13 Lesser-Known Entrepreneurs With Admirable Personal Brands


Name one lesser-known entrepreneur with a great personal brand that you admire and why.

The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Katherine Humphus

“I first met Katherine through our shared love of skydiving. She was an executive chef for two restaurants in San Diego at the time, with a third on the way. Last year, she left her prestigious position with the Cohn Restaurant Group to start her own online cooking school, Kat’s Kitchen Collective. Watching her blossom into a full-on superstar and seeing the ripple effect of her work is inspiring.”

Sydney Williams, Planet Green Socks

2. Aaron Hurst

“Aaron Hurst started and built the Taproot Foundation, an organization that transformed the role of pro bono work in the nonprofit sector. He’s now building Imperative, a company that helps people identify and build on their purpose — and helps companies do that for their teams. Aaron has a unique ability to identify opportunities, build incredible teams and create real social change.”

Jennifer Benz, Benz Communications

3. Anousheh Ansari

“Anousheh Ansari is the world’s first female private space explorer (and a serial entrepreneur). Ansari demonstrates that, whilst governments are still engaged in battles of ego, businesses have the will and the means to further our knowledge of the universe. Her generous contribution to the X Prize allows the continued research and potential exploitation of resources from natural satellites like the moon.”

Cody McLain, SupportNinja

4. Jessica Ekstrom

“Now that she’s a published author this may change, but what Jess Ekstrom has accomplished is inspiring. Starting her company Headbands of Hope in college, she’s been able to raise a lot of money and awareness for childhood cancer research. And she gives of her time as well, evidenced by her willingness to speak and mentor college students. I admire this consistency in her.”

Sam Davidson, Batch

5. Michael Gass

“Michael Gass is known in the ad agency circle as an agency new business development expert. He does a great job of providing relevant content consistently and frequently through his eNewsletter, blog and social channels. He provides valuable information, not only with his published content, but also with how he engages his audience. He practices what he preaches.”

Angela Harless, AcrobatAnt

6. Ryan Leslie

“Many star musicians love having multiple layers of security guards between them and their fans. Meanwhile, Ryan Leslie actually publishes his cell phone number on his Twitter profile and encourages fans to text him. This connection with his audience allows him to make bold business decisions like bypassing iTunes and selling his new album directly to his fans.”

Neil ThanedarLabDoor

7. Carrie Hammer

“Carrie Hammer uses her personal brand and clothing line to share the message of empowering women with her mantra “Role Models Not Runway Models.” In place of models on her website or during Fashion Week, Carrie selects role models such as Fortune 500 company execs, CEOs or entrepreneurs. She has gained worldwide press off staying true to her vision of what a successful woman looks like.”

Kim Kaupe, ZinePak

8. Jesse Lear

“Jesse Lear is co-founder of VIP Waste Services, a fast-growing valet trash and recycling company servicing over 30,000 apartments weekly. He’s passionate about his entrepreneurial path and dedicated to seeing other entrepreneurs succeed. He spoke at TEDx Columbus, mentors for the Young Entrepreneur Society and utilizes social media to project positivity and engage his following with unique topics.”

Faithe Parker, Marbaloo Marketing

9. Marie Forleo

“Marie Forleo. Not only does she provide useful information, she has an amazing YouTube community, is entertaining, fun and personable. It is her personal brand and not necessarily her business model that has made her so successful.”

Kevin HenriksonAcompli (now Outlook iOS/Android @ Microsoft)

10. Derek Sivers

“Derek Sivers created CD Baby in 1998, which became the largest seller of independent music on the web ($100M in sales). He sold it for $22M and gave the proceeds to a charitable trust for musicians. On his website, he shares incredibly powerful posts like this one on why he gave away his company to charity, and he regularly emails hundreds of thousands of his readers and fans.”

Mattan GriffelOne Month

11. Wil Reynolds

“Wil Reynolds is founder of SEER Interactive, a Philadelphia-based SEO company. I admire Wil less for all the specific things he’s accomplished and more for his integrity and character. Unlike a lot of successful CEOs that brag about accomplishments, Wil is humble and self-deprecating. Wil also leads by example. For instance, Wil recently slept outside in the cold to raise money for the homeless.”

Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com

12. Brooke Ballard

“Brooke Ballard of b2onlinemedia.com, an online marketing consultancy, is an up-and-coming entrepreneur who nails personal branding. She’s smart, savvy and strives to integrate relationships and conversation into her daily work.”

Chris Cancialosi, GothamCulture

13. Bobbi Hamilton

“What I love about Bobbi and her Phresh Mat & Yoga Game is that it’s based off of the healthy lifestyle she not only preaches, but also practices.  She was able to design a simple (and fun) way to help children, teens and families learn the basics of yoga, all while making fitness enjoyable. That’s no easy task and it’s gone from word-of-mouth marketing to now being sold on Amazon and Target.”

Greg Lam, Kneon