When it comes to career building, it’s easy to get lost in the pressures that come hand-in-hand with rising to the top. While it’s easy to imagine all entrepreneurs are borne of a mixture of privilege, luck and ruthlessness, that’s often far from the truth. It’s also easy to imagine that many had to wait till their 50s, or older, to find their success. Not so. These under-30s are breaking the business mould, and empowering social change in the process. Take note aspiring millionaires – there’s no set formula for empire building.
1. Mursal Hedayat
At the age of just twenty seven, Mural Hedayat is a Forbes-list contender for her altruistic creation, Chatterbox, an online language school for refugees.
Her business is born of distinctly personal experience; Hedayat understands firsthand the cultural hardships faced by refugees today. At three-years-old, Hedayat was forced to flee to the UK with her mother and sister to seek asylum from war-torn Afghanistan. Despite being a civil engineer and fluent linguist, Hedayat’s mother struggled to find employment, a reality for many well-qualified asylum seekers.
Fired up by her mother’s difficulty in finding work, Hedayat founded Chatterbox in hopes of assisting other talented refugees in need of employment. The platform serves as a tutoring service for skilled refugees, offering language tuition and cultural training packages. The ambition is that these refugees will then connect with other UK professionals to teach them their languages in return. With the business growing and backed by Bethnal Green Ventures and Nesta, Hedayat plans to expand into other parts of Europe.
Mursal’s tip: If you’re thinking about doing your own thing, Mursal recommends surrounding yourself with creative and inspiring people. Don’t retreat in on yourself – good ideas come from unexpected places.
2. Silas Adekunle
With his innovative robotics company that brings video game characters to life, this 27-year-old is one of the UK tech scene’s rising stars. It’s hard to believe, but before he moved from Nigeria to the UK in his young teens, Adekunle had never used a computer before. But, following his new-found passion for video games and immersion in the tech world, he quickly developed an entrepreneurial hunger for robotics.
During his time at university, the tech wiz taught kids at local schools as a side job while taking his first robotics class. After seeing how disengaged his students were, he began to think of a robotic platform that would educate, as well as entertain. In 2013, Adekunle founded Reach Robotics, an augmented reality gaming company, and shortly after released its first product, MekaMon, the world’s first gaming robot. Raising an impressive $10m of investments for the Bristol-based company, Adekunle signed a retail deal with Apple to sell its products online, as well as in stores around the UK and US.
Silas’s tip: As for the secret to his success, Silas says there’s no fixed way to start a business venture. Just force yourself outside your comfort zone and get stuck in – just remember to balance your time.
3. Michael Brennan
Childhood bullying remains a huge issue in the UK, 45 per cent of young people experience bullying before the age of 18. Michael Brennan was one such teenager; throughout his primary and secondary education in the UK, he was consistently bullied, a problem that eventually forced him to switch schools— something many students can relate to.
Now, aged 27, it’s still a issue close to his heart. In 2013, he founded a company called Tootoot with long-time friend, Kieran Innes. It’s an app designed to anonymously report bullying in all levels of schooling. It’s won several tech industry awards – and no wonder – it gives students a safe space to report a wide variety of incidents, and has helped to resolve over 10,000 bullying cases so far. Tootoot also provides a structured platform for administrators to manage incidents by gathering evidence and identifying key bullying trends. Brennan hopes to reach a million students by 2019, and has also launched a second version of the app to tackle harassment in the workplace.
Michael’s tip: ‘Be prepared to be challenged, and to fail. But perseverance will take you a long way, even when you’re told “no”.’