15 Inspiring Entrepreneurs To Watch In 2020
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
Now more than ever, entrepreneurship seems to be the métier of the future. Self-help aisles in bookstores across the world are filled with titles which promise to unlock your potential as a successful entrepreneur. Podcasts and videos on the subject generate millions of listeners and views every day. It seems that people are searching for the secret formula, the recipe for startup success.
The burning question is, what makes a successful entrepreneur? Countless examples have taught us that degrees, social circumstance and age hold no weight. The unique background of each of the individuals in this list, and the differing courses which each of their careers have spanned, are a testament to this. However, what characterises each of these individuals is the possession of an “entrepreneurial mindset”. Each entrepreneur, big or small, has made an incontrovertible impact in their respective fields, and are very likely to continue to scale even greater heights.
There’s an incredibly important takeaway from all of these stories. There is no “secret formula” for success, save for an indomitable, visionary mindset. These individuals come from a variety of different backgrounds, ages and fields, but are united by their acumen and tenacity.
This article spotlights 15 entrepreneurs to keep an eye out for, and draw inspiration from, in 2020.
Nabeel Ahmad, Founder, Vertabyte
In 2017, Nabeel Ahmad dropped out of college to pursue entrepreneurship full-time, and he hasn’t looked back since. Now, a well-established entrepreneur and thought leader, he has launched multiple successful companies that are making a lasting impact in fields such as digital marketing, software development, and media.
As an inveterate serial entrepreneur, Nabeel has founded many successful businesses over the years. However, his most notable venture is Vertabyte, a full-service digital media agency that partners with some of the biggest companies in the world to drive their business outcomes by offering world-class solutions for website development, branding, digital marketing and public relations. Nabeel started offering services as an independent marketing consultant while still in college, and now leads a team of more than 100 people working remotely from different parts of the world.
Apart from his entrepreneurial ventures, he is a highly sought-after marketing expert. His expertise in digital marketing is often sought by some of the world’s biggest and most renowned media outlets. His work has appeared on Forbes, Entrepreneur, Yahoo News, Business2Community, and 30+ other major publications.
Artem Popov, Co-founder, Roobee
They say looks can be deceiving and that is certainly true for this entrepreneur. He may look young but he has around 7 years of experience in the business world under his belt.
He co-created a tech startup Roobee. In 2019, the startup attracted the attention of top global publications and large investors, who noted the huge potential of the project. Roobee is a blockchain based investment platform which helps make people make investments using modern methods like AI technology and transparent statistics. It has built up a community of 300k+ users, one of the largest communities in its niche in Eastern Europe.
”With Roobee, ordinary people can make smart investments starting from $ 10 in the previously inaccessible investment products with high threshold, such as real estate, ambitious startups, investment funds, IPO, stocks, crypto projects and others,” Popov said when asked in a Forbes article on what sets Roobee apart from the competition. “Roobee will provide retail investors with instant access to various instruments from different markets.”
Dev Garg, Founder, EasyAnalytic
Serial entrepreneur Dev Garg started out with nothing but a 40k debt and some visionary ideas. Fast forward a few years later, Garg is the founder of such trailblazing companies as EdHERO and EasyAnalytic. EasyAnalytic is a leading consulting firm that works with startups to unlock their potential, by helping them innovate, develop and launch their products using immersive consulting. Garg’s own early struggles inspired the company’s mission to equip emerging entrepreneurs, especially non-tech with a team of skilled professionals to help with a range of aspects which new businesses typically struggle with, including marketing, budgeting, strategy, mentoring and exposure through media outlets.
Dev is also the founder and CEO of EDHERO, a startup that aspires to provide educators with a platform which they can use to build a digital profile and presence using all the latest tools and techniques while simultaneously offering their services to organizations without having to learn any marketing tactics.
According to Dev, “Your team is your biggest asset in the early stage of your venture. Having the right people at the right place with the right experience could drastically reduce your risk exposure as you launch your product. Entrepreneurs overall spend months in information gathering and reviewing that they fall short of their execution plan. Our goal is to bring them knowledge and execution experience cutting down months into days.”
Augie Johnston, Founder, Vidchops
Johnston started out on YouTube as a creator making educational videos about Basketball. Around 300 videos later his channel, Baller Boot Camp, had gained over 20 Million views. He used this platform to successfully launch his entrepreneurial dreams of landing deals with huge corporations like Nike and Wilson Basketball.
However, Johnston was not content. Frustrated over the struggle of having to edit each video after video for YouTube, Johnston created Vidchops, a video editing subscription service designed for YouTubers. By eliminating over 50% of the workload off of video creators shoulders Vidchops found its place in the booming world of online video. One of their clients, Brian G. Johnson said: “I’ve published hundreds of videos to my YouTube Channel and I’m proud to say that Vidchops was a big part in editing many of those videos. In fact, some of my best performing videos were edited by Vidchops. They took my own style and made it better and today, I’ve learned a lot about video editing based on what Vidchops has done for my videos from editing, style and more. If you need help with your editing, I can’t recommend Vidchops any more than you should get hooked up.”
Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO, VaynerMedia
Belarusian American entrepreneur, best-selling author and business mogul Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the most sought-after digital marketing and social media experts of today. Vaynerchuk famously grew his family’s wine business from $3 to $60 million, but announced his departure from the business in 2011 to focus on VaynerMedia, the digital ad agency he co-founded with his brother in 2009. VaynerMedia is a social media-centred digital agency which provides social media and strategy services to Fortune 500 companies including Anheuser-Busch, Mondelez, and PepsiCo. In 2015, VaynerMedia was named one of AdAge’s A-List agencies, and in 2016, VaynerMedia grossed $100 million in revenue. The company also collaborated with Vimeo to connect brands and filmmakers in a digital platform.
Norbert Goffa, Co-founder & Executive Manager, ILCoin Blockchain Project
Norbert Goffa is an analyst and a visionary, with extensive experience in sales and business development, marketing, communication, crisis and customer management. Goffa believes that blockchain has way more potential than it's been presumed so far. He is working with developer teams from all over the world to bring their vision to life and disrupt the industry. His project, ILCoin, has already made considerable progress in refining the blockchain technology.
"Blockchain is a revolutionary way to store information, but we had to deal with a few problems to make it usable," says Goffa. "We've already introduced C2P, the quantum-resistant protocol that makes our network hack-proof, and we figured out how to solve the scalability issue. The big goal is to create the DCB (Decentralized Cloud Blockchain) platform. Its users will be able to make their own applications, perform deals through smart contracts, safely store large files, and much more. Our technologies can be used universally - from tracking pharmaceutical supplies to creating huge media libraries. We want everyone to benefit from using them."
At the moment the team is working on RIFT protocol, another step on the way to DCB. The platform will be released in 2020.
Satish Gaire, Founder, DirectPay & LogicXY
Only 14 years old when he started his first business venture, Satish Gaire was always fascinated with the tech world and all the possibilities it entailed. As he grew older, Gaire became involved with a number of different projects of varying natures, until he dropped them all to prioritise his software company, WooAgents: “Treating my businesses as a side hustle was the problem. I realized that I had to choose a focus. I had to figure out what I loved most, what defined me, what energized me, what makes me who I am. I knew without a doubt that was entrepreneurship.”
Despite the lack of support and encouragement, he continued investing in different projects. He knew there were many other products out in the market, but Gaire aimed at making his product the optimal choice. There were more bumps in the road, and times when he lost all money and support. However, today Gaire is the founder of LogicXY, a creative agency based in Texas. He has also launched and acquired software companies operating in various fields. He set up a team which working under Podmio, which helps people create and distribute podcasts, and DirectPay, a payment platform for entrepreneurs.
According to Gaire, “I founded most of our software companies to fill a major gap in the industry or because I didn’t have access to something I needed.”
Leighton Butler, Founder, The Dominant Agents & Orchardly
24-year old Social Media Marketing Expert Leighton Butler is one of the rare entrepreneurs who have achieved prodigious success at a young age. However, it certainly didn’t come easy. At age 18, Butler moved from Jamaica to the United States, enrolled in Dental school but quickly dropped out when he realised the system disadvantaged him. While working at a local IHOP, he started his real estate career. There was a slow start, but he picked up invaluable skills on the way, including how to advertise on social media effectively. In 2018, he used this newly acquired expertise to start a Real Estate Marketing Agency, The Dominant Agents, which has allowed agents in the Real Estate Industry to multiply their monthly transactions by providing them with leads and assisting them by automating the follow-up process. However, he realised that not all agents could afford the price tag that came along with this service, which has led him to start working on Orchardly, a CRM software combined with training and tools to help Agents generate leads and boost sales by bridging gaps between buyer and seller. With this software and all the training and tools that come with it, he plans to revolutionize the Real Estate Industry and make Massive Impact.
According to Butler, “I want every single Real Estate Agent to have Opportunities I didn’t have. The ability to not only generate leads, but to also effectively follow up with their own leads on autopilot without having to spend tons of money on low-quality leads that are shared by the big companies with multiple agents. I want to break the wheel and make a Real Impact and I think Orchardly and the systems and training that come with it will do exactly that.”
Grant Cardone, CEO, Cardone Training Ventures
At age 60, Grant Cardone has a massive entrepreneurial legacy behind him. Alongside building a multi-million dollar real estate empire, being an acclaimed international Sales trainer and New York Times bestselling writer, Cardone owns 5 privately held companies whose annual revenues exceed $100 million. His primary venture, Cardone Training Technologies, gives Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and entrepreneurs an interactive sales training platform. In Cardone’s own words, “I work with small companies and Fortune 500 companies to grow sales by finding overlooked opportunities and customizing the sales process to be more effective. I have worked with companies like Google, Sprint, Aflac, Toyota, GM, Ford and thousands more. I own and operate four companies that do almost 100m in annual sales and I’m also a New York Times best-selling author, international speaker, and considered the top sales training and social media expert in the world today.”
His bestselling book The 10X Rule, serves as a launchpad for the 10X Growth Conference, beginning in 2017. This 3-day event has become the world’s largest business and entrepreneur conference with over 35,000 attendees annually.
Nathan Testa, Founder, Teko
A self-taught web developer turned CEO, Nathan, 20, dropped out of high school at age 17, ventured into the world of business and launched Teko, a digital agency built for today’s connected world. According to Forbes, Nathan now leads a team of 15 across Australia and Asia.
Teko partners with companies and brands seeking to make an impact and helps drive their business outcomes with web development, digital marketing and creative branding services. Over the past few years, Teko has delivered digital solutions to government, corporate and private sectors.
Testa says, “Our business if foundered on our sense of purpose which is to help businesses adapt to the digital age.”
Jawad Malik, Founder, IDRESE
Jawad Malik is the CEO and creative mind behind the custom shoe brand, IDRESE. With a little more than foundational knowledge of business management, sales and a passion for hand crafted shoes, Jawad took a traditional concept that has been around for centuries and built a thriving empire around it. Today, IDRESE is a powerhouse in the shoe industry.
IDRESE opens customers to a world of personalized premium shoes handcrafted by the finest artisans in the business. Every shoe that has the IDRESE crest undergoes a meticulous design process that starts from sourcing premium leather of the highest quality and ends with the finished product in the hands of the customer.
IDRESE was established to change the made-to-order shoe experience for customers wherever they are in the world. By integrating a digitalized solution into the design process, Jawad has cut back the production timeline by more than 80% without compromising the quality of the finished product. In his words, IDRESE is, “longevity, aesthetics and comfort at a great value, and nothing less; that’s our mission”.
Alexandra Cavoulacos, Co-founder, The Muse
In 2011, Alexandra Cavoulacos left a job she was both enjoying and succeeding in, at a management consulting firm called McKinsey & Company, to start her own company. She started a career development site called The Muse, along with Kathryn Minshew and Melissa McCreery. She’s the innovative mind behind the personalized MuseFeed, which allows thousands of individuals to tailor their career support and job search. Today, The Muse has helped over 50 million people find jobs and businesses which are best suited to their career development and goals. The company also gives courses for learning new skills, career coaching and advice from more than 500 experts. Cavoulacos says, “Building the platform from scratch with no funding or salary was scary, but I couldn’t shake that belief that The Muse needed to exist. That energized me through thick and thin in the early days.”
Gerard Adams, Founder, Fownders
Gerard Adams is an American entrepreneur and co-founder of Elite Daily, a news site targeted towards millennials, which sold to the Daily Mail in 2015 for $50 million. He is also a contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine and the founder of New Jersey start up accelerator, Fownders, a non-profit mentorship business that focuses on cultivating local startups, with the goal of creating a "startup ecosystem" in the city. Adams modeled the organization after Silicon Valley business incubators.
In the 2000s, Adams started a stock market forum named StockSpot, which included a 5-star ratings feature to evaluate writer contributions. Reportedly, StockSpot grew to $10 million in revenue before the 2008 stock market crash. He founded several other companies, including an online investor-relations and financial-marketing company, and the National Inflation Association. Gerard’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Find a good mentor and get started”.
Thomas Despin, Founder, Reconnect
Thomas Despin is a 28 years old entrepreneur from France, who has been living in Indonesia for over 3 years. He now lives on a tiny private island, where he founded Reconnect, a sustainable resort offering an authentic island experience, where guests are not just spectators, but actors of the life on the island. After discovering Buka Buka Island in Central Sulawesi, Thomas envisioned a place to reconnect with nature, with oneself, and between each other. Reconnect’s official opening will be early 2020, but they already welcome hand-picked guests who want to contribute to the project.
Before developing a remote island from scratch, Thomas made his name in the eCom industry, where he grew a dropshipping store from 0 to $750,000 in sales in 11 months. Thomas is also the owner of Hustlers Villa, a coliving and coworking space for online entrepreneurs in Ubud, Bali.
Thomas’ long term vision in Indonesia is to facilitate foreign investments, to develop high potential untouched areas in a sustainable, conscious and respectful way.
Jocelyn Leavitt, Co-founder, Hopscotch
Former teacher Jocelyn Leavitt created Hopscotch in 2013, as a mobile gaming platform for 8-14 year olds that lets kids learn programming skills while creating and playing their own mobile games. As an advocate for STEM programs for young girls, she hopes this will encourage children to take a greater interest in programming, through exploratory, creative, and innovative play. Hopscotch introduced the first-ever mobile-first programming language and provides a platform for users to publish their games and follow the creations of others.
In a recent interview, Leavitt said, “At Hopscotch, we’re building an accessible way for non-engineers to use their phones and other touchscreen devices to program and experience the empowerment that programming gives you. I think that tapping into this power will have very broad implications for the future.”