Cleveland’s Young Innovators Shine in Forbes 30 Under 30 Local List

Forbes has announced its inaugural 30 Under 30 Local list, featuring the top young entrepreneurs, activists and creatives from 10 vibrant innovation hubs across the U.S. and Canada. Among them are 30 rising stars from the greater Cleveland area, who are making their mark in various fields such as food and beverage, technology, healthcare, sports and community service.

From NFL Quarterback to Community Builder

One of the most notable names on the list is Baker Mayfield, the 26-year-old quarterback of the Cleveland Browns. Mayfield, who led the Browns to their first playoff win in 26 years last season, is not only a star on the field but also a leader off it. He has invested in several local businesses and charities, such as TownHall, a popular organic restaurant and bar; The Mayfield Foundation, which supports families of children with special needs; and Special Olympics Ohio, which provides sports opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.

Mayfield is also passionate about making Cleveland a more attractive place for young professionals and entrepreneurs. He has partnered with Destination Cleveland, the city’s tourism agency, to promote the city’s culture, attractions and opportunities. He has also launched his own clothing line, Baker Mayfield Collection, which features apparel inspired by Cleveland’s landmarks and history.

A 24-Year-Old CEO Managing Assets in North America

Another impressive young leader on the list is Reilly Berk, the 29-year-old CEO of Berk Enterprises. Berk Enterprises is a family-owned business that was founded 77 years ago as a distributor of food service disposables, such as plastic cutlery, straws and to-go containers. The company serves more than 3,000 customers across the U.S., including restaurant chains like Chipotle, schools and distributors.

Cleveland’s Young Innovators Shine in Forbes 30 Under 30 Local List

Berk, who is the granddaughter of the company’s founder, took over as CEO in 2023 after working at the company for 10 years. She manages 115 employees in multiple states and oversees all aspects of the business, from sales and marketing to operations and finance. She expects to generate $88 million in revenue in 2023 and aims to quadruple that figure in the next decade. She is also committed to making the company more sustainable and environmentally friendly by introducing biodegradable and compostable products.

A Hip-Hop Duo Making Education Fun and Engaging

Devon Carter and Laura Frias are the cofounders of REAL, short for Recognize Education And Learning. REAL is a nonprofit organization that uses hip-hop music, movies and other elements of pop culture to get inner-city students more engaged in their studies. The duo creates original songs, videos and curriculum that cover topics such as math, science, history and social justice.

REAL works with schools across Ohio, including Akron, Columbus and Toledo, as well as Allentown, Pennsylvania and Chicago. The organization has reached more than 10,000 students since its inception in 2019 and has seen positive results in terms of academic performance, attendance and behavior. Carter and Frias are both former teachers who have a passion for education and music. They hope to inspire the next generation of learners and leaders through their innovative approach.

More Young Talents Making a Difference

The Forbes 30 Under 30 Local list also features many other young talents from Cleveland who are making a difference in their respective fields. Some of them are:

  • Jared Anderson and Sandor Gyerman, the cofounders of andor. creative, a creative agency that produces advertising and marketing content for companies such as Mercedes Benz USA, Nissan and Volvo USA.
  • Natalie Bata, the cofounder of Cocky’s Bagels, a bagel and sandwich shop that started from a concession trailer bought off Craigslist and has grown to four locations in Ohio.
  • Ryan Cleary, the cofounder of FloatMe, a fintech startup that offers interest-free advances to help workers avoid overdraft fees and payday loans.
  • Emily Kennedy Hapner, the founder of Kennedy Creative Events + PR + Design + Strategy (KCEDS), a full-service event planning and public relations firm that specializes in nonprofit fundraising events.
  • Alex Pacheco Jr., the founder of Pacheco Boxing Club (PBC), a boxing gym that provides training and mentorship for at-risk youth in Cleveland’s West Side.

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