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Entrepreneurs

35 Innovators Under 35

Entrepreneurs

These innovators are creating businesses that will upend markets or create new ones.

Aaron Levie, 29

The founder of Box wants to reconfigure the way we work.

  • by Ted Greenwald
  • He has come a long way since the fifth grade, when he sold cloth bags filled with rice as heating pads to soothe sore muscles—only to recall the product when the twist ties used to seal the bags burst into flames in customers’ microwaves. Today, Aaron Levie is CEO of Box, a company that he founded in 2005; it is now on the verge of an IPO.

    Box is often described as being like Dropbox for businesses: it makes it easy to store files in the cloud. But Levie envisions something bigger than mere file sharing. Because Box offers features such as electronic signatures and tools that aid regulatory compliance, he views it as a platform for connecting people not just inside companies but also across entire industries—suppliers, partners, customers, contractors, and so on. “Maybe we can save 10 percent of an employee’s time, but the organization as a whole is moving 20 percent faster, and it’s working with a new network of partners,” he says. “At each level the change becomes more ­transformative.”

    High-profile clients such as General Electric validate the power of this idea. The sprawling company is using Box to keep employees in 170 countries on the same page. 

    —Ted Greenwald

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