The 2012 class of our annual America's Coolest College Start-ups are fresh, innovative, founded with a social mission, and may very-well be the next Google or Facebook.
Tomorrow's big business may be today's dorm room invention. From a personalized electric motor bike to pop-up medical clinics to the latest in QR code technology, the 2012 class of our annual college start-ups were founded on the mission to give back to the world’s communities, be on the cutting-edge of innovation, and have fun while doing it.
Teague Egan, hailing from the University of Southern California, founded 1st Round in 2009 with Zack Johnson, Sterling Brewster and Riley Egan. Tailoring themselves as an entertainment company, 1st Round plans to become a game changer in sports, music and film—already bringing an artist to the coveted No. 1 spot on iTunes.
Will Curran launched Arizona Pro DJs out of a pure passion for music and entertaining. He started deejaying in 2007 when he was still in high school. Now the Arizona State University senior is the CEO and president of the 24-employee company, which caters to teen events and takes care of every aspect from the lights, to security, marketing, and—of course—the music. The business brought in $116,000 in 2011.
When Douglas Hanna, a junior at Duke University, isn’t in class, he’s hard at work as the CEO of A Small Orange LLC. The Web hosting business supports about half a million websites and has a strong focus on customer service. The company’s business plan is to buy Web hosting companies that aren’t reaching their full potential, improve them, grow them, and then either keep or sell the business.
University of Tampa senior Nick Chmura turned his personal quest to be a better gift-giver into a profitable business with BetterBoo, a web-based application that uses Facebook and Amazon to help users find and buy gifts. Launched in 2011, the start-up has gotten $40,000 in seed funding.
Kenny Nguyen founded Big Fish Presentations in 2011, inspired by the very thing his business works to prevent—a boring presentation. He started with less than a thousand dollars from a paycheck and his father. One year later the design firm, which tackles everything from putting a presentation together to presentation strategy workshops, has brought in $75,000 in revenue. Nguyen is a junior at Louisiana State University.
Deejaying since he was 12 years old, Ketan Rahangdale partnered up with tech-savvy Jaiyu Ni to launch EarTop Technologies in 2011, to bring wireless technologies into the daily lives of consumers. Creating wireless adapters and self-sustained wireless devices, EarTop strives to make wires obsolete and has projected 2012 revenue of $1.2 million.
Gabrielle Palermo, along with fellow Arizona State University students James Tyler, John Walters, and Susanna Young, are the co-founders of G3Box, a company that designs low-cost, modular, and mobile medical clinics made from recycled shipping containers. Launched about a year ago, the company’s mission is to provide places for healthcare in rural areas both in the U.S and Africa.
After countless trips to the Apple store to repair his broken iPhone, AJ Forsythe decided to fix his phone himself, and subsequently launched iCracked, which has become one of the largest iPhone, iPod and iPad repair companies with over 120 locations worldwide. Founding the company in 2010 with Leslee Lambert and Anthony Martin, Forsythe has seen the iCracked grow into a large company with expected 2012 revenues of over $1 million.
Founded by Chapman University students Dylan Balsz and Tilden Smith in 2010, International Pet Solutions manufactures and sells original pet care products throughout the U.S. and South America. Their flagship product is PetLawn, an indoor outhouse for dogs. The company produces complementary products, including a pheromone used to help train dogs to use PetLawn.
In the social media craze, Patrick Ip, Sonia Chokshi and Kavya Shankar, saw more than a means to network and build on relationship. They saw an opportunity to make a social impact. Founded in 2011, Kip Solutions uses social media to further social causes throughout the world. With over 12 clients worldwide, Kip Solutions provides a platform for leaders to collaborate, increase their influence and gain new partners, ideas and investments.
Out to make the most comfortable business wear ever, Ministry of Supply blends technology and design to their business wear line. Founding Ministry of Supply in 2010, Kevin Rustagi, Gihan Amarasiriwardena, Eddie Obropta, Eric Khatchadourian, Kit Hickey and Aman Advanti set out to innovate the apparel industry by applying their MIT educations to clothing—revolutionizing dress shirts and undershirts.
Pulse Motors is a start-up launched in 2011 that designs and produces a two-wheeled electric vehicle called the Personal Electric Vehicle Zero, or PEV0 (pronounced pee-voh). The PEV0 is essentially an efficient electric motor bike. It can drive over 100 miles on just $0.25 of electricity (about 30 times more than a Toyota Prius). The bike also charges from any standard 110 volt outlet with its onboard charger, making it extremely convenient for the end-user.
Ryan Morris founded Salute the Brave in May 2011, determined to give back to the men and women fighting overseas—designing a clothing line purposed to do just that. For every Salute the Brave product sold, one is donated overseas to a U.S. military member in a care package as a morale booster for the troops. Currently a senior at the University of Southern California, Morris has seen $30,000 in revenue since its launch.
Scan, founded in 2011, utilizes and creates technologies like QR codes and NFC image recognition to connect individuals and businesses in the real world to the digital space. Since the release of the Scan app less than a year ago, by Brigham Young University students Garrett Gee, Ben Turley, and Kirk Ouimet, it has received more than 10 million downloads in the App Store and Android Marketplace and is currently being used in more than 77 countries. The company received $1.7 million in seed funding in late February.
In 2007, David Rajewski launched Stoked Skateboards, an online retail store that specializes in high performance longboard skateboards. The site allows customers to customize the their skateboards, down to the precise color, design, and size they desire.
Daniel Brusilovsky founded Teens in Tech Labs in 2008 when he was only 15 years old. The business is focused on providing young entrepreneurs with education and support. The three-employee company accomplishes this through their conferences and incubators on the West Coast. The company also has a blog, social network (Teens in Tech Connect), and corporate sponsors like Microsoft. Brusilovsky is currently a sophomore at the College of San Mateo.
Situated in the heart of the Yale University campus in New Haven, Conn., The Little Salad Shop was founded by Jerry Choinski and Etkin Tekin last fall as healthy eating alternative for students and New Haven residents alike. The restaurant sells fresh, affordable salads and smoothies. They hope to open new Connecticut locations this year.
TrueRSVP keeps track of users' attendance at events over time: The company’s algorithm interprets how many times the users RSVP to an event, versus how many times they actually attend. The company then establishes each user a "flake rating," which can gauge the likeliness of them showing up.
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