Today's Top Entrepreneurs and Innovators Are Changing The World As We Know It
There are more entrepreneurs and innovators than ever before; each solving some of today’s toughest issues. If “necessity is the master of invention,” as the old adage goes, then the solutions being proffered by these business leaders are truly one of a kind.
We researched and found leaders for this story, who have each contributed to the business world in a different, compelling way. As founders of organizations and successful business champions, each has had a significant impact on, not only our economy, but also the way we will look at solving problems moving forward. From their experience, -- to their daily innovative techniques, these entrepreneurs are changing the way we do business…one idea at a time.
1. Peter Voss, Founder and CEO, Aigo (www.aigo.ai)
Peter Voss is a serial entrepreneur, inventor, and a pioneer in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). He has been working in the space since 2001. In the short span of seven years, he has built one company from 0 to 400 employees, with a successful IPO to boot. Voss is a visionary, who is excited by the fragile nature of software. For the past two decades, has studied what intelligence is, how it develops in humans, how it is different from animal intelligence, and the current state of AI. His research culminated in the creation of a natural language intelligence engine that can think, learn, and reason – adapt to, and grow with the user.
Peter is now focused on commercializing the second generation of his company’s ‘Conversational AI’ technology ‘Aigo’, which is more like ‘Her’ and less like ‘Dory’. To him, AI becomes smarter and more personalized, as it learns from your network (people, devices, other AIs), essentially becoming your cognitive extension -- your ExoCortex.
2. Siddhartha Dutta, Co-Founder and CEO, Marlin Protocol (https://www.marlin.pro)
As the co-author of two patents filed by Adobe Research, Siddhartha Dutta not only has significant experience, but more importantly, extensive insight into how technology works – and how it should work. Before starting Marlin Protocol with his co-founders from Stanford and MIT, Siddhartha worked at Microsoft, playing an instrumental role in the development of the Zilliqa blockchain platform. Marlin is a decentralized, peer-accelerated content delivery network where hosts share uplink bandwidth and storage in the system, by serving commercial content in exchange for a monetary incentive.
Dutta, when asked, offered the following advice for entrepreneurs and innovators: first, extend your efforts to principled execution rather than to theorizing. Perform the experiments you need to perform, listen openly to your users, and iterate rapidly as needed. Secondly, be problem-driven. Be the best you can in the niche you carve out. Finally, surround yourself with radical thinkers, and foster a culture of rigorous brainstorming, to ensure that you get as many perspectives as you can.
3. Kevin Maloney, CEO, XEEDA, Inc. (https://www.xeeda.io)
Kevin Maloney is a serial entrepreneur, early stage investor, and inventor. He developed XEEDA™ in conjunction with scientists from the University of Southern California and California Institute of Technology (CALTECH). The motivation came, according to Maloney, as a result of their own frustrations with the complex process of accessing cryptocurrencies, combined with the vulnerability of online digital assets to be hacked and stolen.
As a blockchain and transactions startup company developing a cryptocurrency hardware wallet and integrated app for smartphones, XEEDA is leveraging multi-factor authentication and built-in biometric security features. Getting to this point was not always easy. According to Maloney, it is important “to understand that there is no playbook that will guide you to a successful innovation; you cannot rely on timing or luck. You must be fearlessly determined to find a unique path and solution that excites your customers and compels them to engage and purchase.”
4. Troy Widgery, Founder and CEO, Apollo Energy Gum (http://www.apolloenergygum.com)
Apollo Energy Gum is delivering the Future of Energy to consumers in the pursuit of a healthy, productive lifestyle. Conceived by professional skydiver, plane crash survivor, and serial entrepreneur Troy Widgery, (Founder of GO Fast! Energy Drink), Apollo Brands, LLC markets Apollo Energy Gum and Golf Gum from their Denver, Colorado headquarters. From day one, Apollo has manufactured its products in the Liquid Core Gum Company factory.
A strong believer in innovation, Widgery suggests that it “requires so much more than novelty, and is a never-ending process.” The key to successful innovation is to solve a real problem, regardless of whether or not your consumers know it exists. This means that the foundation of all innovation must be the product or service you market and sell. For example, it took 10 years and 700 formulas to develop Apollo Energy Gum, but throughout the process, Widgery and his team understood that the product was the foundation upon which their brand was built. Therefore, they pursued development “until the product met our own very rigorous standards.”
Finally, Widgery encourages entrepreneurs to fail fast. “Innovation is 99% failure. The goal is to get through the 99 failures as fast as possible to find 1 success.” Then, he encourages, “do it again, because sustained growth requires a constant flow of small successes. Don’t be so tied to a bad idea that it clouds your ability to seek and identify a great one.”
5. Candace Chen, Founder, Novako Music (https://ava.novakomusic.com)
Candace’s passion for music, travel, and technology; for teaching and sharing music, for the screenless social experience of jam sessions; guided her life’s compass to the creation of Ava, the world’s first electric travel Ukulele. Following an unfortunate incident with a checked baggage inspection that resulted in a broken instrument, Candace decided to create her own travel-friendly version. Ava was born as an effort to combine her wanderlust with easy access to her favorite instrument.
Novako Music, Candace’s music company, aptly named from nova (sun) and ko (company), designs and manufacturers musical instruments known for their warm and bright sound. “We are all trend-setters,” says Candace, “committed to innovation, quality, and excellent user experiences.” For young startups, she advises taking advantage of the freelance economy, which can help control a company’s burn rate, instead of hiring salaried employees. Most importantly, she notes, entrepreneurs and inventors need to connect with their target users. “Listen to their problems, and help solve them. “
6. Lior Shabat, Founder, 45 Degrees East (http://45degreeseast.com)
45 Degrees East blends creativity, collaboration, and technology to craft their client’s messages, while getting them in front of the right people, at exactly the right time. And with over a decade of digital experience, Lior Shabat knows quite a lot about making an impact – on audiences and on their bottom-lines. Throughout his career, Lior has been essential to the growth of multiple businesses, taking one from an idea to a global venture with over 500 employees. Prior to starting 45 Degrees East, he helped build a successful agency, with his unique brand of strategic, creative thinking and natural leadership skills. His accomplishments are a testament to his entrepreneurial spirit.
Innovation, to Lior, is really about problem solving. As a business, your main goal is about solving someone’s pain points. “True innovation,” he says, “is about focusing on a problem, and thinking about a solution that may not be an obvious one. Find what problems your business solves really well, and connect with other businesses that find true value in your solutions.” Remember, while innovation can be an overwhelming word, “it’s not always about rocket science. Innovation can be as simple as trying out a new marketing method or adopting a new software.” Shabat encourages innovators to “challenge their existing methods and see what new solutions are on the market.”
7. William Durrant – President & Founder, Exverus Media (http://www.exverus.com)
Bill Durrant founded Exverus Media, a leading paid media strategy, planning and buying agency in Los Angeles quite a while ago, to serve as the media agency for companies like PowerBar, Suja Juice, Bonobos, and many others. His goal was a simple one: help drive brand recognition and growth for his clients. The agency has grown 100% year over year for the past five years, because of his commitment to client service and groundbreaking creative use of paid media. What is really unique about Bill is that he turned a two-week freelancing assignment into one of the nation’s fastest growing marketing agencies of any kind. His focus, creativity, and yes, innovative techniques have changed how companies look at their brand recognition, their advertising spend, and so much more.
Bill recognizes that not every startup, or even well-known organization, needs to follow the same path he did – from chasing seed funding to pitching accelerators, and so much more. Having an exit plan from day one isn’t right for every business – or even every entrepreneur. “Instead,” he suggests “what we did at Exverus was to focus on solving our customers’ problems one issue at a time, while the growth simply took care of itself.”
8. Lucas Herbert, CEO, Life Task (https://www.lifetask.io)
Lucas Herbert received his Bachelors in Mathematics from the University of Manchester and his Master’s Degree in Economics and Financial Analysis from the Manchester Metropolitan University. After serving as a production manager at Amazon and realizing that the ageing recruitment business model no longer worked, for the entire spectrum of needs, for both employees and employers, he founded Life Task in an effort to counter the billions that are spent annually, in the form of productivity loss.
By understanding the productivity problem, Herbert was able to create a solution evoking a new methodology, in a very traditional space. He advises that innovators “look at the needs of the market. What is ripe for disruption? What is outdated?” In essence, he advises, that we look for ways to modernize the areas that sorely need it. Successful entrepreneurs, he continues, not only do something they are passionate about, but, more importantly, “never give up.”
9. Reid Lee, CTO, GANA Technologies OU (http://www.ganacoin.io)
Reid’s experience as a systems architect germinates from E-commerce, ERP, business intelligence, IoT, and more. An entrepreneur at heart, he realized early on, that the use of data is a critical piece of every organization, and is vertical-agnostic. Reid is currently focusing on finding ways to use data in the cannabis industry.
To make reasonable data-based decisions, he recommends assessing and analyzing the data relevant to a given organization. The smaller the company, the more critical this becomes. Because every industry is in a state of rapid change, he believes organizations should not make detailed plans encompassing more than three months. This helps organizations respond quickly to the market, thus setting up more efficient strategies. This should not, he adds, be confused with long-term organizational planning.
10. Frank Davis, Founder, Optivida Health (http://www.optividahealth.com)
Frank Davis has been an entrepreneur for most of his life. Davis has numerous multi-million dollar companies to his credit, including: Borges Lamont; Overstock.com (the successor to Borges Lamont); Golf Connections; and Nourish the Children, which was eventually purchased by NuSkin. His proven track record speaks for itself. Today, Optivida Health may be Frank’s greatest entrepreneurial and innovative home-run, with Optivida Hemp 540, which uses a patented Liposomal process, providing an astounding 10x to 20x the traditional absorption rate of other hemp products. His innovations are helping people around the world solve their pain-related issues, without the use of addictive narcotics.
To be true to their entrepreneurial spirit, notes Davis, “small businesses need to innovate and adapt in an ever-changing business environment.” More importantly, he credits volunteerism and giving back to one’s community as a way to connect with the world outside of your everyday work life. “It becomes a larger reason for doing what you do, and connecting with others,” he says.
11. Josef Holm, 41 -- CEO, Crypto Invest Summit (https://cryptoinvestsummit.io/)
Josef earned his spot on the list, not only for his accomplished career of innovation and marketing in technology, but for his work in growing and educating the cryptocurrency investing community. Josef is Co-Founder of one of the worlds largest cryptocurrency investment focused conferences, Crypto Invest Summit.
Josef’s work with Crypto Invest Summit reaches and educates investors and entrepreneurs looking to invest and learn about this new and exciting industry, and his conferences are attended by tens of thousands, annually. Crypto Invest Summit has also created a platform for entrepreneurs and startups within the cryptocurrency and blockchain community to engage with potential investors.
“Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies are the most disruptive innovations since the advent of the internet and will change how business is done forever” said Josef. “With billions of dollars being invested in crypto projects each year, Crypto Invest Summit provides an important forum for investors, startups and service providers to learn, network and make deals.”
12. Alon Goren, 35 -- Principal, Wavemaker Genesis (https://www.wmgenesis.com/)
Alon made his way onto this list for his work in building and investing in the startup and cryptocurrency/blockchain community. Entrepreneur turned investor, Alon is now Principal at Wavemaker Genesis, one of the world’s preeminent early-stage cryptocurrency and blockchain investment funds, with offices in Los Angeles, Puerto Rico and Singapore.
While sourcing deals, leading investments and engaging and working with Wavemaker Genesis’ global network of partner funds, Alon is hyper-focused and passionately outspoken about the virtues of Cryptocurrency and blockchain. He believes in backing cryptocurrency projects that have the potential to onboard millions of new users could change the world.
“I’m a nerd that has always been obsessed with decentralization and disintermediation (cutting out the middle-man),” Alon told me. “Any project that can simplify crypto and create a passionate ‘crypto literate’ community with mass adoption has the potential to destroy the status-quo. And this is category agnostic. It’s happening now within gaming, finance, trading, advertising, real estate, legal, art, etc., and I’ve never been more excited.”
13. David Cho, (49) -- CTO, Lead Architect at Giftz, LLC (A Wyoming Corporation) (https://www.giftz.io/)
Cho earned a spot on the list because he is a mathematician, scientist and blockchain advocate who advises on public token economics. David is a lead for enterprise web development and architect at the Department of Defense and most importantly the Tech Lead at Giftz where his focus is currently on their Giftz Exchange (marketplace).
Giftz offers risk adverse companies a way to get on the blockchain and an exchange (without an ICO) by creating tokenized rewards or gift codes for their customers that grant access or have value in an ecosystem (i.e. game coins, retail coins or miles coins). Once deployed, these tokens may be listed on the Giftz Exchange (marketplace).
“Giftz is focused on blockchain solutions that remove boundary consumer constraints on loyalty and rewards to enable free trade and barter of tokenized value. Currently there are either large, leader-influenced loyalty and rewards markets with barriers of entry or free barter markets that have low volumes of trading activity and subsequent down effect on liquidity. We believe, the latter has market size issues due to unforgiving negative feedback loops between volatile price and low liquidity -- and are rooted on the difficulty of on-demand fiat capitalization via traditional banking and the lack of transparency to the rules on rates for fiat capitalization." -David Cho
14. Stephen Liao, 20 -- CEO, Moves Inc. (http://themovesapp.com/)
Liao earned a spot on the list because of his feats with credit, amassing $3.2m in lines of credit across 200+ credit cards, working with Tai Lopez, and founding the social media app Moves. As CEO of Moves, based out of Las Vegas, Nevada, Liao works his team out of the “Moves Mansion” and has launched on the app store peaking in the Top 100 social media apps.
When he’s not traveling on private jets and driving exotic cars, he is using his spare time to coach other entrepreneurs on credit and startups. He has helped other like-minded people through his instagram @liaostep to build out 8 figure credit lines and raise capital
“The school system today is not teaching our generation the most basic necessities in life, such as credit. I’ve taken it into my own hands to not only educate on credit, but also show potential entrepreneurs that the school system isn’t the only escape to success,” Liao told me. Through Moves and his work with Tai Lopez, Liao is able to teach others as well as continue learning himself.
15. Alejandro Avila -- CEO, Beluga Pay (https://belugapay.com/)
BelugaPay is a payment solution for merchants. We help them accept all forms of payments and grow their business. All transactions in the form of cash, cards or cryptocurrencies along with merchant data are stored safely on a blockchain, which is used to give smaller merchants access to financial solutions usually only available for big companies. We are certified by banks, Visa, Mastercard and PCI compliant to accept credit/debit cards, online and card present.
BelugaPay Team: Blockchain is still in very early stages of mass adoption, we are still finding new use cases for the technology and more fields to disrupt. We hope to enable all businesses to accept major cryptocurrencies all around the world. We are also working with governments and regulators to help introduce new laws that promote best practices and low taxes around the technology.
16. Denis Globa, Konstantin Ivanov, Andrew Kirillov and Stan Bokov — Founders of TradingView (https://www.tradingview.com/)
TradingView is the largest social network for retail traders and investors with over 7,000,000 monthly active users worldwide.The company recently broke into the top 500 websites in the world on Alexa. Users get trading ideas, a free web-based trading platform to analyze stocks, futures, indexes, Forex and crypto, while discussing in real-time. TradingView's free charting widgets are used on over 40,000 sites worldwide, including the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Investopedia, SeekingAlpha, Zacks, Crunchbase, and many others.
“We're democratizing finance by empowering regular people to talk about the markets in a safe and transparent way. The community enables a learning cycle, where users can message tens of thousands of other people, ask their opinion, get trading ideas, do market research and analysis - and all of it for free. Anyone should have access to top-notch tools that used to be reserved only for the pros. It's all about leveling the playing field! The next step is being able to manage your portfolio with E*TRADE, Robinhood and other top brokers around the world,” says the TradingView Team.
17. Evan Boser, 20 - Brand Development Titan
Boser earned a spot on the list because of continued success in hacking social attention and driving millions of daily impressions for multi-million dollar brands. At 19 years old he’s identified how to increase brand growth and grow companies sales by millions of dollars by utilizing his social media tactics. Boser works to bring strong products/brands the viral attention they deserve with ease.
In addition to Bosers’ ability to scale some of the most influential and dominant brands of 2018: he works with many top influencers, rappers, and fitness personalities developing their content and increasing their awareness online. On his Instagram @boserevan, he spends his downtime teaching aspiring marketers and business owners how to grow their brand without a strong budget.
“In today’s digital age, your relevancy and opportunities are heavily dependent on your social reach," Boser told me. "My mission is to provide incredible brands and personalities the opportunity to broadcast themselves to the world on a massive scale. They’re too many brands doing wrong by their customers. My goal is wade those out, and put quality companies in front of millions of eyes daily.”
18. Trac Stephenson — Founder of BUILD1x, Inc (https://www.b1x.io/)
BUILD1x is revolutionizing construction through the introduction of the world’s first digital currency built specifically for the construction industry, BUILDCoin. BUILDCoin will be utilized within the BUILD1x mobile application, set to launch Q2 2018. One of the biggest challenges the industry has is the extended payment cycle for materials and labor, which inflates project costs, and the purchase price of homes. BUILD1x will empower the construction industry with blockchain technology and smart contracts eliminating some of the inflated costs associated with delayed payments.
According to Stephenson, "An $8+ trillion global industry that supports approximately 100 million people, needed a mobile platform that was made for them, by one of them. By combining known mobile app features like project management and networking, with blockchain, BUILD1x will positively impact everyone from the sub-contractors to the home buyer.”
We asked Stephenson to give his take on being a business leader. "For the sake of your team and your entire business, don’t become the outdated type of leader whose knowledge no longer has a practical application. Instead, strive to learn more about your industry, your team, and the world every day. Your overall perspective should expand to make room for new people and innovation."
19. Daniel Snow – CEO of Social Cadre (https://www.socialcadre.com/)
Snow secured a spot on this list due to his variety of accomplishments in the social media and ecommerce realm. Daniel started his journey in the online space through amassing followers on a variety of different interest based accounts at first on twitter, and then on Instagram. After acquiring nearly 20 million followers during his first 18 months of running these pages, Daniel realized there was a massive need for account owners such as himself who had large audiences at their disposal looking for creative ways to monetize their followings. Thus, Caffeine Digital was born. Providing a one stop shop for both advertisers and influencers, the platform was able to generate $7.4M in revenue and 3,200 influencers signed up to the website all before Daniel had graduated from college.
After sending millions of dollars in web-traffic to hundreds of different advertisers through Daniel’s platform, he then transitioned his business model towards owning the actual products and businesses in order to create a more sustainable business model. Using a combination of innovative influencer marketing campaigns along with leveraging the various paid acquisition channels, Daniel was able to generate $29.3M in revenue towards his own ecommerce businesses as well as over 2 Million followers on both Instagram and Facebook for his brands. This notable e-commerce success has all been in only a 22 month time window! Some of the most well known stores being GOATcase along with The Perfect Sculpt.
20. David Farris, Director of Marketing, Planet 13 Las Vegas
Rated as one of the top premier Las Vegas marijuana dispensaries, Planet 13 Las Vegas strives to provide the best quality recreational cannabis, cannabis extracts, and infused products available at competitive prices and with compassion that can only come from those who are knowledgeable in the field.
“Great leadership is about human experiences. It's not a formula or a program, it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It is an attitude, not a routine,” says Farris.
21. Silvia Polivoy, Co-Founder, Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Retreat Center
“We are a non-profit and trans-denominational interfaith ayahuasca retreat center in Brazil dedicated to people who feel the call to connect with their essence at a deeper level. Our program is designed to guide each participant to find balance within themselves. Every detail of the retreat is carefully planned to re-establish the connection with your higher self.”
"A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be," says Silvia Polivoy.