When Forbes recently announced its list of Under 30 movers and shakers, the list was more than a statement of young entrepreneurship. It was a confirmation of how entrepreneurship captures the young early on; it also highlighted the power of technology in helping most of these talented young men and women to leap into billion-dollar categories with seemingly little effort.
Take the case of Kylie Jenner, the still 19-year-old member of the tech and PR-savvy reality TV family the Kardashians. Kylie, who had been home schooled and faced the cameras of reality TV early on in life, made the Forbes list with her line of cosmetics and other royalties she makes off her stellar career. Her success was based mainly on a driving presence on social media – her millions of followers were the perfect market for her products, thanks to technology.
As the Forbes list clearly conveys, gone are the days when one had to wait to complete formal education, embark upon a secondary degree and set about building a career. For these under 30 hipsters, their career curve was defined by technology in an age of impatience and tremendous entrepreneurial possibilities. In fact, in the tech world, being under 30 and rich enough and enterprising enough to make the list is considered an advantage, apparently.
From 15,000 plus nominations, only 600 made the final cut in the Forbes list – the list was crunched through by a panel of eminent judges, which included many heavyweights throughout industry sectors. Of the winners, 64 percent wanted to ‘change the world’ and had contributed towards some measure of that, going by their own standards of course.
Looking at the list, it was interesting to note that America is still the land of opportunity; 36 percent of the winners were either first generation Americans or immigrants. They achieved their success with a strong commitment and a brilliant application of a smart idea. It was also interesting to note that the number one gadget they couldn’t live without was the iPhone.
The list reflects changing times and preferences. Making the list also was the plus-size model Ashley Graham, who has reinvented the fashion and lingerie business for plus-size women. Those were not possible areas to break into in former times; plus size has not been acknowledged as a made-for market in lingerie in particular. But Ashley changed all that – with tremendous success in appealing to plus-size women everywhere and their admirers. Calling herself a body image activist, Ashley’s mission hit the nail on the head in a world driven by politically correct norms.
Tech and related fields featured big too – not to mention the fact that most of the services provided were based on tech-related solutions. Which is no surprise; the young, especially the under 30 lot, is more able to connect with tech-related aspects and are able to reap its rewards handsomely. The tech-related services that offered fast, efficient solutions to the existing needs and also offered processes that made the existing processes simpler, figured considerably in the listing.
It was also noteworthy that the list featured many women. From 26-year-old Jewel Burks, who co-founded Partpic, a solution that makes finding parts as easy as it could be, to Tyler Haney of Outdoor Voices in e-commerce and retailing, young women figured well in the list, making their entrepreneurial
So what else do we gleam from the list – aside from the sports and the entertainment stars who made the cut as they would be expected to. Each of these young people had a smart work idea and a smarter solution that combined well with hard work and commitment. Without one or the other, making the list would not have
We live in a world that makes almost every service that fulfils a need, possible in more ways than one. Finding a niche alone is not enough; you must also find a way to service that need in a consistent manner that will ensure results. If we look around, there are incredible opportunities that have been made possible with technology; most of the entrepreneurs who made the cut according to Forbes, made use of those opportunities to dare to go where others would not have gone – or thought about it.
The other lesson we can get from the list is that age is no barrier to business success – you do not have to be older, wiser, more experienced to achieve success as an entrepreneur. Sure, all of it helps but at the end of the day, it is about your strategy and your service and how it can all come together to offer a brilliant service to your customers.
(Nayomini Weerasooriya, a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional, can be contacted at nayominiweerasooriya
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