A down economy won't stop these innovative minds.
Historically, in times of recession and hardship, ingenuity and creativity run rampant. Many of today's big brands were started in times of economic turmoil, including Procter & Gamble, General Motors, FedEx, The Jim Henson Company, General Electric, Microsoft, MTV, and Trader Joe's.
For the second year in a row, Inc. magazine has profiled what they consider to be the top college start-up companies. Combine a lagging job market with bountiful amounts of technology, add innovative young minds, and we just may have America's next great leaders and entrepreneurs.
A lot of these folks discovered a market need while in college, or even high school. Jason Shah created a free online service to help prepare low-income students for the SAT's. IneedAPencil is available for those who cannot afford some of the more expensive test preparation courses on the market today. The material infuses pop-culture and sports when possible to make studying a little more exciting. Ryan Dickerson created a pillow that transforms a dorm bed into a couch, and Troy Rhodes founded a college textbook rental website. Aside from tests, dorms, and books, what else is almost inevitable during those college years? The freshman fifteen! Brent Skoda decided to combat the weight woes of his peers by starting CollegeFitness.com. The site, which is now branching out into custom sites for various universities, provides get-fit tools like workout videos, meal planners and weight-loss trackers. It is also a social networking site where over 12,000 members have already joined the community.
Not everyone on the list is focused on collegiate endeavors. Tech companies, such as EvoApp, developed by Joey Davey, are also prominent. He created a web-based organizational application which allows entrepreneurs to keep their project, contact, calendar, and file management in one place. Curtis Funk started a funeral recording service after being touched by an audio recording of his grandmother's funeral. Alfonso Olvera launched a web-tracking system, RailTronix, for rail shippers. While his market now consists of oil shippers, he is planning to expand to grain shippers next.
Lifestyle ventures are supreme entrepreneurial territory, as well. Cookies are the name of the game for Chrissie Harsh. Through Chrissie's Cookies, she sells her sweet treats mostly to fellow college students or for special order online. Yearly, Chrissy donates 700 cookies to charitable organizations. While Chrissie wants to feed everyone, Whitney Williams want to make them look good. She started designing jewelry at trunk shows, and now sells online. However, she doesn't plan on stopping there. She will soon begin manufacturing her goods through a factory and has already been approached by a major department store. Williams hopes to eventually expand her line into a full-blown lifestyle brand including clothes and shoes, as well as jewelry. She, too, gives to charitable causes by donating a percentage of her profits to a different organization each year.