Jun 23, 2023
30 Under 30 Local 2023: Boston
Much of the history of the United States begins in Boston. It’s home to some of America’s most prestigious universities and holds some of the highest amounts of venture capital investments in the
Much of the history of the United States begins in Boston. It’s home to some of America’s most prestigious universities and holds some of the highest amounts of venture capital investments in the country, behind San Francisco and New York. With over a combined $100 million in funding, these young entrepreneurs are changing how we interact with our healthcare, diversifying who writes the investment checks and integrating AI across multiple industries. Sure to continue Boston’s rich history of entrepreneurship, here’s the inaugural 30 Under 30 Local Boston class.
After rejecting a job at Google, Rajia Abdelaziz founded InvisaWear with Ray Hamilton to combat the alarming statistics around sexual assault. InvisaWear offers smart jewelry and accessories with hidden safety tech. By clicking twice, users can alert up to five pre-selected contacts and the police for help. CTO Hamilton designed a patented line of accessories, including necklaces, bracelets, keychains, fitness bands and scrunchies, which need no charging. Since its launch in 2018, InvisaWear earned $5.7 million in revenue in 2022 and projects $10 million in revenue for 2023, and partnered with industry leaders like ADT Security and Telus Communications. Recently, invisaWear acquired smart safety bracelet company Flare, doubling its revenue and securing distribution in 33 university bookstores.
Spun out of MIT by cofounders Elaheh Ahmadi and Alexander Amini along with professor Daniela Rus, Themis AI offers companies that utilize AI tools to diagnose risks and biases in their machine learning systems to create better, more accurate outputs. Its first diagnostic tool, Capsa Pro, launched a private beta in July, and is a library of Python code that developers can apply to existing machine learning systems and data sets. Capsa, for example, can then point out exact words or areas within a data set that make the results less accurate–a task that would typically take a developer weeks. Themis AI has raised over $2 million in funding from E14 Fund, E62 Ventures and Mozilla Fund.
Zeta Surgical, led by CEO Jose Amich and CTO Raahil Sha, combines mixed reality and healthcare, with a focus on surgical robotics. In real time, Zeta can surgically navigate a patient’s body, taking existing CT or MRI scans, and live stream a 3D image for doctors. Its technology, housed in a portable cart, helps simplify and enhance minimally invasive surgeries, particularly in treating neurological emergencies, brain cancer and neuromotor disorders. Securing nearly $7 million in funding from Innospark Ventures and Y Combinator, among others, Zeta is currently awaiting FDA approval. Their device has shown success in clinical trials with the National Neuroscience Institute in Singapore. Zeta Surgical's pilot program will roll out at major healthcare centers in Massachusetts, Ohio and North Carolina later this year. Looking ahead, Amich and Sha hope to use their device to treat depression through transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
When Schuyler Bailar joined the Harvard men’s swim team, he made history as the first transgender athlete in any NCAA Division 1 men's team sports. As a champion for the trans community, Bailar created LaneChanger, an online learning series that promotes gender literacy and is used by industry giants like General Mills and organizations like the NCAA. As a DEI speaker and advisor, he advocates and educates companies from startups to established firms. He’s amassed over half a million social media followers and hosts the hit culture and gender podcast, Dear Schuyler, featuring guests such as Dylan Mulvaney. He is the author of Obie Is Man Enough, a coming-of-age book about a young trans person, and He/She/They: How We Talk About Gender and Why It Matters, coming to shelves this October.
Growing up in the South, McKenzi Baker witnessed formerly incarcerated individuals who started businesses due to limited job opportunities but had trouble navigating the legal system. This inspired her to become a lawyer and now, as a corporate attorney at Cooley LLP, she specializes in corporate law, litigation and public markets, with a strong focus on venture capital. Baker provides counsel to businesses throughout their life cycle, from formation to venture capital financings. At Cooley, Baker has assisted networking community Boston While Black's first major investment and entity conversion, and private women executive’s network Chief’s Series B funding, propelling Chief to a $1.1 billion unicorn valuation.
Josh Belinsky, alongside over 30-year-old Manny Lubin, cofounded Slate to create nutritious chocolate milks and lattes. After a successful Kickstarter campaign and an appearance on ABC's Shark Tank, Slate launched in late 2019 with three flavors: classic chocolate, dark chocolate and mocha. They expanded to offer a powder version of their milk, and all products are both lactose-free and 100% plastic-neutral. Slate has sold over 10 million cans to date and is available in over 12,000 locations, including major retailers like Walmart, Kroger, Whole Foods and Wegmans. Recently, Slate has become an official partner of UFC.
Jaylen Brown is a forward guard for the Boston Celtics, joining the team after the 2016 NBA Draft as the third overall pick. He has served as a vice president of the National Basketball Players Association since 2019, and is known as one of the most outspoken players in the NBA. Brown is also the founder of the 7uice Foundation, which aims to attack systematic and economic inequities in education. In a partnership with the MIT Media Lab, the foundation developed the Bridge Program, a multi-day camp for Black and Brown Boston high school students that introduces them to STEM-related opportunities and provides resources on emotional literacy, leadership and financial literacy. Brown just extended his Celtics contract with a yearly salary of $52.4 million starting in the 2024-25 season, per The Boston Globe.
Jadyn Bryden is the vice president of Xfund, an early-stage venture capital firm in Palo Alto and Cambridge with over $200 million in assets. As the youngest vice president, she sources companies, conducts due diligence, supports portfolio companies and manages the student scout and fellows program at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Berkeley and Wharton. Previously, she served as chief strategy officer of Harvard Student Agencies—the world's largest student-run company that provides undergraduates paid working experience in 13 of Harvard’s businesses, from retail to engineering—leading strategic development, compliance, and innovation resulting in new agencies.
Tim Demirjian and Marc Kessler, and their Los Angeles-based cofounder Tomas Crowe, founded Vitalize Holdings and created Dezo, a line of superfruit-infused vodka seltzers with coconut water as the base. The two both have roots in the Boston liquor industry. Kessler's family owns Boston’s oldest bar, the Bell in Hand Tavern, where Dezo first premiered. Dezo is sold online in 23 states and is available in retailers primarily in Massachusetts, California, and Florida. Next year, Dezo plans to launch a canned tequila seltzer.
Viv, also known as Viv for Your V, is a sustainable period products line, founded by Katie Diasti and started as a class project at Boston College. Using bamboo and sugarcane-derived materials, Viv's pads, liners and tampons are easily biodegradable. Its reusable silicone menstrual cup features a ring stem for effortless insertion and removal. With over $1 million in funding, Viv is available in more than 1,600 retail locations, including Wegmans, Stop & Shop, CVS and Amazon.
Jean Dolin serves as the founder, creative director and curator of Boston's Portraits of Pride exhibit, a large-scale LGBTQ photography exhibition that features portraits of Boston's top LGBTQ leaders and advocates. With images taken by renowned photographer John Huet, known for his Olympic athlete portraits, the exhibit opened at City Hall's Grand Yard on June 1, attracting 6,000 attendees. Notably, it featured a portrait of Massachusetts State Governor Maura Healey, one of the country's first openly gay governors. Soon, Dolin is founding Boston’s first LGBTQ+ Museum of Art, History and Culture, and plans to bring the Portraits of Pride exhibit to New York City to celebrate 55 years of Stonewall and Pride next year.
Alex Dunn witnessed his brother, who has dystonia and autism, struggling to use a gaming controller and falling behind his neurotypical friends. In response, Dunn created Enabled Play, a platform enabling people with disabilities and able-bodied individuals to control technology in ways that suit them best. This technology incorporates voice, facial expressions, body gestures, virtual buttons and motion controls for simple maneuvers such as changing directions or jumping. Initially focused on gaming, Enabled Play shifted in March to licensing its software to businesses without accessibility features and providing free software to disabled gamers. Partnering with organizations like state departments and Microsoft, Enabled Play raised a $2.5 million seed round led by Triple Impact Capital in June 2023.
Pooja Ika says she's the youngest person to launch a new Medicare Advantage Health Plan in the United States with her company eternalHealth, and says it’s the first plan entered into the Massachusetts health insurance market since 2013. Launched this year, EternalHealth currently offers four plan tiers for those who qualify for Medicare, but is looking to expand beyond the Medicare space in the coming years. Former Apple and Pepsi CEO John Sculley heads the eternalHealth board, and Red Sox player David Ortiz serves as the spokesperson of the eternalHealth brand. EternalHealth currently serves three major counties (Worcester, Middlesex and Suffolk) in the greater Boston area and is expanding to three more soon. Later this year, EternalHealth will be available for residents of Maricopa County in Arizona, which is home to the cities of Phoenix, Mesa, and Scottsdale and, more notably, nearly a million people that qualify for Medicare. To date, eternalHealth has raised $30 million in funding from private investors and is valued at $200 million.
During her time working at the Perkins School for the Blind through a co-op program, Samantha Johnson encountered isolated deaf-blind individuals with no communication tools, relying solely on costly interpreting services. To address this, Johnson developed an anthropomorphic robotic hand, Tatum (or Tactile ASL Translational Use Machine), for tactile sign languages—the primary mode of communication for nearly 150 million deaf-blind people globally. Disrupting a field centered on braille and the first independent communication system to incorporate signing culture, Tatum works with a person’s devices to communicate wording from text messages to news articles. Tatum has received $421,000 in funding.
Anjie Liu and her cofounder David Hachuel founded Kiwi Biosciences after she suffered from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that affects one in eight people globally. Its product, Fodzyme, is a tasteless powder sprinkled on food, targeting FODMAPs, a group of carbohydrates IBS sufferers’ small intestines have a difficult time breaking down. Unlike capsule-based competitors, Fodzyme acts on-site. Fodzyme is meant to bring relief to those experiencing IBS symptoms. Kiwi Biosciences plans to launch a low-FODMAP food line with garlic powder and garlicky marinara sauce later this year. Kiwi Biosciences has had over 20,000 customers purchase Fodzyme and secured $2 million in funding.
Isabella Mandis founded Girls Who VC, the first organization focused on increasing the number of women in venture capital, particularly at the high school and collegiate levels. Within its first six months, Girls Who VC has grown to over 2,000 members from 40 countries across six continents. It has a roster of over 75 female VC mentors, including those at Venture Forward, Plug and Play, 2048 Ventures, Techstars and Menlo Ventures. During her first year at Harvard, Mandis was the first undergraduate student chosen for The MBA Fund, an early-stage VC fund supporting student and alumni founders from Harvard, Stanford and Wharton.
As a DACA recipient, Anshi Moreno Jimenez is committed to working on the local level to make systematic change. She served as the deputy director for the winning Boston mayoral campaign by Michelle Wu. During the 14-month campaign, Moreno Jimenez led the collection of $2.4 million in donations. The Wu team had the highest number of individual donors (nearly four times more than Wu’s opponent). This summer, Moreno Jimenez began her role as senior policy advisor for the Mayor's policy team, where she's working to implement the changes they promised on the campaign trail.
Varun Navani is the founder of Rolai, an AI-driven software company empowering users to learn data analytics skills. Through AI and machine learning, Rolai offers personalized curriculums based on initial assessments and individual progress. Rolai gives users access to real-world company data and the ability to showcase projects on a GitHub-like profile for potential employers. Rolai has educated over 200,000 learners, including B2B customers like Accenture, Citibank and Mercedes-Benz, and universities such as the University of Kansas, the University of New Haven and Essex County College. At the collegiate level, Rolai supports existing courses and fills gaps in educational offerings for students.
Christian Salem and cofounder Eric Olson met while on the Northwestern football team and bonded over their families' backgrounds in academia and research. Together, they created Consensus, a search engine that utilizes AI to provide answers from research databases. Unlike traditional searches, like those at your high school library, Consensus allows users to ask research-related questions, and can give summaries and quotes relevant to a user’s question. Partnering with Semantic Scholar and the Allen Institute, its database holds over two million papers. Since its launch eight months ago, Consensus has registered over a half-million users and raised $4.5 million in funding from investors including Winklevoss Capital.
Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman is a doctoral candidate at Harvard’s Kennedy School studying public policy and economics, and holds fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Opoku-Agyeman edited The Black Agenda: Bold Solutions for a Broken System, the first trade publication to exclusively feature Black scholars and experts in economics, education, health, climate, criminal justice and technology. She also cofounded #BlackBirdersWeek, collaborating with the National Audubon Society and the nonprofit Sadie Collective to address Black women's underrepresentation in economics, finance and policy. To date, she remains the youngest recipient of the United Nations’ CEDAW Women's Rights Award, joining past recipients Vice President Kamala Harris and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Cynthia Orofo, a first-generation Nigerian-American, noticed healthcare disparities while working as an ICU nurse and on a mobile health van. Orofo and Isaac Nelson founded Culture Care Collective, a health support program and app connecting patients with community health workers (CHWs). The collective’s CHWs can communicate with a patient’s healthcare providers and then communicate information with the patient either in person or through the app, and provide more customized care than a typical provider. The program aims to enhance health literacy and disease self-management and to reduce unnecessary healthcare utilization due to knowledge gaps, transportation issues, structural racism and more. Culture Care Collective has received $42,000 in funding from Northeastern University.
After witnessing his mother struggling with a lack of community in her downtown New York City apartment, Ben Pleat wanted a solution to the widespread loneliness epidemic. Pleat, with Steve McLaughlin, cofounded Cobu, a residential platform for property managers to foster community among residents. Similar to Facebook groups, Cobu’s app lets residents create customized groups or events, whether it be a dinner party or a group to share cat pictures. Cobu serves over 110,000 apartment homes in 85 cities and 37 states, operating in 350 buildings [in the US.]
Matt Ross cofounded Trove Health with Satish Tadikonda to streamline challenges faced by his family while caring for his brother, who has a neurological condition. Trove is a marketplace connecting patients and researchers, enabling patients to view their healthcare records in one place by linking their provider and insurance accounts, and researchers to directly contact them for information or research opportunities. Trove has retrieved data on over 100,000 patients and two million records, facilitating enrollment in studies for potentially life-saving treatments. The company recently merged with healthcare record platform Oprable, and has received funding from Underscore VC and 2 Lanterns VC.
Vend alleviates the parking experience with its window-up, pay-for-parking interface for customers and consolidates payments and data for property managers. Karan Singhal is the brain behind all of Vend’s code and technology, which features a unified cloud for parking operators to manage transient, monthly and third-party parking in one place. (Most parking garages still use paper and analog filing systems.) Vend has raised $5.5 million in funding from Floating Point, Alumni Ventures, Crossbeam and APA Ventures. Previously, Singhal and his Vend cofounder, Michael Miele, founded SpotLight Parking, an on-demand valet service.
While completing their Master’s at Harvard, Madeleine Smith and Austin Boral met and observed that public servants often lack the tools and resources to ask questions and share best practices in real-time. They founded Civic Roundtable, a collaboration platform designed to connect public servants with their peers, associations, agencies and partners. It’s like Reddit meets LinkedIn: the secure space facilitates peer-to-peer communication and collaboration across government levels, functions and jurisdictions. Since its summer 2022 launch, Civic Roundtable has gained over 2,000 users and raised more than $1 million in funding.
Alina Su, with Jonathan Xing and Alex Zou, cofounded NovaXS, a medical device company developing a smart, needle-free medication self-injection device (called "Telosis") with an accompanying app that tracks and reminds a patient about their treatment, monitors prescription levels and communicates a patient's status with their doctor. Telosis can treat chronic conditions that have frequent injections, such as diabetes, allergies and arthritis. NovaXS’ Telosis is undergoing clinical trials before FDA approval and plans to target in vitro fertilization (IVF) soon. The startup raised its last round of funding at a $14 million valuation.
Zyp Run is Boston's first and only cannabis delivery warehouse, which Gabe Viera and Elis Omoroghomwan opened in January. Within its first three and half months of operations, Zyp Run exceeded $1 million in revenue, and expects to bring in $6 million by the end of 2023, according to its cofounders. Zyp Run plans to expand into New Jersey later this year.
When Bryan Wang's family immigrated to the U.S., they heavily relied on social services, which made a significant difference in their lives. Now, bosWell, the platform he cofounded, sits at the intersection of healthcare and social services. To do this, bosWell helps food pantries build out their data capability, offering them free software to manage clients who visit for food assistance. With this data, bosWell can identify targeted ways to further assist these clients — matching them with other eligible benefits, referring them to healthcare services and connecting them with a team of community health workers. Since starting in 2015, bosWell has enabled food pantries to serve over 200,000 individuals in need.
After seeing his brothers struggle with addiction, Sam Warach founded NextStep Health, a community mental health platform that provides counseling, preventative resources and early intervention. NextStep has two app platforms: one catered to adults and another to teens. (The one for teens resembles the TikTok interface and has social elements for users to interact.) NextStep has partnered with government agencies like the New Hampshire Department of Education and New York City's Mayor's Office, private sector companies like Verizon and NGOs like the Clinton Foundation and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Warach is also an active public speaker, most notably speaking with Chelsea Clinton during the 2023 Clinton Global Initiative University event. NextStep has raised over $1 million in funding at a $5 million valuation.
If you're reading about Boston music, Victoria Wasylak probably wrote it. She is the Boston Music Editor for Vanyaland, an online independent culture magazine based in Boston where she reports on the overlooked triumphs and struggles of local artists. Wasylak has won “Music Journalist of the Year” three times at the Boston Music Awards, making her the most decorated winner in the category’s history. As a member of The Recording Academy, Wasylak submits Boston music for Grammy consideration and serves as a regional liaison for the New York chapter’s Advocacy Committee. She has written over 30 episodes for the Double Elvis podcast network, which includes the top music podcast DISGRACELAND, BADLANDS and About a Girl. Her episode on Taylor Swift is one of the most-downloaded episodes in the show's history.
Mark Crane is a partner at General Catalyst, where he focuses on sourcing and investing in growth stage companies such as Apiiro, Resilience and TravelPerk. Prior to joining GC, Crane was a vice president at Cove Hill Partners in Massachusetts. Previously, he was a senior associate at JMI Equity and associate at North Bridge Growth Equity.
Derek Canton is the CEO and founder of Paerpay, an app that provides a windows-up drive through ordering experience by letting guest simply scan a QR code at the order speaker (or at order counter or table) to quickly pay for their order using their phone. Paerpay has been integrated into hundreds of restaurants and restaurant chains, including State Street Provisions and MAST' in Boston and Amy's Drive-thru and Steak 'n Shake nationwide. Canton appeared on the Forbes Under 30 Food & Drink list in 2023.
LaShyra “Lash” Nolen is a writer, activist and dual-degree MD/MPP student at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she is serving as student council president of her medical school class — the first documented Black woman to hold this leadership position. She is the founder of We Got Us, a student-led, grassroots community empowerment project with the mission to increase access to education and healing for marginalized communities. She has been named a 2020 National Minority Quality Forum’s youngest “40 Under 40” Leader in Minority Health and a Boston Celtics “Hero Among Us.” Nolen appeared on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Healthcare list in 2022.
Pamela Silver is a founding core faculty member of Harvard University's Wyss Institute, which is known for its innovations in science with consideration of the market. Silver was recently elected to the Academy of Sciences for her pioneering work in systems and synthetic biology and her contributions to RNA biology, the biology of bacteria and entire microbiomes, function of the cell nucleus in higher organisms and cancer therapeutics. She is the cofounder of several companies in the sustainability space, including Kula Bio, Circe Bioscience and 64x Bio.Rajia Abdelaziz & Ray HamiltonElaheh Ahmadi & Alexander AminiJose Amich & Raahil ShaSchuyler Bailar McKenzi BakerJosh BelinskyJaylen Brown Jadyn Bryden Tim Demirjian & Marc Kessler Katie DiastiJean Dolin Alex DunnPooja IkaSamantha Johnson Anjie LiuIsabella MandisAnshi Moreno JimenezVarun NavaniChristian SalemAnna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman Cynthia Orofo & Isaac Nelson Ben Pleat Matt Ross Karan SinghalMadeleine Smith & Austin Boral Alina Su Gabriel Viera & Elis OmoroghomwanBryan WangSam WarachVictoria Wasylak Mark CraneDerek CantonLaShyra NolenPamela Silver