We started this project with a blank slate: We were looking for young innovators from a wide variety of industries who were gaining significant traction, some more quietly than others. People who were "disrupting" their fields (much as we hate that word). We wanted the group to be diverse, and we wanted to spotlight entrepreneurs and investors who are using technology and their positions to make the world a better place.
In practical terms, this translated into entrepreneurs under the age of 40, currently based in the United States, with companies less than five years old. We also looked for young investors who were thinking outside the box and backing nontraditional startups.
We talked to entrepreneurs and accelerators, and we looked at funding news, product announcements and investor portfolios. We culled the list in several rounds, looking for diversity in founders — regional, gender and racial — with companies across a variety of sectors. This is CNNMoney’s Upstart 30: a list of game-changing companies and the entrepreneurs and investors behind them. Though they have unique backgrounds, schoolings and perspectives, they are all on a mission to pave a better future.