This story appears in the February 28, 2018 issue of Forbes
“I assert myself in things that I want to achieve, and I just don’t give up,” says chart-topping singer Rita Ora, who started out performing at her father’s London pub after the refugee family emigrated from Kosovo. She kept at it, sitting outside Universal Music Group in London at 15 years old to hand out her record to people exiting the building. Fast-forward a decade and one of those same people who picked up her record is producing her second album.
Ora has indeed perfected the art of persistence. That sophomore record, due out later in 2018, comes five years after her first due to struggles with her former record label Roc Nation. If the success of her latest single, “Anywhere,” is any evidence, there’s plenty of pent-up demand for her music. The song peaked at No. 2 on the British charts.
Her doggedness lands her on our third annual 30 Under 30 Europe list, one of 300 young disruptors across ten categories, including entertainment, finance and technology. The honor roll features a record number of 34 European countries, with entrepreneurs from coming from up-and-coming countries like Belarus and Ora’s native Kosovo.Levon Biss
Ora has kept busy since her first album, designing over a dozen collections for Adidas, debuting a new lipstick line with cosmetics-maker Rimmel London and partnering with Absolut Vodka in a project that will allow her to collaborate with fans for a new song.
“I wanted to do it all. I feel like we're in an era where entertainment can be so diverse,” she says. “With being able to be an actress, be on TV and present and still put out an album. I think I'm part of a new kind of breed.”
We convened an elite cross-section of the group last month Lordship Park in North London, including Ora, to share their entrepreneurial stories and for the group portrait you see above. Find out more about some of these all-star Under 30s below.
Art & Culture: Negin Mirsalehi, 29, Netherlands
Two years ago Mirsalehi turned down a $800,000 payday for a brand ambassadorship with a major hair-care line. She had bigger plans: launching her own self-funded hair-care brand Gisou featuring products inspired by her family’s history as sixth generation beekeepers. Last year Gisou did almost $3 million in sales, while she continued to make $20,000 per sponsored Instagram post thanks to her 4.5 million followers.
Finance: Victoria van Lennep, 28, Belgium
Former Oxford classmates Van Lennep and Martin Kissinger helped cofound Lendable, an online lender that automates credit decisions and deliver funds within the hour. It has given out $160 million in loans over three years to over 30,000 individuals.
Industry: Erik Gatenholm, 28, Sweden
As the first of its kind in the world, Cellink manufactures ink and printers for 3D printing human organs used in medical research. The $140 million company, which went public on the Nasdaq after only ten months of operations, provides products to everyone from MIT to Takara Bio in over 40 countries worldwide.
Law & Policy: Vyacheslav Polonski, 28, Germany
Founder, Avantgarde Analytics
Born in Ukraine and raised in Germany, Oxford-educated Polonski’s political analytics company arose from a PhD research project that used social media to predict the Brexit vote one month before it happened.
Media & Marketing: Jamie Bolding, 27, U.K.
Founder, Jungle Creations
Social media marketing company Jungle Creations leverages its 50 million followers and penchant for virality to create video advertisements for clients like Disney and Apple, which led to $13.5 million in revenue for the last calendar year. Averaging over 5 billion video views each month, this figure is expected to nearly triple to $36.5 million for 2018.
Retail & Ecommerce: Susie Ma, 29, U.K.
Founder, Tropic Skincare
At age 15, Ma, a Shanghai native, started making homemade skincare products to help her mother make ends meet. The venture eventually funded her own college tuition and earned her a spot as the youngest contestant to appear on BBC’s The Apprentice. Her vegan, cruelty-free beauty line Tropic Skincare now boasts over 100 products that generated $27 million in revenue in 2017.
Science & Healthcare: Anaïs Barut, 25, France
Cofounder, DAMAE Medical
Barut founded DAMAE Medical in 2014 to combat skin cancer, the most common form of cancer. The medtech company invented a non-invasive device capable of instantly diagnosing a broad spectrum of skin conditions.
Social Entrepreneurs: Gert van Vugt, 29, Netherlands
Cofounder, Sustainer Homes
The building industry accounts for one third of global CO2 emissions. Sustainer Homes has developed a modular system that designs and constructs radically sustainable homes--all while cutting 90% of CO2 emissions. In addition to building hundreds of dream homes already, van Vugt has three entirely sustainable neighborhoods planned to begin construction early this year.
Technology: Oliver Dlouhý, 29, Czech Republic
With no more than a high school education, Dlouhý built a flight-booking platform that delivers the lowest fares proprietary algorithm to combine flights from carriers that do not typically cooperate with each other. Kiwi.com really took flight in 2017, grossing $700 million in revenue, double that of two years prior.SaveSave