Ben RattrayWhen we were struggling financially in our first year, I had to ask my youngest brother to loan me $3,000 to keep the company afloat. It was definitely a humbling experience and gave me new appreciation for my brother.Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
Founder and CEO, Change.org Almost everyone knows of Trayvon Martin, whose killing in Florida this year ignited national outrage, but few know of Rattray, the man who helped make his death a cause célèbre. Rattray’s five-year-old site, Change.org, took off last year and now counts more than 20 million users, generates a jaw-dropping 15,000 petitions per month, and will bring in some $15 million in revenue this year, mostly from nonprofit advertising. Victories include persuading Universal Pictures to add an environmental message to the promotional website for The Lorax, pushing Seventeen to vow not to Photoshop out its models’ curves, and enabling Martin’s parents to draw 2 million signatures on a petition that even pulled the President into the ensuing fray.
Hot wheels: Rattray still drives a 1996 Toyota Camry. –Anne VanderMey