By Kayla Matthews
Generation Z sometimes gets a bad rap from older people, but just as with every generation, there are those who are bad seeds and those who strive to make the world a better place.
Gen Z makes up the largest population in the United States, even though it is only 25 percent of the population. There are many reasons why they’re transforming the workplace, but one reason is the large number of Gen Zers who are innovating the world. Here are 10 of the more interesting and innovative Gen Zers.
Jason Li is the founder of iReTron, an electronics company. While in high school he sold comic books, and then he took out a $2,000 loan from his dad and started his company in his bedroom. He is one of those college students also running a business, so when he graduates he will already have hit the ground running with a highly successful company.
Noa Mintz, the founder of Nannies by Noa, was only 12 years old when she started the baby-sitting business. While she did eventually hire a CEO to oversee day-to-day operations so she could finish her own education, her vision for a service that was much needed in the New York City area allowed her company to grow into a powerhouse.
Anna Zhang is a photographer and social media influencer. She is the editor-in-chief and founder of Pulse Spikes, a quarterly online and print magazine. She also is publishing a collection of essays written by other young influencers.
Akhilesh Khakhar wanted to help other students ace their college entrance exams, so the recent high school grad came up with an app called PrepUp to help them do just that. He’s teamed up with a company to create a complete SAT and ACT prep service that will utilize the app, an online platform and online tutors to prepare students for testing.
Alyssa Kapasi noticed that some of her fellow students were going hungry, so she and some of her friends decided to do something about it. Through fundraising and finding sponsors, they were able to expand awareness and motivate school districts to provide free lunch and to donate to the nonprofit Food for Thought.
Matthew Whitaker is a young jazz musician who has already played in festivals and secured sponsorship deals from musical instrument manufacturers. Whitaker plays the piano, organ and drums, and he also composes and arranges music. Whitaker is blind, but states that he is blessed by God and wants to be a blessing to others.
Sasha Matthews is one of the youngest entrepreneurs to make this list, and her talent is a bit unique. She is a cartoonist who uses her drawings to give a voice to free speech efforts. Her series is called “Everyday Superheroes.” She used the sale of her comics as a fundraiser for the ACLU.
Marley Dias is a young author who was inspired when she realized there weren’t many stories about girls like her. She said all the books in school were about “white boys and their dogs,” so she launched a campaign called #1000BlackGirlBooks, where she collected and donated books that featured black girls as the main character. She also has her own book out now.
Ryan Felner started a business by combining aerial photography with his skills operating drones. He began taking photos in Westport, Connecticut, for those selling real estate, but ran into some issues with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for operating without a commercial license. Not one to be easily dissuaded, he worked with the FAA and took the training needed to get a commercial license.
It probably isn’t surprising that Maddie Greenspan was destined to become an inventor, since her father is in manufacturing and the family runs a business. Still, when she was frustrated trying to make something fun — slime — because she couldn’t find the ingredients, she decided to just go ahead and make her own.
How Can You Change the World?
These young innovators prove that to make an impact, you simply need a vision and the passion to see it through. These are just a few of the amazing under 20-somethings doing big things. It will be interesting to see what they accomplish in their 20s and 30s.
About the Author: Kayla Matthews writes about communication and workplace productivity on her blog, Productivity Theory. Her work has also appeared on Talent Culture, MakeUseOf, The Muse and Fast Company.