15 cool small businesses that make people healthier, wealthier, smarter, and happier

away jen rubio

  • Cool small businesses emerge every day across the US.
  • We put together a list of 15 small businesses that make people healthier, wealthier, smarter, or happier.
  • Those small businesses include the independent bookstore Books are Magic and the beach-bound shuttle service The Free Ride.

Across the US, new small businesses are popping up every day. And they're rapidly revolutionizing areas like transportation, food, fashion and beauty, and gaming.

We scoured the web and asked our readers to identify some of their favorite small businesses (which the US government defines as employing 500 people or fewer). Below, we've listed 15 of the most innovative.

Since we're largely highlighting reader-nominated businesses, the companies on the list below aren't definitively the coolest small businesses in the country, but they are some of the coolest. Our criteria for inclusion, aside from having fewer than 500 employees, was that the companies had to improve society at large, meaning they make people healthier, wealthier, smarter, or happier. The businesses are not ranked.

Read on to learn about the small businesses that are making the world a better place to live.

SEE ALSO: A physics PhD and startup founder explains how entrepreneurs can get the most basic business advice all wrong

NextGenVest

What it does: Helps students navigate the college financial-aid process. Trained college students provide assistance to college applicants via text message.

Why it's cool: The graduating class of 2016 owed an average of $17,126 in student debt (in New Hampshire, that figure shot up to $27,167). But many students aren't necessarily aware of the financial burden they're taking on when they apply. NextGenVest is a way to get timely and accurate information in their hands.

Read more about NextGenVest here.



The Free Ride

What it does: Offers passengers free rides to some beaches in the Hamptons, the Jersey Shore, Santa Monica, and San Diego. How? Electric cars eliminate the cost of fuel and the service is sponsored by advertisers (like JetBlue, seen in the photo).

Why it's cool: Beach-goers no longer have to drive themselves crazy looking for (and paying for) a few hours of parking. Plus, electric cars mean the service is environmentally friendly.

Read more about The Free Ride here.



Eu'Genia Shea

What it does: This mother-daughter-run business sells high-quality shea-butter products while supporting fair wages for the female workers in Ghana who make those products.

Why it's cool: Eu'Genia Shea donates 15% of its profits back to their female workers in Ghana, either in the form of a retirement fund or an education fund for their children. Each product comes with a personal touch — Akuete and her mother package them themselves in her Brooklyn apartment.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider