Inc Names 3 From Babson To 30 Under 30 List
Three businesses of Babson graduates – NatureBox, ThinkLite and Wanderu – are among Inc.’s 10th 30 Under 30 list members for 2015.
“Our 2015 honorees are hacking how you sleep, shop, and listen to music. They’re making your shoes more comfortable, helping your kids learn more efficiently, providing loans for your business, and serving hearing-impaired people in the developing world. They are innovators, disrupters, and dreamers–and they’re just getting started. They’re in very good company among our alums, and we look forward to shamelessly bragging, “We knew them when.” (We hope you’ll vote for your favorite company, too.),” writes Inc.’s Donna Fenn.
“…in 2012, after spending much of his career working for venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners, [Gautam] Gupta decided to quit his job and start a business with his best friend, Ken Chen. Gupta wanted to bring healthful, carefully sourced snack foods to consumers like his younger self. “Starting a company was an opportunity to combine a professional interest with that passion,” he says.
The aptly named NatureBox is a subscription-based snack-food provider that has grown by a factor of 20 since it launched, according to Gupta. Boxes are priced at $19.95 per month, and the company offers reduced rates for those willing to pay for three or six months’ worth of shipments ahead of time. Consumers order from an online Snack Catalog, which includes nutritionist-approved items that cater to their dietary needs and preferences. Unlike some of his competitors, Gupta private-labels all products under the NatureBox brand, rather than sourcing them through third-party vendors. The ingredients come primarily from independent manufacturers and farms, although the company refused to disclose specific partners.
To date, NatureBox has raised $28.5 million over two funding rounds from investors Red Point, Canaan, and SoftBank, as well as from Gupta’s former employer, General Catalyst. The company brought in nearly $50 million in revenue in 2014, more than double that of 2013. NatureBox also boasts one million Facebook fans, and expects to ship as many as five million boxes in 2015. The company is projecting $100 million in revenue this year.”
“When he was a sophomore at Babson College, Dinesh Wadhwani had what he calls “a life-changing moment” while meeting with a large telecom company in Manhattan. The enterprising student had started a business selling LED lighting systems to companies that wanted to reduce energy costs. “They were looking to upgrade to LED in their retail stores and their warehouse,” recalls Wadhwani. “So we went back with a solution that involved ripping out all the existing fixtures, and they said, ‘The ROI on this sucks–it’s seven to eight years.'” To add insult to injury, the manager made it clear that even if he were to go forward, he’d be unlikely to give the job to a little-known startup.
That’s when Wadhwani realized he had to stop being a reseller of products made by companies such as General Electric and Philips, and start being an innovator. Wadhwani thought that switching to LED should be as easy for large companies as it is for homeowners. All homeowners need to do is buy new LED bulbs. In this vein, he designed an LED bulb that would fit into fixtures designed for, say, fluorescent lighting. That solution would eliminate the need for new fixtures and reduce the ROI time frame from seven years to two, he says. Fast-forward to 2014, and ThinkLite posted $8.5 million in revenue. It’s on track to reel in $15 million this year. And Wadhwani, joined by his older brother, Danny, did it all with just $6,000 in personal savings.”
“Air travel is frequently abusive and the train is hardly a bargain, so it’s no wonder that intercity bus travel has doubled over the past decade. “There are more people traveling by intercity bus in the U.S. each year than there are flying, and 74 percent of bus travelers are Millennials,” says Polina Raygorodskaya, co-founder of Wanderu, a platform that allows travelers to find and book bus trips to more than 85 percent of major hubs in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
The company, which takes a percentage of each transaction–but isn’t revealing how much–has grown its revenue 400 percent per quarter since launching in 2012. Also since then, the Boston-based company has served more than four million travelers, a figure that’s grown 200 percent each quarter, says Raygorodskaya. “We created both the middle-layer infrastructure for thousands of bus companies and standardized their data, as well as building out a very popular consumer search,” says Raygorodskaya, a former model, who says she’s now “more excited about the bus space than I ever was about fashion.””