30 Under 30
Now in its sixth year honoring "the brightest young entrepreneurs, innovators, and game-changers" — and boasting an acceptance rate of less than 4 percent, statistically making the list "harder to get into than Harvard" — 30 Under 30 actually encompasses 600 finalists in 20 categories. Twenty-two of this year's recipients are Texas-based.
And half of those remarkable youngsters hail from Austin. From food titans to education reformers to the woman who's changing how we date, here are the Austin honorees that are gaining global attention.
Adam Lyons and Joshua Dziabiak: Consumer technology
Independently comparing car insurance can eat up your time and sanity, so these two lads are building a search engine to make the task easier. Called The Zebra, it will instantly compare insurance options from more than 200 companies. So far, $23 million in venture funding and a staff of 50 make The Zebra look likely to succeed — not bad when one of its founders, Lyons, dropped out of high school at age 15.
Whitney Wolfe: Consumer technology
Dating is hard and online dating can be creepy, so Tinder co-founder Wolfe decided to make it all less so with her app, Bumble. With 11 million registered users as of January 2017, it's safe to say that singles are digging the concept of women making the first move. But there's also Bumble BFF, which lets potential friends find each other based on compatible interests.
Blair Brettschneider: Education
While tutoring teenage refugees in Chicago, Brettschneider was inspired to start GirlForward, a nonprofit that five years on has provided mentorship, education, and leadership opportunities to 200 refugee girls. The U.S. Department of State chose her as one of two youth delegates to represent the U.S. at the UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris in 2011, and several other high-profile organizations have honored her and her efforts. Add Forbes to that list.
Charlie Upshaw: Energy
Getting a post-doc in energy studies from the University of Texas makes sense when you consider that Upshaw, the co-founder of IdeaSmiths, is interested in making your air conditioner run better. He created a home system that collects rainwater and cools it during the night, when power is cheap, to help reduce air conditioning loads during the day. As summer approaches, Texans everywhere will be saying, "Where can I get one?"
Miguel Garza: Food and drink
Garza says he believes everything is better together, and we believe everything is better with tortillas. The CEO of Siete Family Foods (run mainly by him and six of his family members) focuses on grain-free products so everyone can enjoy delicious Mexican food, regardless of their dietary restrictions. The company is part of the 2 percent of Latino-owned businesses doing $1 million-plus in revenue each year, and even more importantly, the tortillas are "abuela approved."
Dominik Stein: Food and drink
The South may not have been previously known for its European cuisine, but Stein, a native of Germany, is changing that with the success of his fast-casual restaurant Verts Mediterranean Grill. Originally known as Vertskebap, the build-it-yourself eatery has become so popular that its pitas and wraps have shown up in 36 locations around the country so far, 30 of those in Texas alone.
Alex Schwartz: Games
Virtual reality is poised to become the next tech must-have, and Schwartz's Owlchemy Labs is leading the way. Its award-winning game Job Simulator opened the door for its current project, a VR game based on the hit animated sitcom Rick and Morty.
Greg Glod: Law and policy
His official title at Texas Public Policy Foundation is a mouthful — manager of state initiatives and senior policy analyst — but Glod's mission is simple: advance federal criminal justice reform. He's already been integral in the passage of a historic bill that allows convicted low-level offenders the chance to seal their record, and now he's focusing on mandatory minimum penalties and reducing recidivism through programs offered to those already in prison.
Andy Bossley: Marketing and advertising
Not only does Bossley head up the worldwide marketing campaigns for tech giant IBM, he partners with other leaders such as Google to debut game-changing business technologies to the masses. Really puts stressing about your Instagram captions in perspective.
Griffin McElroy: Media
Not only does McElroy understand the value of videos, web series, and podcasts for his parent company, Vox Media, he produces some of the site's most-consumed content as a founding editor of Polygon, Vox's gaming brand. He also hosts four podcasts himself, including one which received over 3.5 million streams in November and is now being developed into a television show for streaming platform Seeso.
Movers and shakers from Houston and Dallas also populate the list, including LikeToKnowIt founder Amber Venz Box, Tree Town USA CEO Jonathan Saperstein, IntuiTap co-founder Jessica Traver, and four-time Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Simone Biles.