18 in Atlanta Inno’s “25 Under 25” companies are South Asian American
To read about Aditya “Adi” Arul (11-year-old entrepreneur) (left), see #7 below.
Atlanta Inno honors the young founders and tech innovators of Atlanta’s booming tech industry by selecting 25 innovators ages 25 or under who are shaping their communities, making moves, and building the future. The 2019 list includes “the tail end of the millennial generation under 25” (the last year Millennials were born in 1995); most of those on the list are in the up-and-coming Generation Z—and the youngest is just 7 years old!
“These are kids of the Recession, a post-9/11 world where tablets took the place of Gameboys, social media became their social experience and tech companies became the most powerful and profitable companies in the world.
If children of the 1980s were TV kids and those of the 1990s were the internet generation, Gen Z is the IoT generation—where tech has integrated with every area of life, with no signs of slowing down. So what ideas and startups are born from a generation that, put simply, has never been without the power of technology?”
Here are some of them, from the 18 South Asian Americans who are on this list of 25 companies!
Some companies had more than one innovator highlighted. Companies included highly technical businesses as well as makeup startups, food companies, and more.
"1. 808 Wave—Abhi Goyal (19), André Rashford (22), Saribek Hovakimian (19) and Brice Diomandé (19): For nearly a month, Abhi Goyal started brainstorming a platform that could combine the uses of SoundCloud, LinkedIn, and Tinder. His creation, Goyal thought, would allow music creatives to connect, collaborate and easily find someone to work with. At the time, Goyal had been working with Hovakimian on a few projects and the two started bouncing ideas off one another. Thus, the 808 Wave was born—a social networking platform created to innovate the way hip-hop music professionals and creatives collaborate and empower their brands. Goyal and Hovakimian coincidentally lived in the same dorm and floor as Diomandé their freshman year. The trio then met Rashford over the summer at a pop-up shop held by Sony Digital. Over the summer of 2019, the four amigos joined Startup Launch, a program led by CREATE-X in affiliation with Georgia Tech. They are currently working on building their brand and developing their platform, as well has hosting events.
4. BackBar Solutions—Kevin Monpara (22) (left), Rishabh Kewalramani (23) (right), Brian Kaplan (22) and Adam Elghor (22): After turning of age, the founders of BackBar Solutions became frequently frustrated when they ordered drinks at their favorite bars. They decided to take pregaming to a whole other level; they decided to skip the bar altogether and created a cocktail machine for their apartment. “From that day, we’ve been trying to make a product that would help bars deliver perfectly-made cocktails faster, so their guests can have a great time,” Monpara said. “We flooded our apartment countless times during product development. Early in the process, when we were still figuring out what we were doing, we left our machine on while we went to class. When we got back from class, water was spewing in every direction as we tried frantically to turn off the water and limit the damage with mere paper towels. We’d like to be able to say that never happened again, but at least we learned something new every time it happened.” The BackBar Solutions automated cocktail dispensing machine can make several cocktails at a time faster than a bartender, which allows the person behind the bar to focus on hospitality. The startup was part of Georgia Tech’s Create-X program and most recently joined the HAX Accelerator. “While we finish product development with HAX Accelerator, we are finalizing venues to participate in our first pilot program,” Monpara said.
6. Edicratic—Eithan Martinez (21), Yukt Mitash (20) and Christopher Scherban (19): Georgia Tech students Martinez, Mitash and Scherban know just how difficult essay writing can be. There’s nothing worse than getting a paper back you’ve worked hard on with red ink all over it. Edicratic connects users with verified editors who give peer reviews on their essays.
7. Emrit—Aditya “Adi” Arul (11): Just before his summer break began, Adi Arul learned about the Helium Hotspot, a platform anyone can use to earn a new cryptocurrency. The platform runs on a LongFi protocol, which can send data 200 times farther than normal WiFi through IoT devices such as scooters, dog collars and more. Arul, who claims to be the first 11-year-old to own part of a peer-to-peer wireless network, is the son of Arul Murugan, who recently closed a $200 million VC fund for Algo Capital. Adi presented to the Metro Atlanta Chambers’ Grow council meeting in front of 150 corporate executives along with MailChimp, Invesco and other companies. Emrit is completely bootstrapped. Arul said he used $5,000 of his own savings (collected by doing chores) and invested it into an early-stage blockchain company last year. Arul made a $100,000 return on the investment, which he used to fund Emrit. “I took a portion of that return to buy 50 hotspots and also to hire Emrit’s first employee. I did use $450 of my savings to buy video games. I love to play video games and VR.” Arul, who loves to golf and received his black belt in karate at age 9, said he hopes to expand his company throughout the southeast shortly.
8. Ethos Medical—Dev Mandavia (23), Lucas Muller (23) and Cassidy Wang (23): Ethos Medical is developing a needle guidance system that helps practitioners insert needles into the spine for procedures like epidurals and spinal taps. “We’ve seen firsthand the procedures we are trying to improve at hospitals like Emory, Grady, Northside and the Mayo Clinic,” Dev Mandavia said. “The current standard of practice for spinal taps is to palpate the patient’s back before blindly inserting the needle. After multiple unsuccessful attempts, the patient is sent to the radiology department where the procedure gets repeated under live x-ray guidance. This exposes the patient to radiation and poses enormous non-reimbursable costs to the hospital.” The team has spoken to 150-plus physicians and nurse practitioners about the problems they face when doing these procedures. By August, Ethos Medical had a fully functional prototype, preliminary efficacy data on a gelatin model, patent pending status, a professional regulatory assessment, and user study results and feedback to gauge product-market fit. Since graduating in from Georgia Tech in 2018, the founders have been working full-time on their startup. Ethos Medical has been a part of the Create-X Startup Launch accelerator and named as an ATDC Accelerate portfolio company. The startup won 1st place at the 2019 Georgia Tech InVenture Prize competition. The founders are currently raising a seed round to fund FDA regulatory testing.
10. Forever Earth—Ria Uppalapati (17): Most high school seniors are daydreaming about their college days, but Uppalapti, a 17-year-old senior at Walton High School is running a 501c3 nonprofit. Uppalapati started Forever Earth, which promotes sustainability in Marietta and Atlanta. “Our goal is to connect local businesses and people with technology and events that allow them to live a more sustainable life and transition into wasting less,” she said. “We also focus on education and promoting environmental awareness both locally and internationally, and we are proud to sponsor the college education of a child in India who has dreams of becoming a sustainable agriculturalist in the future. We host battery recycling drives and shredding events to help people dispose of their waste in an environmentally friendly way that also does not outsource waste to third world countries.” In addition to her time as a CEO, Uppalapati has written and published a book called, “In My Backyard,” that raises awareness to the issue of petroleum in both the environment and the economy. She also serves as a member of the Marietta City Council board Keep Marietta Beautiful. “I am currently working with Wellstar and their EVP Dr. Brennan to reduce their waste at their hospitals,” she said. “Most people do not realize, but hospitals are the biggest waste producers and energy users in the state because of the number of people they house and take care of throughout the city. Our program will reduce food waste as well as incorporate a new technology that allows us to take food waste and turn it into an efficient fertilizer in order to get the maximum use out of waste.”
12. Landing Pad—Anthony Mistretta (23), Hemanth Bellala (21) and James Lowe (21): LandingPad creates direct booking websites for short-term rental hosts. The founders worked closely with STR hosts and found that hosts struggle to differentiate their properties on marketplaces such as Airbnb, Booking.com and other sites. “Through working with these hosts, we realized that if they continue to rely exclusively on marketplaces, they will continue towards commoditization,” Mistretta said. LandingPad took part in the Create-X program and is currently developing its platform.
14. Lucky Mobility—Sneh Parmar (24) (left), Nafis Azad (22) and Philip Bale (24): Lucky Mobility is a location-based marketing platform that allows brands to gather consumer insights and engage with people as they move throughout a city using mobility services (ridesharing, e-scooters, bikeshare, public transit, etc.). Parmar said he and his co-founders first came up with the startup after witnessing firsthand the transition to micromobility. “This completely new infrastructure allows us to be connected to our cities around us with transportation for the first time,” he said. “We realized that we could use this change in consumer behavior and new infrastructure to create a completely new marketing channel that provides benefits to people, brands, and mobility services.” Though the team originally began building a parking payment solution for off-street parking in garages, they made a complete pivot to Lucky Mobility. The startup has gone through Ascend 2020, a pre-accelerator in Atlanta that’s part of TechSquare Labs, J.P. Morgan Chase and the Morehouse College of Entrepreneurship. Luck Mobility was also accepted into the ATDC Accelerate program, and an accelerator called Start Co. Sky High Accelerator. “We’ve raised $75,000 of pre-seed funding through an angel and our accelerator and are currently raising our $1.2 million seed round,” Parmar said.
15. Countable Technologies—Alex Madison (19), Arvin Poddar (19) and Drew Cutchins (20): In addition to being co-founders, Madison, Poddar and Cutchins have been friends since high school. Earlier this year, they created the concept for Countable, a startup that provides WiFi sensors to bring foot traffic data and crowd metrics to retailers. “We have been able to fully build out our hardware/software solution for six shops around Atlanta,” Madison said. The startup was part of the Create-X program and are currently working to close a $20,000 investment from Christopher Klaus, a former Georgia Tech student, founder of Internet Security Systems and supporter of Create-X. The founders have received a $1,000 grant from 1517 Fund and won Best Overall Idea to Prototype Project at the Spring 2019 I2P Showcase.
16. Next Century Farms—Adarsh Sasi (22), Melvin Juwono (22), Samuel Hill (23), Austin Segars (22) and Austin Lee (22): Next Century Farms, a startup founded by three Georgia Tech graduates and one student, develops products that automate various tasks in poultry farming. They have developed a monitoring solution that provides sensor data, such as humidity level, ammonia level and temperature, to farmers in order to detect mortality in a poultry house. The startup’s egg blockage detection solution detects egg blockages on the egg belt in breeder houses before they happen. The startup was part of the Georgia Tech Create-X program.
20. Quit with Nix—Thomas Olson (21), Mohammed Aamir (23) and Cory Stine (23): At 21-years-old, Olson was facing an issue so many other young people are: nicotine addiction. A smoker turned vaper, Olson’s nicotine habit got out of control when he started vaping to curb his cigarette habit. Nix makes it easier for users to quit smoking or vaping using a Nix Dual-Chamber Pod. A smoker simply inserts one of the pods into their vaping device and continues their regular usage. Nix’s algorithm will begin to curb a users nicotine use until they can quit vaping. “Everyone in the country is focused on the vaping crisis,” Olson said. “It’s bringing a lot of attention to the issue, and maybe it’s helping a few people decide not to start vaping, but it doesn’t actually help the millions who are already addicted. As far as I can see, we’re the only ones trying to solve the core of this problem: addiction.” Nix is part of the Create-X Capstone Class and won the People’s Choice Award at the InVenture Prize competition. The founders are currently seeking funding to begin manufacturing their product.
21. Sora Schools—Indra Sofian (22), Garrett Smiley (21) and Wesley Samples (23): Sora Schools is an online, project-based high school where students get to explore their interests and gain valuable exposure to future careers and fields of study. The three founders said they didn’t have the greatest high school experiences. “We agreed that there were a lot of parts we just didn’t like, so we started coming up with ideas for how we would improve high school on our white board,” Sofian said. “After that, we kicked off an innocuous side project: we would research the problems with high school today and see if that matched our own experiences and hypotheses.” After spending months talking to school founders, developmental biologists, education policy experts and teachers, the founders realized the entire high school system needed to be revamped. Sora Schools has raised $150,000 from strategic angel investors, including John Danner of Rocketship Education. The startup was part of the Create-X program at Georgia Tech. The founders have received a Y Combinator’s Startup School grant. “We plan on continuing to grow our student body and establish partnerships with companies and organizations for work opportunities and exposure for students,” Sofian said.
22. Swatchcandy—Anisha Matharu (22) (left), Sabrina Moin (24) (right), and Josh Madwed (22): Matharu and Moin were tired of buying makeup that didn’t meet their expectations. When the two met during a interdisciplinary mobile apps course at Georgia Tech, they decided to create an app that would represent how makeup actually looked on people of color. Swatchcandy is a mobile app that finds makeup colors based on a users complexion and shows them curated photos of real people showcasing the products. The app has created a proprietary database of swatches, or makeup samples on the skin, shown on a wide range of skin tones. “The lack of diversity in the beauty industry is finally getting the attention it deserves, and our team is at the forefront of empowering people of color,” Moin said. Swatchcandy was awarded at the 2019 Convergence Innovation Competition at Georgia Tech and members of the Create-X program. The founders said they are preparing to launch a full version of the app for Android and iOS by the end of the year.
25. Toucan AI—Arjun Devarajan (22) (left) and Vishnu Menon (22) (right): Co-founders Devarajan and Menon started their company, Toucan AI, while they were doing deep learning research as undergrads at Duke University. “We’re pursuing a uniquely research-driven approach to this problem, and the platform we’ve built is, on average, 1000x faster to set up an AI salesperson than anything else is on the market,” Devarajan said. “We’ve been rapidly prototyping and have started to onboard customers quickly, with an open launch planned for December of this year.” Toucan AI lets small-to-medium sized e-commerce companies set up an AI salesperson in just 3 clicks. The AI handles sales conversations on websites and guides consumers to the right product by asking and answering questions. Toucan AI was part of an accelerator program called Play Labs up at MIT in the summer of 2018. The founders raised an angel round at the end of 2018, led by Atlanta-based angel fund Seraph Group. Toucan AI plans to conduct a soft launch at the end of this year.”
[The article above is a Website Bonus Feature, appearing only on the website for January 2020, not in the print/digital issues.]
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