10 Millennials Inspiring Us to Hustle Even Harder



In recent years, we’ve seen Millennials become the largest generation in the workforce, changes in the way companies look at Millennials as customers, and predictions that one-fourth of the Millennial workforce will fill the managerial roles of retiring Baby Boomers in 2016.

One of the coolest parts about this Millennial revolution, though, is that as our generation starts to take over more and more of the working world, we become surrounded by peers who motivate us and inspire us to hustle even harder. Here, we’ve gathered 10 of our favorites. As entrepreneurs, bloggers, scientists, and all-around game changers, these Millennials are igniting our inner desire to hustlehustlehustle.

1. Payal Kadakia, co-founder and CEO of ClassPass

Have you ever felt like your passion for fitness was limited by the number of gym memberships you could, um, reasonably hold? Payal Kadakia totally gets that—and that’s why she created the nationwide sensation that is ClassPass. You know the drill: By purchasing a membership to ClassPass, you can sample any number of different fitness classes for just one monthly fee. It’s a genius concept, which is why today, ClassPass is valued at a whopping $40 million. Plus, Kadakia still gets to work as the artist director for her own dance company.

Kadakia on her advice for entrepreneurs: “The number one thing that matters is your product. When you build a good product, everything else works.”

2. Kiah Williams, cofounder and director of SIRUM

Growing up in West Philadelphia, Kiah Williams saw mothers forced to choose between paying for rent, groceries, and their blood pressure medication—and yet $5 billion worth of perfectly good meds are thrown out or incinerated every year. In hopes of combatting this huge disparity, Williams and her cofounders, Adam Kircher and George Wang, created SIRUM, a platform that matches unused and unexpired medication with those who need it most. Now that’s social entrepreneurship at its finest.

Fun fact: Williams and her team recently won a $1 million prize at the Forbes Change the World Competition in Philadelphia. We’re seeing big things in SIRUM’s future.

3. Alex Klein, co-founder and CEO of Kano

Alex Klein’s little cousin once told him that he wanted a computer he could build all by himself, just like he could build things out of Legos. By creating Kano, Klein made his cousin’s dream a reality. With a simple kit, kids ages 6 and up can assemble their own computer and then use it to code and interact with the Kano community. And, according to the company’s website, the Kano computers are a hit: Kids have used them to write over 12 million lines of code (and counting!) so far.

Fun fact: Got a kid who loves to code? If you order the Kano Complete package now, the Kano site guarantees you’ll get the Computer Kit by the end of January and the brand-new Screen Kit this March.

4. Vanessa Hong, blogger at The Haute Pursuit

In a world where fashion blogging has become a career of choice, a blogger has to go above and beyond to stand out from the rest. Vanessa Hong is doing just that: On her popular blog, The Haute Pursuit, Hong cultivates a one-of-a-kind minimalistic aesthetic that has led her to design her own clothing, form relationships with other up-and-coming designers, travel the world, and even garner 500,000-plus Instagram followers. Needless to say, we’re obsessed— The Haute Pursuit will be a must-read in 2016.

Double-tap this: The photos on The Haute Pursuit Instagram are totally stunning. Give Hong a follow, and then double-tap away.

5. Amy Odell, editor of Cosmopolitan.com

At a mere age 30, Amy Odell has written and published a fashion memoir and transformed Cosmopolitan.com into a place where women can find strong feminist voices, deets on the current political landscape and, of course, lots of juicy celebrity gossip. Her journey to the top of Cosmo’s digital chain of command wasn’t an easy one (Did you know she was fired from her first job after standing up to her boss?), but she’s living proof that hard work gets you places—and nearly doubles the readership of Cosmopolitan.com. #Goals

Odell on hustling: “I’m doing all this work now, and I sometimes think, When will this get easier? But I don’t think it gets easier. I think you end up with more work and more opportunities. Nothing is going to fall into your lap. Anything worth doing is a lot of work.”

6. Baldwin Cunningham, cofounder and CEO of Partnered

Maybe you have an awesome tech startup but aren’t sure where to look for big-brand customers for your product. Or maybe you’re part of the big brand but aren’t sure where to look for the new technology you know you need to survive. Enter Partnered, the Y Combinator-backed online platform that Baldwin Cunningham has built to connect startups with big brands (think L’Oreal, Disney, Nike, and Airbnb) with similar business interests. Here’s to a hustler helping other hustlers hustle, yes?

Fun fact: Cunningham once introduced himself to an investor during a shared cab ride and convinced him to back Partnered.

7. Philip Krim, cofounder and CEO of Casper

If you rode a New York City subway even once this past year, chances are you noticed a slew of pastel-colored illustrations covering the walls of your train car. Those eye-catching ads were for none other than Philip Krim’s online mattress company, Casper. Since raising more than $50 million for his startup, Krim and his team have seemingly revolutionized the sleeping industry—the company only makes one mattress (in different sizes, of course) that they guarantee will please all sleepers.

Krim on starting a business in NYC: “For startups, New York has the perfect combination of variables: educated people, human challenges to solve, investors, and more than 10 million consumers who are happy to provide valuable feedback.”

8. Danielle N. Lee, post-doctoral research associate at Cornell University

Did you know a rodent called the African giant pouched rat can be used to detect and clear landmines (aka save lives)? The rats are super easy to train and too light to set off the mines themselves, so they’re taught to detect TNT and alert trainers to landmine locations. Obviously, the little critters are way cool, but we still need to learn more about them—and that’s where Danielle N. Lee comes in. At Cornell, Lee studies the rats’ social structure, reproductive cycle, and more to find the most efficient ways to breed and deploy them. The hustle is so real.

Fun fact: Lee also writes a column for Scientific American called “The Urban Scientist.” Read it for her perspective on urban ecology, evolutionary biology, and diversity in science.

9. Abbi Jacobson, actor, producer, and writer

It’s no secret that Abbi Jacobson and her partner-in-crime, Ilana Glazer, made some serious dents in the comedy world this past year: The second season of their hit TV show Broad City made us ROFL, they guest-starred on comedy fave Inside Amy Schumer, and Jacobson even landed a role in the upcoming film Human People. But did you know Jacobson is also a kick-ass illustrator? Check out her Famous Favorites series for some serious art-spiration, and re-watch Broad City’s first two seasons to spot her work around the set.

Watch this: The third season of Broad City, which will premiere on Comedy Central this February.

10. Apoorva Mehta, founder and CEO of Instacart

Step one: Place an order for groceries online. Step two: Set up a delivery time and location. Step three: Pick up your groceries at your front door. These three, easy-peasy steps are the way of Instacart, Apoorva Mehta’s same-day grocery delivery service. The path to creating the app wasn’t an easy one (after leaving his job at Amazon, Mehta tried out somewhere between 20 and 25 business ideas before landing on this concept), but it was well worth the struggle—Instacart now services 18 major cities and continues to grow. #Winning

Mehta on failure: “(The failing of my company LegalReach) taught me that you shouldn’t start a company just to start a company. The reason should be to solve a problem that you truly care about.”

Ready to hustle?

It Starts With “Yes.”

Photo: Noam Galai / Getty Images. Original Article: Levo League.