24 Millennial Entrepreneurs Who Hustle Hard

Millennials are the generation of people born from the 1980s through early 2000s. While some have fixed feelings about the overall mindset and work ethic of this group, we here at IdeaMensch happen to think Millennials are completely awesome, driven, passionate individuals. Full disclosure, we are millenial entrepreneurs so there might be a bit of a bias.

We asked millennial entrepreneurs to tell us about their businesses and how they bring ideas to life to improve the world around us.

Without further adieu,

24 Millennial Entrepreneurs Who Hustle Hard

Jeff Proctor, Co-Founder of DollarSprout.com

What is DollarSprout.com? 

DollarSprout.com is personal finance website geared towards helping lower income individuals make smarter choices with their money. The personal finance niche is one of the most saturated spaces in the blogging world, but Jeff noticed a gap in content that appeals to millennials who are struggling with money. There is plenty of content out there for people looking to reach financial independence or retire early, but there is not as much stuff for people just trying to get a solid footing in their finances. Those are the people that he really wants to help.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“For us, the secret lies in a perfect blend of research and execution. Since content is the backbone of our business, we put a high level of thought and care into every piece of material that we produce for DollarSprout.com. We want a deep understanding of the issues our readers are facing, what questions they’re asking, and what’s already out there that can help them. Then, we try to create something even better, in terms of both utility and presentation.”

Lopa van der Mersch, Founder and CEO of Rasa Koffee

What is Rasa Koffee? 

Rasa Koffee is the first coffee alternative to offer functional health benefits through adaptogenic herbs. Lopa co-founded Rasa Koffee two years ago, and spent much of that time shoring up the complicated logistics and operations back-end, before fully launching Rasa to a wider audience. Rasa is founded on the belief that by bringing life-giving adaptogenic herbs into your morning beverage ritual, you can actually transform your days; and this effect has been seen time and again as customers relay how Rasa has genuinely changed their lives.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“Reality Check + Learn + Persevere. Ideating is fun and rapid, I have wonderful, actionable ideas all day long. Actually bringing them to life includes a reality check about whether or not its an idea that deserves that much time and attention—will it help our business? Will it help our customers? Will it be profitable? Is it timely? And if it does, then it’s about learning + perseverance.”

Simon Griffiths, Co-Founder and CEO of Who Gives A Crap

What is Who Gives A Crap? 

Simon saw that many organizations were trying to have as much impact as possible, but spent roughly 30% of their time competing for a limited pool of funds – so he started to think about how he could create a new channel to expand the funding pool and help accelerate development. Then one day he was walking into the bathroom, saw a 6 pack of toilet paper and had an ‘ah-ha’ moment – “why don’t we sell toilet paper, use half of the profits to build toilets and call it ‘Who Gives A Crap’?”

How do you bring ideas to life?

“The Lean Startup has been our bible since day one – we give this to every employee on their first day with us. Every day we test our ideas by (1) launching minimum-viable-products (MVPs); (2) measuring their successes/failures in the market; and (3) unpacking the lessons from their performance, then re-launching an improved MVP to the market again.”

Ada Chen Rekhi, Founder and COO at Notejoy

What is Notejoy? 

Notejoy is a collaborative notes app for your entire team. Notejoy brings a fast and focused workspace for businesses and individuals to get on the same page and leverage team knowledge. Ada was frustrated with how much knowledge and context was getting lost in the noise of email and chat, and how often this resulted in rework and reinventing the wheel. Most of the time, the expertise is living in someone’s head or their personal notes. By creating Notejoy, she wanted to create a fast, easy to use collaboration tool for teams to capture and discuss their ideas, and make it easy to search for later on.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“A leader I look up to once told me, ideas are a dime a dozen, what matters is picking and execution. I’m in complete agreement with this. Too many excellent ideas executed poorly still result in no traction. I keep track of ideas in my notes, like a freeform brainstorm. And when it’s time to think about what to do next, on an infrequent basis I’ll sit down and evaluate all of them. In the evaluation stage I’ll also lean on people I respect to mature the idea into something more concrete by talking it out and getting their feedback.”

Luis Gelado, COO and Co-Founder of Wave

What is Wave? 

Wave is a private location sharing app in real time. It enables two or more people to share their location on a private map. After a few months and with the incorporation of the third member and CTO Pablo Clemente, they published Wave for iOS and Android and the team started to grow.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“A good idea can be unsuccessful if it is not well executed. That is why we research the competition, the technical level of geolocation at that time in the applications and the level of acceptance and use among the digital community…Once you have talent, organization, a clear vision, investment and you work with the spirit of learning something new everyday, ideas can become great successes. It’s not a 1+1 = 2, but it helps to achieve objectives.”

Brandin Cohen, Founder of Liquid I.V.

What is Liquid I.V.? 

Brandin brought the untapped science of Oral Rehydration Therapy to market through the creation of Liquid I.V. Aside from creating a great hydration product, Brandin also has a passion for giving back. In 2015, Liquid I.V. began sending hydration aid to some of the poorest regions of Haiti. The brand has since joined forces with multiple nonprofit organizations to fight dehydration together in other undeveloped nations like Uganda, South Sudan, Puerto Rico, and many more. Since the company’s inception, they have donated 34% of all manufactured Liquid I.V. product to fight dehydration both in developing countries and here in the United States.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“I’m all about whiteboard and collaborative visioning meetings. Drawing out my ideas on a whiteboard helps to visualize and talk through strategy and execution. It’s when I think at my best!”

Conor Richardson, Founder of MillennialMoneyMakeover.com

What is MillennialMoneyMakeover.com? 

MillennialMoneyMakeover.com is a website devoted to teaching Millennials how to finally master their money. It was created due to a lack of information on personal finance explicitly tailored for Millennials. Over half of Millennials are stressed about money. MillennialMoneyMakeover.com is a website dedicated to teaching Millennials how they can turn around their finances, escape debt, save for the future, and live the rich life now. It is the go-to resource for anyone in their twenties or thirties with questions about personal finance.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“My job is to notice things. When I see something worth sharing or have a moment of creative connection, I always put pen to paper and write it down. This process sort of vets the idea. If I want to continue with it, then it is a matter of action and determining what medium I think the idea is best suited for. At that point, I refine and tailor the message. At the end of it all, I force myself to hit “Send.” This cycle generates my idea momentum.”

Julie Palakovich Carr, CEO and Co-Founder of Victory Guide

What is Victory Guide? 

Victory Guide is a political technology startup that helps candidates running for local, county, and state offices to win their campaigns using the Victory Guide digital campaign manager. It was part of the inaugural cohort of Higher Ground Labs, a startup accelerator for tech companies that are building the next generation of campaign tools for progressives. It won the 2018 CampaignTech Award for best down ballot technology solution.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“Because I’ve run for office three times, I have an intimate understanding of what Victory Guide’s customers are going through. My goal is for Victory Guide to stay focused on being an easy to use product that doesn’t present technological barriers. I truly believe that anyone should be able to run for office if they have the desire, the drive, and the work ethic to do so. Learning to use technology shouldn’t be a barrier. And that’s the mindset with which we approach all new features for Victory Guide. We want all aspects of the product to be very easy to use. Our design process often involves simplifying the user experience, rather than making it more complex.”

Chandler Sterling, Founder and CEO of California Beard Company

What is California Beard Company? 

Fed up with being unable to find a suitable beard oil, and being a DIYer at heart, Chandler Sterling set out to create his own recipe that would meet his high standards. The goal was to create something simple, only containing materials that came from the earth, that could mimic a product from the era before cosmetics were synthesized and contained potentially harmful chemicals. This led to the creation of California Beard Company. For over a year, California Beard Company has been committed to planting 1 tree for every product sold. Efforts like these are how he ensures the corporation provides some good back to the world.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“I bring ideas to life by researching and understanding the product and market, then find the vendors needed to bring everything together. For example, I was invited to participate at a conference for Real Bearded Santas (that’s right, a real white beard!) in California. After talking with the santas about their beard’s needs, I went back, researched a new formula to meet their needs. Communication with your customers is key. Learning what they like can spark ideas to provide a product to meet their needs.”

Shuhan He, Founder of Conduct Science

What is Conduct Science? 

ConductScience is a brand that creates high-quality equipment created and developed by scientists for scientists. Shuhan realized that the way scientific apparatuses were distributed made no sense. Products went through layers and layers of resellers and distributors who were incredibly expensive. By selling products online and direct, you could save the user significant costs. He has spent a lot of time obtaining the best deals possible and thus can offer incredibly low prices for the same equipment you’d receive in other places, for a fraction of the markup.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“I’m the type of person who believes in starting things. It doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect. You need validation as fast as possible and getting to that point where it’s acceptable is all that you need. It also helps that my work involves talking and interacting to really intelligent scientists, researchers, designers, and doctors, giving me more ideas along the way.”

Alessia Jordan, Co-Founder and CMO at Textedly

What is Textedly? 

Textedly is a Mobile Messaging company that helps organizations and business deliver important text messages. She wanted to bring an easy way to communicate to the masses. Alessia’s primary focus is to continually increase global thought leadership eminence and brand awareness to help drive business results.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“Good ideas are a result of a process driven organization. With collaboration, external influences, intuition, and commitment from people who are dedicated to solving a problem. We had a ten- step process for driving innovative ideas. But it was to complex. The entire team at Textedly sat down together, and narrowed our approach to four guidelines to building collaborative ideas. 1. Organize. 2. Brainstorm. 3. Look for patterns. 4. Sell your vision.”

Rob Sheppard, Founder of Gingeng English

What is Ginseng English? 

Ginseng English is a mission-driven online English school committed to providing online English classes to students around the world, both those who can pay, and those who cannot. The internet allows us to bring together people from different backgrounds and different geographic locations into the same class. Each additional student in a class can either be more money in the bank or a person in need getting classes they really need. Rob counts both of those outcomes as a win.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“Most of my ideas end up being visual both because of the way my mind works and because ours is a digital school (so every aspect of it involves design). So whether it’s a workflow or a new curriculum, an idea for a marketing campaign, whatever, I sketch and do lots of drafting. I do most of this on my iPad now so I don’t have to fill my backpack with notebooks.”

Braden Parker, Co-Founder of Casca

What is Casca?

Casca is an all-day performance footwear company with materials durable enough to last for years, rather than months. It is footwear designed with orthotic support to improve your daily comfort, properly align the spine, and improve foot & knee health, and a shoe versatile enough to be worn in professional, social and active settings.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“The first part of the process for me is to think. I just sit and start writing down all of the ideas no matter how grounded or out there they are. I call it the ‘brain dump’. After all of my ideas are out, I look at which ones make sense in the context of what is going on and create actionable next steps to see them out. A lot of people have “million dollar ideas”, but it’s “million dollar execution” that really matters.”

Danny LaFuente, Co-Founder and CEO of Simple Vodka

What is Simple Vodka? 

Simple Vodka uses locally sourced Idaho potatoes in every bottle and aims to close the loop on hunger and food waste. By working directly with partners in the food supply chain – farmers, manufacturers, and retailers – hunger relief organizations can save the nutritious food from ending up in a landfill and divert it to someone in need. That’s where Simple Vodka comes in. With every bottle purchase, Simple Vodka provide 20 meals to those in need through direct support of the local and national hunger relief organizations.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“The best ideas are ones rooted in actual problems and then evolve into novel and disruptive solutions to those problems. Of course, ideas don’t simply come to life in the presence of a problem. It takes rigorous research, testing, iteration, and execution. But when a problem is at the core of an idea, key decisions and pivots become obstacles rather than choices. Personally, I prefer obstacles – they may be difficult to overcome but choices invariably create uncertainty.”

Larissa Miller, Creator of PIYOGA

What is PIYOGA? 

PIYOGA is deeply rooted in the concept to inspire and motivate others to continue infinitely in the direction of your dreams. Whether it’s accomplishing a new goal, or finding new strength and balance in yoga, to starting a new relationship, traveling the world, starting your own business, and giving things a chance. To chase your dreams and do your best to achieve a habitual lifestyle geared towards your personal goals to help you achieve the happiest version of YOU. Larissa is also passionate about the ocean and it was important for her to build a business that will help preserve the oceans and its marine life. PIYOGA proudly donates 10% of net profits to sea turtle conservation efforts around the world.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“80% of life is showing up, and I think the same goes for a business. Everyone has good ideas, very few act on them, and even a smaller percentage don’t give up. What got me going through the start-up phase was the quote, ‘Fail faster, so you can learn and succeed faster.'”

Stephen Foster, CEO and Co-Founder of ThoughtSTEM

What is ThoughtSTEM? 

Stephen R. Foster’s dream is to live in a world where everyone knows how to code. He works to make that dream a reality. ThoughtSTEM teaches coding to thousands of students every year. He founded ThoughtSTEM after getting his Ph.D. in computer science, spending several years researching educational technology for teaching coding.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“I code them to life. Or I hire and train coders to help me.”

Levi Sanchez, Co-Founder and Financial Planner at Millennial Wealth

What is Millennial Wealth? 

Millennial Wealth is a Fee-Only financial planning and investment management firm in Seattle, WA helping young professionals, and technology industry employees plan for their future. The idea evolved from the personal finance blog to offering full service financial planning and investment management for Millennials.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“I bring ideas to life by trying to educate myself as much as possible. I truly believe in preparation. Confidence comes from understanding and preparation, and in financial planning it’s extremely important to ensure you’re always giving the best advice possible to your clients. Secondly, acting on an idea is key. Many people have ideas and talk about them, but actually taking action is what will bring them to life.”

Casey Isaacson, Co-Founder and CCO of Dig

What is Dig? 

Dig is the dog-person’s dating app, which Casey started both because it was a good idea, but also because she was tired of dating guys who don’t love her dog as much as she does. She created Dig because being a dog lover isn’t just another box to check off on a long list of your attributes. It’s a way of life for a growing number of single people, and it’s crucial to know that up front when dating.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“We bring ideas to life because of our amazing team. I have crazy creative ideas, I pass them on to my sister and my dad, and then the three of us make them come to life. My sister, Leigh, is a powerhouse as our CEO, implementing our ideas, planning our events, and helping us grow. Our Dad, Keith, is our fundraising genius and biggest cheerleader. He’s very good at inspiring people to help with his daughters’ dating app. As brand manager and creative visionary, I share Dig with the world through innovative social media campaigns, partnership co-promotions, and otherwise making things pretty. The dog community is also an incredible asset to us. Everyone wants to help each other out in the pet business world. We all have the same goal of evolving the pet community and giving back to rescue shelters along the way.”

Tom Gatzen, Co-Founder of Ideal Flatmate

What is Ideal Flatmate? 

Ideal Flatmate is the first flatmate matching platform in the UK which helps flatsharers find their most compatible living partners. The idea came after Tom’s university friend (and co-founder) had experienced a fair share of nightmare flatshares and thought there had to be an easier way to search for similar minded housemates.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“This is the most exciting part of being an entrepreneur – seeing what was just a figment of your imagination brought to life and in our case, used by hundreds of thousands of users. We run a very agile process at Ideal Flatmate, so when I or another member of the team has an idea, we discuss its merits and then if it seems like a good one we work with our developers to get it live and into the hands of users. It is then through feedback and seeing how sticky new ideas are that we decide whether to proceed with the iterations of the platform.”

Lukas Dryja, CEO and Co-Founder of Format

What is Format? 

Format is a company designed to simplify the website-building process and create a platform that allows photographers, illustrators, designers and artists around the globe to make a beautiful online portfolio within minutes. Over the span of eight years, the proudly self-funded company has grown from a team of two to a team of fifty and amassed tens of thousands of users in over 195 countries around the world.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“In order to bring ideas to life, I personally utilize Design Thinking, a process that is deeply rooted in how knowledge advances from one stage to another. Depending on the scope of work this process can be extremely fast, taking up one day, or last longer, extending into a few weeks. At first, I ensure that I observe and understand the core problem. I then look to define the need and align with those who I am collaborating with. Next, I frequently challenge assumptions and look to redefine the problem in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with the initial level of understanding. I then move on to solving the problem with some form of prototype or minimal solution which helps me ensure that I can test my initial assumptions much faster. This is a non-linear process that I often reorder based on needs of the problem. Overall it ensures that I’m able to explore a breadth of solutions and result in an outcome that solves for the root problem.”

Olga Duka, CEO at Zeus.Exchange

What is Zeus.Exchange? 

Zeus.Exchange merges the traditional investments with the power of the blockchain, to allow their clientele to trade between conventional financial instruments and digital assets, using a single platform, and in a legal and fully transparent fashion.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“With amazing, curious, inventive, adventurous result-oriented teams. It’s impossible to create something bigger than you alone.”

Jonathan Benhamou, CEO of PeopleDoc

What is PeopleDoc? 

PeopleDoc is the leading provider of cloud-based HR service delivery solutions that has revolutionized the HR profession around the world. They believe that every consumer should be able to receive, store and securely share daily life documents in a personal digital vault, rather than just with paper. In 2009 the HR community took notice of what they were doing, and how they figured out a way to balance flexibility and control with a consumer experience. As a result, PeopleDoc was asked to build a product that could do this specifically for companies. From then on, it was their goal to introduce fresh cloud technology that could improve efficiency, reduce operating costs and automate processes in the HR department.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“When my co-founder and I have an idea for a project, we never approach it alone. In order to bring ideas to life, it takes an amazing team, and we definitely have a teamwork mentality at PeopleDoc. Anyone can have an idea, but not everyone has an amazing team that helps bring that idea to life, I think that is a large part of what separates us from our competition.”

Ty Smith, Co-Founder of Crypico

What is Crypico?

Crypico is the cryptocurrency industry’s top freelance platform. The co-founders identified a need in the space. The current number of ways to earn cryptocurrency is really lacking. Unless viable earning options exist, the growth of cryptocurrency will be incredibly stunted. In the past, people without a certain level of disposable income were barred from entering the community in a substantial way. They simply didn’t have the money to risk. By enabling anyone to earn cryptocurrency, Crypico can vastly grow the number of market participants and further the reach of this groundbreaking technology.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“Obsessively. When I find an idea I am passionate about I can’t help but fixate on it. Also, I try to seperate myself from any preconceived ideas of how something should be done. I find that starting from scratch rather than reworking an existing concept yields much more interesting results. I question everything. My teachers hated me.”

Nydia Zhang, Co-Founder and Chairman of Social Alpha Foundation

What is Social Alpha Foundation? 

The Social Alpha Foundation is a not-for-profit, grant-making platform supporting blockchain technology for social good. In order to reshape the world’s understanding of this emergent technology and cultivate a sustainable ecosystem, the blockchain community must take responsibility and come together to help the world realize the full capabilities of blockchain technology. This is why Nydia created Social Alpha Foundation: to recognize the full potential this technology has to offer which may benefit society.

How do you bring ideas to life?

“I’m old-school and still like to keep a notebook everywhere I go so I can write down any idea that pops into my head. I love bouncing these ideas off different people to get their opinion and get an understanding of different and diverse perspectives. Another exercise I like doing is visualizing how the world would look in five years if my ideas were actualized. Once you start to think about the wider landscape, angles become clearer and your thinking becomes more comprehensive in terms of the skills required.”

Feeling inspired?

Us too.

Tell us how you hustle: ideamensch.com/interview

Photo by Anthony Young on Unsplash