For some, joining the family business means having to put on a suit and join their dad in a stodgy office. For fourth-generation beekeeper Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, 25, it meant pitching her parents on her startup Bee Downtown: a corporate responsibility program aiming to save the dwindling honeybee population by installing bee hives on rooftops across Atlanta.
Three years later, business is buzzing. Clients like Delta, IBM and Cox Enterprises are hosts to custom designed bee hives, supported and maintained by corporate employees and full-time Bee Downtown beekeepers. Best of all: the companies get to keep the honey extracted from the hives. The profitable business now has its sights set on expanding to Washington, DC and Charlotte, North Carolina in 2019.
Bonner is just one of 30 innovative ventures on this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs list using business acumen to make an lasting impact on the world. The list was judged by a blue-ribbon panel of judges: Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation; Lisa Curtis, Founder of Kuli Kuli; Cheryl Dorsey, President of Echoing Green; and Randall Lane, Chief Content Officer of Forbes Media. Here are the inspiring startups to keep an eye on in 2019:
Funding founders of color: Harlem Capital is “changing the face of entrepreneurship.” The minority-owned, New York-based early stage venture capital firm is helmed by Brandon Bryant, 28, John Henry, 25, Henri Pierre-Jacques, 27, and Jarrid Tingle, 27. They are taking aim at the pipeline of VC investing, where only 2% of venture capitalists are black. After raising their first fund of $5 million, they are aiming to invest in 1,000 diverse founders over the next 20 years.
Using the subscription box model for good: When Hayley Barna introduced Birchbox into the market in 2010, she created an entirely new industry of subscription box companies. Finally there is one for the concious consumer. Matt Richardson, 29, and Brett McCollum, 28, are the brains behind Causebox, a seasonally curated box with sustainable, fair trade and ethically sourced products. The certified B-Corp has helped thousands of artisans in countries including Kenya, Peru and India earn a living wage.
Reducing greenhouse gases: Milk might be good for strong bones. But methane gas from dairy cows—caused by, uhm, bovine flatulence—is a major contributor to global warming. So (mostly) vegan biologists Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi developed special yeasts that produce the same beneficial proteins found in dairy. They’ve raised $39 million and will hit grocery stores in 2019.
Tackling the opioid crisis: The opioid crisis is one of the biggest public health challenges in America today, with more than 115 dying of an overdose a day. Pilleve, cofounded by Gautam Chebrolu, 23, and Yossuf Albanawi, who himself struggled with substance abuse, aims to fight addiction through early intervention with its secure pill dispenser. Patients receive their opioid prescription in a Pilleve bottle and pills are dispensed one by one after patients input their pain levels, mood and side effects into an app. Pill intake data is also collected in real time and sent to providers and loved ones if patients are taking more than prescribed. Pilleve has partnered with one of the largest pain clinic in Maryland to launch the device and is looking to expand its pilot to California, Massachusetts and Georgia in 2019.
Radically changing recycling: Today, less than 10% of packaging plastics are recycled. The rest goes to a landfill or becomes pollution. But longtime friends Miranda Wang, 24, and Jeanny Yao, 24, are poised to radically change that statistic. The duo invented a proprietary chemical recycling technology that breaks down previously unrecyclable plastic into valuable base chemicals. Their startup BioCellection turns each ton of plastic trash into more than $2,500 worth of chemicals and prevents 20 tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted.
Easing anxiety and employing immigrants: Companies have started cropping up to address anxiety in ways that avoid the use of pharmaceuticals. Following the trend, Josh Durham, 23, founded Weighting Comforts, a weighted blanket that naturally increases serotonin in the body. Each blanket is hand-sewn Nashville, Tennessee by refugees women, who are provided English classes and a sustainable source of income. The company is on track to generate $8 million in revenue in 2018.
Here are the rest of the 30 breakouts under the age of 30 who are leading the pack in social entrepreneurship:
Andrew Cooper and Alex Schulze – Cofounders, 4Ocean
Sheanna Allen – Founder, CapWay
Marinda Wang and Jeanny Yao – Cofounders, BioCellection
Riley Jones and Amina Yamusah – Cofounders, Bloc
Brandon Burke – Cofounder, LegWorks
Angelo Campus – Founder, Boxpower
Thomas D’Eri – Cofounder, Rising Tide Car Wash
Brennan Hatton and Rick Martin – Cofounders, Equal Reality
Daniela V. Fernandez – Founder, Sustainable Ocean Alliance
Ariane Fisher – Managing Director, Shortlist
Shadrack Frimpong – Founder, Cocoa360
David Cooch and Kyle Kornack – Cofounders, Green Gas
Dakota Gruener – Executive Director, ID2020
Rebecca Hui – Founder, Roots Studio
Emily Kennedy – Cofounder, Marinus Analytics
Brian Keller and Zachary Quinn – Cofounders, Love Your Melon
Jenna Nicholas – Founder, Impact Experience
Aviva Paley – Cofounder, Kitchens for Good
Xiaoyuan Ren – Founder, MyH2O
Emma Teal Laukitis and Claire Neaton – Cofounders, Salmon Sisters
Saumya – Cofounder, Kheyti
Aziz Alghunaim and Atif Javed – Cofounders, Tarjimly
Jennifer Xia – Cofounder, FreeWill
Erin Zaikis – Founder, Sundara
To learn more about this year’s Social Entrepreneurs 30 Under 30, flip through the gallery or check out the landing page here.