Upstart Entrepreneurs Who Might Change the World

Last Updated Jun 27, 2011 12:13 PM EDT

Every young entrepreneur wants to change the world these days, and I'm continuously blown away by how many of them appear to be doing just that. Today, Inc.com launched its annual 30 Under 30 Coolest Entrepreneurs list (full disclosure: I'm a member of the editorial team that compiles the list), and there are several entrepreneurs on it who stand out to me as people whose entrepreneurial missions are making the world a better place. Among them are:
  • Jennifer Schnidman Medbery (Drop the Chalk). Schnidman Medbery (pictured) is a former Teach for America Volunteer and New Orleans charter school math teacher. When she realized that current systems of tracking and analyzing student performance and behavior were inadequate, she developed a software called Kickboard to address the problem. The cloud-based software allows teachers to make and compare notes on students so that learning and discipline issues are discovered and addressed quickly. Kickboard is now used in 15 New Orleans schools and will be rolled out nationwide.
  • Gianna Driver (Gianna Fair Trade). Driver, the daughter of a Philippina mail order bride and an abusive father, spent part of her childhood in a women's shelter with her mom. She grew up to attend The Wharton School on full scholarship and to start a company that helps impoverished women worldwide gain economic independence. Women in urban slums and poor villages make the home and personal accessories sold on Gianna Fair Trade, and a percentage of the purchase price goes back to them. Driver also provides them with training, education and loans for equipment such as sewing machines.
  • David Gorodyansky and Eugene Malobrodsky (AnchorFree). These two young entrepreneurs developed software called Hotspot Shield to make Facebook and email every bit as secure as online banking. To their surprise, the software was downloaded repeatedly in Egypt during the recent revolution by protestors who used it to circumvent government censorship. So when the government shut down access to Twitter, protestors were still able to access the social networking site using Hotspot Shield. Now nine million people use the software to view two billion Web pages every month.
  • Ankur Jain (Kairos Society). Jain, who just graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, wanted to assemble the world's most entrepreneurial college students and encourage them to start businesses that address major world issues such as alternative energy, education, and healthcare. So he started Kairos Society, a not-for-profit organization that now has close to 700 members and that sponsors conferences that bring student entrepreneurs together with mentors. Among Kairos' student members is another 30 Under 30 honoree, Daniel Gomez Iñiguez, a co-founder of Solben, a biodiesel fuel company in Monterrey, Mexico.
You can check out the full 30 Under 30 Coolest Entrepreneurs List here. Who do you think is most likely to change the world?

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  • Donna Fenn

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