In his inauguration speech, President Obama paid homage to entrepreneurs. The path to greatness, he rhapsodized, has been paved by "the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things--some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom."
Almost three years later, it's clear he was spot on. Entrepreneurship has been one of the precious few bright spots in a terribly gloomy economy, and this new generation of entrepreneurs, both intentional and accidental, has taken it upon themselves to keep things chugging along. At the same time, starting a business gained serious cool cred.
Consider American Express' slick ad campaign featuring Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard; foursquare's founders as models in glossy Gap mag ads; and the cults of celebrity surrounding "the Zuck" and the late Steve Jobs. Even A-list stars like Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga added headlines to their clip files from startup-centric blogs like TechCrunch and Mashable.
"Entrepreneurship has become sexy in a lot of ways," says Clay Newbill, executive producer of ABC's Shark Tank, which features people pitching their dreams to a panel of deep-pocketed investors, including Mark Cuban.
Entrepreneurship has never been more practical, either. According to the Kauffman Foundation, 565,000 new businesses were created in 2010--the most in 15 years--as many new 'treps were forced into it by the downturn. "Young people know that there's a high likelihood they'll have to make it on their own," says Thomas Knapp, associate director at the University of Southern California's Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. USC has seen a 13.2 percent year-over-year increase in students taking entrepreneurship courses at the school.
Here, 10 sectors to get in on while they're trending up. Plus, one trend to watch. --Jennifer Wang