Evan Burns Works With Community Thought Leaders

Evan Burns knows that thought is powerful. He is, after all, the founder and chief executive officer of Olympia Media Group, an innovative content and marketing company that operates The Odyssey; he established it in 2009. Community thought leaders use The Odyssey, a proprietary technology, to develop, refine and share their content across several platforms including print, web and mobile across the United States.

While the crowd-sourced content is published through these digital and traditional platforms, community leaders are assured that it is localized for the local audience. This means a greater reach and influence for their content and, hence, a great impact on society. The Odyssey now works with over 1,000 clients from regional to local businesses, including Fortune 500 brands.

Burns has steered the Olympic Media Group and The Odyssey to become the largest college media company in the U.S. His company now has 20 to 50 content creators in each community in approximately 400 universities. His clients now include big names in the industry including Red Bull Media House and Procter & Gamble.

Burns has a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Economics (2006-2010) from the Indiana University Bloomington.

Corey Capasso Brings Web Analytics to Traditional Venues

Corey Capasso just cannot seem to keep still judging by the number of companies he has established and the number of awards that have come his way. His latest venture – Nomi, which he co-founded in September 2012 and leads as president now – is his most successful so far.

Nomi provides major retailers with effective, efficient and responsive access to web analytics as their online counterparts. In 2013, it secured $13 million in funding from several investors including First Round Capital, Greycroft Partners, and Accel Partners. Its clients are giants in their industries, such as Dallas Cowboys, Barney’s and Giant Eagle.

Capasso has many other achievements to his name. He is a board member of the WAVE Advisory Board of the University of Wisconsin Madison (October 2102-present). He was the co-founder and president of Spinback, a company that allows e-commerce brands effective sharing across several networks to drive conversions, sales and ROI (March 2010-August 2012); it was acquired first by Buddy Media and then by Salesforce.com.

He is also the co-founder of MoGo Sport, a company that made mouthguards not only safer to use but tastier in the mouth, too. His idea for MoGo Sport came from his Add the Flavor’s flavored plastic technology; he established Add the Flavor in February 2006 and was its chairman until December 2010. He is also the co-founder of Exchangehut (2005-2008), which was acquired by CDI America and which was a trading platform for tickets among college students.

Capasso also holds a patent for filtration agents and the methods for their use, which he filed in February 2010. His invention relates to the effective removal of air stream contaminants.

He has a degree in Business Administration, Risk Management Insurance and Entrepreneurship from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business (2006-2009). He has also been awarded as one of BusinessWeek America’s Best Young Entrepreneurs.

Erik Eliason and Tristan Pollock: Creating the Airbnb of Stores

Erik Eliason and Tristan Pollock, co-founders of Storefront, have a solid vision of their company – to be the Airbnb retail. The duo established the Storefront marketplace to bridge the divide between the online-only retailers who want to establish a physical presence and the brokers and landlords with empty floor spaces. Basically, the duo’s customers want extra foot traffic for their businesses, which can be achieved via short-term retail spaces (e.g., pop-up shops).

Eliason and Pollock, both of whom moved from the Midwest to San Francisco, are not novices to business. Their first co-venture was Social Earth, a social network and community for eco-conscious young professionals. Storefront, however, is their most successful venture to date with its $1.6 million in seed funding and with over a hundred brands assisted in making their physical presence felt by their target consumers.

The Storefront co-founders are setting their sights on a New York expansion. The duo is also thinking of making the services more personal in terms of addressing the client’s specific needs in a storefront.

Claire Distenfeld: A Success Story With Fivestory

Claire Distenfeld has cleverly combined her skilled eye for modern art objects with her business savvy via Fivestory, a company dedicated to selling a wide range of wares. At her flagship Madison Avenue boutique, she skilfully and artfully curates off-beat pieces of jewelry from under-the-radar designers, designer shoes for men, women, and children, and personal accessories including bags, among others.

Distenfeld, who has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the New York University and a master’s degree in contemporary art from Sotheby’s Institute of Art, first worked as an intern for Sante D’Orazio and as an employee in a Chinatown-based art gallery. In late 2012, she started her online business via Instagram, which turned out to be an instant success.

And thus was born Fivestory, which now occupies two floors in a traditional brownstone. Distenfeld plays an active role in her business with her functions including procurement management, sales analytics, and public relations and business development, as well as customer relations. She has been and continues to be successful at cementing Fivestory’s reputation as New York’s emerging fashion hotspot that offers extraordinary items for the discerning fashionista.

Distenfeld makes it a point to curate under-the-radar designers like Palmer Harding, Josh Goot, and Vika Gazinskaya in her boutique. Her unerring taste in modern art coupled with her education is certainly instrumental in her savvy choices of designers, which her customers lap up judging from her impressive sales.

Her products include an eclectic mix of baby clothing, designer wear, and jewelry in an artful space designed by Ryan Korban, the famous interior design guru. Shoe lovers just love the special mezzanine area designed as a shoe garden.

Like many fashion entrepreneurs, Distenfeld has tapped into her support network to launch her business. She co-founded Fivestory with her father, Fred, who now oversees the boutique’s business end.

Ted Gonder Promotes Financial Education for the Youth

Ted Gonder has his hands – and his curriculum vitae – full but he still has time for his passion. His intelligent mind coupled with his personal charisma and physical energy has contributed to his early success as the youngest member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans. He works alongside titans of the public and private sectors at just 24 years old.

He is also known as the co-founder and chief executive officer of Moneythink, a non-profit student movement dedicated to expanding the economic opportunities available for urban youth. The organization achieves its goal via financial education and peer mentorship programs provided by trained college students who are places in urban high school classrooms for this purpose.

Gonder also has other notable achievements to his name. He previously served as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; as a researcher and author with the Kauffman Foundation on transnational entrepreneurship initiatives; and as a social entrepreneur via several climate change-related student initiatives, among others.

Deepa Gandhi Figures Out the Best Way to Carry Things

Deepa Gandhi was just like any college student with her hands full, literally, of the various items that a college student requires including a laptop, notebooks, and books. And an idea was born – to make fashionable and functional handbags that can accommodate the various odds and ends a woman must carry around.

As co-founder and chief problem solver of Dagne Dover, a handbag company, Gandhi cleverly uses her obsession with beautiful yet functional design in her business. With her analytical mind and fashion acumen, she designs fashionable and functional handbags that provide women ample room to strut their stuff and carry their stuff, too. She has a passion for retail that makes the handbags not only saleable in the market but collectible, too, for the women who purchase them.

Gandhi describes the Dagne Dover handbags as a combination of the best things in handbags – the modern functionality of Tumi bags combined with the classic craftsmanship and superior design of luxury brands, such as Prada. When such attention to fashion and function is combined with a great business model patterned after Warby Parker, the result is the first fashion plus function lifestyle brand for handbags.

She plays crucial roles in the success of Dagne Dover. Gandhi manages the company’s day-to-day operations including customer experience and investor relations, product development and marketing, and supply chain management, among others. She is even in charge of website development and events planning.

Gandhi is not a newbie in the fashion industry, thus, her retail acumen. She honed her retail experience at Club Monaco in her jobs as senior merchandise planner for women’s apparel and as associate merchandise planner for women’s and men’s apparel. She was also an equity sales trader and analyst at Lehman Brothers.

In the future, Gandhi wants to be on the board of a non-profit organization but for now, she wants to focus on Dagne Dover. Empowered women, after all, can take on many roles in the same way that their bags can carry so many things.

Alex Banayan: The World’s Youngest Venture Capitalist

Entrepreneurs get their start at a very young age these days. Many of today’s successful company founders and CEOs have been known to set up their companies from their college dorm rooms, while some had their first taste of starting and running their own business while they were still in high school.

Venture capitalists, on the other hand, are usually older and more experienced. Most of them have been around the block more than once as entrepreneurs themselves, giving them a great outlook on what the next big thing in the startup world is. This is why it comes as a surprise that Alsop Louie Partners, a venture capital firm based in San Francisco would hire, then 19-year-old, Alex Banayan to be one of their venture associates in 2012. Now 22, Banayan does what every other venture capitalist does – and he does it well.

Banayan is also the youngest author to ever get a book deal with the Crown Publishing Group and is scheduled to release his first book on business sometime in 2015.

Sam Altman: Leading the Next Generation of Startups

It’s not uncommon for successful entrepreneurs to give back and become venture capitalists themselves. One of the newest additions to this roster of entrepreneurs turned investors is Sam Altman. As the new president of Y Combinator, the well-known start up incubator and seed stage start up accelerator, Altman is now sharing not just the all-important funding start ups need, but his knowledge and experiences as a company founder as well.

Altman graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Computer Science. During his stay at the university, he also did some work at the school’s AI lab. His first foray into entrepreneurship was in 2005 when he co-founded the location-based social media app Loopt. The company was part of the first batch of Y Combinator graduates and was launched as one of the first few apps available on the iPhone’s App Store. Altman even got a chance to present the app alongside Steve Jobs onstage at the 2008 WWDC. Loopt was eventually sold to Green Dot Corporation in 2012. Under the new ownership, Altman still stayed with the company as its CTO, but is now on the company’s board of directors.

Sam Altman’s career as a venture capitalist began when he co-founded Hydrazine Capital with Jack Altman. He also became a part-time partner at Y Combinator in 2011. When the start up incubator’s co-founder Paul Graham decided to hand over the reins to someone new, Altman was handpicked for the job. His success as both an entrepreneur and a venture capitalist has not escaped the watchful eye of tech and business media outlets like Forbes which named him one of 2015’s 30 Under 30 in Venture Capital. In 2008, he was also recognized by BusinessWeek as one of the Best Young Entrepreneurs that year for his work with Loopt.

Chiara Ferragni: Fashion Blogger Turned Entrepreneur

Born on the 7th of May 1987 in Cremona, Italy, 27-year-old Chiara Ferragni is a fashion blogger, shoe designer, model, and entrepreneur. Her career began in 2009 when she launched her fashion blog called The Blonde Salad. As a fashion blogger, she practiced what she preached and was hailed as a breakout style star in 2011. Publications like Teen Vogue also took notice of her and named her as the Blogger of the Moment in December of the same year.

She became a model/spokesperson for the iconic brand Guess in 2013 and appeared in one of the company’s ad campaigns. She also began designing shoes and collaborated with several of the biggest names in shoes and fashion accessories like Steve Madden, Louis Vuitton, Max Mara, and Christian Dior just to name a few. Another big achievement for Ferragni was to become the first blogger to appear on the cover of Vogue Magazine anywhere in the world when she was chosen to grace the cover of Vogue Espana’s April 2015 issue.

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh: Self Expression Inside and Outside of the Gallery

Artists express more than just their emotions and their creativity through what they create. Many artists use their skills and innate talent to take a stand or to make a statement that people would make people stop and listen to what they have to say. Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is one such artist.

Fazlalizadeh is best known for her street art and the messages she tries to convey with them. In 2012, she began a street art campaign called Stop Telling Women to Smile. This campaign aims to stop sexual harassment of women on the streets. She interviewed a number of women who have experienced being sexually harassed on the streets. From what she gathered from these interviews, she created posters featuring a portrait of a different woman in each of the posters. In some cases, the images are painted directly on the walls. Along with the portrait comes a caption which reflects how these women reacted to the harassment they’ve experienced. These captions come in the form of statements like “Harassing women doesn’t prove your masculinity” or “Women are not outside for your entertainment”. She began the campaign in Brooklyn, New York and was able to raise enough moral and financial support for the project to be able to display these images in other cities all over the United States.

Aside from her anti-sexual harassment campaigns, Fazlalizadeh also uses her art to raise awareness about other issues such as the Get Angry campaign that depicts people standing up for what they believe in. The choice of subject for this particular series of artworks does not reflect her own personal beliefs, rather it is a tribute to the courage of these people to fight for change. She also created some pieces which featured President Barack Obama. These pieces were included in a book edited by artist Shepard Fairey which is called Art For Obama: Designing Manifest Hope and the Campaign for Change.