Not all heroes wear capes but some seemingly wore lab coats. Some of this year’s Chivas Venture finalists were inspired to launch their social enterprises by a varied group of individuals from the fields of science and environmentalism.
From the futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system, to the environmentalist and eco-conscious founder of an outdoor clothing giant, here six successful startup founders reveal their heroes.
The Croatian physicist, engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla was a pioneer of electrical engineering and often cited as one of history’s most important inventors, particularly in the field of electricity.
“Nikola Tesla was responsible for developments completely ahead of his time, including alternating current (AC), fluorescent light bulbs, X-ray, radio, remote control, electric motors, robotics, laser beams, wireless communications, ballistics and nuclear physics!” Bioestibas founder Álvaro Vásquez explained. “He achieved remarkable things in his professional life in the midst of economic difficulties and, in my view, deserves to be seen as the true ‘Father of the Second Industrial Revolution’.”
Craig Venter is the molecular-biology pioneer who famously mapped the human genome.
The founder of NEXBIO, who use DNA testing to detect harmful diseases in crops, cites Venter as a trailblazer for his industry. Adam Kuzdraliński said: “His work paved the way for huge developments in medicine.”
Sir David Attenborough
When Sun Concept founder Nuno Gaspar de Oliveira was only three years old he received a copy of Life on Earth by British institution and environmentalist, Sir David Attenborough, and was transfixed.
“My mother tells me I’d rather flick through it than watch cartoons. I was struck by how the planet teemed with the exuberance and defiance of life and yet due to greed and stupidity we weren’t protecting it. Sir David Attenborough was and still is my hero and inspiration. He’s the man who convinced me that all life matters and that our biggest challenge is to learn how to live harmoniously on this planet.”
Yvon Chouinard is a climber and an environmentalist, who also happens to be the co-founder of one of the world’s biggest outdoor-apparel companies, Patagonia.
The ethical and sustainable habits of Patagonia, the very foundations upon which the whole company is built, has been a huge influence on Alejandro Malgor of Xinca, the startup upcycling waste materials into premium footwear.
“Patagonia is not only one of the coolest companies in the world, they find solutions to the global environmental crisis. Chouinard is a revolutionary business man, influencing companies to inspire yet still has time to travel around the world with his friends and family, practise sports in contact with nature and enjoy his life. That’s the life I’d like to live.”
Environmentalist, explorer and adventurer, Mike Horn, has swum the Amazon River solo, and walked to the north pole and the Arctic Solo, amongst many other solo feats of exploration.
The South African-born Swiss explorer’s courage and dare to do attitude has inspired Michaël van Cutsem of Beeodiversity. “Mike Horn is living proof that everything is possible and living your dreams is precious.”
Joshua David and Robert Hammond
Joshua David and Robert Hammond are the co-founders of Friends of the Highline, the non-profit group responsible for The High Line park in New York City.
“Two of my biggest heroes are the founders of the Friends of the High Line in NYC, Joshua David and Robert Hammond,” says Michelle Bang of B Y T, who upcycle unwanted fabrics into luxury apparel and accessories. “They were simply concerned residents of the neighborhood that ran through the old ailing rail line with no background in startups. But through grit and passion they were able to transform what was an unsafe, drug-infested area into a unique and gorgeous park that’s the model many cities have followed.”
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