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30 Under 30 Europe Retail & Ecommerce 2024: Young Entrepreneurs Making Sustainable Consumer Goods At Scale

by Tunae

These twenty-something founders are raising impressive capital and generating significant revenue—while delivering global audiences’ favorite packaged snacks, energy drinks, perfumes and more.

By Yvonne Lau and Katherine Love

In an era when entertainers such as Taylor Swift are redefining music industry success with record-breaking global tours, massive merchandise sales and on-screen concert experiences for home-viewers and theater-goers, early entrepreneurs are busy reshaping the norms of retail and ecommerce.

Take the Nude Project, for example. Alejandro Benlloch and Bruno Casanovas founded the fast-growing Spanish streetwear line in 2019 with the slogan “by artists, for artists.” The 23-year-olds now sell 500 different garments and accessories online to more than 200 countries and in physical stores across Spain, Italy and Portugal—but they have a grander vision. Beyond making clothing that their generation loves to wear, Benlloch and Casanovas are expanding the brand into pop-up events, a line of beer and a coffee shop.

“Our success comes from connecting with our community and providing them an experience,” says co-CEO Casanovas. He describes Nude Project’s brand philosophy as creating apparel and a lifestyle to which its Gen-Z audience relates. And relate it does: to the tune of $30 million in 2023 revenue.

This innovative and risk-tolerant mindset exemplifies the 2024 cohort of young entrepreneurs who are introduced today—as the newest honorees of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe Retail & Ecommerce list. These twenty-something founders and rising business leaders are scaling new models, shipping goods globally, raising impressive capital and generating significant revenue—from cosmetics to eyeglasses, pet food to cleaning products, secondhand clothing to supplements.

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From a pool of some 300 nominations specific to Retail & Ecommerce, a panel of outside judges helped determine the list honorees. The final 30 were selected for their disruptive concepts in this category, unique business models, demonstrated success and continued growth potential. Comprising the judging panel were Renzo Rosso, the Italian billionaire who owns denim powerhouse Diesel and several luxury fashion brands through holding company OTB; Justina Chung, a London-based vice president at Bessemer Venture Partners whose investment focus areas include the consumer internet; 2021 30 Under 30 Europe list alumnus Xenia Adonts, who has expanded her Paris-based sustainable fashion line Attire The Studio to the U.S.; and 2019 30 Under 30 Europe list veteran Kilian Kaminski, who has raised some $130 million as cofounder of Refurbed, a Vienna-based online marketplace for used electronics such as laptops, home appliances and e-bikes.

A pattern among this year’s list honorees is scaling companies that put sustainability at the core of their business model. Former Antwerp classmates-turned-cofounders Manush Bavar, Ruben Renaer and Lowie Vercraeye (who are ages 28, 27 and 27, respectively) run Brauzz and earned $3.5 million in 2023 for their cleaning products aimed at eliminating single-use plastics, such as soap pods to refill dispenser bottles. Fellow list honoree Tibbe Verschaffel, 28, founded Belgium-based Planet B, which expects to reach $10.7 million in 2024 revenue selling plastic-free consumer goods such as bamboo straws and shampoo bars. In Turkey, 29-year-old Mehmet Ertan Uygun is advancing the circular economy for smartphones through Getmobil, an online marketplace for used devices. He says the startup is on track to hit $100 million in 2024 revenue, up from $17 million in 2023.

The list features several exemplars of marketing strategy built upon viral buzz and celebrity hype. Jack Bennet, 29, runs Coddies, a London line of whimsical, fish-themed footwear which have been worn by singer Dua Lipa and model Heidi Klum. Meanwhile, 27-year-old Hope Macaulay runs an eponymous brand of Irish handmade chunky knits seen on covers of GQ and Harper’s Bazaar magazines and worn by the likes of model Gigi Hadid and tennis wonder Naomi Osaka. From Belgium, 28-year-old Svéa Van den Heuvel launched a versatile bag called The Foldie amid pandemic-induced lockdowns, which has since shot to the top charts in Amazon’s travel tote category and is on track to hit $60 million in revenue in 2024. “Starting a business [then] was wild, but gave us a unique edge, as people were longing to start traveling again,” Van den Heuvel says.


Gallery: 30 Under 30 Europe 2024: All Callouts

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The 2024 listmakers are also demonstrating creative approaches in terms of ecommerce technology. With the backing of Y Combinator, 27-year-old Harry Cheslaw is building Autone, a London-headquartered and AI-driven inventory management platform that is meant to tackle retailers’ operational inefficiencies, like over-stocking items that don’t sell or under-stocking items that will fly off the shelves. Also 27, Daniel Paluch and his bootstrapped, Brussels-based business—which is called Broidr—hold no inventory, but rather source a range of 200 brands’ ethically made products into corporate and promotional gift collections. Clients include Porsche, Toyota and ClassPass. While Paluch focuses on bulk gift orders, the three Berlin cofounders behind Throne focus on singular gifting—granted, on a large scale. Patrice Becker, 25, Leonhard Soenke, 26, and Heiner Stinner, 29, of Throne drive $83 million in sales volume annually, as 17 million social media users fulfill wishlists for 500,000 of their favorite content creators on YouTube, TikTok, Twitch and more.

The early success which Becker, Soenke and Stinner have seen in two years building Throne parallels the quick traction which Benlloch and Casanovas have seen during Nude Project’s five years: Know your consumer community and deliver something they will want.

This year’s list was edited by Yvonne Lau, Katherine Love and Emmy Lucas. For a link to our complete 2024 30 Under 30 Europe Retail & Ecommerce list, click here, and for full 2024 30 Under 30 Europe coverage, click here.

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