7 Millennial Entrepreneurs Who Would Make Steve Jobs Proud
Jobs, the biopic about late Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs, will debut on Friday, causing the world to become intimately reacquainted with one of the most visionary and imaginative personalities of the late 20th century. Jobs left an indelible mark on both the technology and entertainment industries, and his business philosophies and insights into the creative process will continue to inspire entrepreneurs for decades to come. Here are seven millennial entrepreneurs from Inc. magazine's “30 Under 30,” whose ideas would make Steve Jobs proud.
1. Michael Buckwald and David Holz
"That’s been one of my mantras: focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean, to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains." — Steve Jobs
Michael Buckwald and David Holz found simplicity to be missing from the traditional computer keyboard and mouse. Instead of resigning themselves to imprecise cursor movements and developing carpal tunnel syndrome, Buckwald and Holz created a company called Leap Motion, and developed a motion sensor slightly larger than a USB flash drive that enables you to control your computer by simply moving your bare hand. The sensor contains tiny infrared cameras that track the movements of a user's fingers, so users can accomplish most tasks intuitively, and without handling a clunky mouse and keyboard.
2. Andrew Grauer
"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while." — Steve Jobs
After Andrew Grauer tore his lateral meniscus in college, he found it extremely difficult to get to class on crutches during the winter. However, he also realized that as long he could get class notes, he would remain on schedule to complete his courses. That connection led to the birth of Course Hero, a website that gives students at over 4,500 colleges access to over seven million documents, including study guides, notes, past exams, flash cards, live tutoring services, and even supplementary courses. Andrew and his partners expect that the site will bring in $10 million in revenue this year.
3. Julia Hu
“The first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions." — Steve Jobs
Despite the availability of apps that can track every imaginable health metric, people remain unhealthy. Julia Hu and her company, Lark Technologies, believe that's because raw numbers do not motivate the vast majority of individuals in the same way that easily digestible, lifestyle-magazine-like tips can. Julia's elegant and simple solution is a bracelet that tracks raw data about sleep patterns, nutrition, and activity, but translates that information into personalized tips, which are delivered via an iPhone app.
4. Shama Kabani
"It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the Navy." -Steve Jobs
When Shama Kabani graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, she expected that the social media skills she cultivated during high school and college would become an asset to traditional consulting firms. Instead, she encountered corporate cultures that were resistant to the new forms of social media marketing, and decided to take matters into her own hands. Kabani founded Marketing Zen Group to impart the social media wisdom that corporations clearly lacked, and wrote a bestseller, The Zen of Social Media Marketing. Thanks to the wide reach of its decentralized team, Marketing Zen Group is expecting nearly $2 million in revenue this year.
5. Tomer London
"You‘ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around." — Steve Jobs
Customer experience is everything to Tomer London. London and his cofounders recognized that the vast majority of businesses view payroll as a frustrating and time-consuming chore, so they sought to create a payroll system that was “simple” and “delightful.” Thousands of companies have signed up for London's zenpayroll since it launched in 2011. Companies fill out an initial survey that customize zenpayroll's software to fit their needs. London and his partners can account for nuances that would ordinarily cost clients thousands of dollars, and hundreds of headaches, to address.
6. J. Sider
“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” — Steve Jobs
J. Sider lived and died on Facebook, and then he moved on. In 2009, Sider built BandPage, an app for Facebook that helped bands promote their music, announce tour dates, and post videos, and provided a package of social media tools. Serving thousands of musicians and raising millions in revenue, BandPage became the go-to source for music information on Facebook. But Facebook migrated to its Timeline format, and in the process, it destroyed enterprises such as Bandpage overnight. Sider had to rethink his operation. BandPage was reborn as an independent enterprise, and now provides even more functionality than it did on Facebook. For example, in addition to communicating tour dates and notifying a user when a band will be in town, BandPage now sells exclusive perks, such as the opportunity to go bowling with your favorite band. Each sale nets BandPage 15%, and passes 85% on to the musician. For Sider, starting BandPage on Facebook was a mistake worth making.