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Disruptive Entrepreneurs

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The editors at Computer Science Degree Hub decided to research the topic of:

Disruptive Entrepreneurs

Making it big is about being a disruptive force in your industry. It's about being a game changer. Here are the most disruptive founders of 2013.

Disrupting Prom

Rent the Runway, $55.4 million in venture capital
Founded 2009, Based in NYC
Problem: Never wanting to wear the same thing twice.
Previous solution: Buying dress. Wearing dress. Returning dress to store.(Or being stuck with dress.)
--Jennifer Hyman, 32, Attended Harvard Business School then worked as a manager for IMG, Starwood Hotels, and the Wedding Channel. Started Rent the Runway with her business school classmate in 2009. Named a top 40 under 40 by Fortune.[3]
--and Jennifer fleiss, 29, Attended Yale then Harvard Business School. Previously worked for Morgan Stanley and Lehmen Brothers, and founded an online college tutoring company. Co-founded Rent The Runway with her Harvard classmate in 2009. She lives with her husband Andrew, and daughter Daniella. Named a top 40 under 40 and one of "America's coolest young entrepreneurs."[2]
Description: Employing one of the largest dry cleaning operations in the country, these Jennifers offer the latest designer fashions for rent. Disrupting the basic retail process of "buying" clothes, as well as the long-time practice of buying, wearing, then returning dresses to brick and morter stores.
New solution: Renting dress. [replaces all stages of previous process]
99 dresses
Founded 2010, Sydney
--Nikki Durkin, 20, Attended an all girls boarding school in Sydney, where trading clothes was the norm. Her new business, released at Y Combinator, allows women to upload and trade clothes for virtual currency. Women in their early twenties, particularly college girls are the target audience.[4]
Description: 99 Dresses allows users to trade clothes for virtual currency that can then be used to purchase other women's clothes.
Problem: Never wanting to wear the same thing twice.
New solution: Buying dress. Wearing dress. Trading dress.

Disrupting Gifts

Problem: wanting quick, easy, and thoughtful gifts.
Previous solution:Gift cards = quick, easy, available everywhere
Wantful:$5.5 million in venture capital
Founded 2011, Based in NYC and SF
--John Poisson, a leader in the design field with nearly 20 years experience with the likes of Sony's mobile media and design team, Meteor studios, a Canadian visual effects studio he founded, Shutterfly and Tiny Studios. Poisson earned a degree in cinematography from Boston University, at which he has ocassionally taught since.
Description: Wantful avoids the rote commodification of gift giving, providing users with custom high quality and unique gift lists based on their budget and interests of the giftees.
New Solution: quick easy, customizable, curated, and high quality gifts.

Disrupting payment system

Gumroad: $8.1 million in venture capital
Founded 2011, based in SF
--Sahil Lavingia has been on the founding teams of three companies, and he's only 20. It's simple for Sahil, who says he "designs and builds products for fun and profit."
Description: Sell whatever you have created like you share it. Name your price, gather insight, build your audience.
Problem: Creators need business know how.
Previous solution: Use generic ad-platforms, e-commerce, and marketplace solutions (not tailored to creative endeavors).
New solution: Sell as you share your product, get feedback, fair pricing for creative endeavors.

Disrupting Meta

Problem: Early stage startups= small and hard to track. Creating problems for job-seekers, potential customers, and backers.
Previous Solution: None.
Founded 2012, SF
--Nick O'Neill, a serial entrepreneur who has build a social network, a textbook search engine, and a blog attracting 1.4 million unique monthly views.
--Natasha Murashev, a Ukrainian born ex-FBI agent and Google employee who got into Ruby to cahnge the world through entrepreneurship.
Description: Provide an engine for data and analysis of up and coming startups. A field only expected to grow for the foreseeable future.
New Solution: Provide an early stage startup dashboard, highlight trending startups.

Disrupting the Internet of things

Ninja Blocks: $1 million in venture capital
Founded 2012, based in Sydney
Marcus Schappi, Mark Wotton, Madeleine Schappi
Description: Ninja Blocks come with heat, light, touch, movement, and energy use sensors. Upload triggers to the cloud to link up internet connected appliances in your home.
Problem: Development in the internet of things isn't for the layman.
New Solution:Interface that takes care of the technical challanges, leaving users to create.

Disrupting Education

Udemy: $16 million in venture capital
Founded 2010,based in SF
Nearly 1 million students in three years makes it the largest university in the world.
--Eren Bali, 29--An international mathematics competition chamption, Eren imigrated from Turkey to be part of Speedate as it grew from 0 to 10 million users in 2 years. The inspiration for Udemy came about from mentors at a course for Turkish entrepreneurs.--Gagan Biyani--A marketer and entreprenuer who writes for TechCrunch, and has worked at Accenture, Microsoft, and Lyft.
Problem: Difficult for experts to offer courses for compensation.
New Solution:Expert course creation teams and tools to help budding e-professors. Community of worldclass authors, journalists, programmers, etc.

Disrupting Privacy

Founded 2008, Based in Philidelphia
Problem: Most major search engines track you and do not adequately protect security.
Previous solution: changing options on your browser or google profile. This however, takes time, expertise, and some work.
Solution: DuckDuckGo doesn't track anyone. Incidentally offering the same search experience, to everyone!
--Gabriel Weinberg, was educated at MIT, previously founded NamesDatabase which was sold to, he is also an Angel Investor based in Valley Forge, PA.

Disrupting Opinions

Founded 2010, Based in NY
Problem: Quick and customizable polling.
Old Solution: Social networks (inaccurate), or gallup style polls (too large, slow)
New Solution: An instant online polling platform as a social network.
Founder: Dan Kurani, spent the ten years before foudning Thumb as the founder of Kurani Interactive, a wildly successful re-branding agency. Disrupting Good, $7.9 million in venture capital
Founded in 2009, based in SF
Tom Serres, Left his successful tenure as a Radio Shack manager to take a bite out of the $300 billion "cause economy," where people can support you based on your passion, and story.
Problem: Social cause specific organization online.
Previous solution: Social fundraising was exclusive.
New Solution: Social network for fundraising makes social fundrasing inclusive.


2013 shows greater diversity in where promising companies are founded than ever before.
SF: Rally, Udemy, StartupStats, Gumroad, Wantful
NY: Thumb, Wantful, Rent the Runway
Sydney: Ninja Blocks, 99 Dresses
Philadelphia: DuckDuckGo
So With so many impressive founders and ideas, how do you tell whose REALLY disruptive?

Gartner's magic quadrant

y axis: ability to execute.
x axis:Completeness of vision.
Top Left:Challengers
Bottom Left: Niche
Top Right: Leaders
Bottom right: Visionaries

The hype cycle

Gartner, a preeminent IT research and advisory firm uses this graphical tool to map startup stages.

x axis: Visibility
y axis:Time

Event one: Technology trigger
--description: a potential technology breakthrough. Commercial viability unproven. No product available.
--Location: (x axis: lowest)(y axis: earliest)
Event two: Peak of inflated Expectations
--description: Publicity produces success stories. Some businesses adopt, many do not.
--Location:(x axis: highest)(y axis: second earliest)
Event three: Trough of disillusionment
--description: Shortcomings of product are revealed. Many companies fail, other companies seek to prove the product is viable.
--Location:(x axis: second lowest)(y axis: third event)
Event four: Slope of enlightenment
--description: more instances of success are documented. Second and third generation products come out. Pilots funded. Conservative companies cautious.
--Location:(x axis: rising to half of event 2)(y axis:4th time)
Event five:Plateau of Productivity
--description: start of mainstream adoption. criteria for evaluating success more clearly outlined.
--location:(x axis: rising steadily)