1. The Serial Entrepreneur
Ben Casnocha, 19
Few people of any age have started a software company and written a book--and considerably fewer 19-year-olds have. But Ben Casnocha is one of them.
Inspired by a teacher who made him memorize Apple's Think Different ads, Casnocha founded Comcate, which sells software designed to help local governments resolve citizen complaints. The specific impetus came from having "a personal experience where I realized how poor some local governments were at dealing with customer service." It was the second company Casnocha had started; he was 14 years old.
At age 17, Casnocha was named one of the nation's top 25 entrepreneurs under 25 by Business Week for his work running Comcate, yet he also found time to be captain of his San Francisco University High School basketball team and editor of Devil's Advocate, the school newspaper.
After finishing high school, Casnocha took a year off to travel and write a book about his experiences called My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley. His personal blog--where he opines on topics from technology to spirituality to politics--has been named one of the top 25 in Silicon Valley by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
Casnocha enrolled at California's Claremont McKenna college last fall and seems almost irrationally modest about his success so far.
"I don't believe in long-term plans," he says. "Most good things that happen to me are unexpected. Certainly, you can cultivate 'positive, bulk randomness' (a topic I discuss in my book), but some of it is just sheer luck and timing."