BRILLIANT! JUMBO ENTREPRENEURS AND THEIR BIG IDEAS
THE BIG IDEA: Helping social change organizations use social media. Many groups could extend their reach through such channels. Chokshi has banded together with Patrick Ip, a student at the University of Chicago, and Kavya Shankar, a student at Harvard, to show them how.
STATUS: Since its beginnings in September 2011, the Kip Solutions team has grown from three members to ten, all of them students at colleges across the country. Based in Modesto, California, the business has taken on a range of clients, including a Cameroonian, Tambe Agbor, who learned how text messaging could improve business for farmers in his home country. “Tambe’s story is typical of what we want to do,” Chokshi says. “He has the passion and ideas, and we understand these digital spaces and the power of marketing.” Last spring, Kip Solutions was named one of Inc. magazine’s Coolest College Startups. kipsolutions.co
THE BIG IDEA: Hip, vintage-inspired eyeglass frames (and even a monocle frame) that you can buy online. By using in-house designers and cutting out licensing companies and optical shops, Blumenthal and his partners offer a product they claim is just as good as the major brands, but for hundreds of dollars less. And for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is donated to someone in need.
STATUS: Blumenthal traces Warby Parker’s start to 2003, when he began working with VisionSpring, a nonprofit that provides glasses to people around the world who lack them. Later, he and three classmates he met at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School got the idea that they could help organizations like VisionSpring and revolutionize the eyewear market at the same time. Less than a year after they launched their new company in early 2010, they had sold some twenty thousand pairs of glasses and distributed an equal number in twenty-six countries. Although they have opened thirteen showrooms nationwide, Blumenthal will keep a strong web presence. “We want to be the first fashion brand that got its start online,” he says. warbyparker.com
My Blue Bumbershoot
THE BIG IDEA: A hands-free umbrella for stroller pushers. Bumbershoot, which attaches to virtually any stroller, is clear so you can see where you’re going, and adjustable so you can move it up or down and tilt it toward the rain.
STATUS: Melissa April and Caryn Abramowitz, both lawyer moms based in Philadelphia, started developing Bumbershoot in 2006. “After the umpteenth time of arriving at my child’s destination soaking wet, I decided there had to be a better way,” says April. The product went on the market in 2010, to widespread acclaim, including a shout-out in New York Family magazine. More recently, the “Lindsay’s List” blog has called it “brilliant.” It’s available online and in stores worldwide. mybluebumbershoot.com