfort clothing for the urban professionals. Their self-funded company expects over $1 million in revenue for 2012.
(#8, #9 & #10) Joe Coleman, 27, Shane Snow, 28 and Dave Goldberg, 30 (Contently)
Contently is an online platform that allows publishing companies like newspapers and magazines and media outlets like Bed, Bath and Beyond to find journalists from all over the world who are qualified to write specialized content for them. The company makes its money by charging a small transaction fee on the site.
The site now has over 4,000 registered writing professionals who are able to search for opportunities posted by top companies such as American Express, The Atlantic, Forbes and CNN. The company’s mission is to connect these institutions requiring writing services with qualified writers who have relevant experience or knowledge with the topic that needs to be written.
The company only made $300,000 in its first year but it is expected to receive over $3 million in profits for 2012.