Whether they dropped out of college, spent hours holed up in their childhood bedroom, or quit their day jobs to take the risk, these young entrepreneurs were determined to take their ideas to the next level.
Some had the dream of taking down a powerhouse, while others had no idea just how big their idea would become. Regardless, these young innovators were able to recognize gaps in the market and their drive created products and websites we now use daily, paving the way for future entrepreneurs.
Here are wildly successful companies that were started by people in their 20s.
1. Steve Jobs was 21 and Steve Wozniak was 26 when they started working on Apple in Jobs’ parents’ garage
The pair founded Apple in 1976. The following year, Apple Computer Inc. was officially born, and Michael Scott was brought in to serve as president and CEO (Jobs was believed to be too young and inexperienced for the role).
Apple is now estimated to be worth $1 trillion.
2. David Karp, who founded Tumblr when he was just 21, would deepen his voice on phone calls to be taken more seriously
Tumblr, the micro-blogging and social-networking site, was founded by David Karp in 2007, when he was only 21. Karp, who worked out of his bedroom in his mother’s apartment, admitted he used a deep voice on phone calls and lied about his age when working with other adults.
Karp’s lies proved a success, as he is now worth more than $200 million, and he’s only 33.
3. Emily Weiss was waking up at 4 a.m. to work on her beauty blog before going to work at Vogue. Finally, she quit her day job and launched Glossier
At only 25, Emily Weiss launched “Into the Gloss,” a blog dedicated to women’s beauty. She would work on the blog between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. before going to work at Vogue.
At 29, Weiss quit her day job, raised $2 million in funding, hired a small team, and Glossier was born. It created minimalist products aimed at all ages and skin tones for relatively inexpensive prices.
The company is now valued at over $1.2 billion, and Weiss is only 34 years old.
4. A 23-year-old Richard Branson named his record label Virgin Records because he was so new to the business
At 20, Branson had earned enough money from his first record store to start Virgin Records in 1972. Named “virgin” because he was so new to the business, the label launched when he was 23 and went international when he was 30.
Virgin Records signed the Rolling Stones, the Sex Pistols, Peter Gabriel, and even Paula Abdul. Branson’s empire grew to include Virgin Atlantic in the 1980s.
According to Forbes, he is estimated to be worth $4 billion. He is now 69.
5. Stephanie Korey and Jennifer Rubio created Away in their late 20s after meeting at Warby Parker — another company started by 20-year-olds
Stephanie Korey and Jennifer Rubio, who met while working at Warby Parker, decided to start a luxury travel and lifestyle brand. Away makes “everything you need away,” according to its website. Starting from a simple suitcase, Away grew so popular that it expanded to organizers, bags, and accessories.
Back in May 2019, Forbes estimated co-founders Korey and Rubio were worth an estimated $130 million each. Korey is 31 and Rubio is 32.
6. Neil Blumenthal, David Gilboa, Jeffrey Raider, and Andrew Hunt launched Warby Parker while studying at the Wharton Business School
In 2008, while studying at Wharton School of Business, Neil Blumenthal emailed his three best friends in the middle of the night, asking why glasses aren’t available online.
The four friends immediately agreed to start designing an online eyewear company. Initial responses were not positive, as people had hesitations about buying glasses online before trying them on. So they decided to give customers the option of trying on five pairs of glasses at home before buying, which proved to be wildly successful.
Warby Parker officially launched in 2010, when its founders were all in their late 20s. Business took off immediately when, within days of the company’s launch, GQ called Warby Parker the “Netflix of eyewear.”
In 2018, Vox reported that Warby Parker was valued at $1.75 billion.
7. Michael Preysman was 25 when he started Everlane, a clothing company known for its commitment to transparency and sustainability
At only 25, Michael Preysman co-founded Everlane, a direct-to-consumer clothing company dedicated to “radical transparency” and sustainability.
Preysman started Everlane in 2010 while living in San Francisco. On its website, the company listed exactly how much each item cost to make, what a fast-fashion company would charge for it, and how much Everlane is choosing to charge.
In 2016, Everlane hit $100 million in revenue, and its popularity has skyrocketed in the last year or so.
8. Tyler Haney was only a few years out of college when she created Outdoor Voices and took full advantage of the newly popular e-commerce market
When Tyler Haney was 25, she decided to start an athletic-wear company with an aim to become the No. 1 athletic brand, overtaking Under Armour and Lululemon. Just a few years after launching in 2013, the company would raise over $50 million in venture funding, build an 80-person team, and open stores across the country.
9. The idea of Under Armour was born in Kevin Plank’s grandmother’s basement when he was only 24
On September 25, 1996, Kevin Plank founded Under Armour when he was just 24. Based out of his grandmother’s basement in Washington DC, Plank came up with a line of athletic team wear which he then drove up and down the East Coast in a bid to get the attention of anyone and everyone.
Plank was a fullback at the University of Maryland, and was inspired to make a moisture-wicking fabric that would mimic the compression shorts he wore while competing. After graduating, he gave a prototype to the Maryland team to test out, and it slowly reached the NFL as players were drafted.
Kevin Plank now has a net worth of about $1.9 billion dollars.
10. At 28, Pierre Omidyar launched an auction website that would become eBay
During the summer of 1995, Pierre Omidyar began writing code for a site called AuctionWeb, on which anyone online could auction their unwanted items.
The website was an instant hit, and he began charging users a small fee to list their products online and taking a small percentage of the final bid.
While the site was growing, Omidyar was still working at an internet phone venture that was backed by Apple. Nine months into eBay, he quit his day job and devoted his life to his new project. By 31, he was a billionaire.
Today, Omidyar is personally worth $13.3 billion, according to Forbes.
11. Daniel Ek was just 23 when he decided to create Spotify to fight against the music industry’s piracy problem
At only 23 years old, Swedish-born Daniel Ek co-founded Spotify, an on-demand media service. Ek’s co-founding partner, Martin Lorentzon, was in his late 30s at the time, and together, the duo sought to develop a new method to stream music.
The two wanted to create a service so good that no one would want to pirate their music anymore, and they succeeded. Their success was so great that rivals such as Apple Music were born in response.
Daniel Ek is worth $2.3 billion, according to Forbes. He is now 36.
12. Sara Blakely realized all hosiery products were being made by men, so she launched Spanx and took over the industry
Sara Blakely graduated from college and spent seven years selling fax machines door-to-door. In the thick Florida heat, she was in search of hosiery that she could wear with open-toe shoes, so she cut the feet off a pair of tights. Unfortunately, the tights rolled up her legs throughout the day.
At only 29 and with no background in business, Blakely decided to start cold calling hosiery mills, determined to create her own hosiery and shapewear. She soon realized the companies were run by men, revealing a gap in the market that she pounced on.
Before the influencer-marketing days, Blakely had the genius idea of sending her products to famous women, including Oprah. Oprah loved Spanx and listed them on her annual “Favorite Things” list.
Now Blakely has an estimated net worth of $1.1 billion dollars.