Disrupt, Transform, Grow: 5 Reality-Changing Innovators


Change is born of passion and understanding. You think you have the next big idea, but how does it fit within — or break — the existing framework? How is your product, service or company important and how will it transform everyday life?

Innovators can see the full picture, understand how systems and processes work and how they can help a market evolve. Today’s list features individuals driven by powerful backstories, love of media and finding the Next Big Thing. Some help us see the world differently while others look to change it. What they share is a knack for realizing how they fit within a constantly shifting landscape.

Hear from five reality-changing innovators below.

Nick Collins

“Everyone should grow their own food.” Feeding ourselves has worked this way for most of human history, and it’s the idea that drives everything Nick Collins does. His urban farming company, TAPFT Green Solutions, develops plans for businesses, renters and homeowners to operate their own gardens and educates them on sustainable practices.

Collins became passionate about this cause while studying at Florida A&M University, seeing first hand how harmful and unhealthy the industrial farming complex can be. He started by volunteering to build greenhouses on a college campus and three years later started his business. By teaching people how to grow food in their own contexts, he’s changing the way they think about nutrition and our planet’s health.

Hear Collins talk more about his work in our video interview.

Gunnar Lovelace

Like Collins, Gunnar Lovelace has a passion for changing our relationship with food. As a Latino immigrant who grew up in a low-income, single-parent family, he had difficulty understanding why processed, chemically-laden food was cheaper and easier to get than healthy food.

Lovelace’s upbringing inspired Thrive Market, a high-quality organic grocer that provides affordable healthy food nationwide. He has done it honing his sales and connecting skills, creating a membership program and taking care of himself so he has the energy to do it all.

Watch our video interview for the full story.

Facundo Diaz

Music is an integral part of our daily lives and culture, and Facundo Diaz is working to evolve it. As CEO and co-founder of VRTIFY, he aims to transform the way we experience music by making it a more immersive experience, both live and at home.

That happens through Augmented, Virtual and Mixed reality, which Diaz says is more accessible than ever before. By staying on top of a rapidly changing technological environment, his company is developing tools and a platform to revolutionize the industry.

Diaz talks more about his love for music and tech in our interview.

Akiko Yamashita

3D art designer and animator Akiko Yamashita is another technological innovator changing the way we look at reality. As the creative director at Los Angeles design firm VT PRO, she makes custom light and projection mapping installations for the likes of Nike and Google. She’s using skills she built herself, learning from connections and working through tutorials after taking a postgraduate interest in the field. Inspired by hours down the YouTube rabbit hole, she found like-minded individuals via craigslist that focused on building skills through random projects.

Feast your eyes on some of her work as she explains how design and animation can make magic.

Suzy Ryoo

Suzy Ryoo is an innovator who works with innovators, finding the next big thing in tech and fostering its growth. As Vice President of Technology and Innovation at Atom Factory, she invests financial resources and volumes of startup knowledge in emerging brands and companies. She calls it “cultural investing,” or understanding how consumer behavior has changed, how tech platforms shift, and how entrepreneurs can leverage that information to build strong companies.

Ryoo believes the first step to disrupting any industry is understanding the market. If you know how the product you’re building is important and unique to what exists, you’re better positioned to make it a success.

Hear more from Ryoo on the recipe for startup success in our video.

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