The Founders That Made 2023 Another Standout Year for NYC Startups

As Primary prepares to host the first NYC Tech Awards, take a look at the companies that met notable milestones in a tough year.

The Founders That Made 2023 Another Standout Year for NYC StartupsThe Founders That Made 2023 Another Standout Year for NYC Startups

It’s been an especially trying time to build a company anywhere, which makes it all the more important to recognize the work of New York City’s most intrepid teams. 

Readers might have seen our past Focal lists spotlighting founders or operators across sectors like fintech, healthcare, infrastructure, and more, but for the first time we’re opening the aperture to highlight a megalist of teams that made 2023 a big year for NYC tech. 

In another first, we are also bringing 500 founders, execs, and investors together at the NYC Tech Awards to raise a toast to these achievements and forge relationships for an even better 2024. Thank you to our sponsors Anomaly, Capital Connect by J.P. Morgan, Daversa, Deloitte, DLA Piper, Latham Watkins, Mercury, Stifel, Trinity Capital, Wilson Sonsini, Withum, Athletic Greens, Baloo, Gorgie, Komos, Kosterina, Sakara, and Waterdrop for helping make it a special evening!

As always with our Focal features, consider this list a lively sample size rather than exhaustive index. We will inevitably miss a few spectacular teams, and always want to meet the next wave of up and coming founders.

Jack Kokko and Raj Neervannan, Cofounders of AlphaSense

Jack Kokko and Raj Neervannan met at The Wharton School. They bonded over a shared enthusiasm to build a new search engine for businesses that could help financial and knowledge professionals extract relevant insights more quickly and easily than consumer tools. In 2011, the two founded AlphaSense, a market intelligence and search platform that leverages AI technology to solve the workflows unique to business users. In 2023, the team announced a $150 million Series E funding round led by BOND, bringing its valuation to a whopping $2.5 billion. AlphaSense has over 4,000 enterprise customers, including Google, Pfizer, and J.P. Morgan.

Jamie Salter, Founder and CEO of Authentic Brands Group

Jamie Salter started his career selling sports goods before transitioning into brand management. In 2010, the Toronto native founded Authentic Brands Group, a fashion and entertainment platform rapidly growing its portfolio to more than 40 iconic brands, including Reebok, David Beckham, and Juicy Couture®. Last summer, Authentic landed $500 million in funding from current investor General Atlantic, reportedly pushing its valuation to more than $20 billion.

Ryan Stroker and William Martiner, Cofounders of Avenue One

Founded in 2020 by Ryan Stroker and William Martiner, Avenue One runs a tech platform and investment marketplace aiming to simplify buying and selling rental homes for single-family landlords in 21 US markets. In May 2023, the team raised $100 million in strategic funding led by WestCap to spur growth, reportedly bringing its total valuation to $1 billion.

Irving Fain, Founder and CEO of Bowery

Irving Fain founded Bowery in 2015 fuelled by the mission to re-imagine farming for the better. The largest vertical farming company in the United States, Bowery designs and builds smart indoor environments to reimagine the future of food. Through its network of smart indoor farms and proprietary end-to-end technology, the company is transforming the entire fresh food supply chain to be smarter and safer. Bowery produce is sold in more than 2,600 locations, including Amazon, Whole Foods Market and Walmart. Last year, the team raised a $85 million Series D round, pushing its total equity funding to $592 million.

AJ Loiacono, Joe Alexander, and Ryan Kelly, Cofounders of Capital Rx

Capital Rx is a health technology company offering pharmacy benefit solutions to employers, health systems, and health plans. Founded in 2017, the company has developed an enterprise health platform, JUDI®, that brings all the administrative and clinical workflows needed to efficiently manage a pharmacy benefit program together on a single platform. In 2023, the team announced the closing of a $50+ million strategic investment round involving more than 10 of the nation’s leading health systems that valued Capital Rx at over $1 billion.

Martin Mao and Robert Skillington, Cofounders of Chronosphere

In 2019, Martin Mao and Robert Skillington, two engineers with previous experiences at Uber and Microsoft, founded Chronosphere. The Chronosphere cloud-native observability platform helps engineering teams quickly find and fix issues before they impact customer relationships and the bottom line. The company works with organisations such as DoorDash, Robinhood, and Abnormal Security. Earlier this year, the team acquired observability pipeline solutions startup Calyptia and announced a $5 million strategic funding round from CrowdStrike at a valuation of $1.6 billion.

Chris Pento and Sachin Kumar, Cofounders of Clear Street

Clear Street was founded in 2018 by financial industry veterans Chris Pento and Sachin Kumar to build a modern infrastructure for capital markets. Since then, the team has developed a cloud-native proprietary tech platform from scratch and claims to have more than 200 institutional-sized investor clients. Last year, the fintech raised $270 million in the second part of a Series B round at a $2 billion valuation. As of April 2023, Clear Street’s team has about 400 employees.

Mati Staniszewski and Piotr Dabkowski, Cofounders of ElevenLabs

Best friends Mati Staniszewski and Piotr Dabkowski were inspired to start ElevenLabs after recalling their experiences with poorly dubbed American films while growing up in Poland. Founded in 2022, the startup develops AI-driven voice research and tools across two dozen languages. Before ElevenLabs, Mati worked as a machine learning engineer at Google and Piotr at Palantir as a deployment strategist. Earlier this year, the team raised $80 million in a Series B round co-led by Andreessen Horowitz, Nat Friedman, and Daniel Gross, giving the startup a $1.1 billion valuation.

Cesar Carvalho and Joao Barbosa, Cofounders of Gympass

Gympass is an all-in-one corporate wellness platform that offers employees access to best partners for fitness, mindfulness, therapy, nutrition, and sleep. The company was founded in 2012 in Brazil by Cesar Carvalho and Joao Barbosa. Since then, the company has grown to over 15,000 corporate customers and more than 2.6 million employee subscribers in 11 global markets. In August 2023, the NY-based team announced an $85 million Series F investment led by EQT Growth at a $2.4 billion valuation.

Andrew Adams, CEO and cofounder of Headway

After moving to NYC in 2014, Andrew Adams tried to find a therapist he felt he could afford but failed to do so. Recognizing how many Americans face similar issues, he cofounded Headway, a mental health platform that connects patients with therapists who accept insurance, in 2017. Last October, the team announced a $125 million Series C funding round led by Spark Capital, pushing its valuation to over $1 billion. The new cash injection will be used to develop its technology further and expand across the US.

Michael Martin, Cofounder and CEO of RapidSOS

RapidSOS is an intelligent safety company that harnesses artificial and human intelligence to fuse life-saving data from 540M+ connected devices, apps, and sensors from 200+ global technology companies to over 16,000 field responder agencies. Whether there’s an unsafe moment or an emergency, RapidSOS Ready devices, vehicles, homes, or buildings deliver essential data to the right place when it matters most. In March 2024, the company announced the closure of a $150M financing round led by BlackRock to further drive the fusion between human and artificial intelligence.

Ron Daniel, Oron Maymon and Yaron Sela, Cofounders of LIQUiDITY Group

LIQUiDITY Group is a fintech that is a tech platform and a lender. Founded in 2018 by Ron Daniel, Oron Maymon, and Yaron Sela, the company uses its proprietary machine learning technology to optimize the risk assessment and decision-making process for providing investments and financing products. In September 2023, the team raised a $40 million equity investment from Japanese bank MUFG, reportedly pushing it to a $1.4 billion valuation. LIQUiDITY has offices in Tel-Aviv, Abu Dhabi, New York, London, Singapore, Tokyo, Mumbai, Boston, and San Francisco.

Spencer Potts, CEO of Madhive

Launched in 2015 as Otter TV, the firm rebranded to Madhive in 2016 and began offering its CTV adtech software platform to broadcasters, agencies, and brands that sell connected TV ads. In June 2023, the team raised $300 million from Goldman Sachs Asset Management. The same month, Spencer Potts, who was previously president at Madhive, became the CEO of Madhive while Adam Helfgott transitioned to Strategic Advisor and Chairman of the board.

April Koh and Adam Chekroud, Cofounders of Spring Health

While studying at Yale, April Koh saw firsthand how difficult and frustrating it was to find proper mental healthcare. In 2016, April teamed up with Adam Chekroud, a PhD student who had published research on how machine learning could help match patients with mental health treatments, to found Spring Health. Since then, the team has been on a mission to make mental healthcare more accessible through its predictive algorithms. In April 2023, the company landed a $71 million funding round, boosting its valuation to $2.5 billion.

Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval, Cofounders of Via

Founded by Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval in 2012, Via aims to modernize public transportation systems with its innovative end-to-end software. Used in more than 650 communities across the globe, Via’s customers are cities, transit agencies, transport operators, school districts, and universities. In February 2023, the team nabbed a $110 million funding round led by 83North and existing investors, boosting its valuation to $3.5 billion.

Charles Hugh-Jones, CEO of Volastra

Volastra is a biotech company developing novel therapies to treat cancer by looking into the biology of chromosomal instability. Prior to joining Volastra as CEO, Charles Hugh-Jones held executive positions at pharmacy company Allergan and Pfizer. In 2022, Volastra closed a drug development deal with Bristol Myers Squibb valued at $1.1 billion. In February 2023, the team announced a $60 million Series A round led by Polaris Partners and Arch Venture Partners.

Yehuda Schmidman, Cofounder and CEO of WHP Global

Founded in 2019 by brand management veteran Yehuda Schmidman and Oaktree Capital, WHP Global owns and manages a portfolio of consumer brands, including Toys”R”Us, EXPRESS, and G-Star Raw. In March 2023, the firm raised a $375 million equity investment from Ares Management, bringing its valuations to $1.6 billion to boost its growth phase.

Assaf Rappaport, Yinon Costica, Roy Reznik, and Ami Luttwak, Cofounders of Wiz

After cofounding security startup Adallom and selling it to Microsoft, Assaf Rappaport, Yinon Costica, Roy Reznik, and Ami Luttwak departed Microsoft to launch Wiz in 2020. Wiz is a cloud security platform that empowers security and development teams to build fast and securely by providing visibility into their cloud environments. The company works with 40% of the Fortune 100; customers include BMW, Slack, and Morgan Stanley. In February 2023, the fast-growing startup closed a $300 million Series D round with a $10 billion valuation.

Tarek Fadel,  Founder and CEO of FADEL

Founded in 2003 by Tarek Fadel, FADEL is a developer of cloud-based brand compliance and rights and royalty management software. The company has worked with big-name customers in media, publishing, and advertising, such as Marvel, L’Oreal, and The Economist. Before starting FADEL, Tarek was a Director of Consulting at Oracle. In April 2023, FADEL completed its IPO on the London Stock Exchange.

Clem Delangue (CEO), Julien Chaumond (CTO), and Thomas Wolf (CSO), Cofounders of Hugging Face

Named after the cofounders' favorite emoji, Hugging Face started as a fun conversational chatbot before pivoting to become the leading open and collaborative platform for AI builders. Since its founding in 2016 by Clem Delangue, Julien Chaumond, and Thomas Wolf, the AI startup now hosts 100,000 organizations and is home to more than 1 million repositories, including over 500,000 models. In August 2023, the team raised $235 million in Series D financing from Salesforce, Google, Amazon, Nvidia, Intel, and IBM, boosting Hugging Face’s valuation to $4.5 billion.

R. Nolan Townsend, CEO of Lexeo Therapeutics

In 2020, R. Nolan Townsend joined Lexeo Therapeutics as CEO and member of the Board of Directors to support the biotech’s mission to develop genetic medicines and treatments for cardiovascular and neurological disease. Lexeo was initially spun out of Weill Cornell’s genetic medicine lab. Last November, the team launched an IPO to raise $100 million to fund their gene therapy programs.

Rodger Desai, cofounder and CEO of Prove Identity

Founded by Rodger Desai in 2008 as Payphone, the company rebranded to Prove in 2020. Prove is an identity verification and authentication platform helping over 1,000 companies, such as Visa and Starbucks, create secure and seamless consumer experiences to reduce fraud. Last October, the team raised a $40 million funding round led by MassMutual Ventures and Capital One Ventures, reportedly valuing the company at over $1 billion.

Eric Glyman, Karim Atiyeh, and Gene Lee, Cofounders of Ramp

Serial entrepreneurs Eric Glyman and Karim Atiyeh cofounded Paribus, which was acquired Capital One Rewards. In 2019, the duo left Capital One to start another startup, Ramp, with their friend Gene Lee. Ramp offers corporate credit cards and financial operations software to help businesses save money and thrive. Claiming over 15,000 customers, the team raised $300 million at a $5.8 billion valuation in August 2023.

Cristóbal Valenzuela, Anastasis Germanidis, and Alejandro Matamala-Ortiz, Cofounders of Runway

Runway’s cofounders Cristóbal Valenzuela, Anastasis Germanidis, and Alejandro Matamala-Ortiz first met while in the ITP program at New York University, where they discovered a mutual interest in how machine learning and computer vision could serve artists and creatives. Since its founding in 2018, Runway’s generative AI tools have been used for the Oscar-winning film Everything Everywhere All at Once and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Last June, the team raised a $141 million extension to its Series C at a reported valuation of $1.5 billion.

Sandeep Kulkarni, Cofounder and CEO of Tourmaline

Sandeep Kulkarni, MD, cofounder and CEO of Tourmaline Bio (NASDAQ: TRML). Sandeep Kulkarni helped found clinical biotech company Tourmaline Bio in 2021 after nearly two decades of working in the healthcare field, as an entrepreneur, researcher, and life science investor. Tourmaline develops groundbreaking medicines and treatments for patients with severe immune and inflammatory diseases. Tourmaline went public in 2023 and, earlier this year, Tourmaline closed an oversubscribed public follow-on offering, raising $172.5 million.

Seonghoon Woo, Young Suk Jo, Young Suk Jo, and Young Suk Jo, Cofounders of Amogy

In 2020, four MIT PhD alumni – Seonghoon Woo, Young Suk Jo, Young Suk Jo, and Young Suk Jo – founded Amogy to develop a technology that converts ammonia into a sustainable energy source. With Amogy’s innovative ammonia-powered technology, the team wants to help reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector. Last year, the team snapped up $139 million in Series B-1 financing led by SK Innovation to commercialize its product and bring it to the market in 2024.

Neal Shenoy and Noelle Millholt, Cofounders of Begin

Founded by Neal Shenoy and Noelle Millholt in 2012, Begin is a market leader in the fast growing early learning segment of ed tech and the company behind award winning learning products HOMER, codeSpark, Little Passports, and Learn with Sesame.  The company, which developed a proprietary, proven early learning system that's been used by millions of families and has won 60+ industry awards, closed $90 million+ in Series D Preferred and Senior Secured Convertible Note funding in 2023 from Magnetar Financial, Marbruck Investments, ChopraX, and SBI Japan. Other strategic investors include Wellington Management, Sesame Workshop, LEGO, Gymboree, idealab!, Great Oaks, Advancit Capital, and GSV.  Neal is also Founding Partner of venture development firm [212]MEDIA which launched NY-based ventures Saavn (acquired by Reliance Jio), Liftmetrix (acquired by Hootsuite), and LeagueApps alongside Begin.

Danielle Cohen-Shohet, Founder and CEO of GlossGenius, and Leah Cohen-Shohet Chief Business Officer

Danielle combined her background in the beauty industry with a prior experience starting a digital receipt point of sale product with her twin sister Leah, who is Chief Business Officer at the company, to launch a vertical software payments business focused on the beauty and wellness industry. Launched in 2017, GlossGenius is a platform enabling beauty and wellness business owners to manage their front-of-house and back-of-house in one place. GlossGenius now powers over 70K businesses and billions of dollars in transactions. Last summer, the team raised a $28 million Series C round led by L Catterton, bringing the company valuation to $510 million.

Sam Bobley, Cofounder and CEO of Ocrolus

In 2014, Sam Bobley began building Ocrolus in his parent’s kitchen. Fast-forward to now, the company has more than 500 customers including PayPal, Enova, and Brex, and is analyzing hundreds of thousands of loan applications per month. At its core, Ocrolus is an AI-powered platform that processes financial documents to empower faster and more accurate financial decision-making. The company raised its Series C round in September 2021 and raised a Series C extension in mid-2023.

Dane Atkinson, CEO and Founder of Odeko

From CEO of Squarespace to SumAll and his most recent venture Odeko, Dane Atkinson is a serial CEO-founder. In 2019, he founded smart operations software Odeko to help independent cafes and coffee shops scale their businesses. Since then, the startup has grown its customer base to 10,000 small businesses across the U.S. Last April, the team scored $53 million in Series D funding led by B Capital to develop its technology and expand into new markets, bringing total funding to over $150 million.

David Klimstra, Cofounder and Chief Medical Officer of Paige

Cofounded in 2018 by David Klimstra, Paige develops AI-powered solutions that assist pathologists in diagnosing cancer. The first company to receive FDA approval for its clinical AI app in digital pathology, raised $19.5 million for an additional Series C round in March 2023, according to PitchBook. Later last year, the team also announced a partnership with Microsoft to develop an image-based AI model for identifying cancer.

Jayendra Jog and Jeff Feng, Cofounders of Sei Labs

Ex-Robinhood engineer Jayendra Jog and Goldman Sachs alum Jeff Feng founded Sei Labs in 2021 with the goal of building an infrastructure for decentralized digital asset exchange focused on user-friendly and high-performing trading. In April 2023, the team raised $30 million, reportedly putting the startup’s valuation to $800 million.

Michael Brown, Alex Eu, and Kevin Shiiba, Teamshares

Michael Brown, Alex Eu, and Kevin Shiiba first met each other while working at an investment banking company in NYC before founding Teamshares in 2019. Powered by its proprietary software and financial products, the fintech tackles the challenge of what small businesses can do to solve succession problems and unlock employee ownership. Last summer, the team announced it had raised $245 million in VC funding, and secured $150 million in debt.

Bill Ingram, CEO of Wunderkind

Founded in 2010, Wunderkind provides performance marketing solutions for brands, publishers, and advertisers. In March 2023, the company appointed a new CEO, Bill Ingram, previously an executive at Adobe and Cheetah Digital, and announced a $76 million Series C round led by financial services company Neuberger Berman.

Alex Maffeo, Founder and CEO of Boost Insurance

Alex Maffeo worked in the finance and tech sector for years before founding Boost Insurance in 2017. The insurtech platform helps businesses provide insurance solutions on their website, app, or front-end software. According to Pitchbook, Boost raised a $42.5 million Series B round in October 2023.

Ian White, Founder and CEO of ChartHop

ChartHop, a People Operations Platform that empowers organizations through visual insights, alignment, and action, was founded by Ian White in 2018. Prior to that, Ian founded Sailthru, which CampaignMonitor acquired. Early last year, ChartHop raised a $20 million Series C round led by Cox Enterprises with participation from current investor Andreessen Horowitz.

Ron Vianu and Raz Winiarsky, Cofounders of Covera Health

Cofounded by serial entrepreneur Ron Vianu and orthopedic surgeon Raz Winiarsky in 2017, Covera Health aims to leverage AI to improve radiology readings and reduce misdiagnosis. In November 2023, the team announced a $50 million additional Series C round led by Insight Partners and acquired AI quality assurance firm CoRead. Before starting Covera, Ron founded and sold Spreemo, a referral management platform in occupational medicine.

Yotam Segev and Tamar Bar-Ilan, Cofounders of Cyera

Yotam Segev and Tamar Bar-Ilan founded Cyera in 2021 to reimagine how businesses securely handle their ever-increasing amounts of data. The cybersecurity startup offers an AI-driven security platform that allows customers to identify, manage, and protect sensitive data across their organization. In the summer, the team nabbed $100 million in fresh Series B funding in a round led by Accel and Redpont, and rumors have it even more exciting things have transpired since.

Minna Song and Stoyan Stoyanov, Cofounders of EliseAI

EliseAI, formerly known as MeetElise, was founded in 2017 by Minna Song and Stoyan Stoyanov. The machine learning tech firm offers innovative conversational AI solutions for the real estate industry. In June 2023, the team raised a $35 million Series C round led by Point72 Private Investments to expand its solutions to markets beyond real estate.

Wiley Cerilli, Matt Doumar, and Kenny Herman, Cofounders of HouseAccount

HouseAccount is digitizing the $500 billion home services industry. The startup was founded by serial entrepreneurs Wiley Cerilli, Matt Doumar, and Kenny Herman, who were involved in building Seamless, SinglePlatform, GoodUncle, Slice, and Olo. According to an SEC filing, the team has raised a total of $33 million in equity funding.

Michael Rudoy and Luke Cohler, Cofounders of Jetty

Founded by Mike Rudoy and Luke Cohler in 2016, Jetty is the financial services platform for real estate supporting both multifamily owners and their renters. Through an integrated suite of insurance and lending products, Jetty helps properties manage risk while helping renters find and keep a home they love. In September 2023, the team received $20 million in a funding round led by Citi Impact Fund with participation from Fundrise Innovation Fund, Paypal Ventures, and Experian Ventures.

Samuel Corcos, Casey Means, Josh Clemente, Andrew Conner, and David Flinner, Cofounders of Levels

Levels equips you with real-time data and insights about how food impacts your health. How it works: The startup offers a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) that tracks your blood sugar and is synced with the Levels app that provides personalized insights on your data. In January 2023, the team announced a $7 million Series A extension funding round, bringing its total funding raised to more than $55 million.

Nathaniel Harley and Benjamin Conant, Cofounders of Mantl

Mantl was founded in 2016 by Nathaniel Harley and Benjamin Conant to provide tools for community and regional banks to modernize their tech infrastructure and customer experiences. In January 2023, the team raised a $22.55 million extension to its Series B funding round led by Alphabet’s independent growth fund CapitalG and Flourish Ventures. This round pushed Mantl’s total financing to more than $83 million.

Misha Esipov, CEO and founder of Nova Credit

The seed for Nova Credit began growing while Misha Esipov was at Stanford completing an MBA. Eventually, Nova Credit became a data infrastructure and analytics company that provides credit risk information for immigrant, new-to-credit, and thin-file consumers to access more credit opportunities. By aggregating global credit bureau, bank transaction, and other alternative credit data, the fintech also helps lenders and businesses improve credit data onboarding and underwriting to grow responsibly. Last October, the team secured $45 million in Series C funding led by Canapi Ventures.

Nicholas Lillios and Moo Kim, Cofounders of Nowsta

In 2016, cofounders Nick Lillios and Moo Kim set out to reimagine how employers could connect to the flex workforce with Nowsta. The startup has built an all-in-one platform that helps companies access a pool of hour workers and simplifies operations across scheduling, payments, and communications. In November 2023, the team nabbed $35 million in a Series C round led by VMG Partners that places the company’s total external financing to $93 million.

Deepak Chhugani, CEO and Founder of Nuvocargo

From freight forwarding to customs brokerage and cargo insurance, Nuvocargo is a purpose built cross-border solution that simplifies the process of moving cargo over-the-road between the U.S. and Mexico - the world’s biggest inter country trade lane. The startup, based between NYC and Mexico City, was founded in 2019 by Deepak Chhugani. Last year, the team closed a $36.5 million Series B investment led by QED investors at a valuation of over $250 million.

Kelly Littlepage, CEO and Founder of OneChronos

Founded in 2015 by Kelly Littlepage, OneChronos is a tech company harnessing AI and auction theory to make electronic trading more efficient for institutional investors and traders. A Y-combinator Alum, OneChronos announced a $40 million Series B financing round led by Addition last September to expand its product offerings and foray into new markets.

Kent Thoelke, CEO of Paradigm

Paradigm is a healthtech startup building a platform to make it simpler for doctors, researchers, and patients to lead clinical trials. Kent Thoelke, the CEO of Paradigm, has over 25 years of experience overseeing drug development and clinical trials at several healthcare companies. In January 2023, the team scored a $203 million Series A investment co-led by ARCH Venture Partners and General Catalyst, which also co-incubated the startup in its early days.

Robin Berzin, CEO and Founder of Parsley Health

Recognizing the effectiveness of treating chronic diseases with modern holistic medicine, Robin Berzin founded Parsley in 2016 to make personalized care that treats the root cause of a condition more accessible to women across the US. Dr. Berzin went to medical school at Columbia University. According to PitchBook data, the team raised $32 million in an additional Series C funding around the end of 2023.

Josh Miller and Hursh Agrawal, The Browser Company

The Browser Company is the maker behind Arc, a clean and charming AI-enabled mobile browser designed to reimagine how you use the internet. In 2019, The Browser Company was founded by Josh Miller, previously an investor at Thrive and worked in the Obama White House, and Hursh Agrawal, who was a tech lead at Facebook and cofounder of Branch. According to Pitchbook, the team closed a $56.8 million funding round in January 2023.

Bharani Rajakumar, Founder and CEO of Transfr

Having embarked on a nonlinear journey to becoming a CEO, Bharani Rajakumar founded Transfr in 2017 to open up more career pathways for students and transitioning workers. By leveraging XR technologies, Transfr offers career exploration and virtual training programs to workforce development agencies, employers, and educational institutions. Before Transfr, Bharani was the cofounder of math tutoring software LearnBop, which K12 Inc acquired. Last September, Transfr raised $40 million in Series C funding led by ABS Capital to develop its VR simulation and training platform further and expand its customer base.

Zach Lloyd, Founder and CEO of Warp

With more than 20 years of developer experience under his belt, including at Google and TIME, Zach Lloyd founded Warp in 2020 to reimagine a go-to tool for developers: the command line terminal. Since then, the team has built out a terminal that incorporates AI and collaborative tools to make writing commands faster and more productive. Last June, the team raised a $50M Series B investment led by Sequoia Capital.

Daniel Pickett and Alex Marsal, Cofounders of aptihealth

aptihealth is an innovative platform that works with health plans and health systems to provide virtual-first personalized care plans to behavior health patients. Daniel Pickett and Alex Marsal founded aptihealth in 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts, and have since relocated the company’s headquarters to Saratoga Springs, New York. In April 2023, it was reported that the team closed a $10.8 million funding round, pushing its total financing to about $76 million.

Larry Berger, Founder and CEO of Amplify

Amplify, which was cofounded by Larry Berger as Wireless Generation in 2000, is an edtech company offering K-12 curriculum and assessment solutions. Prior to starting Amplify, Larry was an educational technology specialist at the Children’s Aid Society and a White House Fellow working on Educational Technology at NASA. In May 2023, Amplify secured an undisclosed Series C funding round led by Cox Enterprises to further expand its K-12 product portfolio. Currently, Amplify reaches 15 million students across all 50 states. In 2021, the team raised $215 million in growth funding from Learn Capital and A-Street Ventures with participation from Emerson Collective.

Ruda Pellini and Paul Paganelli, Cofounders of Arthur Mining

Named after visionary science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, Arthur Mining is an energy-tech company that provides, operates, and manages mobile data centers for high-process computing, such as Bitcoin mining. The company was founded in 2017 by Brazilian entrepreneurs Ruda Pellini and Paulo Paganelli. At the beginning of 2023, the team received a $4.6 million Series A round at a pre-funding valuation of $100 million.

Matt Straz, Founder and CEO of Bennie

Serial entrepreneur Matt Straz founded employee benefits startup Bennie in 2019. Since launching its first product in 2020, Bennie now has hundreds of customers and thousands of members on its all-in-one platform that helps small and mid-sized companies streamline benefits management processes for their employees. In April 2023, the team completed a $50 million seed round led by Motley Fool Ventures with participation from Escalate Capital, Interplay, Picus Capital, and Silverton Partners. Prior to Bennie, Matt founded the HR software startup Namely and cofounded content marketing platform Pictela.

Ben Leventhal, Cofounder and CEO of Blackbird Labs

After cofounding restaurant news site Eater and online reservation platform Resy, Ben Leventhal went on to found hospitality tech startup Blackbird Labs in 2022. Billed as a loyalty platform for restaurants, Blackbird announced a $24 million funding round last October led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from QED, and Union Square Ventures, among others, to scale its business.

Issam Freiha and Vinay Menda, Cofounders of Blank Street

Blank Street started in 2020 as a coffee cart in Brooklyn and has since expanded to 74 locations across NYC, Boston, Washington, DC, and London. Issam Freiha and Vinay Menda met while studying in NYC, and soon started working together. The duo started early-stage investment firm Reshape Ventures before founding Blank Street to offer quality coffee at an affordable price as an alternative to big-name coffee brands. In March 2023, the team announced a $20 million funding round from Lane Capital, HOF Capital, General Catalyst, and Tiger Global, bringing its total valuation to $177 million.

Jason Yanowitz and Michael Ippolito, Cofounders of Blockworks

Jason Yanowitz and Michael Ippolito were 23-year-old roommates when they cofounded Blockworks in 2018. The goal? To create a media platform that would become “the Bloomberg for crypto”. Nowadays, Blockworks runs conferences, podcasts, a newsletter, and research products. The team bootstrapped the business for the first five years and reached a revenue of over $20 million last year. Last May, Blockworks received its first external financing round and raised $12 million, led by 10T Holdings at a $135 million valuation.

Marlon Misra and Neil Raina, Cofounders of Copilot

Marlon Misra and Neil Raina worked on several company ideas and went through Y Combinator before founding Copilot, formerly known as Portal, in 2020. After engaging with marketing agencies, accounting firms, and recruiting companies, the duo saw the need to build an all-in-one platform that could help streamline processes and accelerate growth for service businesses. In early 2023, Copilot secured $10 million in Series A financing led by YC Continuity and Lachy Groom at a $100 million post-money valuation.

Anuj Goel and Akshat Jain, Cofounders of Cyware

Cyware offers a range of AI-powered solutions to help enterprises optimize their security operations and automatically respond to threats. The cybersecurity company was founded in 2016 by Anuj Goel and Akshat Jain. Prior to Cyware, Anuj worked in cybersecurity strategy roles at Citi and The Center for Strategic Cyberspace and Security Science while Akshat comes from product management roles at companies such as Oracle and Adobe. In June 2023, the team landed a $30 million Series C investment led by Ten Eleven Ventures to further develop its products and expand its global footprint.

Alexander Rives, Interim CEO of EvolutionaryScale

Founded by a team of former Meta researchers led by Alexander Rives, EvolutionaryScale harnesses AI language models for biology to accelerate drug discovery processes and develop new treatments. In August 2023, the team reportedly raised at least $40 million led by Lux Capital.

Mike Saltzman, Jonathan Lewin, and Tomas Vykruta, Cofounders of EvolutionIQ

Mike Saltzman, Jonathan Lewin, and Tomas Vykruta combined their experiences in tech, insurance, and business to found EvolutionIQ in 2019. The startup has developed an AI-powered claims guidance platform to evaluate complex bodily injury claims and to help claimants recover as quickly as possible. Earlier last year, the team closed a $7 million Series B round led by Brewer Lane Ventures that brought the company’s valuation to over $200 million.

Samir Malik and Ananth Lalithakumar, Cofounders of Firsthand

After noticing the increased prevalence of serious mental illness (SMI) in recent years, Samir Malik and Ananth Lalithakumar founded Firsthand in 2021. The peer-led model aims to support individuals affected by SMI to get the care they need. Prior to launching Firsthand, Samir founded several companies, including Genoa Telepsychiatry, which was acquired by UnitedHealth, while Ananth was a healthcare executive at Oscar Health and Centene Corporation. Last February, the team received $30 million in funding from Google Ventures.

Nawal Roy, Founder and CEO of Holmusk

Holmusk is a health tech company harnessing real-world data analytics and digital solutions to address the biggest challenges in behavioural health.  Headquartered in New York, the company was founded by repeat entrepreneur Nawal Roy in 2015.  In January 2023, the team received a $45 million Series B financing round led by Veradigm Inc (formerly known as Allscripts HealthcareSolutions) to continue developing its flagship analytics software, NeuroBlu.

Reed Switzer, Founder and CEO of Hopscotch

Reed Switzer started his first company, an apparel brand, alongside friends in high school. Since then, his appetite for building businesses has continued to grow. After working as an Operations Lead at a music streaming startup and during his time studying at The Wharton School, he came up with the idea of Hopscotch, a B2B payments platform for small businesses. In 2021, he dropped out of business school and founded Hopscotch. In 2022, the team raised a $6.1 million round of additional seed funding, bringing its total raised financing to $9.95 million.

Neal Desai and James Schuler, Cofounders of Kafene

Launched in 2019 by Neal Desai and James Schuler, Kafene is an AI-powered lease-to-own platform offering underbanked consumers flexible purchase options while enabling merchant partners to reach more customers. Prior to starting Kafene, Neal was the CFO of Octane Lending and James Schuler was the CTO and cofounder of Atlas Holdings Group. Earlier this year, the team announced a $15 million growth funding injection from Trinity Capital to scale its operations and grow its customer base.

Shawn Frayne, CEO and Cofounder of Looking Glass Factory

Growing up, Shawn Frayne dreamed of being an inventor. Inspired by the holograms in sci-fi films, he cofounded Looking Glass Factory in 2014 to build a platform for developing holographic displays of all stripes without requiring headsets. The company’s holographic systems and apps have been used by brands such as Louis Vuitton, Nike, and Pixar. With offices in NYC and Hong Kong, Looking Glass received an undisclosed strategic investment from Accenture Ventures in February 2023.

Mario Dedivanovic, Founder and CEO of Makeup by Mario

At 17, Mario Dedivanovic started his beauty career working at Sephora. Since then, he’s launched his own education platform, The Masterclass, and worked with clients such as Kim Kardashian and Ariana Grande. After 20 years of being a makeup artist, Mario launched his own brand, Makeup by Mario, in 2020. Early last year, the firm completed a $40 million funding round led by Provenance to expand its product lines at Sephora and further scale the business.

Erik Bernhardsson and Akshat Bubna, Cofounders of Modal Labs

After managing tech and data teams at Spotify and, Erik Bernhardsson founded Modal Labs in 2021 alongside Akshat Bubna. The goal? To offer better tools for data teams and app developers in the cloud. Last October, Modal secured $16 million in a Series A round led by Redpoint Ventures to grow the software engineering team.

Neil Shonhard, CEO of MonetaGo

Founded in 2016, MonetaGo is a fintech providing a suite of solutions that prevent fraud and duplicate financing in the finance sector. The firm has offices in New York, Singapore, Mumbai, and London, and appointed Neil Shonhard as CEO in 2022. According to Pitchbook, the team closed a $13.5 million Series A investment in May last year.

Brandon Duderstadt and Andriy Mulyar, Cofounders of Nomic AI

Prior to founding Nomic AI in 2022, Brandon Duderstadt and Andriy Mulyar both worked for Rad AI, an AI startup for radiologists. With Nomic, the duo wants to make AI more accessible through its offerings, such as its open-source AI model GP4ALL and dataset visualization tool Atlas. Last summer, the team landed a $17 million funding round led by Coatue Management, putting the company’s valuation at $100 million.

Sandeep Acharya, CEO and Cofounder of Octave

In 2018, former One Medical executive turned healthcare entrepreneur Sandeep Acharya launched Octave to provide quality in-person and virtual behavioral health services that are accessible, effective and affordable. Based in San Francisco and New York, the team received $52 million in Series C funding last summer, bringing its total funding to $86 million. The recent cash fusion will be used to expand its services to all 50 states and roll out new care navigation products that use data science to enable booking pre-vetted in-network therapists.

Mazy Dar and Chuck Doerr, Cofounders of OpenFin

Mazy Dar and Chuck Doerr founded OpenFin in 2010 with the mission to modernize how applications are developed and deployed at global financial institutions. OpenFin’s software is now used by more than 4000 financial firms, such as Barclays, Goldman Sachs, and J.P. Morgan, to work smarter and more productively. Last May, the team nabbed $35 million in a Series D investment led by Bank of America with participation from Pivot Investment Partners and ING Ventures. The latest funding brings its total funding to $85 million.

Matan Or-El, Meir Antar, and Demi Ben-Ari, Cofounders of Panorays

Panorays is a third-party cybersecurity risk management platform founded by Matan Or-El, Meir Antar, and Demi Ben-Ari in 2016. According to Pitchbook, the team raised a $37.7 million Series C funding round in March 2023. Recently, Panorays was named the Best Third-Party Risk Management Solution by TeissAwards 2024.

Bowie Cheung, Ivana Tesanovic, and Chetan Narain, Cofounders of Pepper

Bowie Cheung, Ivana Tesanovic, and Chetan Narain brought their previous experiences in the food distribution industry and data analytics consulting to found Pepper in 2019. The startup offers eCommerce software for food distributors that can support everything from order management and payments to sales processes and analytics. According to Pitchbook, the team raised $20 million in an additional Series A round in May 2023.

Alex Ehrlich, CEO and Founder of Percapita

After several decades of working at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, Alex Ehrlich founded Percapita in 2020. The fintech is on a mission to serve underbanked customers by offering more inclusive services to access financial wellness. According to Pitchbook, the team closed a $29.6 million funding round in February 2023.

Marta Bralic Kerns, CEO and Founder of Pomelo Care

Founded in 2021 by Marta Bralic Kerns, Pomelo Care provides 24/7 virtual evidence-based maternity care to improve access to care and patient outcomes. Pomelo connects patients with a personalized care team based on their needs and risks, including OB and primary care providers, nurses, dietitians, midwives, therapists, lactation consultants, and more. In June 2023, Pomelo announced $33 million in seed and Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. Before launching Pomelo, Marta was the Senior Vice President of Business Development at Flatiron Health, where she and her team accelerated the company’s growth through strategic partnerships and initiatives.

Michael Mager and Benjamin Rapoport, Cofounders of Precision Neuroscience

Precision Neuroscience is developing a brain-computer interface (BCI) to provide breakthrough treatments for the millions of people worldwide suffering from neurological illnesses. BCIs are implants that provide a direct communication link between the brain and an external device—such as a computer or smartphone—reopening the door to communication, employment and more. The company aims to help those with neurological illnesses regain independence. Michael Mager, an investor and business builder, and Dr. Benjamin Rapoport, a co-founder of Neuralink and practicing neurosurgeon, founded Precision in 2021. In 2023, the team raised a $41 million Series B funding round led by Forepont Capital Partners, completed its first in-human trials, and acquired a facility to manufacture its implants. 

Brian O’Kelley, Anne Coghlan, Emma (Etherington) Mulitz, and Mike Freyburger, Cofounders of Scope3

Digital advertising produces a massive amount of carbon emissions every year. However, Scope3 wants to change that with its collaborative sustainability platform that gives brands and publishers around the world a place to measure, analyze, and reduce the carbon footprint of their media and advertising. Led by seasoned adtech executive Brian O’Kelley, Scope3 is a Public Benefit Corporation that was founded in 2021. Last October, the team announced a $20 million Series B funding round led by Alphabet-backed VC firm GV.

Bernard Kruger, Andrew Olano and Ben Kruger, Cofounders of Sollis Health

Bernard Kruger, Andrew Olano, and Ben Kruger founded Sollis Health in 2016 to offer medical concierge services to its members 24/7. Through tiered membership plans, users can sign up to receive unlimited doctor visits, on-demand virtual care, and expedited specialist access for urgent and everyday medical needs. In June 2023, the firm raised a $15 million extension in Series A financing to expand its services across the US.

Leonardo Bonanni, Founder and CEO of Sourcemap

Sourcemap was founded in 2011 by Leonardo Bonanni, who conceived the idea for the startup while doing his PhD at the MIT Media Lab. He has also taught about making supply chains more transparent at Columbia University and Parsons School of Design. With the aim of creating more transparency, Sourcemap has developed enterprise software that maps and tracks the supply chains of products down to the raw materials. Last summer, the team closed a $20 million Series B investment led by Energize Ventures.

Julian Flannery, Founder and CEO Summus

Founded by Julian Flannery in 2015, Summus has built a marketplace to accelerate access to specialty care where patients, families, caregivers and physicians can share and access high quality specialty expertise.  Prior to Summus, Julian was Managing Director and Head of Global Research at Gerson Lehrman Group, the leading marketplace for expertise. Since inception, Summus has raised $80mm to change the access and quality problem in specialty care.

Robert Krayn and Georgia Gaveras, Cofounders of Talkiatry

Founded in 2019 by Robert Krayn and Georgia Gaveras, Talkiatry matches patients with psychiatrists for virtual mental health care covered by insurance. Prior to starting Talkiatry, Robert worked at various investment firms, and Georgia Gaveras had been practicing as a triple board-certified psychiatrist specializing in child and adolescent psychiatry, adult psychiatry, and addiction medicine for over 18 years. In 2022, the team raised a total of $122 million, including a $37 million Series A round and a $75 million Series B round.

Andrew Savage and Yaz Malas, Cofounders of The Ambr Group

Last May, Suma Brands and D1 Brands merged to become The Ambr Group, a consumer retail platform that taps into the decades of cumulative expertise and resources to acquire and build Amazon businesses. Andrew Savage, who was cofounder and CEO of Suma Brands, is CEO of The Ambr Group, and Yaz Malaz, cofounder and co-CEO of D1 Brands, is now president. Additionally, The Ambr Group raised a $25.7 million funding round in April 2023, according to Pitchbook data.

Blake Mandell, Kevin Ryan, and Ben Kelmendi, Cofounders of Transcend Therapeutics

Founded in 2021 by Blake Mandell, Kevin Ryan, and Ben Kelmendi, Transcend Therapeutics develops rapid-acting treatments for the more than 50 million Americans who suffer from neuropsychiatric diseases, including PTSD. The biotech focuses on a psychoactive compound that is more accessible and requires less clinician time than psychedelic treatment. In February 2023, the team raised a $40 million Series A funding round led by Alpha Wave Global and Integrated Investment Partners to launch clinical trials with its psychoactive compound.

James Riccitelli and Dan Foster, Cofounders of Unlock

Unlock, founded in 2020 by James Riccitelli and Dan Foster, is a proptech startup that wants to help homeowners tap into the value of a home equity agreement to solve financial challenges. In September 2023, the team landed a $100 million revolving credit facility led by Texas Capital Bank.

Ben Schaechter and Brooke McKim, Cofounders of Vantage

In 2020, Ben Schaechter and Brooke McKim founded Vantage, a startup providing tools for developer teams to analyze and reduce their cloud costs. Prior to Vantage, Ben worked as a senior product manager at AWS and DigitalOcean, while Brooke was Head of Product at State and Director of Product Management at DigitalOcean. In March 2023, the team raised a $21 million Series A round led by Scale Venture Partners.

Alec Hartman, Ben Uretsky, Jesse Mauro, and Marc Hartman, Cofounders of Welcome Homes

Founded in 2020, Welcome Homes is an online homebuilding platform that makes it easy to customize and build a new home. Several of the cofounders of Welcome were also cofounders at DigitalOcean. In January 2023, the team landed $29 million, led by Era Ventures.

Steven Schwartz, Cameron Zoub, and Jack Sharkey, Cofounders of Whop

Steven Schwartz and Cameron Zoub met through a Facebook group about building sneaker bots when they were 13. Soon afterward, they started a business called Sole Sniper that sold bots. In 2021, the duo, who were in their 20s, teamed up with software developer Jack Sharkey to cofound Whop, a marketplace for digital products, such as algorithms, tools, and software. Last summer, the team raised $17 million, propelling their valuation to over $100 million.

Tags: Success