Austin Knight Johnston 29, Executive Director AKJohnston Group, Los Angeles On this list because: At 17, Johnston started an event lighting company and scaled it into his first business, X Events, which he then left to work for an enormous theme park lighting company. He started design, management and production company AKJohnston Group in 2008, and despite launching during the Great Recession, his company has grown 300 percent every year for the last eight years. Part of that success may be attributed to having technical production and custom fabrication capabilities under one roof. He manages a talented team of designers and engineers who push the envelope when it comes to design and materials, and meld them both with out-there technology. Though based in Orange County, California, Johnston has worked in seven countries and 20 states for the likes of Gucci, Keurig, Rolls-Royce, Toyota and Vitaminwater.
Bragging rights: A huge national corporate client expected 600 attendees for a fundraising event and only secured 400. Johnston still helped it reach 100 percent of its fundraising goal that night, and the client has now hired his team to execute all of its national galas.
Photo by: Dhruhmil Desai