A decade of inspiring minds - part two

Jeff Robbins - iTunes

Some of the best creative minds have been laughed at when they exposed their radical ideas to colleagues, friends and even their family. But a capacity to dream outside the lines combined with a refusal to accept defeat has resulted in revolutionary inventions that continue to shape our modern world today. Following on from part one, here's part two of aguest blogon some of the very bestentrepreneurial minds from the last decade...

Eric Lefkofsky: Groupon

Eric Lefkofsky is leading the way for a new type of Internet shopping site. Groupon has caught the attention of a global audience and despite stiff competition and a band of ranting critics, remains a well-oiled coupon machine. It specialises in discount shopping, enabling consumers to snap up deals, with a visible countdown until the deal expires, creating a sense of urgency for act now, think later purchasing.

Lofkofskys net worth has doubled since last year, earning him a tidy $2.9 billion income, only accumulated in the last four years. Groupon was launched with the idea to "use the power of tipping points and the Internet to solve collective action problems." Forbes Magazine recently named Groupon, the fastest growing company in history. Lefkofskys 29-year-old partner, Andrew Mason, describes the business as a win-win situation for everyone. Customers save money; businesses get an influx of customers plus advertising and Groupon takes home up to 50 percent of the cut.

In 2010, Google offered a reported $6 million for Groupon, but was turned down. Google has since embarked in their own version of Groupon called Google Offers. Other major players like Digital Sky have shown considerable interest in the company.

The former carpet seller has stakes in over a dozen other companies and runs another business called Light Bank. He also plans to head up some new ventures in his hometown of Chicago. Groupon has received scepticism because of revenue losses since the companys opening, but this has been since overturned due to Groupons incredible growth.

Beto Perez: Zumba

Some of the best creations of our time came out of a moment of incidental genius. Back in 1986, Columbian aerobics teacher Beto Perez realised he had forgotten the music needed to accompany his aerobics class. Using his innovation and sporadic creativity, he fished a mixture of salsa and meringue tapes out of his backpack and devised a routine based on the combination of the two dances; presenting a new, unconventional way to teach fitness.

It wasnt until 2001 that the world got their hands on Zumba Fitness. It began its journey in the USA when Perez teamed up with some fellow dance teachers and began licensing the Zumba innovation, which consists of a fusion of many different dances and sounds such as salsa, meringue, soca, reggae, belly dancing and Bollywood moves.

Zumba has taken the world by storm, spreading to 125 countries and attracting celebrity fans such as Jennifer Lopez and Kirsty Alley. It boasts a 500-1000 calorie burn per workout and has been hailed as shaking the monotony out of fitness.

It has recently been adopted by games consoles launching the successful Zumba Party Fitness, in 2011 and hosts many giant Zumbathons for charity. Its very own Zumba clothing line has also turned out to be a hit. Zumba fever seems to be contagious and continues to spread worldwide.

Jeff Robbins: iTunes

iTunes is responsible for causing revolutionary change in the music technology industry. It is a headliner in the field, revolutionising the way people access and play their music. Back in 2001, Jeff Robbins decided to create a site focused on organising digital recordings and compressing CD audio files into digital form. The site was called Sound Jam.

Apple approached Jeff, intrigued by his idea and he became lead developer of the site, renamed iTunes. It exploded onto the scene in 2003 and has since been an unmovable force in the music world. At one time hits were calculated by how many records were purchased. Now, thanks to the influence of iTunes, hits are determined by the amount of iTunes songs downloaded. iTuness presence and weight in the entertainment world remains untouchable and ever evolving.

Jeff Robbins is still a force to be reckoned with at Apple and is rumoured to be currently working on Apples mysterious TV project.

Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim: YouTube

Engineered by three young, tech savvy friends, YouTube was born in February 2005. The three friends, all in their early thirties, often talked to each other about setting up a video-sharing website after becoming frustrated with their inability to email a video clip. Hurley worked at PayPal and when eBay bought it, he used the bonus awarded to him as start up capital for YouTube. And like so many of our creative minds, he built an office out of his garage.

YouTube went live in February 2005 and was instantly a roaring success. The news of the site spread by word of mouth, fuelling its initial growth. Over the years YouTube has gone from a video-sharing website to a platform for fame and fads. Artists like Justin Bieber, Susan Boyles and Natalie Tran all made their entrance to fame via YouTube. Google purchased YouTube for a rip-roaring $1.6 billion, leaving the young entrepreneurs a very tidy profit, accumulated in only a span of two years.

Image by Benjamin Shell on Flickr

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