Dream Big, Start Small: Small Businesses That Are Changing the World

Business.com / Starting a Business / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

You don't have to be multinational conglomerate to change the world. Here are SMBs that are changing the game with their ideas.

Wanting to change the world starts with one small step.

Take for example, the efforts of 35 year-old environmental engineer Ashley Muspratt. While teaching science to children in Ghana, Muspratt was sickened by the amount of human waste dumped into the ocean every day.

She, like other major corporations, set out to find a solution for global waste treatment challenges, mainly by converting poop to fuel or fertilizer. But unlike other big businesses, Muspratt is trying to monetize this conversion with a business-to-business model. She hopes to sell this recycled fuel to industrial manufacturers who burn through tons of fuel each day, ultimately cutting down on a major carbon footprint.

But she didn’t start with a global reach. She started with one idea, one manufacturing plant, and one major customer. Like Ms. Muspratt and despite their small size, many startups and SMBs are changing how we go about living in the world.

Here’s a list of some of those game-changers:

PK Clean

PK Clean is another small business aiming to clean and restore the environment. Priyanka Bakaya, MIT graduate and CEO of the four year-old startup, deploys a method called “catalytic depolymerization” which converts plastic junk back into fuel. Her design, Bakaya tells Inc., is more effective than any other attempt prior to hers.

Just recently, she and her partner Benjamin Coates used their savings and entrepreneur contest money to fund their first commercial-scale plant in Utah, which will convert 20,000 pounds of waste into 2,5000 gallons of fuel- per day.

Oscar

According to Wired, this innovative startup is about to grow dramatically. On April 20th, the New York-based health insurance company secured $145 million in new funding. This goes with the trend of venture capitalists investing 250% more in the healthcare industry than they did in 2014. But why are they pouring money into an insurance company?

Oscar is changing the way we do healthcare. They’re taking the boring, the bland and the complicated out of a seemingly convoluted industry, offering free televisits, cash incentives for flu shots, and free MisFit bands for members. In other words they’re taking the lead in making insurance a cool new product, not just a complicated must-have.

Related Article: Slaying the Goliaths: Small Business vs. Big Brands

Artemis Networks

Ever heard of pCell? It’s an antenna technology designed by start-up Artemis Networks that increases Internet speeds faster than other congested wireless networks.

According to the New York Times, the new network is “connected to data centers that perform nearly instantaneous mathematical calculations to fashion a unique wireless signal for every person on the network,” which provides each customer with undiluted Internet speed and strength. Although they are just getting started in San Francisco, this new technology could have a huge impact on marketers, consumers and business owners worldwide.

Peepoople

This is another company fighting defecation management issues. Over 1.4 million children die each year from diseases caused by contact with fecal matter and Peepoople’s product helps prevent the spread of poop-related diseases.

Founded by a Swedish entrepreneur in 2006, the company sells “single-use, self-sanitizing, fully biodegradable toilet that prevents feces from contaminating the immediate area as well as the surrounding ecosystem” to governments and aid organizations. It’s an affordable and healthy alternative to toilets in areas without abundant water resources.

Edesia

With just a 48-person team in Providence, Rhode Island, Edesia fights to lower the rate of childhood malnutrition in developing countries. They sell ready-to-use packaged goods to non-profit organizations, in hopes they can reach starving kids under the age of five who need more than standard food to return to health. Each line of product is packed with daily nutritional values and is designed to nurture various levels of malnutrition.

Related Article: Business Lessons from the Craft Beer Boom

Bioloop

Still in it’s infant stage, this young startup is looking to disrupt the textile industry. Co-founder Jennifer Kaehms tells FastCompany that they’re aiming to “give people what they want, and push the bad things out of the equation” by genetically modifying bacteria to overproduce bioplastic and cellulose. Ultimately this will help produce more sustainable textiles and reduce land waste.

Kickstarter

Kickstarter helps startups get off the ground, but the company itself only has 112 people working together in Brooklyn. Since their start in 2009, over 83,000 creative projects have been funded, totaling over $1.7 billion in investments and many new entrepreneurs who wouldn’t have been able to chase their dreams otherwise.

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