11 entrepreneurs of the year who put the bar high

May 28, 2021

Entrepreneurs of the year who helped humanity thrive

Every year we are curious to see who are the entrepreneurs that stole the spotlight and made a remarkable difference in the past 365 days. But this time is a little different. This last year was challenging in many ways, so the criteria for who’s going to make it on the entrepreneurs of the year list also changed to reflect the events.

11 entrepreneurs of the year proving that success has no limits

Some of the names on the list are practically old news who still find ways to remain in the spotlight. Others emerged from anonymity and made the headlines for all the right reasons. In both cases, they are inspirational.

Ladies and gentlemen, we present you the entrepreneurs of the year.

Jessica Alba

The bombshell looks and acting skills made Jessica Alba one of the most popular actresses during the 00s. However, it’s her entrepreneurial mind that made her one of the most respected business role models in the last 10 years. So why is she on the entrepreneurs of the year list?

She co-founded The Honest Company in 2013 – focusing on democratizing clean living – grew its value to more than 1 billion dollars by 2017, fought off reputation-damaging lawsuits, and a couple of scandals. Finally, in April 2021, The Honest Company went public and started trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange market, raising over $400 million dollars.

Alba is the face of the company and the board knows that, so they signed a hefty salary deal with her: $700,000 base salary beginning in 2022, an annual cash bonus worth up to $500,000, and annual restricted stock units valued at $1.5 million, rising to $3 million in 2024.

Elon Musk

A familiar face, but totally deserving to be on the entrepreneurs of the year list again, Elon Musk is the modern-day tech Einstein. Blame it on his eccentricity, but he’s been a hot topic this year – whether for naming his daughter X Æ A-12, revealing he has Asperger’s while hosting SNL, twitting confidential information, and angering the US authorities, or buying $1.4 billion in bitcoin.

But although this is all spicy newsworthy for the tabloids, the reason he’s made it on the list is because of the revolution his company SpaceX is making. Did you know that now about two-thirds of all NASA launches are handled by SpaceX?

Moreover, after the first successful Starship SN5’s test flight in August 2020, his engineers are continuing to further develop the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed. With each day, SpaceX is getting closer to achieving its ambition to colonize Mars and carry the next humans on the Moon.

And as if that’s not enough, his satellite internet constellation, Starlink, has over 500,000 orders by consumers and announced agreements with Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure to provide on-ground compute and networking services for Starlink.

Jeff Bezos

Like him or not, Jeff Bezos knows how to make money. Although the latest reports suggest that he’s now sharing the richest-man-on-the-planet spot with Bernard Arnault, the last 365 days have been quite remarkable for Amazon’s founder.

With the peak of eCommerce during the pandemic, his wealth hit history record highs – three times! Other than that, he made headlines for spending half a billion on a superyacht (whatever that is).

To be honest, the only reason he’s on this list is because of his wealth. He’s never been much beloved by the public, and especially after the most costly divorce in history, his reputation went downhill. Even his pledge to donate $10 billion to combat climate change hasn’t cleaned up his dirt. 

So if you take a closer look, all he did this past year was profiting on other people’s misery. That’s it.

Bill Gates

Another unpopular character among the entrepreneurs of the year. For some reason, Bill Gates became the voice and face of Covid-19 and that prompted people to come up with the craziest conspiracy theories. And the divorce announcement with his wife Melinda surely aided the crumbling of his reputation.

Nevertheless, the total investment of Gates Foundation for COVID-19 reached $1.75 billion, and this is enough to secure him a place on this list. Their focus was on the underprivileged nations, and countries where the governments failed to respond appropriately to protect their people from the pandemic.

Paul Davison and Rohan Seth

If you haven’t heard about Clubhouse, you must be living under a rock. It’s been one of the most talked-about apps recently. So naturally, their founders Paul Davison and Rohan Seth ended up as one of the best entrepreneurs of the year. 

They developed the Clubhouse app in less than six months and attracted the likes of Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, and other big personalities who increased the app’s following despite being available only on iOS.

Clubhouse is rapidly changing the way we network or build community by allowing members to join or host audio conversations. By creating a casual and inclusive space for interactive discussions by putting you in the same room with interesting and inspiring people, Paul and Rohan have disarranged social media. Their creativity to launch a new app based on talking not tech is a brilliant reminder that simplicity and connection are always in style!

Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci

BioNTech was a little-known start-up before COVID-19. The founders were Turkish immigrants who came to Germany and focused mainly on cancer treatments. Until the pandemic, they had never brought a product to the market. 

But all of that changed when they teamed up with Pfizer and they used messenger RNA technology to rapidly develop a vaccine for COVID-19, which has shown to be 95% effective.

Although they started small, obviously their business minds know to spot a huge opportunity. This grants them a spot on the list of entrepreneurs of the year. Last but not least, Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci are perfect example that immigrants and ethnic minorities could be extremely successful if given the right opportunity.

Eric Yuan

The past year has definitely been tough for entrepreneurs, even for those who look like they have all figured it out. But many still managed to thrive even in such trying times. Speaking of which, one of the entrepreneurs of the year is Zoom CEO, Eric Yuan. 

Due to his empathy, he made it on GlassDoor’s list of highly-rated CEOs by their employees for their leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to that, he turned Zoom into a social-distancing mascot that gave people the means to stay connected despite being isolated. Many other similar apps tried to use the momentum, yet they were unable to reach the popularity to which Zoom had risen.

William James Adams a.k.a. will.i.am

One of the more unconventional choices, but undoubtedly one of the entrepreneurs of the year is William James Adams or more commonly known as will.i.am. He rose to fame through Black Eyed Peas but he found ways to stay relevant even after the group lost its glow. Just last year he proved that he is one of those entrepreneurs who adapt to whatever life throws at them, and have an open mind to find creative solutions. 

Xupermask designed by will.I.am is a smart innovative mask that has HEPA filters to protect you from air pollution, Bluetooth headphones, and LED lights that glow in the dark. It looks like it’s coming straight out of a fiction movie yet it somehow hints our future even after the pandemic ends.

Whitney Wolfe

Relying on her own traumatic experience in Tinder as a co-founder, she single-handedly founded Bumble and wrote a history becoming the youngest self-made woman billionaire. Being a female entrepreneur in the male-dominated world of technology entails a great deal of responsibility, as you are continually pressured to prove yourself in ways that men are not. 

After being listed on NASDAQ in February 2021, the feminist dating app was valued at $13 billion. It has more than 100 million users worldwide. The app set new standards for competitors by allowing only women to approach first in heterosexual matches. During the pandemic, they noticed an 84% increase in video calls among users.

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