New York City’s Top 10 Tech Founders Under 40

New York City Wired is celebrating the top ten tech CEO’s and directors under 40 in New York City. They’ve created great startups and work at top tech companies.

Anthony Casalena, Founder and CEO of Squarespace 

Anthony Casalena launched Squarespace from his dorm room in 2003. He created the platform initially for himself, but after he got feedback from family and friends, he put it online. He started the company doing everything himself until it was too much to manage. The CEO didn’t even get any outside funding until 2010. Flashforward to Squarespace’s IPO in May 2021, Casalena is worth $2.4 billion, and the company debuted on the New York Stock Exchange with a market value of $6.6 billion. 

Payal Kadakia, Co-Founder and CEO of ClassPass

Payal Kadakia’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from Gujarat, India, in the late 1970s. She grew up in New Jersey and started Indian folk dancing at age three. Kadakia came up with the idea for ClassPass when she was having difficulty finding a dance class in New York City. She decided to make it easier for everyone to find a fitness class. The app now allows you to sign up for fitness and wellness classes, including yoga, pilates, Zumba, indoor cycling, gym time, massages, and meditation. Her company became the first unicorn of the decade when it raised $285 million in a Series E funding round, bringing the valuation to $1 billion. 

Kate Ryder, Founder and CEO of Maven Clinic 

After seeing her friends go through miscarriages, complicated pregnancies and deliveries, Kate Ryder wanted to find a way to help. The entrepreneur was working for a venture capitalist company, promoting app development and new technologies. She believed she could build a health care platform to help women. It was a rocky start as the founder knew only “2.3% of venture-backed startups are women-led.” She also had to convince a male-dominated industry that digital health would be a big thing. Ryder had people telling her she should quit, but as of 2020, Maven Clinic has raised more than $87 million with investors, including Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman and Mindy Kaling. In August 2021, The CEO raised $110 million in a series D funding round, making Mavin Clinic a unicorn company.

Steve Martocci, Co-founder and CEO of Splice

Steve Martocci’s love of computers and coding started when he was a kid when his mom bought him a computer. It kept getting viruses, and when his mom couldn’t afford to fix it anymore, he learned how to fix it himself. Martocci didn’t jump right into coding after graduating, though. He followed the band Pish around, attending about 150 of their concerts. When Pish broke up, Martocci started his career as a programmer. After working for two years, he decided to go it alone. Unfortunately, the entrepreneur ended up in $60,000 in debt. He learned that timing for your idea is crucial. So, he got a job at Gilt Groupe and said it was a fantastic learning experience. The founder also built a ticketing app for the Grateful Dead on the side. Another side project of Martocci’s was creating a messaging app called GroupMe with Jared Hecht. They sold it to Skype for $80 million. It was around this time that he came up with the idea for Splice. He talked to Jon Gutwillig, a guitarist for the band Disco Biscuits, and Gutwillig wondered why there wasn’t anything to help musicians with all the available software. Martocci then connected with audio engineer Matt Aimonetti at a conference, and they decided to work together. They created Splice, a company that offers samples of audio loops that musicians can use and not worry about royalties. The platform has four million users and has paid artists $25 million for their sounds. 

Zach Sims, Co-Founder and CEO and Ryan Bubinski, Co-Founder of Codeacademy

Zach Sims wanted to learn to code, but no matter how many late nights he stayed up studying, he couldn’t keep up. He thought there had to be an easier way. So, Sims and fellow Columbia University grad Ryan Bubinski launched Codeacademy. They had previously built a website for graduates struggling to find a job. They took that framework, which matched skills to positions, and turned it into a platform for job seekers to improve their skills. When Sims and Bubinski launched their company in August 2011, they gained 200,000 users in one weekend with no marketing. Currently, Codeacademy has more than 45 million students

This edtech company is now offering a product for organizations to train employees called Codeacademy for Teams. It launched the beta version in 2020, and participation has increased 350 percent year-over-year.

God-is Rivera, Global Director, Culture & Community of Twitter

In 2019, God-is Rivera became Twitter’s first global director of culture and community. Her path to this role started as the director of social media strategy at ​​VMLY&R when she did a presentation for advertisers called “Woke, Lit & Ready: A Guide to Understanding Black Twitter.” The goal was to challenge companies to be more inclusive in their ads. She loved Twitter because it gave voices to various communities but felt that some people had been silenced or marginalized. She made Twitter aware of her presentation and was asked to come and speak to employees. Then, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey invited her to a one-on-one meeting, and she was asked to create her own role. 

Shabazz Stuart, Co-Founder and CEO of Oonee

Shabazz Stuart describes himself on his Twitter profile as “just a kid from Brooklyn who grew up loving cities and transit.” So it’s not a surprise when you learn he’s the co-founder and CEO of Oonee (pronounced ooh-nee, after the Japanese word for sea urchin), a company that provides shelters for commuters to store their bicycles and scooters. Currently, there are two perforated aluminum huts, one in Jersey City and another at the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn. The customer scans a card and leaves their property in the pod. The company is also placing two mini hubs in New York City, partnering with Swedish scooter sharing company Voi. 

It wasn’t just his love of transit that Oonee was born out of. After commuting by bike for five years, his bike was stolen three times. So in 2015, he decided to provide a safe place for himself and others to store their bikes. 

Today, Stuart continues to tap into his passion for transit by working to make the roads safer for cyclists

Stacy Spikes, Founder of PreShow

Stacey Spikes was the co-founder and CEO of MoviePass, the app that changed the game for moviegoers. While the company failed, theater chains started offering their own movie passes, making it cheaper for film fans that go to multiple movies a month. 

During the pandemic, Spikes decided to launch his next venture, PreShow. The “Interactive mobile app uses patented proprietary technology to allow users the ability to use their time and attention to unlock in-game currency for free without interrupting the playing experience.” 

Cheraé Robinson, Founder and CEO of Tastemakers Africa

Cheraé Robinson saw that tourism companies had a limited scope of African cultures. She wanted to change that, so she traveled to Africa and got to know the local businesses. She used these to curate great experiences for her customers. These experiences went on to the platform Tastemakers Africa. During covid-19, she had a virtual event to bring together a diverse group of African voices to explore pan-Africanism. This topic is at the heart of the company. Cheraé is optimistic about the return of travel but, in the meantime, is dedicated “to create opportunities to expose travelers to authentic African culture and promote the spirit of pan-Africanism and community.” 

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Mandy Carr

Mandy Carr

Mandy Carr is a journalist, editor and media founder. She used her passion for TV shows to create Primetime Addiction. Her editorial credits include former managing editor/social media editor for the start-up media company, Bold TV,. She also served as communications manager for the New York Academy of Sciences' education programs. Mandy has a master's degree in magazine journalism from the University of Sunderland.