A trip downtown or a casual stroll inside a mall is enough for you to observe that everywhere businesses exist. Apparently, there are millions of them in the whole world, and at any given time, they compete to get the largest possible clientele. But some businesses thrive better than others. Naturally, there are several reasons why this is so. And Chicago Journal has selected 20 of the country’s top entrepreneurs to share why they are thriving and prove why they are part of the Top 20 Entrepreneurs to Watch Out For in 2020:
1. Anthony Beverley
Anthony Beverley was born in West Philadelphia’s poverty restricted area. Growing up in Mill Creek’s projects, life wasn’t easy. Surrounded by drugs and violence, he refused to become a product of his environment. While on public assistance, Anthony was scrapping metal to make ends meet. Determined to be great, he educated himself on wholesaling properties and strategically buying land in Philadelphia’s up-and-coming locations. Never giving up, Beverley now owns a portfolio that contains over 300 properties and several home health care agencies by the name of Beverley’s Home Health Care.
2. Jacob Gland
Jacob Gland is a Motivational Speaker, Mental Health Advocate, Life Coach, and Suicide Survivor. Everything changed for Jacob, who survived a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his femoral artery. He began to learn how to live again when fate brought his PTSD Service Dog, Liberty, into his life. Together, they are on a mission to leave a positive impact wherever they go. Jacob speaks on addiction, mental health, finding your full potential, and overcoming impossible odds. His passion is suicide prevention and awareness because he never wants people to take it to the extent that he did, that they are not alone, and the world is a better place with them in it. This speaker, investor, and soon to be published author and his “Battle Buddy,” Liberty’s purpose is to spread as much love and compassion as possible! And to touch the lives of those they have the privilege of coming in contact with.
3. Akilah Darden
Akilah W. Darden, MBA, is President of the award-winning construction management company, The Darden Group, LLC. With over 21 years of expertise and experience navigating complex design issues with the ease of coordinating, communicating, and collaborating amongst large teams, The Darden Group, LLC is the go-to company.
Accurately called Super Mom, Super Executive by BD+C magazine when awarded the honor of 40 Under 40 in 2015, Akilah is a twin, wife, mother of twin daughters and two sons, sister, Board President, Board Member, and Treasurer to her family’s 501c3. Mrs. Darden does it all with grace and efficiency.
The Darden Group, LLC is proficient in assisting leadership teams with strategy, process, and execution of large complex commercial projects. Their advantage over competitors is their skill to execute on complex designs with a track record for effective processes. As Akilah states, “It’s not about when you start, it’s about the process to close. We call it the dash to close.” Utilizing their proven methods, The Darden Group, LLC created the online course, Effective Tools to be a Successful Contractor.
Course website: www.courses.dardengroupllc.com
4. John Wayne S. III
John Wayne S. III (JW) has come a long way from his humble beginnings as a production assistant on George Tillman Jr.’s Scenes for the Soul. He marked his feature film directorial debut with the independent film, Red All Over. The film brilliantly tackles issues such as gun violence, mental health, and bullying. The Chicago native’s work is known for its unexpected takes on social issues and real-world problems.
With a career spanning twenty-six plus years, John Wayne has worked extensively in film and music. Earlier in his career, JW went to work for Grammy-nominated producer Steve “Silk” Hurley. He found massive success, eventually becoming the director of international A&R, where he supervised agents in both the UK and Japan. And he’s not slowing down. The director is working on new films and television projects with prominent producers to bring to life stories that need to be heard.
5. Gwen Medved
Gwen Medved, M.Ed., is a Success Coach, Bestselling Author, and Executive Producer of the upcoming film “It’s Happening Right Here.” Gwen is a powerful partner and advocate for women and the rights of children. Her life work is purpose-driven to help others rise through adversity and create the life they dream of. Gwen’s unique fusion of life coaching and business strategy creates a powerful roadmap for success.
Gwen is a trained graduate of Jack Canfield’s Train the Trainer Professional Development Program – a year-long intensive professional training program focused on experientially teaching the principles of success and the facilitation of individual and transformational leadership training, and success coaching. Her work includes advocacy, online events, retreats, speaking engagements, group, and individual coaching. Gwen is a Purdue University graduate with an M.Ed in Counseling and Human Services from DePaul University.
6. Rachna Gaur
Tech enthusiast, startup founder, mother, wife, and poet at large; this is how Rachna likes to describe herself. Rachna is a technologist at heart and started Hands On in 2019. She focuses on connecting hourly wage or gig workers and employers. Keeping people employed by finding the right opportunities on a continuous basis is key. Rachna has worked with multinational companies like Accenture, PwC, and her last job was with the California State. She has lived in Switzerland, France, South Africa, United Kingdom, India, and settled in Tallahassee, Florida, where she lives with her husband and two boys.
7. Fatima Barnes
Fatima Barnes is a 30-year-old serial entrepreneur in the Memphis, TN area. She is part owner of a trucking & logistics company, a podcaster of a travel podcast “Let’s Talk Travel with The Pretty Wanderer,“ and a Business Coach and CEO of The Ambition Academy Coaching and Consulting. Her true purpose is to coach. As a business coach, she teaches women how to successfully launch and create their dream business by providing a clear roadmap and strategy through her course Ambition To Launch. She is passionate and strongly believes in the true empowerment of women in entrepreneurship.
8. Dagoberto Rodriguez
Dagoberto Rodriguez came to the United States after fleeing from Venezuela. As things worsened in Venezuela at the time, he had to get a job in the States while getting an education. One day coming back from work, he was the victim of a negligent driver, and because of his lack of knowledge, he was taken advantage of by the insurance company. Later in Law School, he learned about personal injury lawyers and decided to help those who, like him, were injured and in need of help.
Dagoberto is now licensed in 3 different states. He founded Rodriguez Law Firm, which focuses on representing clients who have been injured by the negligence of another.
9. Derek Distenfield
Derek Distenfield is the operational mastermind, COO, and Co-founder behind the success of GSD Venture Studios. Headquartered in Silicon Valley GSD, Venture Studios is expanding by opening offices in five key technology hubs worldwide by the end of the year. This is allowing the startup factory to curate unique talent and deal flow that is second none. GSD’s portfolio companies include Zemplee.com, Irex.ai, Bidease.com, and wattsbattery.com. Mr. Distenfield is also leading efforts to launch GSD Labs, a “Pre-USA” Virtual Accelerators for early-stage companies getting ready to enter Silicon Valley. Applications are ongoing.
10. Kory Angelin
Kory is an Award-Winning Trainer, Sales Strategist for some of the world’s biggest fitness brands, published author, and host of the Rep It Up Podcast. Most recently, he launched a new virtual consulting app/website called Powr University.
The app focuses on teaching how to sell fitness without sounding like a salesperson. Instead, it focuses on three aspects: asking powerful questions, understanding customer goals, and empowering a customer vs. pressuring them. The app and the PowrUniversity website will offer various virtual courses, webinars, and weekly tips to help businessmen and women realize their full potential.
Kory has also been featured as Top 20 People to Follow on Instagram by NY Wire and is a sought after motivational speaker who is changing the way people sell in fitness.
11. Christina Perez
Christina Perez (Center), Owner & Founder of Dream Body Sculpting, along with her team (Jasmine Jenkins/ VP(right) and Lauren Taylor/ Senior VP(left), specialize in non-invasive alternatives to permanent fat reduction and skin tightening. With the development of Dream Body Sculptings custom-designed machine, The trio is able to provide the most effective non-invasive fat reduction and skin tightening treatments on the market. Perez has had this incredible machine developed for Estheticians everywhere to add to their practices with the goal to take over the body contouring industry completely by providing a high-quality machine that delivers fast and permanent results in as little as 2-3 sessions. Don’t settle for cheap equipment; grow your spa the right way by bringing your clients something real and that actually works!
12. Dave Anderson
Dave Anderson is notorious for his alias, The Business Bully. This is what he also names his company. The Business Bully pushes small and mid-sized businesses out of their comfort zones. Thus, making them keener to details and moulding profitable owners and leaders. Anderson is a multi-time best selling author, motivational speaker, and business coach.
After graduating from the prestigious Temple University, Anderson went on to pursue a career as a radio host. During Anderson’s time as a radio host, he was able to rise to the top of the industry using his off the wall personal skills that developed him into the person we now know today as the ‘Business Bully.’ Learning to transition from the entertainment world to business was quite a feat, but in doing so, Anderson learned not only how to sell himself to people but sell people the solution to their own pains and problems.
Anderson says, “Helping clients before helping yourself will allow you to have a consistently successful process. A business without a process, is a charity. And no one is going to work for you for free. The Business Bully Show teaches the successful businessman how to be useful in any facet of industry. This is how you can seamlessly rock in your industry, the same way I rocked in radio and business.”
Facebook: Dave Anderson
13. Jasmine Crowe
Photo Source: SAP
Jasmine Crowe founded Goodr to combat hunger across the US. Goodr was founded in 2017 and since then has been supplemental to feeding countless people in the nation. Goodr is a sustainable food waste management company that utilizes the perfectly good food that goes to waste from several restaurants in the country. “What I look at as hunger being is an issue of logistics, and so Goodr is solving what I call the surplus food supply chain problem,” Crowe said in an interview. With Goodr, humans have found a new way of using technology in eradicating persistent issues of the country.
14. Lisa Skeete Tatum
Photo Source: ImpactAlpha
Lisa Skeete Tatum has spent her good years leading women and other individuals toward successful careers. She founded Landit in 2014 to create a one-size-fits-one platform and provide playbooks for individuals who wish to land jobs that fit their skills. Landit works with diverse individuals and has helped thousands of them reach their desired destinations – in both personal and professional lives. Because of Landit’s impact, the company has been featured in many publications like Inc, Forbes, BBC, Vanity Fair, CNBC, etc.
15. Sam Crowther
In a time where online presence is crucial to the success of a business, Kasada lets companies protect their websites from attacks. Founded by Sam Crowther years after high school, Kasara has grown to be an immense counter against data scraping, click fraud, and other bot attacks. While mainly catering to Australian-based companies, Sam reveals that Kasada is expanding to the US. The decision came after he secured a $2.5 million capital investment from Reinventure VC and Our Innovation.
16. Ritu Narayan
Photo source: Ozy
Ritu Narayan is helping mothers and fathers who are always on-the-go in transporting their children to school safely. The company she co-founded, Zum, provides ‘safe, efficient, and reliable child transportation’ service. With Zum, Ritu makes child transportation a whole lot easier and safer. ZUM lets parents track their children’s whereabouts while traveling in real-time. The drivers at ZUM are verified by the FBI, DOJ, and DMV. Since its foundation, ZUM has transported more than 750,000 kids to over 10,000 schools.
17. Yunha Kim
Photo Credit: Thrive Global
When Yunha Kim founded her company, Simple Habit, in 2016, she dreamed of leading thousands of people to a healthy lifestyle. Four years later, she is now one of the most sought-after wellness instructors in the country.
Yunha formerly worked as an investment banker in Wall Street, then decided to quit the job to work on her first start-up. As it is, running a company is not, at all, easy-going. Yunha often got stressed. So, she turned to meditation. After several sessions, she noticed how meditation helped in improving her relationships and responsibilities. Yunha’s realization of the benefits of meditation gave birth to Simple Habits.
18. Arum Kang
Photo Source: MissBish
Coffee Meets Bagel started first in New York City. Now, the dating service company has gone global with more than 2.5 billion introductions from people all over the world. Arum Kang founded Coffee Meets Bagel in 2012 as a movement to let women control their ‘dating destinies.’ Arum wants her company to become the most female-centered and female-empowering dating service in the market. Unlike the usual digital ‘swaps’ that other dating companies offer, Coffee Meets Bagel helps would-be couples to connect, meet, and go on dates – maybe over a coffee paired with a bagel.
19. Marah Lidey
Photo Source: The Mixed Experience
When a day seems to start badly or maybe in the middle of the day, bad news comes up, Marah Lidey comes to the rescue. Through the company she co-founded, Shine Text, Marah reaches out to users and sends them positive messages. Shine Text sends messages related to forming a positive mindset, being confident, mental health, and productivity. The messages are actionable and are geared to motivate users. Because of the impact it has imposed on thousands, the company has been given an award as recognition for its contribution to easing the burdens of individuals with anxiety and depression.
20. Blake Garrett
Blake Garrett started his company, School Bytes when he was still 17. One time, Blake overhears some staff of his school, complaining about their lousy administration software system. “I sit there some nights looking at the computer, thinking, ‘how can I make things better?’” That was when he came up with School Bytes.
School Bytes is an efficient way of processing and keeping scholastic data. Its data encryption ensures that information encoded by users is protected. Since its foundation, School Bytes has been used by 180 NSW government schools – a big leap after only catering to 15 schools a year before.