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6 Hottest Industries for Millennial Entrepreneurs

Twenty-something founders are crowding around health food, influencer marketing, and services for minority groups, according to the results of Inc.'s annual 30 Under 30.
Eterneva transforms carbon from human remains into diamonds.
CREDIT: Courtesy Eterneva

Fishless fish filets. Hair products for women of color. A mechanism for transforming human remains into diamonds.

The above products--in addition to sounding awesome--represent some of the most promising industries for young entrepreneurs in 2018. That's according to Inc.'s annual 30 Under 30 awards, which spotlight some of the most impressive startups run by founders under 30 years of age.

Although Millennials--and even a few Gen Z-ers--are tapping into surprising and niche sectors, you'd be mistaken to assume that "niche" means no revenue. Collectively, these businesses account for hundreds of millions in annual sales, and have attracted investment and other support from the likes of Mark Cuban, NASA, and the lauded film director Darren Aronofsky.

Below, in no particular order, are the hottest industries for Millennial entrepreneurs in 2018:

1. Conscious Cuisine

If the promise of the organic food sector wasn't already apparent, Amazon's massive $13.7 billion acquisition of health food supermarket Whole Foods last summer all but cemented it. Indeed, sales of organic food hit a record of $43 billion in 2016, up 8.4 percent from the previous year, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Organic Trade Association.

These trends are reflected in the swatch of health food companies that earned Inc.'s laurels in 2018. There's No Cow, which sells no-sugar and dairy-free protein bars, cookies, and nut butters, generating more than $10 million in annual revenue. Founded in 2015 by now 21-year-old Daniel Katz, the Denver-based company expects to double its annual revenue by the end of 2018. Another promising startup, which is still pre-revenue, is Finless Foods. Located in the Bay Area, the cellular agriculture cultivator develops products like "carp croquettes" from fish cells bound together by food enzymes. There's also Shake Smart, which makes health food shakes, sandwiches, and acai bowls. That San Diego-based company booked $3.6 million in 2017 sales, mainly catering to college students.

2. Influencer Aid

Influencer marketing is indeed one of the hottest industries for launching a business in 2018, with such agencies bringing in more than $10 billion in 2017 revenue, according to market researcher IBISWorld. And who better to serve this growing stable of socialites with media savvy than their 20-something peers?

Entrepreneurs under 30 are increasingly creating products and services for social-media influencers, from email marketing to user engagement metrics and other software. Take ConvertKit as an example: The 5-year old company launched by CEO Nathan Barry makes an email-marketing tool for professional creators, helping them to grow their audience across different social platforms while keeping their branding consistent. Mixpanel, an analytics startup valued at nearly $1 billion, measures user engagement for mobile and Web apps. While the company refused to disclose revenue to Inc., its funding numbers are known. The San Francisco-based company--shepherded by 29-year old founder and CEO Suhail Doshi--has a whopping $77 million in investment capital.

3. Moonshots

There are those entrepreneurs whose visions are not easily classifiable, and Inc. dubs these the "moonshots," à la Elon Musk's Hyperloop venture and Jeff Bezos's space exploration arm, Blue Origin.

One such company is Eterneva, an Austin-based company that transforms carbon from human remains into diamonds. Founder Adelle Archer is seizing on the fact that more and more people are turning to cremation, which recently surpassed the number of annual burials. Through partnerships with a diamond-growing lab and cutters around the world, Eterneva is taking your loved ones and turning them into gems of your own design, size, and color preference. The business, which booked $280,000 in revenue last year, anticipates capturing $1.8 million by the end of 2018.

Relativity Space is another moonshot startup, but in the more literal sense. Co-founders Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone are working to manufacture the world's first 3-D printed rocket, which they hope can take flight by 2020. Already, the 2-year-old company has inked more than $1 billion worth of contract commitments. It also secured funding from Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank judge Mark Cuban, and landed a deal with NASA to use the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi for its rocket tests.

4. Double Bottom Line

There's much debate over whether founders can truly do good for society if they're also interested in turning a profit. But don't tell these entrepreneurs that it isn't possible. Companies such as Bee Downtown and Earth Angel are generating hundreds of thousands in annual revenue while helping lessen the negative impact humans have on animal life and the environment. The former, which sells and installs beehives at various company locations, has inked contracts with clients including Delta and Chick-fil-A, while the latter works with film studios and directors including Darren Aronofsky--charging them as much as $50,000 a pop--to make a film or television production more ecologically friendly.

5. Power to the People

People of color are increasingly launching businesses at a faster rate than that of the general population. Indeed, from 1997 to 2007, the number of minority-owned small businesses increased by more than 25 percent, according to data from the Brookings Institute. Young entrepreneurs are not only keeping with that trend, they are targeting those traditionally underserved populations, too.

Take Derrius Quarles, the co-founder and CTO of the Chicago and Brooklyn-based personal finance platform Breaux Capital. Since launching in 2016, his business has connected more than 1,000 men of color to its social network and automated savings platform, taking a subscription fee for access to added features. The company anticipates booking $120,000 in sales next year, as it continues to build out its mobile platform. "We knew that this is part of a bigger problem, which is the inequality that black people face," Quarles tells me, noting that he's helped some of the next generation of small-business owners to reinvest valuable savings into their bottom lines.

The conceit is similar to that of TONL, a stock photography company born from the Black Lives Matter movement, which expects to book $188,000 in revenue this year serving up imagery that represents black and brown people. And Muhga Eltigani, a Sudanese immigrant, recently launched NaturAll Club, a hair care subscription service for black women with frizzy or unruly tresses. Eltigani estimates her company's annual revenue should nearly double to $250,000 this year.

6. Life Improvement

Nope, that's not the title of a new reality television series on the Hallmark channel, it's a real and lucrative sector that young entrepreneurs are increasingly dominating, as the 30 Under 30 demonstrates. Indeed, the U.S. market for self-improvement eclipsed $9.9 billion in revenue last year, growing by more than 4 percent since 2011, according to Marketdata research

There's HelloAva, which creates personalized skin-care regimens. Taking a cut of online sales, the company generated $350,000 in 2017. Meanwhile, DotCom Therapy--a telehealth company that provides speech therapy, occupational therapy, and mental health services--booked more than $2 million last year, and is rapidly expanding to new markets around the world.

Finally, there's the Pasadena, California-based ReoLab, a cutting edge medical test kit startup, which has attracted $500,000 in funding. Founder Krisna Bhargava may have summed up his contemporaries' modern entrepreneurial ambitions best: "We want it to be stupid easy to use, like a Keurig machine for diagnostic tests." 

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Summary | 8 Annotations
6 Hottest Industries for Millennial Entrepreneurs
2018/08/22 00:58
Influencer marketing is indeed one of the hottest industries for launching a business in 2018,
2018/08/22 00:58
Entrepreneurs under 30 are increasingly creating products and services for social-media influencers, from email marketing to user engagement metrics and other software.
2018/08/22 00:58
Mixpanel, an analytics startup valued at nearly $1 billion, measures user engagement for mobile and Web apps.
2018/08/22 00:59
5. Power to the People
2018/08/22 00:59
Take Derrius Quarles, the co-founder and CTO of the Chicago and Brooklyn-based personal finance platform Breaux Capital. Since launching in 2016, his business has connected more than 1,000 men of color to its social network
2018/08/22 00:59
We knew that this is part of a bigger problem, which is the inequality that black people face,
2018/08/22 01:00
The conceit is similar to that of TONL, a stock photography company born from the Black Lives Matter movement, which expects to book $188,000 in revenue this year serving up imagery that represents black and brown people
2018/08/22 01:00