Benjamin VandenWymelenberg

Founder/chairman

Woodchuck USA

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Description

Starting as a college student inspired to connect people to nature through everyday products made of sustainably sourced wood, Ben VandenWymelenberg has become a serial entrepreneur with interests in commercial real estate, entrepreneurship, and environmentalism. Woodchuck, with a staff of 52, is a go-to custom gift vendor for companies as large as Google and U.S. Bank. But he wants to diversify. Woodchuck added a commercial interiors division this year and plans a big push into brick-and-mortar retail in 2019. VandenWymelenberg also co-owns North Co., the Northeast Minneapolis building that houses Woodchuck and 22 other locally owned companies. He and his two partners have snapped up 10 surrounding buildings and plan to develop a campus for startups. Meanwhile, he purchased 150 acres north of Cushing, Minnesota, where Woodchuck will grow trees and research new species. His book, The World Needs Your F—ing Ideas, is due out early next year.