Top 30 Hottest Startup CEOs

Top 30 Hottest Startup CEO


30. David Arabov
imageArabov created the news website Elite Daily because he and the site’s other two cofounders wanted to

make a news site that was The Huffington Post for millennials. “Gen Y is where our biggest source of traffic

comes from. The average reader is between 18 to 26 years old, and it’s split between male and female,”

Arabov told Business Insider.

Founded in 2012, the startup just received its first funding in June, $1.5 million from Social Starts, Vast

Ventures, Red Sea Ventures, and Greycroft Partners.


29. Paul Budnitz

30-paul-budnitzCompany: Ello

Ello is an invite-only ad-free social network that allows users to customize profiles with creative layouts.

“When a network is very simple,” Budnitz says, “people want specific features, and they’re willing to pay for

those features.”

The social network has raised $5.9 million in two rounds of fundraising from the Foundry Group, Bullet Time

Ventures, and FreshTracks Capital.


28. Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin

28-danielle-weisberg-and-carly-zakinCompany: theSkimm

Weisberg and Zakin quit their jobs at NBC to start theSkimm, a daily newsletter that is sent to your inbox

every morning with an aggregated, bite-size list of the top stories that day. TheSkimm has 500,000


TheSkimm raised $1.6 million in seed funding in April from AFSquare, Five Island Ventures, Richard

Greenfield, Gordon Crawford, Troy Carter, RRE Ventures, Homebrew, and Bob Pittman.


27. Philip Krim

Company: Casper

Along with the three other cofounders, Krim thought millennials weren’t getting enough sleep. Krim wants

to revolutionize the mattress industry by selling solely from the web and offering a no-hassle consumer


Founded on the notion that not getting enough sleep is unhealthy, Casper makes firm yet bouncy

mattresses that can fit into a box the size of a golf bag. The mattresses start at $500 and are delivered to

your door within two hours.

The company raised $1.85 million in its first round of fundraising and grew exponentially when it raised

$13.1 million through Series A fundraising on Aug. 7.


26. Christina Mercando

26-christina-mercandoCompany: Ringly

Mercando’s startup Ringly makes wearable tech that you’ll actually want to show off. Ringly’s stylish 18-

karat-gold cocktail ring connects to your phone: It lights up and vibrates whenever the wearer gets a


Mercando studied fine art and human computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon, so delving into the world

of wearable technology made sense for the CEO.

Ringly launched this summer, and it’s already getting lots of orders. Preordered rings cost $145, but once

they ship, the price will go up to $195.

Ringly has raised $1 million in funding from Mesa+, First Round Capital, PCH, and Andreessen Horowitz.


25-alexandra-wilkis-wilson25. Alexandra Wilkis Wilson

Glamsquad is a New York City-based startup that brings salon-quality blowouts and makeovers to your

home. It’s a game changer for busy New York women who don’t have time to get to the salon.

Wilkis Wilson — the cofounder of Gilt Groupe — became Glamsquad’s CEO and president in September.

She took over from Glamsquad cofounder Victoria Eisner. Even though Wilkis Wilson just took the reins a

few months ago, she has the industry talking about her and her plans for the beauty industry.

“Beauty is an industry that is sensitive to discounting,” Wilkis Wilson told The Wall Street Journal.

Glamsquad completed a $7 million round of Series A funding in October from BBG Ventures, Montage

Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and SoftBank Capital. To date, Glamsquad has raised $9 million in

venture capital.


24-andras-forgacs24. Andras Forgacs

Company: Modern Meadow

Modern Meadow is a Brooklyn, New York-based startup that’s growing meat, fish, leather, and poultry in a

lab. The startup uses a process called biofabrication, which takes small biopsies from animals without

harming them.

Modern Meadow CEO and cofounder Forgacs also cofounded Organovo, which engineers human tissue

for medical applications with 3D bioprinting.

Modern Meadow raised $10 million in a Series A round of funding from Artis Ventures and Horizons

Ventures this summer.


23-grace-choi23. Grace Choi

Company: Mink

Mink has provided a way for people to hack the $55 billion cosmetics industry by letting its users print any

kind of makeup from their home computer.

Choi wants to empower people to 3D print lipstick, blush, and more.

“The makeup industry makes a whole lot of money on a whole lot of bulls—,” Choi said at TechCrunch

Disrupt this spring. “They charge a huge premium on something that tech provides for free. That one thing

is color.”

Unlike other startups, Mink doesn’t have any venture capital money — Choi, a Harvard Business School

graduate, has so far refused to accept any.


22. Marc Lore


Lore, an e-commerce veteran who was once the CEO of Quidsi — the website behind — has

been talking about raising money for a new e-commerce startup called Jet, which is rumored to be an


Lore raised $25 million in funding in September to complete an $80 million Series A round. Lore has said Jet

would be a “new kind of e-commerce experience, uniquely grounded in transparency and customer



21. David Byttow

21-david-byttowCompany: Secret

After the first version of the app didn’t attract investors, Byttow tweaked the app and changed its name to

Secret, which lets people anonymously post text messages to friends and strangers.

The startup is just over a year old and has raised $35 million after three rounds of fundraising from 26


Despite dropping out of Purdue at 19, Byttow landed jobs at Medium, Square, and Google, where he met

Secret cofounder Chrys Bader.


20. Payal Kadakia

20-payal-kadakiaCompany: ClassPass

ClassPass CEO Payal Kadakia was working on her startup Classtivity, a precursor to ClassPass, in a Starbucks

in Astor Place when she was maced and mugged. She says the incident made her want to be better at

protecting herself, and in turn, the incident “motivated me to perfect my business.”

Kadakia pivoted Classtivity to be a more consumer-facing product, and ClassPass was born. For $99 a

month, ClassPass users in New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Los Angeles can sign up for hundreds of

local spin, dance, yoga and barre classes. Since ClassPass launched in May, the startup has booked more

than 350,000 classes.

ClassPass raised $2 million in seed funding from investors like BoxGroup and SV Angel. In September

ClassPass raised a $12 million Series A from angel investors including David Tisch, Shana Fisher, Kal Vepuri,

Fritz Lanman, and Hank Vigil.


19. Ryan Hoover

19-ryan-hooverCompany: Product Hunt

CEO and Product Hunt founder Hoover created this startup, which curates a daily selection of cool new

products that people can buy. Useful comments review each product.

The site is oddly addictive, and many investors use it to find the next big thing to invest in.

However it looks as if Product Hunt could be the next big thing for investors to look at. The company has

raised $7.5 million in four rounds of fundraising from 18 investors.

Hoover is big on delightful surprises and mailed out 4,000 Product Hunt GIF-like stickers to users who

supplied their mailing information.


18. Justin McLeod

18-justin-mcleodCompany: Hinge

McLeod made the bold move to spend the last $25,000 in Hinge’s bank account on a 2,000-person launch

party as a hail-mary pass to save the tanking dating service. The party created buzz and saved the mobile

dating app, which takes the randomness out of online dating by connecting friends of friends.

Hinge is one of the hottest startups and has expanded into 20 cities across the country. The company has

raised $8.6 million in three rounds of funding from 20 investors.

Ladies, look out for McLeod as one of your potential Hinge matches.


17. Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp

17-hayley-barna-and-katia-beauchampCompany: Birchbox

Co-CEOs Barna and Beauchamp met while at Harvard Business School have experienced rapid growth with

their subscription e-commerce startup Birchbox. The idea was inspired by a beauty editor friend of Barna’s.

Ironically, Barna was never really into beauty products before cofounding the company.

Birchbox delivers cosmetic samples to subscribers monthly in a nicely packaged box. The company has since

expanded into men’s products and is looking into developing new product lines like home decor.

Birchbox has acquired the online lifestyle product store JolieBox and has 17 investors backing $71.9 million

in funding.


16. Joshua Tetrick

16-joshua-tetrickCompany: Hampton Creek

Hampton Creek is a technology company that is exploring a better way to make food. It currently focuses

on making plant-based alternatives to eggs and egg products.

Tetrick entered the business with no experience after working for the UN in Sub-Saharan Africa, but despite

his lack of experience Tetrick has persuaded huge business moguls like Bill Gates and Li-Ka Shing, the

richest man in Asia, to invest in his company. So far Hampton Creek has received $30 million in funding.


15. Tyler Droll

15-tyler-drollCompany: Yik Yak

Perhaps best known in high schools and on college campuses, Yik Yak is a gossip app that lets users post

anything they want without a username. Yik Yak works geographically, so you see only what other people

within a mile and a half radius of you post. Using GPS technology, some schools have already blocked the


Yik Yak was cofounded by Droll and Brooks Buffington, Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers who went to school

together at Furman University. To get Yik Yak off the ground after they graduated in 2013, the two moved

back to their hometown of Atlanta, started working at Panera, and bootstrapped their anonymous-gossip


Yik Yak raised $62 million in a funding round led by Sequoia Capital in November, bringing its valuation into

the “low hundred millions of dollars.” In total, Yik Yak has raised $73.5 million.


14. Michael Heyward

14-michael-heywardCompany: Whisper

If you want to share your thoughts and secrets without fearing repercussions, you’re most likely already

using Whisper, an anonymous social network.

Michael Heyward’s startup came under fire earlier this year for reportedly tracking its users’ information and

sharing it with the US government. In August, Whisper’s founders announced they were starting a $1

million endowment for Your Voice, a separate nonprofit branch of Whisper. Your Voice is Whisper’s answer

to troubling posts on the website about depression and suicide. Prior to founding Whisper, Heyward

worked at the enterprise medical messaging startup TigerText.

Whisper raised a $36 million Series C round in May from CAA Ventures, Tencent, Thrive Capital, Sequoia

Capital, Shasta Ventures, and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Whisper has raised $60 million in total.


13. Peter Szulczewski

13-peter-szulczewskiCompany: Wish

Former Yahoo, Google, and Facebook engineers, led by Szulczewski, created Wish, the leading mobile

commerce platform in North America and Europe.

“We want to be Google AdWords for the retailer,” Szulczewski said.

The company has $50 million from four rounds of fundraising from Founders Fund, Legend Capital,

Formation 8, GGV Capital, Jerry Yang, Cherubic Ventures, and Jared Leto.


12. Jeff Raider and Andy Katz-Mayfield

12-jeff-raider-and-andy-katz-mayfieldCompany: Harry’s

Harry’s is a three-year-old startup disrupting the traditional shaving industry.

Raider and Katz-Mayfield’s startup sells razors, German-engineered razor blades, and shaving creams.

Raider is also a cofounder of Warby Parker and was an associate at the private equity firm Charlesbank

Capital Partners, where Katz-Mayfield also worked.

Harry’s is growing fast: Earlier this year, the shaving company acquired Feintechnik, a German company that

manufactures razor blades, for $100 million.

This year, Harry’s raised $132.5 million from Harrison Metal, Tiger Global Management, Thrive Capital, SV

Angel, Highland Capital Partners, and Lakestar.


11. Matt Salzberg

11-matt-salzbergCompany: Blue Apron

Along with the other two founders, Salzberg created Blue Apron, which delivers portioned ingredients for

delicious meals right to your door. The meals are diverse, can be tailored to dietary needs, and are quick

and easy to make. The company lets busy people enjoy home-cooked meals while teaching them new


Blue Apron has $58 million in funding and has a half-billion-dollar valuation.

Salzberg had an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age: In college he started a student-run laundry service

before working at Blackstone and Bessemer, and then going on to run Blue Apron.


10. Nat Turner

10-nat-turnerCompany: Flatiron Health

Before founding Flatiron Health, Turner and Zach Weinberg sold their first company, an adtech startup

called Invite Media, to Google for $81 million in 2011. But instead of continuing with adtech, the two

decided to do something completely different with Flatiron Health, which collects data from cancer patients.

The data is accessible to other patients, researchers, and doctors.

Google Ventures led Flatiron Health’s $130 million round of funding earlier this year. Turner and Weinberg

used much of that money to acquire Altos Solutions, which collects data on patients.


9. Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa

9-neil-blumenthal-and-dave-gilboaCompany: Warby Parker

Warby Parker CEOs Blumenthal and Gilboa came up with the idea for the optical brand at a bar while

attending Wharton Business School.

Since then, the eyewear company has grown rapidly, raising $115.5 million in five rounds of fundraising

from 17 investors.

The company designs affordable and fashionable eyewear that is sold online and in stores and showrooms

across the US.

Warby Parker is also a certified B Corporation; for every pair of glasses sold, the company donates a pair of

glasses to a person in need.


8. Jessica Alba

8-jessica-albaCompany: The Honest Company

Alba, an actress, mother, and entrepreneur, cofounded The Honest Company because she couldn’t find

any high-quality eco-friendly baby products when she was a new mom.

“I wanted clean, safe, effective products that were affordable and beautifully designed and I couldn’t find

that in the marketplace … There wasn’t really a family brand that spoke to me as a young mom,” Alba said

on Jimmy Fallon this past January.

The company makes and sells non-toxic diapers, cleaning products, prenatal supplements, and cribs. It’s

also a certified B Corporation. The Honest Company has raised $122 million in funding and has a valuation

of $1 billion.


7. Logan Green

7-logan-greenCompany: Lyft

Green’s Lyft is a laid-back, fist-bumping, pink-mustachioed alternative to Uber. Lyft launched two years ago

in San Francisco and had expanded to more than 60 cities across the US. Before there was Lyft, Green was

the cofounder and CEO of the ride-sharing community Zimride.

Though Lyft lost a few key hires to its competitor Uber, the company is still doing quite well. At the end of

2013, Lyft’s revenues increased at a rate of about 6% every week. Lyft has raised $332.5 million in six rounds

of funding from Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, Floodgate, AFSquare, and more.


6. Stewart Butterfield

6-stewart-butterfieldCompany: Slack

Butterfield, who also started Flickr, created Slack so coworkers and teams could easily message and

communicate with one another. The startup launched in February and sparked rapid growth giving the

young company a $1.12 billion valuation.

Recently in an interview with MIT Technology Review, Butterfield called the app “a giant piece of sh-t” and

says he tells his employees that constantly so they work hard to improve the product.

Slack has raised $180 million in six rounds of fundraising from 11 investors in less than a year.


5. Patrick Collison

5-patrick-collisonCompany: Stripe

When he was 19, Collison and his younger brother John became millionaires by selling their software

company. The entrepreneurial momentum didn’t stop there. Two years later, in 2010, Patrick and John

cofounded an even bigger company.

The Collisons’ payments platform Stripe handles payments for all the companies and services you already

use, including Facebook, Twitter, Lyft, Alibaba, and Apple. Stripe handles billions of dollars of transactions


Stripe has raised $190 million in venture capital. Most recently, Stripe raised $70 million in Series C-1 round

fundraising in December 2014 from Thrive Capital, Khosla Ventures, Founders Fund, General Catalyst

Partners and Sequoia Capital.


4. Rony Abovitz

4-rony-abovitzCompany: Magic Leap

Magic Leap is an intentionally vague, incredible-sounding stealth startup that describes itself as a “developer

of novel human computing interfaces and software.” Abovitz’s startup could provide a more-realistic kind of

augmented reality. Abovitz says Magic Leap is “a new way for humans to interact with computers.”

In October, Magic Leap raised $542 million in a Series B round from Legendary Entertainment, Qualcomm

Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, KPCB Holdings, and Google. Sundar Pichai, the man who runs Android,

joined the board of Magic Leap after the fundraising news. To date, Magic Leap has raised $592 million.


3. Evan Spiegel

3-evan-spiegelCompany: Snapchat

Spiegel dropped out of Stanford University just a couple credits shy of a degree to create Snapchat, the

multimedia mobile messaging app that is now valued at $10 billion.

The app has 100 million users, and huge tech companies like Yahoo are looking to possibly invest in the


Snapchat has received $163 million in funding after five rounds from seven investors, with more fundraising

rounds likely soon to come.

Spiegel lives the high life: He drives a Ferrari and even dated a contestant on ABC’s “The Bachelor.”


2. Travis Kalanick

2-travis-kalanickCompany: Uber

Uber is a mobile app that allows users to book a private car that will arrive within minutes of booking and is

priced competitively with cab fares.

Kalanick’s brazen personality made Uber the successful company it is, now operating in 130 cities across 45

states. Despite Kalanick’s outspokenness, the valuation of his company exceeds $18 billion.

Uber has received $1.5 billion after six rounds of fundraising from 32 investors.


1. Elizabeth Holmes

1-elizabeth-holmesCompany: Theranos

At age 30, Holmes is the chairman, CEO, and founder of Theranos, a company that promises to take all the

pain out of blood work. Holmes is also the youngest woman and third-youngest billionaire on Forbes’

annual ranking of the 400 richest Americans.

Theranos’ blood test doesn’t require vials of blood. Instead, the company tests on a virtually painless finger

prick of blood, and users get results quickly and cheaply. Theranos has raised $400 million in venture capital

funding on a $9 billion valuation.

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