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Most promising industries for millennial entrepreneurs

Forget business services and banking. The next wave of billion-dollar companies are taking the old sectors and turning them on their head.

This year’s 30 Under-30 honorees hail from cities across America, but they all have one thing in common: a desire to effect change, and the ability to generate serious cash. To do so, they are looking at industries as varied as satellite services and sustainable energy.

Here is a look at the most promising industries for young entrepreneurs today:

Good money

Consumers are increasingly leery of doing business with traditional banks. Indeed, the share of the United States population expressing confidence in financial institutions continues to lag at just 30 per cent – for the eighth consecutive year after the 2008 recession, according to a 2016 Gallup Poll.

Meanwhile, the financial technology sector–including startups that use technology to process, manage or create new funds – is continuing to attract venture capital-dollars: In 2016, fintech companies raised as much as $12.7bn across more than 800 deals, according to the CB Insights data.

Millennial founders are seizing this market opportunity, aiming to give more (younger) customers the ability to, for instance, invest in commercial real estate.

Cadre, a real estate investment company, is using technology to make this cheaper: on the site, users can find statistics and information on a property’s value. Of course, you still need to be fairly well-off to invest.

The minimum stake rings in hundred thousand dollars, not including an upfront fee and subscription rate, though Cadre claims it’s saving customers 50 per cent of what they’d pay a typical fund. What’s more, deals can be completed in a matter of weeks, as opposed to months.

“The asset class is powerful on how it can shape people’s future, but it’s only accessible to a small subset of our population,” explains Ryan Williams, 29, the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer.

There’s also Robinhood, the San Francisco brokerage that lets users buy and sell stock via a smartphone app. The company’s 30-year-old co-founder and co-CEO, Vladimir Tenev, wanted to make it easier for millennials to grow their wealth without breaking the bank.

The startup is commission-free, though it intends to generate revenue by charging for extra features on a subscription service, called Robinhood Gold.

Clean food

As customers grow increasingly health-conscious – shelling out millions annually for, say, fitness trackers or green juice – a growing number of start-ups are finding opportunity in the business of food. The number of global food and beverage company launches that claim to be vegetarian or vegan was up 60 per cent between 2011 and 2015, according to Innova Market Insights, a business services and research firm. The US consumers spend more than $43bn on organic food, according to data from the Organic Trade Association.

This year’s 30 Under-30 startups are generating revenue by providing natural, clean, and relatively inexpensive alternatives to existing food products.

By Chloe, for instance, is a network of restaurants serving plant-based dishes such as Peanutty Kale, which consists of raw kale, red onion, crushed peanuts, and peanut sauce ($6.95.)

The company brought in $10m in 2016, and expects to bring in $30m by the end of this year. The,n there’s Nomiku, a startup that makes Wi-Fi-enabled cooking devices for $250. With sous vide, co-founder Lisa Fetterman explains, users can heat vacuum-sealed food in a low-temperature water bath, helping to preserve flavour and texture.

Moon shots

As Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos continue on their quest to go to the moon and beyond, the aerospace and defence industry is on the rise: In the US, it generated some $608bn in revenue in 2015, according to the Aerospace Industries Association, and sales continue to grow by roughly two per cent annually.

That trend is also reflected on the 30 Under-30 startups, as entrepreneurs across the country tackle satellites, drones, and renewable energy.

Boston-based Accion Systems, for one, develops advanced satellite propulsion systems for the space industry; it’s named after the summoning charm that Hermione Granger taught Harry Potter at Hogwarts.

Rocket-scientist co-founders, Louis Perna and Natalya Bailey, generated an impressive $4.5m in revenue on these devices last year. Below earth orbit lies the purview of Aerobo, a movie studio that employs aerial cinematography and drone services, and that became the first operator in New York State to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.