Originally appeared on Forbes.com on October 1st 2019
What is the one most pivotal point of your career that you celebrate as your greatest moment of success? IWC Schaffhausen will explore “the moment” with Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list makers to understand the story behind their biggest milestones.
Forbes selects 600 inspiring and aspiring young movers and makers out to change the world for its 30 Under 30 list, from 20 different industries. 30 trailblazers under the age of 30 are chosen for each industry, chronicling the brashest entrepreneurs across the United States and Canada. Take a peek at the stories of Brandon Bryant, Jon Yao and Blake Tomnitz below.
Photo credit: Forbes/Ivan Clow
After relentlessly pursuing a career in investment banking throughout college, it didn’t take long for Brandon Bryant, now 29 and one of the founders of Harlem Capital Partners, to observe that he and his new colleagues had little in common.
“As a person of color, you sit next to the kid who played lacrosse, whose father and mother is somebody, and you get to actually understand how they move in the world,” he recalls of the old boys’ club that seemed to dominate his majority-white workplace. “My big takeaway from my experience is to be on the offense now, and be excited to make my own opportunities and connect my own dots.”
He’s done that by launching an early-stage venture-capital firm with three black friends that’s committed to investing in businesses owned by people of color and women, who receive as little as 3% of VC funding despite representing 70% of the population, according to Harlem Capital. Of course, trying to break the cycle of white, male financiers investing in companies helmed by people who look like them hasn’t been easy.
Before opening Kato, the trendy Taiwanese restaurant celebrated by food critics and LA hipsters alike, Jon Yao almost quit the kitchen for law school.
“Honestly, it was just to appease my parents,” the 27-year-old Walnut, California, native, whose parents are of Chinese descent and were born in Taiwan, says of his brief fling with the law. “I figured I’d go to law school and then figure it out from there. That’s like the Asian career path: doctor, lawyer, accountant.” Ironically, it was his parents who asked their son to help them with their big idea: a lunchbox service for university students in nearby Los Angeles.
Within three years, Yao, who was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list last year, helped them launch the business, quickly transformed it into a chic restaurant and earned the greatest accolade in modern cooking: a Michelin star. The way he tells it, he failed very far upward.
Photo credit: Forbes/Chad McClymonds
Photo credit: Forbes/Ivan Clow
Deep in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, Blake Tomnitz overlooks the 15,000-square-foot brewery he spent the past half-decade building and perfecting, and even longer dreaming about. The four soaring stainless steel fermenters at Five Boroughs Brewing Co. prep the beers that will be poured at the taproom next door, where local folks gather to play board games and enjoy a brew or three.
Five Boroughs — whose craft beers now flow through bar taps and stock fridges across, well, all five boroughs — is a far cry from Tomnitz’s first attempts to brew in college. “We were actually doing it on our dorm room kitchen stoves. Very, very rudimentary. The chilling process of the beer was us duct taping the sink,” recalls the now 30-year-old cofounder and CEO of Five Boroughs, who was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list last year. Leaving the beer to ferment in closets also created an unkind odor throughout the hallways. “My roommate Ryan and I had to go before a disciplinary board. They didn’t really budge, even though it was legal federally, and we were of age.”
Neither were Tomnitz’s parents thrilled with their son’s obsession. “Needless to say, when my parents showed up to move me out of my dorm room for graduation, my dad was really questioning what I was doing at that time. He was not happy at all,” Tomnitz says with a laugh. “He’s way more accepting now.”
Created by Forbes, in partnership with IWC