The last five years have been challenging for the U.S. economy. With unemployment high and institutional trust low, many young people have chosen to walk the path of entrepreneurship. Some have failed in their endeavors, but many that encountered broken systems have found opportunities to change industries. As an entrepreneur, I meet them often. I believe that young people are turning the financial crisis and the slow economy into a golden age of entrepreneurship.
Consider this: Today's college-educated 30-year-old graduated in 2006. At the time, they'd had Facebook for a year or two, depending on where they went to school. As they were trying to figure out their first job, they were conscious of the fact that the fun platform they used to check out classmates was actually a business founded by someone just like them. Not only could they relate to the story, the online discussion amplified a collective can-do attitude and served as a built-in support network at the same time. Then, a few years later, 2008 happened. And I'd argue it was a blessing in disguise. If not for the crisis, many of the best and brightest millennials would have gone to Wall Street or big consulting.
Let's look at a few young entrepreneurs who are changing the game—and the trends that have allowed them to do so.
The idea that one could conceive of an idea and start a real business while still in college was simply not the norm for the majority of the 20th century. The well-known examples are scant but include TIME, FedEx, Microsoft, Dell, Google and Napster. Now the low cost of launching a business online has made it much easier for young people to start businesses.
(Read more: Have an MBA? Now launch a company)