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Under30CEO is proud to present our first Rookies of the Year class. Being a first time entrepreneur is rarely a glamorous and coveted lifestyle. You work 80 hours a week. You play every role from accounting to marketing to project manager. You don’t get to go to happy hours or see your family and friends as much as you’d like, and you do all of this while sometimes not even pulling in a salary. Its extremely difficult.
Under30CEO set out to find these individuals and recognize their accomplishments in their first year of business. Some of this class includes entrepreneurs still in college building their own job, while others left a secure corporate career to take a big risk starting their own company. Despite all their differences, the two things these entrepreneurs have in common are a passion for their business and the desire to see it succeed. So without any further ado, we present to you the Under30CEO 2012 Rookies of the Year. Better late than never!
AJ Nelson & Joe Dallago
AJ Nelson and Joe Dallago are the co-founders of ClusterFlunk, a peer-to-peer network that allows university students to connect with other students specifically in their classes. AJ and Joe came up with the idea for ClusterFlunk while still attending college. They hated the fact that they could go an entire semester only meeting 5 people out of a 300 person lecture. They realized it was difficult to find and form study groups, share notes, and simply interact with classmates outside of the normal class time. ClusterFlunk fills the gap between social media and the education space. AJ and Joe now have over 1500 registered students at the University of Iowa for ClusterFlunk, are in the process of expanding to two new universities, and have plans in place to go nation wide. They are getting ready to close on their first round of funding and hire their first employee.
Andrew Kurland is the co-founder of Greentoe.com, a priceline.com for consumer goods. Greentoe applies the name-your-price model to consumer goods, helping you score deals on everything from digital cameras and TV’s to refrigerators and strollers; via a network of certified retailers. The idea for Greentoe came to Andrew when he was shopping for a new TV on Amazon. He realized that all of the retailers were selling the TV for the same price. Andrew wanted an easy way to notify each retailer that he was going to make a purchase and see if anyone would accept a lesser amount of money than they were asking. Greentoe solves this problem by giving a consumer the ability to negotiate with multiple retailers at the same time. The way it works is that you find the item you want to buy, make an offer, and then wait for a retailer to bite; when they do, your credit card’s automatically charged and the product is shipped to you. Greentoe.com officially launched in beta in November and reached over 5,000 users within their first 30 days.
Tyler Arnold is the founder of SimplySocial, a unique software that coaches you through the complexities of growing and maintaining an engaged social media audience. Tyler came up with the idea while consulting with a variety of businesses to build their websites. He realized countless businesses would ask for a built in Facebook or Twitter feed, but the feed would go unused as business didn’t have the time or the understanding of how to create and manage content for social media. Tyler founded SimplySocial to fix this issue for all businesses. In 2012, SimplySocial grew from it’s original 3 founders to 23 employees with a global footprint of customers. Tyler and SimplySocial were also recently accepted into Y Combinator in Silicon Valley.
Christina Moazed is the founder of ApproStar, a marketing firm specializing in the promotion of mobile apps. ApproStar specifically helps boost user downloads through non-incentivized promotion, meaning the users they help acquire are targeted and valuable customers. ApproStar’s goal is to provide clients with long term marketing solutions and strategies that maximize revenue. Christina gained an interest in app marketing while interning for her brother’s app development company, Applico. She realized there were thousands of apps coming out every day, but getting them to stand apart and discovered was a huge pain point and opportunity. Christina has an exciting year ahead as she landed a few of her first deals in 2012, and has many more in the making.
Torrence Reed & Baxter Smith
Torrence Reed along with Baxter Smith are the Co-Founders of Elephant Water. Elephant Water is a multi-functional online platform for college entrepreneurs to sell goods and contract services. With corporate America in “downsizing” mode, the job hunt for recent college graduates has become more difficult. Elephant Water aims to become a premier opportunity for college students to open, manage, and run their own businesses as entrepreneurs, and create their own jobs. In 2012, Torrence and Baxter raised an early round from friends and family, went from concept to functional business, and helped their first college students become entrepreneurs.
Imran Khoja is the founder of Designed Good, a unique online store that blends design and social good to deliver products consumers can feel good about purchasing. Think about how much you love to buy Tom’s Shoes, and now imagine if you know that everything you could buy, would give you that same satisfaction of contributing towards social good, while also being a product you want and use. Designed Good fills that gap and brings those do-good brands to one location for you to access. After visiting more than 42 countries by the time he turned 17, Imran knew he wanted to give back to communities in need. Imran came up with the idea of Designed Good so he could give exposure to the niche brands already giving back to the world. In 2012, Imran grew Designed Good to over $25,000 in sales, worked with more than 50 brands to help drive awareness, and developed partnerships with leading charity organizations to reach their audience.
Jilliene Helman is a founder of Realty Mogul, a crowdfunding platform for commercial real estate. Along with friend and co-founder Justin Hughes, Jilliene built Realty Mogul from the ground up in 2012. The idea for Realty Mogul came from combining two primary forces: economical and political. As the economy continues on it’s recovery from the recession, investors are avidly looking for improved avenues to safely grow their money. On the political side, the JOBS act passed in April 2012 made “crowdfunding” a viable and growable platform to the US. Jilliene and Justin recently graduated from the Microsoft/Tech Stars accelerator and funded their first transaction while in private beta.
Ian Dickerson is the founder of Centscere, a platform that makes donating to charities of your choice simple. Centscere takes each transaction from a persons debit/credit cards, rounds up to the next dollar amount, and donates the cents to the charity of your choice. At the end of the year, each Centscere participant receives a tax deductible form with their donation history. Ian’s idea for Centscere came from the fact that most people think of pocket change as a nuisance, and not actual money. Ian’s idea was to utilize that money wasted for something good – charity. In 2012, Ian brought on 3 team members, including a business developer, a charity expert with a great amount of experience and connections at charities, and a web developer with over 15 years of experience. Centscere attended Startup Weekend Syracuse in November and took first place out of 46 teams.
Andrew Arcangel is the founder of true athelite®, a sportswear company that uses specially developed performance fabric called true athelite® TECH™. True athelite® currently focuses on basketball sportwear for men, women, and children. Through bootstrapping, and a $10,000 inheritance, Andrew dove full force into the true athelite® brand after graduating from college and declining two job offers in the financial industry. Andrew grew up loving basketball, and knew no matter what, he wanted his work to be around basketball. In 2012, Andrew launched his first product line, hired his first few employees, and sold his first $25,000 in product.
Karthik Ramachandran is the founder of Likarda, a unique cell-based technology company that can drastically accelerate cures and healing for both pets and people. In 2008, Karthik joined a research project that was in the process of discovering ways to implant insulin-producing cells into diabetic patients to cure their Diabetes. From a fresh perspective, Karthik paved the way to go back to the core of their problem, and develop a more efficient and effective approach to creating the necessary cells for healing and curing patients. In 2012, Likarda raised their first round of financing, gained press and interest from future investors, and laid the foundation for future success and growth.Subscribe to the Podcast