COVID-19 catalyzed another recession, but these industry leaders pivoted and persevered.
What do companies like Microsoft, Apple, Netflix and Airbnb all have in common? Aside from billion-dollar valuations, these industry titans were all founded amid recessions, scaling to the pinnacle of success in the aftermath.
Spanning from 1975 with the conception of Microsoft during a 16-month recession that saw the gross domestic product value take its worst hit in nearly two decades to 2008 when Airbnb arose from the ashes of the subprime mortgage crisis, these examples prove that adversity does indeed breed innovation.
With the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 catalyzing yet another recession, in which more than 50 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance within mere months of its onset, it is no question that this is a time where great innovation is unfolding.
The 10 entrepreneurs listed below are at the forefront of driving this innovation and bringing about societal change. As they pivot and expand their business models to embrace the world we now live in, countless eyes are passionately watching to see how far they will leap as they overcome this period of adversity.
Here are the 10 to watch in 2021:
Sarah Beyahte Sandnes
Co-founder and chief technology officer, SafetyWing
With a background in software engineering from multiple startups around the world, Sarah Sandnes co-founded SafetyWing as CTO in 2017 — providing a critical solution for the emerging global workforce.
Since launching during a Y Combinator startup-investor event in 2018, SafetyWing has grown exponentially and is now one of the go-to global insurance offering for digital nomads and remote teams.
The founder is at the forefront of redefining global insurance coverage, and we can’t wait to watch Sandnes’ drive and passion continue to rock an industry in need of change as we move through 2021.
Chief technology officer, Namaste Technologies
As CTO of Namaste Technologies, Chad Agate is an entrepreneur responsible for reshaping CBD and hemp products in Canada. Namaste Technologies offers not only premium products but premium education to help the growing CBD and hemp product community confidently make the right choices. With 20 years of experience building disruptive technology businesses, leading technical teams and turning ideas into realities, Agate is no stranger to the fundamentals that go into innovation and operations for successful startups.
Namaste has recently entered the U.S. market by way of cannmart.com, an e-commerce store, which caters to both Canadian and American consumers in offering an outstanding array of products from federally licensed cultivators.
CEO, Tryp Therapeutics
Greg McKee is the CEO behind Tryp Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company developing innovative new psychedelic therapies for chronic pain disorders, eating disorders and other neuropsychiatric disorders with a high unmet medical need. McKee has spent his career building and leading innovative biotech companies and has built a world-class team at Tryp that is on a mission to help people in need.
Tryp is disrupting the neuropsychiatric industry by offering non-opioid-based options for patients suffering from pain and other disorders. McKee and his team are positioning Tryp as a leader, and their clinical trials currently underway are ones to watch as this innovative new industry blossoms.
CEO and founder, Unstoppable Branding Agency
For those seeking to succeed in 2021, Rhonda Swan is the woman making that happen. The CEO and founder of Unstoppable Branding Agency runs her venture as one would expect: unstoppably. CEOs, speakers, authors and entrepreneurs are among the clients for whom Swan has achieved unstoppable success.
With nearly a decade of experience working as a public relations and marketing specialist for Fortune 100 companies and multimillion-dollar brands, Swan founded UBA as a platform to share her expertise. Since launching, UBA has been driving conversions, selling out launches and featuring clients in top-tier publications.
CEO and co-founder, InPower University
Rudi Riekstins is a highly sought-after international Master Mindset Coach, keynote speaker and co-founder of InPower University, offering digital mindset courses, one-on-one personal coaching and business consulting.
The world is changing, and people are demanding more from employers, which is why Riekstins is a proud disrupter of the old-business profits-before-people paradigm. Instead, he advocates for organizations to adopt a people-first strategy by creating meaningful connections and personal accountability through individual purpose.
People and companies who have worked with Riekstins have experienced exponential growth in profits, productivity and tenure.
We are excited to see the positive impact Riekstins brings to individuals and organizations in 2021.
CEO and founder, Growmotely
“COVID has really seen the remote workforce go from 2020 to 2030,” said Sarah Hawley, founder and CEO of Growmotely, a global remote-hiring mecca for companies and professionals alike looking to find the most aligned opportunities in today’s world. Having spent the past several years providing remote staffing solutions to businesses worldwide, Hawley has been anticipating the massive growth of the remote-work industry for a number of years, however, COVID-19 has accelerated this growth by what she believes to be a decade.
In predicting a need for reliable remote-hiring software in 2019, Hawley was strides ahead of her competitors when 2020 struck, and launched Growmotely within the early months of 2021.
CEO and founder, OhFresh Brands
Yousef Abuzuaiter is the entrepreneur bringing an end to food deserts in America. The founder and CEO of OhFresh Brands, a “better for you” beverage and snack manufacturer, importer and distributor, is responsibly sourcing nutritious and affordable products from all over the world. Following its launch in 2018, OhFresh has grown drastically in size, currently supplying products to resellers across the United States.
Born to an immigrant family, Abuzuaiter learned the tricks of the entrepreneurial trade from a young age through helping his family operate their convenience store. Today, Abuzuaiter and his brother, Michael, are applying what they’ve learned over the years to scale OhFresh brands, distributing their products across a variety of sales channels. As we progress into 2021, the brothers will no doubt be scaling operations to serve a growing number of Americans who are seeking healthier alternatives at an affordable value.
CEO and founder, Ingrid Arna Co.
Ingrid Arna is the million-dollar, online brand strategist guiding women toward prosperity through purpose. The powerhouse entrepreneur left her corporate New York City career to build her coaching empire, which has since turned into a multimillion-dollar operation. Backed by the belief that “making money online is an art, and more women need to master it,” Arna offers her followers a road map on how to earn a seven-figure (or more) income and create a global impact, all from the comfort of their computer.
With hundreds of testimonials attesting to the success of Arna’s programs, her actionable strategies effectively support women to build financial independence and create positive change in their lives.
CEO and founder, Life Intended
Known as a millionaire maker, Danelle Delgado is the genius behind thousands of success stories. Having begun at the bottom as a single mother of three working 90 hours a week, to running a multimillion-dollar empire, Delgado is highly capable of guiding life-changing transformations. The influential entrepreneur spent several years learning from the biggest names in the business, uncovering the secrets to wealth, success and fulfillment along the way.
Today, Delgado shares these secrets through training programs and elite retreats. Her programs offer clients the skills and knowledge required to level up their career, their income and their fulfillment.
CEO and co-founder, Farmz Asia
Recognized as Asia’s first juice guru, Mark Leong is the entrepreneur responsible for transforming the lives of thousands of individuals, who are picky eaters with weight and chronic health issues, within 23 days through his innovative Revival Method. As a microbiologist and certified practitioner in food science and nutrition, Leong leads a multimillion-dollar organization with the vision to be the gold standard in food safety and nutrition guidance for Asians through its research and by educating and empowering people to achieve sustainable, healthy lifestyles.
Founded in 2016, Farmz Asia is the first in Southeast Asia to provide food education with functions to support people with obesity, cancer, diabetes or other chronic diseases. Farmz Asia also is on a mission to disrupt the unhealthy food served to millions of children in schools.