3O UN­DER 3O

600 GAME CHANG­ERS, IN 20 IN­DUS­TRIES, TRANS­FORM­ING THE WORLD

Forbes - - Front Page - edited by caro­line howard

Our ffth an­nual 30 Un­der 30 list again rec­og­nizes Amer­ica’s top young en­trepreneurs and game chang­ers—600

strong, in 20 difer­ent fields. The process is in­tense—dozens of FORBES re­porters vet thou­sands of names, with a panel of leg­ends in each cat­e­gory over­see­ing the fnal cut. And the re­sults are im­pres­sive: Be­hold, the fu­ture (and present) lead­ers of pretty much ev­ery­thing.

Stephen Curry, 27

Point Guard, Golden State War­riors

Splash Brother. Fa­ther. leader. Cham­pion. Stephen Curry’s nba pedi­gree and su­per­hu­man phys­i­cal tal­ent des­tined him for bas­ket­ball great­ness. his fa­ther, dell, was one of the top shoot­ers of his era, his nba ca­reer span­ning 16 sea­sons from 1986 to 2002 with fve difer­ent teams. on any given night, his son’s stat line in­duces dou­ble takes from fans and play­ers alike. “it’s a dream come true to play bas­ket­ball for a liv­ing,” says Curry. “i ob­vi­ously want to get the most out of it and have a great ca­reer. But there is more to life than bas­ket­ball.”

that is pre­cisely what makes Curry’s brand so valu­able. last year youth-ori­ented cloth­ier ex­press ofered him an en­dorse­ment deal as the line’s frst brand am­bas­sador and celebrity spokesmodel. Un­der ar­mour also be­lieves in Curry, making him its face of bas­ket­ball. his ini­tial spon­sor­ship deal, signed in 2013, was for a mod­est $4 mil­lion, but last year, af­ter Un­der ar­mour saw 41% an­nual growth in its frst-quar­ter footwear rev­enue, it was quick to ink an ex­ten­sion through 2024 for an undis­closed (though un­doubt­edly large) sum, plus an eq­uity stake in the com­pany. this march he also be­came a part owner of Bos­ton-based pri­vate coach­ing ven­ture Coachup, which has more than 13,000 coaches who work with 100,000-plus young ath­letes na­tion­ally. — Bai­ley Brauti­gan, Jen­nifer Eum, Daniel Klein­man

Tyler Haney, 27

Founder, out­door Voices

GROW­ING UP IN Boul­der, Colo., Haney was a jock: She ran crosscoun­try, played bas­ket­ball and con­sid­ered go­ing to a col­lege where she could com­pete in track and feld. But she couldn’t shake an in­ter­est in fash­ion, and in­stead ma­tric­u­lated at New York’s famed Par­sons School of De­sign, where she soon found a way to marry her two in­ter­ests.

As part of her de­gree pro­gram, she cre­ated a fve-piece col­lec­tion of es­sen­tial ac­tivewear, and Out­door Voices was born. The brand’s mem­o­rable name “comes from when you’re lit­tle and your mom’s like, ‘Use your in­door voice,’ ” Haney says. So far the work­out-ap­parel com­pany’s min­i­mal­ist, tech­ni­cal aes­thetic and dig­i­tal­frst strat­egy have earned it over $8 mil­lion in ven­ture back­ing, with the most re­cent round led by Gen­eral Cat­a­lyst Part­ners of Cam­bridge, Mass. De­spite her high-profle in­vestors, Haney says fund­ing didn’t come easy; her team met with, and was turned down by, some 70 in­vestors. She adds: “I don’t have ex­pe­ri­ence on my side, but I have per­sis­tence.” —Clare O’con­nor, Kathryn Dill

Emer­son Spartz, 28

co­founder, dose

“NEG­A­TIVE STO­RIES GET CLICKS, BUT they tend not to get shares,” says Spartz, by way of ex­plain­ing the feel-good sto­ries dom­i­nat­ing your Face­book feed as op­posed to the doom and gloom of main­stream news. Spartz should know. Shortly af­ter he started home­school­ing at age 12, he launched Mug­gleNet, which grew into one of the most pop­u­lar Harry Pot­ter fan sites (fa­vorite book: Gob­let of Fire; fa­vorite char­ac­ter: luna love­g­ood). Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from the Univer­sity of Notre Dame in 2009, Spartz and his now wife, Gaby, launched Gives Me Hope (GMH), a Chicken Soup for the Soul rif for Mil­len­ni­als where the site’s users share in­spir­ing, true sto­ries that an­swer the ques­tion “What gives you hope?”

“We’re patho­log­i­cal op­ti­mists,” Spartz says. GMH led to Dose Me­dia, which uses fnely tuned al­go­rithms to comb the Web for trend­ing top­ics, sto­ries and memes, af­ter which ed­i­tors and writ­ers cre­ate sim­i­lar con­tent for Dose—re­cent posts in­clude a listicle of 15 “NSFW” (not safe for work) celebrity wardrobe mal­func­tions and a video of a magic trick that one orang­utan found “hi­lar­i­ous.” Dose pulls in dig­i­tal ad dol­lars from its 50 mil­lion monthly visi­tors, and it re­cently com­pleted a $25 mil­lion fnanc­ing round. The key to a story go­ing vi­ral? “You have to feel a lot of emo­tion. You have to be over­whelmed with emo­tion to ac­tu­ally be in­spired to share.” — Emily In­verso, Glyn­nis Macni­col

Ash­ley Gra­ham, 28

Model- en­tre­pre­neur

A size 14 who wears A 36 triple-d bra, plus-size model Gra­ham landed fve mag­a­zine cov­ers in the last year plus a bikini ad in the 2015 Sports Il­lus­trated swim­suit is­sue. “i’ve had suc­cess in break­ing the mold in the fash­ion in­dus­try,” she says. she cred­its “my hot body. it sounds a lit­tle misog­y­nis­tic, but i also think that it’s great be­cause i have a body that the av­er­age-size Amer­i­can woman has. And i’m us­ing it to let other women know that you are beau­ti­ful.”

Gra­ham got her start at age 12, when a mod­el­ing scout plucked her out of a crowd at a shop­ping mall in omaha, near her home­town of lin­coln, Nebr. Af­ter sign­ing with Ford and mov­ing to New York at 17, she lost her way for a year, gorg­ing on pizza and bal­loon­ing to a size 18. she’s since be­come what she calls a “body ac­tivist,” ad­vo­cat­ing for the 50% of Amer­i­can women who wear a size 14 or larger, an $18 bil­lion mar­ket. she also has her own $1.6 mil­lion (sales) lin­gerie line with cana­dian re­tailer Ad­di­tion elle. proof that she’s not only chang­ing the way women are seen but also how they see them­selves and shop. —Susan Adams, Keren Blank­feld, Michael Solomon

John Boyega, 23

Ac­tor

As the new male lead in Star Wars: The Force

Awak­ens, John Boyega should get used to see­ing his face on ac­tion fgures and lunch boxes: his frst ma­jor-stu­dio movie is also ex­pected to be one of the high­est-gross­ing flms in history. the $200 mil­lion episode is a galaxy away from the roles Boyega played in Fox’s 24: Live An­other Day minis­eries and the sun­dance-ac­claimed in­die flm

Im­pe­rial Dreams, but it’s a part that could defne his ca­reer just as prior in­stall­ments did for har­ri­son Ford and car­rie Fisher. it’s a role that al­most didn’t hap­pen: “my frst au­di­tion was all over the place,” re­calls Boyega. “i was, like, two min­utes late, but be­cause of the op­por­tu­nity, it felt like two hours.” with a star turn in a flm poised to blast box-of­fce records, that’s one call­back to be grate­ful for. —Natalie Robehmed, Zack O’malley Greenburg, Made­line Berg

Jeroen cap­paert, 27

Co­founder, Spire Global

cap­paert’s Spire Global uses wine-bot­tle-size nano-satel­lites to lis­ten to (rather than look at) what’s hap­pen­ing on earth, fo­cus­ing pri­mar­ily on the world’s oceans. They ap­ply that data to garner in­sights about global trade, weather, ship­ping and sup­ply chains, il­le­gal fsh­ing—even pi­rates. “We’re fo­cused on the three-quar­ters of the world that al­most no­body looks at,” says cap­paert. founded in 2012, the com­pany, with ofces in San francisco, Glas­gow and Sin­ga­pore, has raised $65 mil­lion to date and launched eight satel­lites.

cap­paert’s role in the com­pany is pay­load de­sign and satel­lite avion­ics. he was a re­searcher at nasa ames be­fore co­found­ing Spire and has a mas­ter’s de­gree in me­chan­i­cal engi­neer­ing from Bel­gium’s Katholieke uni­ver­siteit leu­ven and an­other in space stud­ies from in­ter­na­tional Space univer­sity in france. he’s also pub­lished sev­eral pa­pers with in­tim­i­dat­ing ti­tles like “Weigh­ing Geo­engi­neer­ing: an in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary as­sess­ment of the Space-based So­lar Shield.” But he still has his feet frmly on the ground: “i love tech­nol­ogy. i love get­ting my hands dirty and sol­der­ing wires and pok­ing at things with probes.” — Alex Knapp, Sarah Hedge­cock, Matthew Her­per

Marcela Sapone, 29

Co­founder, Hello Al­fred

This for­mer Mckin­sey con­sul­tant wants to help Mil­len­ni­als get their lives in or­der with hello al­fred, a tech-savvy but­ler ser­vice priced for com­mon folk. for $32 a week an “al­fred” will or­ga­nize your Bat­cave and man­age on-de­mand ser­vices like handy and in­stacart to keep the kitchen sparkling, laun­dry ham­per empty and re­frig­er­a­tor stocked. “We want you to spend your time on the things that really are mean­ing­ful to you,” says Sapone, who founded al­fred in 2014 with fel­low har­vard Busi­ness School alum Jes­sica Beck.

hello al­fred now op­er­ates in Bos­ton and new york city and has raised $12.5 mil­lion from Vcs like Spark cap­i­tal, nea and Sherpa cap­i­tal. in 2014 Sapone and Beck were the frst women to win the cov­eted Techcrunch Dis­rupt Sf startup com­pe­ti­tion. “Women start busi­nesses that seem cute on the sur­face, but that’s when you should be really afraid. What we’re do­ing is really mean­ing­ful and is go­ing to change how peo­ple live.” — Bruce Up­bin, Steven Ber­toni, Shelby Car­pen­ter with the Forbes Tech team

an­nie lawless, 28

Co­founder, Suja juice

lawless STANDS atop a Brand val­ued at $300 mil­lion—and she did it by fo­cus­ing on the very foun­da­tion of the food pyra­mid. Suja Juice, the or­ganic juice com­pany she co­founded in 2012, has surged in pop­u­lar­ity (and sales, which are es­ti­mated to hit $70 mil­lion in 2015) thanks to its re­jec­tion of added sugar, ge­net­i­cally mod­ifed fruit and other man­u­fac­tured chem­i­cal ad­di­tives. The com­pany’s growth has im­pressed gi­ants: in au­gust co­cacola bought a 30% stake for $90 mil­lion, and Gold­man Sachs snapped up an ad­di­tional 20% for $60 mil­lion.

The cash in­fu­sion will help Suja amp up its pro­duc­tion and reach an even wider au­di­ence. “There’s a ma­jor shift hap­pen­ing that’s way big­ger than us,” lawless says. “peo­ple are re­al­iz­ing that what we’ve been con­sum­ing has been making us fat and sick.” Juic­ing has “blown up” in the last fve years, she con­tin­ues. “now peo­ple are won­der­ing, ‘how can we make it even more nu­tri­tious and more con­ve­nient to get all th­ese unique in­gre­di­ents in our bod­ies?’ ” — Mag­gie Mcgrath, Abram Brown, Natalie Sportelli

Jewel Burks, 26

CO­FOUNDER, PARTPIC

AN EN­TRE­PRE­NEUR FROM A FAM­ILY of en­trepreneurs, Burks be­gan her ca­reer at Google be­fore her grand­mother’s breast can­cer di­ag­no­sis led her to de­cide to move back home to At­lanta. There she took a job at Mcmaster-carr, a top U.S. in­dus­trial parts dis­trib­u­tor. But when it came to hunt­ing down spe­cific gears and other bits of ma­chin­ery from its stock of 550,000 prod­ucts, it was a far cry from what she was used to at the search gi­ant. “I was sur­prised that there was this huge com­pany that was hav­ing fails in their tech­nol­ogy on a daily ba­sis,” she says. “I wanted to cre­ate a bet­ter way.”

That ex­pe­ri­ence spurred her to con­ceive Partpic. Built with com­puter vi­sion tech­nol­ogy, it al­lows cus­tomers to use a smart­phone to search for a needed part—whether for an au­to­mo­bile or a drill press—and or­der it quickly. She co­founded the com­pany with Ja­son Crain, an­other for­mer Googler, who was work­ing at Shazam, and got the com­pany go­ing with the help of a few Ge­or­gia Tech pro­gram­mers. The pair has raised $1.5 mil­lion to date, but their big­gest val­i­da­tion was meet­ing Pres­i­dent Obama last sum­mer for the first-ever White House Demo Day. — Alex Knapp, Joann Muller, Dan Alexan­der, Karsten Strauss

Shawn Mendes, 17

MU­SI­CIAN

THE CANA­DIAN CROONER HAS fol­lowed the path of coun­try­men Justin Bieber and Drake, par­lay­ing a ra­bid on­line fan base into a ma­jor-la­bel record deal—and a spot on our list. Mendes’ break came cour­tesy of Vine, where he gained mil­lions of fol­low­ers singing six-sec­ond cov­ers of pop songs. An­drew Gertler, who founded the man­age­ment com­pany AG Artists and also ap­pears on this year’s Un­der 30 list, rec­og­nized his tal­ent, be­came his man­ager and got him a deal with Is­land Records.

This year Mendes re­leased his first stu­dio al­bum, Hand­writ­ten, and it went to No. 1 on the charts in the U.S., Canada and Nor­way thanks in part to the hit sin­gle “Stitches.” He spent the sum­mer open­ing for Tay­lor Swift in prepa­ra­tion for a head­lin­ing tour of his own. When did he re­al­ize he could have a ca­reer as a mu­si­cian? “Maybe yes­ter­day,” he says. “Se­ri­ously, I’m 17. … The way I keep my­self sane is by think­ing of it as fun.” — Zack O’malley Greenburg, Natalie Robehmed, Sid­nee Douyon

Ross Mccray, 24

Co­founder, Videoamp

Video Consumption is frag­ment­ing. folks are just as likely to watch the lat­est episode of The Big Bang The­ory on their lap­top or smart­phone as they are on the big tv in the liv­ing room. But for ad­ver­tis­ers it’s been tough to de­liver con­sis­tent brand mes­sages across all those screens. Mccray, a self-pro­fessed life­long hacker, sought to help ad­ver­tis­ers do just that when he co­founded Videoamp in 2014. the com­pany has de­vel­oped a tech­nol­ogy that gives ad­ver­tis­ers the abil­ity to plan, buy and mea­sure dig­i­tal video ads across de­vices. Like­wise it en­ables com­pa­nies that sell ads, such as net­works or pub­lish­ers, pack­age their in­ven­tory in bulk.

“the prob­lem we wanted to solve was the cross-screen dilemma,” said Mccray, who had an ear­lier stint help­ing ad­ver­tis­ers boost their Youtube views. Videoamp late last year an­nounced a $15 mil­lion round—bring­ing to­tal fund­ing to more than $17 mil­lion. Based in santa Monica, Calif., it has four ofces in the u.s. and one in the nether­lands, and boasts more than 50 clients, in­clud­ing Mi­crosoft and peet’s Cofee & tea. —Jen­nifer Rooney, Vicky Valet

ti­mothy Hwang, 23

Co­founder, fis­cal­note

ti­mothy Hwang is on a Mis­sion to “un­lock gov­ern­ment data and in­vent the fu­ture of law.” Hwang’s in­tro­duc­tion to pol­i­tics came through ser­vice as a feld or­ga­nizer for the obama ’08 cam­paign at age 16, fol­lowed by elec­tion to a seat on Mary­land’s Mont­gomery County school Board, one of the na­tion’s largest dis­tricts, at 17. the sum­mer be­fore his se­nior year at prince­ton univer­sity, he and his two fel­low co­founders pooled to­gether $25,000 and started fis­cal­note from a Mo­tel 6 in sil­i­con Val­ley.

it’s a fast-grow­ing busi­ness that takes a Money­ball ap­proach to pol­i­tics. for ex­am­ple, will penn­syl­va­nia be the next state to adopt rig­or­ous stan­dards that cover on-de­mand ride ser­vices such as uber and Lyft? the an­swer of­ten lies, as it does with base­ball, in fnd­ing hid­den pat­terns in sta­tis­tics. fis­cal­note an­a­lyzes data gleaned from state statutes, con­gres­sional reg­u­la­tions and court rul­ings to dis­cern likely out­comes for pend­ing leg­is­la­tion and rul­ings. that sup­ply of data is then sold to clients like Hu­mana and south­west air­lines. “we can ac­tu­ally start to pre­dict the out­comes of court cases and lit­i­ga­tion,” says Hwang. fis­cal­note has over $18 mil­lion in fund­ing, in­clud­ing $7 mil­lion from Chi­nese so­cial net­work­ing plat­form Ren­ren, and has grown to some 100 employees. — Christopher Den­hart, Corinne Jur­ney, Daniel Fisher, Avik Roy

Vlad tenev, 28

Co­founder, robin­hood

the son of two world Bank staffers, tenev grew up valu­ing large in­sti­tu­tions as op­posed to en­trepreneur­ship. But in 2011 the Bul­gar­ian-born, wash­ing­ton, d.c.-bred tenev dropped out of ucla’s math ph.d. pro­gram to build high-tech trad­ing soft­ware for hedge funds and banks with col­lege buddy Baiju Bhatt. they even­tu­ally switched their fo­cus to re­tail con­sumers, aim­ing to use tech­nol­ogy, de­sign and rock-bot­tom pric­ing to un­der­cut ex­ist­ing re­tail bro­kers like e-trade and fidelity.

their com­pany, Robin­hood, is a com­mis­sion-free stock trad­ing app avail­able to any­one with a smart­phone. Launched a year ago, the app looks like it should be used to hail a ride, but more than $2 bil­lion in trades have been ex­e­cuted on the plat­form, com­pletely free of charge. they hope to make money via the in­ter­est on cash in cus­tomers’ ac­counts and by lend­ing peo­ple money to buy stocks on mar­gin. they have raised $66 mil­lion from top in­vestors. “fi­nan­cial ser­vices is blend­ing in with in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy,” says tenev. “the next-gen­er­a­tion fnan­cial com­pa­nies get­ting started right now are all to some ex­tent soft­ware com­pa­nies.” —Nathan Vardi, Sa­man­tha Sharf

Matthew Ramirez, 26

Co­founder, Write­lab

Ramirez uses ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to teach stu­dents how to write. the idea came to the for­mer PH.D. can­di­date at the univer­sity of cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley’s pres­ti­gious english pro­gram when he was teach­ing writ­ing to over­size fresh­man classes. With some 120 pa­pers per se­mes­ter to grade, “i found that stu­dents weren’t get­ting feed­back quickly enough,” he says. “i re­al­ized that we could cap­ture, al­go­rith­mi­cally, about 90% of what we were teach­ing.” it turns out writ­ing—style, elo­quence, clar­ity and logic, he says—falls into sta­tis­ti­cal pat­terns. “so i de­cided to en­code that.” Born in Mcallen, tex. on the Mex­i­can border, Ramirez grew up with mostly poor, non­na­tive english speak­ers and at­tended the lo­cal com­mu­nity col­lege for one year be­fore grad­u­at­ing from the univer­sity of texas at austin. Write­lab now has $2.5 mil­lion in fund­ing and has al­ready been de­ployed in 53 schools, rang­ing from low-in­come high schools to ivy league col­leges. “Our big­gest gam­ble is bet­ting that ev­ery­one can use this, re­gard­less of their de­mo­graphic or com­pe­tency level.”

—Caro­line Howard

Clara Sieg, 29

PART­NER, REVO­LU­TION VEN­TURES

SIEG WAS IN HER MID-20S and try­ing her hand at bank­ing when her firm sat down with AOL bil­lion­aire Steve Case and his part­ners at Revo­lu­tion to help them set up their first growth-stage in­vest­ment fund in 2010. As she got to know Case and his fel­low ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists, she re­al­ized she wanted to be on their side of the ta­ble. So in 2012 when West Coast part­ner David Golden ap­proached her about co­found­ing Revo­lu­tion’s first ven­ture fund and open­ing a San Francisco ofce, Sieg jumped at the chance. She’s since helped lead the fundrais­ing for the firm’s first two in­sti­tu­tional funds, a com­bined $650 mil­lion to in­vest in star­tups.

Sieg’s in­vest­ments of­ten go out­side the Sil­i­con Val­ley bub­ble, fo­cus­ing on com­pa­nies based in such places as New York City, Den­ver and Mon­treal. She al­ready sits on the board of four com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Bus­bud, a bus travel site, and Frame­bridge, an on­line fram­ing ser­vice. Al­though Revo­lu­tion’s ven­ture prac­tice sat on the side­lines in 2015 be­cause of what it saw as an over­priced mar­ket, Sieg is on the verge of clos­ing the firm’s first early-stage deal in months. The youngest part­ner at Revo­lu­tion, she’s es­pe­cially in­ter­ested in in­sur­ance com­pa­nies: “The eco­nomics are in­cred­i­ble, and it hasn’t really been brought on­line yet,” she says. But whether it’s work­ing with in­sur­ance soft­ware or non­tech busi­nesses like Sweet­green, the pop­u­lar salad chain, Sieg takes the same ap­proach: “Work hard, be nice to peo­ple and you’ll get some­where.” — Alex Kon­rad

Dakin Sloss, 25

co­founder, Tachyus

The mod­ern oil and gas in­dus­try has equipped ev­ery nook and cranny of its oper­a­tions with sen­sors. But the vo­lu­mi­nous amounts of data, in­clud­ing sec­ond-by-sec­ond records of tem­per­a­tures, pres­sures and fow vol­umes, gen­er­ated by this equip­ment are still not to­tally un­der­stood. Twenty-fve-year-old Sloss is build­ing a busi­ness around that prob­lem with his soft­ware startup Tachyus. his soft­ware com­bines ma­chine learn­ing with physics­based mod­el­ing to in­form op­er­a­tors how best to en­gi­neer their wells—where to drill, how much to drill and us­ing what method. Sloss says the soft­ware boosts pro­duc­tion about 20% on av­er­age, and he has raised $20 mil­lion in ven­ture fnanc­ing. Founded in 2013, Tachyus’ soft­ware is al­ready be­ing used on 6,350 wells op­er­at­ing in 13 felds, mostly in Cal­i­for­nia.

Be­fore Tachyus Sloss co­founded open­gov, a soft­ware com­pany aim­ing to mod­ern­ize how gov­ern­ment agen­cies run their fnances. at one point Sloss had am­bi­tions in academia, with plans to pursue a PH.D. in the­o­ret­i­cal physics. “i got sick of how slow academia moved,” he says. “i wanted to build some­thing that had a more re­al­time im­pact on the world.” —Christopher Helman, Aaron Til­ley

Jor­dan maron, 23

youtube per­son­al­ity

When Jor­dan maron STARTED post­ing clips of him­self play­ing videogames on youtube, he wasn’t look­ing to get fa­mous. “i wanted to get bet­ter at Call of Duty,” he says. But au­di­ences loved his sense of hu­mor, and sev­eral of his creations— like an­i­mated mu­sic videos set in the sand­box con­struc­tion game minecraft—be­came mas­sive vi­ral hits.

Four years af­ter tak­ing his hobby full-time, the in­ter­net video star now known as “Cap­tainsparklez” has one of the hottest brands in gam­ing, with nearly 9 mil­lion youtube sub­scribers and a cat­a­log of nearly 3,000 videos that have been watched, cu­mu­la­tively, over 2 bil­lion times. ad­ver­tis­ers are beat­ing down his door for game en­dorse­ments, spon­sored videos and mer­chan­dise deals: he’s even got an ac­tion fgure you can buy at Toys “r” us. But maron’s big­gest achieve­ment this year hap­pened be­hind the screen: in may his game stu­dio Xreal re­leased its frst ti­tle, a mo­bile game called Fortress Fury. it’s been down­loaded some 2 mil­lion times. —David M. Ewalt

ian Crosby, 29

co­founder, bench

FEW en­trepreneurs Will Say The BEST part of run­ning a busi­ness is ac­count­ing—so ian Crosby started Bench to help star­tups bal­ance the books. “i was a book­keeper in col­lege, and i saw the pain,” says Crosby. “We solve that pain by tak­ing ev­ery­thing of the en­tre­pre­neur’s hands.” his Van­cou­ver-based frm, Bench, blends slick soft­ware and hu­man num­ber crunch­ers to give small busi­nesses an in­dus­trial-strength ac­count­ing depart­ment for preparing fnan­cial state­ments, track­ing ex­penses and plan­ning for taxes.

Crosby, a for­mer Bain con­sul­tant, started Bench (with co­founder Jor­dan me­nashy) in 2012 and joined in­cu­ba­tor Tech­stars the same year. The ac­count­ing shop has since raised $15 mil­lion from ven­ture funds Quo­tid­ian, al­tos, alpine merid­ian and lerer hip­peau. “i might be a bit de­luded, but i like to think that— maybe in ten years—peo­ple will think of ac­count­ing as some­thing that’s sexy.”

—Bruce Up­bin, Steven Ber­toni, Shelby Car­pen­ter with the Forbes Tech team

christopher Gray, 24

Co­founder, Scholly

For seven months dur­ing high school in Alabama, christopher Gray spent close to 12 hours a week search­ing and ap­ply­ing (some­times on his cell­phone) for col­lege schol­ar­ships. By the time he set foot on drexel Univer­sity’s cam­pus as a fresh­man, he had racked up enough money to cover his tu­ition and all con­ceiv­able un­der­grad­u­ate ex­penses and then some. “i was high-achiev­ing,” he says, “but i had to choose ei­ther fnd­ing the money for col­lege or not go­ing at all.”

Fast-for­ward a couple of years, and Gray was vol­un­teer­ing with low-in­come stu­dents just like him in Philadel­phia pub­lic schools to help them fnd ways to pay for col­lege. it didn’t take long to re­al­ize he couldn’t help ev­ery­one one-on-one. With co­founders Nick Pirollo, 25, and Bryson Alef, 24, in 2014 he built Scholly. Us­ing an eight-pa­ram­e­ter al­go­rithm, the app and Web plat­form con­nects el­i­gi­ble stu­dents with pre­screened schol­ar­ships. Since its launch more than 600,000 users have joined and $20 mil­lion in schol­ar­ships has been given out. For now Scholly pairs stu­dents only with pri­vately funded schol­ar­ships. Next up? con­nect­ing stu­dents with pub­lic-univer­sity schol­ar­ships. — Michela Tin­dera, Emily Canal

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