50 Inspirational Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2017
A Note From The Editor
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There are an incredible number of people moving and shaking the existing global business environment. They're doing this by disrupting industries that previously were starting to feel a bit stale to those in those industries or reliant on their products and services.
These entrepreneurs' passion is all about injecting excitement and enthusiasm into their industries by tackling many of the business- and consumer-focused issues that have yet to be solved.
While I'd love to write about the many entrepreneurs I meet worldwide who are proving they can change the world and even solve some of its longtime social problems, that list would number into the hundreds if not thousands. So, instead, I've capped the list at 50 extraordinary individuals of all ages and backgrounds (in no particular order) who have stood out to me as likely to put their stamp on the world in 2017.
- Anthony Smith: Smith is CEO and Founder of Insightly, a CRM solution business that helps small businesses improve their relationships and marketing ROI. Born in New Zealand and now a resident of Australia, Smith has leveraged his previous experience in designing CRM software for enterprises, to assist a growing target market. He recognizes how underserved small businesses are in terms of solutions to grow their businesses.
- Ekta Sahasi: Sahasi is vice president of the U.S .Business Innovation Center (BIC) for Konica Minolta, where her team seeks out new places to invest in disruptive technology that can advance the company’s competitive advantage. When not investing in startups and overseeing innovation at Konica Minolta, Sahasi helps startups understand how they can enter Asian markets and work within those cultural parameters.
- Zak Westphal: Westphal is behind some of the fastest-growing digital products. He is the founder and CEO of StocksToTrade.com, an expanding company in FinTech, as well as the owner of a top sales and marketing agency for online companies. Westphal is responsible for $120 million in revenue in online publishing. His latest company, StocksToTrade, launched in March 2016, and already has over 9,000 paid subscribers. Westphal is also a sought-after speaker on building successful online companies and has spoken institutions like Harvard University.
- Caleb Elston: Elston is CEO and co-founder of Delighted, which offers a unique way to connect with customers, by using technology to collect actionable feedback. He is a serial entrepreneur who has founded and co-founded a number of successful startups, including Mosaic, Yobongo, Justin.tv, Kallow, Toluu and uSnacks.com
- Stephen Ufford: Ufford is co-founder and CEO of Trulioo, a company that offers a suite of online identity verification solutions and data exchange tools. He has co-founded numerous companies related to identity verification and credit reporting, including Pharos Global Strategies Ltd., NCB Data Services Inc. and iQuiri Inc.
- Russ Ruffino: Founder and CEO of Clients on Demand, the most reliable client attraction system in the world, Ruffino has helped coaches and thought leaders all over the world build six-figure monthly businesses from scratch. His massive success in marketing and as a business owner has allowed him to become one of the most respected business coaches in the industry.
- Roger Bryan: Bryan is a serial entrepreneur with two successful exits: a marketing agency and an ecommerce business. His current venture, Enfusen, named a Top 10 Tool Entrepreneurs Can Use to Automate Their Business by Inc., is a machine-learning analytics platform that helps digital marketing agencies drive increased traffic and conversion for their clients.
- Angela Lauria: Angela E. Lauria is the founder of The Author Incubator, and creator of the Difference Process for writing a book that matters. She hosts Page UP, a podcast which provides inspiration and information for authors trying to leverage their books to reach more people. Lauria has helped over 250 authors reach Amazon best-seller status in at least one category in the past two years. In addition, she is the author of The Incubated Author: 10 Steps to Start a Movement with Your Message and The Difference: 10 Steps To Writing A Book That Matters. Her new book, Publishing Reimagined: How to Use Amazon to Exploit your Own Rights and Why You Should will be released by Difference Press in 2017.
- Adrian Nazari: Nazari is the CEO and founder of Credit Sesame, a credit and loan-management platform that works as an advocate for consumers, offering free tools and comprehensive advice that helps them more effectively manage their credit. He has developed liability solutions for banks, as the founder of Financial Crossing and Financial Circuit.
- Mike Radenbaugh: Radenbaugh is president and founder of Rad Power Bikes, whose bike is at the forefront of electric vehicles. He has been focused on creating fun and functional electric transportation products that consumers will love, including downhill bikes and even a high-speed electric recumbent trike.
- Rickard Vikström: Vikström is a tech entrepreneur who leverages his hosting background to create new companies. He co-founded IT-Security company, Stay Secure in 2009, which was then sold to J2 Global (JCOM) in 2014. Currently, Vikström is focused on the Polar Bear Group, a holding company for Internet Vikings, Wincher, Holm Security and Aquro, which are headquartered in Stockholm.
- Murray Newlands: Newlands is CEO of Sighted, an online invoicing company that serves customers in the United States and worldwide. He has been involved in numerous successful startups and has served as a mentor and investor for other entrepreneurs. Newlands is also a speaker and Entrepreneur.com contributor, dabbling in all things entrepreneur and tech.
- Sam Ovens: Ovens has told the story how he started completely broke, working out of his parents' garage in New Zealand, and in five short years, started a consulting business, moved to New York and made over $20 million. Ovens helps everyday people quit their jobs and "job-like" businesses to start their own highly leveraged consulting business. His methods are shaking up the consulting industry. Since 2011 he has created 14 millionaires and 340 six-figure earners with his training programs. Ovens recently acquired consulting.com and has some truly massive things in store for us this year!
- Ben Landis: Landis is CEO and founder of Fanbase, a company focused on helping brands grow their following and audience on social media platforms. His entrepreneurial background includes experience in music publishing, advertising, Pinterest and Twitter.
- Mukul Agarwal: Agarwal is founder and CEO of BootUP Ventures, a Silicon Valley investment ecosystem that connects investors, companies, mentors and talent, to develop and accelerate startup ventures. He is a passionate technologist who understands that technology can be applied, to streamline and scale businesses while making people’s lives more convenient and efficient. His experience has led him to help companies that are struggling to become global through his solutions to streamline operations.
- Mikita Mikado: Mikado is the CEO of PandaDoc, a company founded to change the very idea of documents, by moving from paper to a completely digital environment. He is an entrepreneur, engineer and executive focused on creating self-sustaining companies and innovative solutions that can help all types of businesses. In his spare time, Mikado also writes and speaks at various tech events.
- Richard Lorenzen: Lorenzen is the founder and CEO of New York public relations firm Fifth Avenue Brands. He is a millennial entrepreneur who started his company at 15 years of age. Now 24, Lorenzen was named by LinkedIn as one of the top millennial influencers of 2016; Inc. called him one of the top eight entrepreneurs on Twitter. In October 2016, Richard released his book, Surge: Supercharge Your Life, Business & Legacy.
- Erik Huberman: As a serial entrepreneur, Huberman founded digital marketing agency Hawke Media at the age of 26 after multiple other successful companies. Within a few years, he was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and recognized as an Inc. Top 25 Marketing Influencer, in 2016. In less than four years, Hawke Media has grown to over 70 employees and three offices nationwide. Its clients have included Verizon, Red Bull, eHarmony and TRX. Huberman also speaks nationally at events such as TEDx.
- Bill Clerico: Clerico is CEO and co-founder of WePay, a payments solutions company that provides all types of business and organizations with a secure and convenient way to accept payments online. Previously, Clerico was a technology investment banker who also dabbled in computer science while at college. His love of the financial and technical world came together in WePay. He also serves as an angel investor and part-time partner, at Y Combinator.
- Michael Cartwright: Cartwright is founder and chairman of American Addiction Centers, a network of centers that help people with various addictions receive the treatment, help and understanding they need to break free. He is a researcher, author, speaker and strategist who has helped to shape the addiction recovery industry over the last 20 years.
- Payman Taei: Taei is founder and president of Visme, a tool that creates infographics, presentations and other visual content. As a technologist, Taei has been fascinated with trends and the Internet, and the idea of processes evolving over time. He's dedicated himself to following and creating trends to evolve business and society, including HindSite, a company he started with just $170.
- Kimberli Cheung Wright: Wright is founder and CEO of Trepic, a visually oriented destination discovery app that helps people find their perfect travel destination by providing curated content about the world’s most unique experiences. She is a founder, designer, film director and mentor at Stanford University’s Institute of Design. When not running Trepic, she is traveling, creating virtual reality films and designing and developing vacation homes on various islands.
- Philip Taylor: Taylor is founder and CEO of Fincon, the world’s largest financial content conference, which has been held every year since its founding in 2011. He is an entrepreneur and CPA focused on creating the best conference for the financial media community, offering workshops and networking to bring together the best minds in new media and financial content.
- Rosetta Thurman: Thurman is founder and CEO of Happy Black Woman, a website focused on helping women empower themselves through entrepreneurship. She uses the platform to encourage more women to step up to leadership roles in all types of industries.
- Andy Pandharikar: Pandharikar is CEO of Commerce.AI, which is developing artificial intelligence to power next-generation commerce. At his new startup, Panharikar is combining what he understands about the commerce and retail environment and applying machine learning capabilities to determine how this might improve the customer experienve. He is a serial entrepreneur whose previous startup in San Francisco was acquired as part of $340 million deal with Flipkart.
- Howard Dvorkin: Dvorkin is chairman of Debt.com, as well as an entrepreneur, author and highly regarded debt and credit expert. He has been integral in drafting state and federal legislation intended to help consumers with credit and ensure higher standards in the credit industry. Dvorkin is also a consultant to the board of directors for the Association of Credit Counseling Professionals (ACCPros).
- Dash Gopinath: Gopinath is CEO at if(we), a company that has brought all types of people together through the various apps the company has been creating since 2004. He focuses on solving problems related to search, content and communicating, using various types of technology to address current issues. Before joining if(we), Gopinath was founder and CEO of Tinode, a messaging-as-a-service startup that was acquired by if(we).
- Amanda Signorelli: Signorelli is CEO of Techweek, a company establishing entrepreneurial communities throughout the country to help tech startups grow their ideas into businesses. As an entrepreneur, she struggled and knew that with the proper support she could develop her own ideas, so she then blossomed into this revelation and paid it forward into what is fast-becoming one of the hottest startups out there.
- Renato Libric: Libric is founder and CEO of Bouxtie Inc., a fintech company disrupting the global gift card market. The company has a new approach to sending and using gift cards; that approach is enhancing personal gifting and loyalty programs associated with brands that offer gift cards. When he is not working on expanding Bouxtie’s reach, Libric focuses on nurturing young entrepreneurs through various platforms and programs he has developed or invested in.
- Saaqeb Nayeem: Nayeem is founder of thezboy, a Facebook commerce solution that employs a messenger chatbot to seamlessly provide comments for customer service needs. He has worked in a number of technology areas, including payment systems, cloud and distributed computing and big data.
- Scott Richter: Richter is founder and CEO of Redirect.com, a traffic exchange where companies can buy or sell various types of traffic that comes from display websites, pop-ups, native ads and more. He has headed up Media Breakaway, LLC for over 15 years, the parent company of Redirect.com, as well as affiliate.com and The ParkingPlace.com.
- Jason Nazar: Nazar is CEO of Comparably, an online platform that shares information about workplace compensation so users can get a better understanding about organizational culture, benefits and more. He created and continues to host Startups Uncensored, a large technology event in Southern California. Nazar is also the entrepreneur in residence for the City of Los Angeles. Prior to Comparably, he founded Docstock, which Intuit acquired.
- Esosa Ighodaro: Ighodaro is founder of COSIGN, an app that lets customers tag product information in the pictures they post on social media so their friends and followers can then quickly find what that they want. She made the leap into entrepreneurship after working in the banking industry for nearly a decade. Ighodaro saw an area of opportunity and took the leap, recognizing the selfie trend and power of influence peers have over one another on social media.
- Chalmers Brown: Brown is CTO and co-founder of Due, an online invoicing and payments solution. He has been an integral part in the company’s development of proprietary technology which has been integrated with existing technology, like Blockchain, to offer a significantly faster and more secure transaction process for its customers. Prior to joining Due, Chalmers founded other companies and participated in hackathons at a very young age, illustrating how entrepreneurship has always been in his blood.
- Ted Coiné: Coiné is founder and CEO of The Extraordinary Network, a group that provides direct influencer marketing to B2B and luxury brands. He is also chief relationship officer of Meddle.it, a content marketing tool for organizations and individuals. He has put his experience and knowledge to work in both speaking engagements and books.
- Lewis Bowen: Bowen is founder of Air, a company that produces clean, renewable energy for businesses. As a young entrepreneur who has yet to turn 30, Bowen is set on showing the world that better environmental choices can be the most cost-effective solutions for businesses and consumers.
- Marcela Sapone: Sapone is co-founder and CEO of HelloAlfred, an app that provides a way for consumers to connect with people who will handle various chores on an on-demand basis. She has managed to raise an extraordinary amount of money with her co-founder, so it will be interesting to see where the company goes in 2017.
- Vicente Fernandez: Fernandez is founder of Sports-Manias, which he launched in 2012 and which continues to grow due to its focus on providing content and standings in real time for avid sports lovers. Only in his mid-20s, Fernandez proves that you can turn a passion into a viable and sustainable business.
- Damion Shelton: Shelton is co-Founder and CEO of Agility Robotics, an innovative company that is making robots with legs to address specific mobility challenges. The company's first product is coming to market in the next few months and promises to show us a glimpse of what the future will be.
- Roger Chen: Chen is CEO of Starmaker Interactive, a technology-driven media company focused on music, which includes a talent network, mobile apps, a catalogue and original music. He was one of the first 100 engineers at Facebook and is an ex-director of engineering at Twitter.
- Ari Roisman: Roisman is co-founder and CEO of Glide, a Jerusalem-based company that allows users to send and receive private video messages. The company has introduced a chatbot called the Glidebot that works with the service. Prior to this startup, Roisman worked on a number of technology projects that led him to where he is now.
- Shradha Agarwal: Agarwal is president and co-founder of Outcome Health, a healthcare-decision platform that has grown rapidly since its founding in 2006. She also co-founded JumpStart Ventures in 2011 to help other entrepreneurs turn their great ideas into businesses. It now backs over 40 different companies.
- Anne Ward: Ward is CEO and founder of CircleClick Media, a digital marketing and public relations firm that was launched in 2009. Prior to starting this firm, Ward worked as a web developer, and then developed a passion for analytics before transitioning into SEO. She has published numerous articles and will release The SEO Battlefield: Winning Strategies for Search Marketing Programs in early 2017.
- Michael Gasiorek: Gasiorek is editor-in-chief of the Startup Grind in San Francisco, a think tank and group designed for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. His experience includes marketing at AOL, a role as startup founder at Chinacellerator, venture advisor at NUIdea and various other roles related to the category of adeventrepreneur and community builder.
- George Salah: Salah is chairman and CEO of Apparent, a smart grid solution powered by big data designed to revolutionize energy production, delivery and usage. Salah has headed up Apparent since 2013, putting years of business success and knowledge about renewable energy to work to build up this revolutionary company.
- Evan Carmichael: Carmichael became an entrepreneur at 19 and venture capitalist by 22. Now, he is focused on helping entrepreneurs through his website, speaking engagements, videos and writing. His goal is to help one billion entrepreneurs. His website notes that he has broken two world records in his spare time.
- Cynthia Johnson: Johnson is co-Founder of Ipseity Media, a brand development agency focused on accelerated thought leadership. She is an entrepreneur, author and keynote speaker. Previously, Johnson was managing partner and director of marketing for RankLab, a digital marketing agency. Her diverse background in entertainment, marketing and digital advertising give her a unique perspective for helping today’s brands create a presence and following.
- Josh Steimle: Steimle is founder and CEO of MWI, a group of online marketers, designers and programmers who help their clients achieve positive results based on intermediary metrics like rankings, conversions and traffic. Steimle founded the company in 1999 while a college student at Brigham Young University. Since then, he has gone on to open international offices for the agency, written over 200 articles and become a speaker at TEDx and numerous marketing events.
- Annie Lobert: Lobert is founder of Hookers for Jesus, which helps women like the founder, who herself was a victim of sex trafficking and became a drug addict, struggling to survive. The organization provides programs to help women get off the street and away from sex trafficking by offering counseling, support and a way to heal from these traumatic experiences.
- Olga Kay: Kay is founder of Moosh Walks, a unique and whimsical sock product that features bright colors and fun designs. Kay is an entrepreneur who has put her background of growing up in Russia to work, to gain success. She came to the United States at age 16 as a performer in a circus and discovered YouTube, where she created quite a following from creating over 2,000 videos. Since then, she has leveraged this following to grow her Moosh Walks brand and develop her love of fashion.
Here is to a bright looking 2017 due to several people listed above!