THE BLOG
04/25/2011 04:20 pm ET Updated Jun 25, 2011

Top Four Startups at Summit Series

It's been called "The Next TED" and "Davos for Generation Y." President Bill Clinton has called it "A gift to the United States and the world." But, honestly, the only way to describe the Summit Series is... Epic.

Summit Series engages the world's most dynamic dreamers and doers through curated events, such as this year's Summit at Sea, in order to make the world a better place. The Summit Series team believes what's good for business should be good for the world, and is working to inspire the millennial generation to redefine what success looks like in business and in life.

To that end, earlier this month a boat carrying the next generation entrepreneurs, artists and activists set sail from Miami for a weekend of inspiration, connection and, of course, revelry. The weekend was filled with inspiring content from Richard Branson, Russell Simmons, Gary Vaynerchuck and Jaqueline Novogratz. The party was set to the music of The Roots, Imogen Heap, Pretty Lights, Axwell and Eclectic Method. You couldn't wait in line for a drink at the bar without meeting a 20-30 something that is crushing it in their respective field. The atmosphere was very open, and every conversation was both humbling and inspiring. In the closing session one of the founders of the Summit Series said, "If you want to be a fast runner, spend time with sprinters." Well, in the world of entrepreneurship and social good, this boat was full of world-class sprinters.

Out of this group there were four exceptionally innovative startups from members of the Summit Series community that have the potential to be incredibly disruptive... in a good way.

SKILLSHARE

What is Skillshare? from Skillshare on Vimeo.

The learning revolution is on! Skillshare is redefining what an education is by challenging the assumption that learning only occurs within the four walls of a classroom. Skillshare is a platform to learn anything, from anyone. Think of it as the "Etsy for Learning". Want to learn how to compost food, win at scrabble, or bake the perfect cupcake from the folks at Magnolia Bakery? You'll be able to take a class on these interesting topics through the Skillshare community. Skillshare is flipping the traditional notion of education on its head and democratize learning by tapping into existing communities and networks, which we believe are the world's largest universities.

Skillshare is in Beta.

THE ADVENTURE PROJECT

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What's the best way to create access to water in rural India, clean cookstoves to Haiti, or irrigation in Uganda? The Adventure Project believes it's by encouraging investment in social entrepreneurs in the developing world. Rather than giving charity, which is so often ineffective, inefficient and destructive, The Adventure Project seeks to empower local entrepreneurs on the ground to meet the biggest challenges in their community.

The Adventure Project accesses microphilanthropy -- donations of $100 or less -- from their grassroots network of donors in America and invests those donations in innovative, low cost solutions in developing communities across the globe. Every quarter they focus on a different project. The Adventure Project transforms philanthropy into investment. The vision is simple. The Adventure Project believes that we can end extreme poverty in our lifetime by reinventing how we give. Ways that spur economic opportunity, promote dignity and save lives.

The Adventure Project launched in December 2010.
Check them out at http://theadventureproject.org

ZAARLY

Zaarly Introduction from Team Zaarly on Vimeo.

Say you're on a deadline at the office and you're totally craving Chicken Tikka Masala from that one Indian restaurant across town, but there's no way you can get out to grab it. You think to yourself, "Man, I'd pay $30 to get that Tikka Masala right now." Well, that's exactly what Zaarly does.

Zaarly is a proximity based, real-time buyer powered market. Buyers make an offer for an immediate need and sellers cash in on an infinite marketplace for items and services they never knew were for sale. It's the perfect marketplace to facilitate division of labor, so that users can spend their time focusing on the best use of their time. Additionally, it's creating a solution to the languishing unemployment problem. Anybody can run errands in their free time and make a decent amount of money.

Zaarly is in stealth mode.

BRE.AD

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Do we really need another link shortener? That was my initial thought when I heard about bre.ad. But Bre.ad is the first innovator in this space because its patented technology enables users to promote their personal brands and causes.

Here's how it works: say you send me a link to a Harvard Business Review article. When I click on the link I will be directed to a 5 second billboard of your choosing, perhaps a page promoting Pencils of Promise, then it will automatically take you to the HBR article. The first bre.ad link was used by Lady Gaga to promote her new album on Twitter and Facebook. The company is working with online personalities, brands and charities to help them gain more exposure across social media while letting their audiences know what they care about most.

Bre.ad is currently in stealth mode
To sign up for their beta, visit http://bre.ad

These four startups are changing the way we learn, give, share and get stuff done. But there are sure to be more innovative startups coming out of conversations that happened at the Summit at Sea. With all the talent, ambition, positive vibes, great music and inspiration on the ship, there's sure to be dreamers and doers that are bold enough to ask the question, "What if...?" Whatever the answer to that question is, the world is bound to be a better place because of it.