Forbes 30 Under 30: Olentangy Liberty grad Trent Hedge finds entrepreneurial niche with Atmos

Jim Fischer
ThisWeek
Trent Hedge, a 2018 Olentangy Liberty High School graduate who grew up in Powell, recently cofounded online homebuilding platform Atmos. The group’s founders were named to the Forbes 30 Under 30.

When he was 12 years old, Trent Hedge decided to take the experience of helping maintain the property at his father’s office and turn it into a landscaping business.

Although it might not have caught the attention of Forbes magazine, it did lay a foundation of entrepreneurship that would, late last year, land Hedge on the Forbes 30 Under 30.

Atmos, an online homebuilding platform founded by Hedge and three other 20-somethings and for which Hedge serves as head of operations, earned the Forbes recognition, but the venture is the latest project that reflects an attitude that was fostered while Hedge was growing up in Powell.

“I grew up around a small business and saw that entrepreneurial life,” Hedge, 20, said, speaking of the payroll-employee benefits company his father had started. “I helped out there and even worked for (my dad) when I was still a kid.”

Tom Hedge said he always encouraged his sons – Trent has two older brothers, Travis, 30, and Tyler, 26 – to participate in his business and to consider being their own bosses.

“It helped that (Trent) was able to look up to his brothers, but he was always looking for opportunities to start something new, something his own,” Tom Hedge said.

Trent, a 2018 Olentangy Liberty High School graduate, began an internship with Root Insurance in downtown Columbus during his senior year in high school. He had been building websites for several years and was tasked with the creation and execution of a series of online marketing initiatives for Root.

This experience solidified his decision to pursue some kind of entrepreneurship track at the college level. He also opted to move to the West Coast to be closer to the strong technology and venture-capital communities, as well as his brother Travis.

“I really looked up to him,” Trent Hedge said. “He was involved with venture-capital projects, and I knew that’s where I wanted to be.”

School didn’t last long for Hedge, however, as an internship led to employment opportunities, which then led to new entrepreneurial opportunities.

At the same time, Hedge created an online community for entrepreneurs. “In San Francisco, it was easy to meet young people interning in the tech and venture-capital industries, but it’s not easy finding 16-22-year-olds who are starting companies,” he said.

It was through this online community Hedge met his future Atmos partners. In addition to attracting capital, the 1-year-old company has about a dozen projects in various stages in the Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina, regions.

“(Atmos) takes the whole homebuilding process online, from finding a lot to working with a Realtor to architects and interior design,” Hedge said, comparing the experience loosely to car shopping online. “We work like a general contractor.”

While streamlining an existing process, Hedge said, he hopes Atmos also sets the stage for looking at homebuilding in new ways, including how emerging technologies can affect home design.

“I’ve always worked in tech within these ‘boring’ industries, but what I find is there is a lot of room for change,” Hedge said.

Finding new paths in established systems was something Hedge had learned at Liberty.

“I’m fortunate to have grown up in Powell and gone to school at Liberty, but I didn’t really fit the traditional student pathways,” he said, crediting business teacher Jason Wheeler with encouraging him.

“I probably took over 20 business courses in high school,” Hedge said.

“Trent didn’t fit the mold of a traditional student, but I could see where his potential was. I could see the kinds of things he was thinking about,” Wheeler said. “I tell all my students I have an open-door policy, and Trent took advantage of that.”

While focusing on Atmos – Hedge is living in North Carolina for the early part of 2021 to help with the company’s operations – he is also working with his brother Travis on a handful of venture projects.

“I’ve always wanted to work with him, and now we’re investing in startups together,” Trent Hedge said.

But mostly he wants to encourage other young people to create their own opportunities.

“I’ve met ambitious and bright people from all over the world,” he said. “All of us are outliers and misfits.”

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