Maybe it's the internet, which makes it possible to start a business with almost no overhead costs. Maybe it's the inspiration of dot-com millionaires from a decade ago. Or maybe it's just good old American ingenuity and self-reliance manifesting itself in a new generation. For whatever reason, the draw of entrepreneurship seems to be stronger than ever. Here's a look at some of the hottest young entrepreneurs around today.
- Social butterfly : Looking for an easy way to connect with friends and fellow students, Harvard junior Mark Zuckerberg developed software that allowed users to share personal information, photos and thoughts with friends. His experiment grew into Facebook.com, which now has millions of users worldwide. Facebook.com operates on advertising revenue. Despite a reported $750 million dollar offer to purchase his company, Zuckerberg, now age 23 and CEO of Facebook.com, insists he's not selling and is instead focusing on growing the business.
- Research to the rescue: While doing research at Stanford, Elizabeth Holmes invented a device that may save up to 100,000 lives each year. Holmes' invention measures medications in a patient's bloodstream and has the potential to prevent dangerous drug interactions that kill thousands annually. Just 23 years old, Holmes left Stanford and founded Theranos, the company that will launch her invention and where she serves as president and CEO. With millions of dollars of venture capital funding and potential partnerships with pharmaceutical companies, Holmes' company is one of the hottest around.
- The idea man: Reaching young audiences is a primary goal for many companies, but it's not always easy for a giant corporation with an entrenched hierarchy to figure out how to accomplish it. Enter Anand Chhatpar, the 25-year-old founder of BrainReactions. Chhatpar helps clients tap into youthful creativity and innovation by organizing brainstorming sessions with creative 20-somethings. His clients include companies as diverse as Bank of America, the Peace Corps and Intuit. Chhatpar's brainstormers help companies develop new approaches and reach younger markets.
- Kings of bling: Spotting a hole in the custom jewelry design and marketing business, 22-year-olds Matt Lauzon and Jason Reuben founded a company to fill it: Paragonlake.com. The pair realized that although consumers want custom jewelry and jewelers want to meet their demands, it's impractical for retail stores to feature the work of a wide variety of designers. Lauzon and Reuben created an online community that brings customers, retailers and designers together. As a result, customers get the unique jewelry they want, designers have a wider audience and retailers can serve customer needs quickly and efficiently.
- Filmtastic: With the rise of interactive media, film footage is a hot commodity. One young entrepreneur is cashing in on the demand. Joel Holland, age 22 and the founder of Footage Firm, might be described as the Wal-Mart of film footage because he offers his customers professional film footage at rock-bottom prices. Shooting the film himself or contracting it out to a team of professionals, Holland offers stock footage on an incredible variety of subjects for clients as diverse as Animal Planet, the History Channel and the Oprah Winfrey Show.
It may be true that there's nothing new under the sun. But as these hot young entrepreneurs show, opportunity is alive and well, even in the 21st century.
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