Oregon and Washington State’s Young Entrepreneurs Are Best

Our neighbourly states down south are really taking young entrepreneurship to the next level.  Businessweek published its America’s Best Young Entrepreneurs’ list and two interesting people are from Washington and Oregon.

At just 26 years old, Joanna Van Vleck from Bend, Oregon has made Businessweek’s America’s Best Young Entrepreneurs list.  Why? For her online clothes shopping service for men called Trunk Club.

After not being able to secure funds from an investor to open physical locations, she got the idea to take everything online and do it herself.  Clients would meet with her via Webcam, she would check out their styles and then ship them their clothing accordingly. She combined the personal shopping aspect with online shopping and it’s worked in her favour. Trunk Club now has six employees, 36 independent contractors who work as fashion consultants remotely, and around 2,000 members. Van Vleck says the company is close to breaking even and is on track for $2.3 million to $2.5 million in revenue in 2009. She expects to close her first venture capital round with a Bay Area firm within a month.



Tatango.com‘s Derek Johnson from Bellingham is also on the list. At 24, Johnson who designed a group text messaging platform is guaranteed to go far. After setting up a simple We site to allow his fraternity house to send text messages to the entire group, he turned the service into a paid for service. Launching in late 2007, he offered the service for free, gathering and testing the user base.  In 2009, he began charging users a monthly fee of $20 to $200 depending on the number of texts sent, and now has about 10,000 registered users. According to Businessweek, Derek became cash-flow positive in September. He has also started a second business, a five-employee social media consulting firm Derek Media, this summer.