Thiel Foundation Announces 2016 Thiel Fellows
Three years later, Yellowberry has pioneered a new approach
to this market, and has expanded beyond bras to underwear, loungewear,
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Thiel Foundation today accepted 29 new members into the 2016 class
of Thiel Fellows. By
connecting the fragmented world of scientific research, Kynplex aims to
accelerate the pace of discovery.
James Sun (Toronto, Canada)
James is co-founder and CEO of Revlo, a fan engagement
platform for the game broadcaster Twitch. The system evaluates athlete movement to identify injury risk
factors and inform smarter training.
Alex Rodrigues (Calgary, Alberta / Mountain View, CA)
Alex is CEO of Varden
Labs, a startup developing self-driving shuttles for private campuses. By leveraging the power of ocean currents to
concentrate and extract plastic waste, The Ocean Cleanup is orders of
magnitude more efficient than traditional approaches that rely on boats
Megan Grassell (Jackson Hole, WY)
founded Yellowberry in high school when she realized that tween girls
like her younger sister lacked age-appropriate options when buying their
first bras. To date, Equidate
has helped thousands of employees at private companies sell portions of
their stock to accredited investors in the absence of an IPO or
ABOUT THE THIEL FOUNDATION
Jesse Leimgruber (San Francisco)
Jesse founded and runs NeoReach, a startup
developing influencer marketing technology for Fortune 1000 brands and
“This has been proven true–by the successes of our past fellows, by the
new applications we get every year, and by the growing numbers of young
people who are creating their own career paths outside of college, with
or without a fellowship from us.”
Aditya Agarwalla (New Delhi, India)
Aditya is co-founder of Kisan Network, an online
marketplace for the $200 billion Indian agricultural ecosystem.
Varden’s technology has been used to transport thousands of people, more
than any other autonomous vehicle company in the US.
. He is also the
co-founder of Visionary VR, a venture-backed startup building software
for creating stories using virtual reality.
Lexi Smith (Boston)
is co-founder of Carewell, an intelligent caregiving platform that helps
caregivers take care of loved ones with dementia by using wearable
devices to learn the smartest ways to provide personalized care.
Introducing the 2016 Thiel Fellows
“In the past few years we’ve seen a dramatic change in the way young
people approach their potential,” said Jack Abraham, Executive Director
of the Thiel Fellowship. Beam lets viewers of live-streamed
video game sessions get involved in the game, influencing gameplay in
Ivonna Dumanyan (Kherson, Ukraine / Durham, NC)
Performance Technology; Artificial Intelligence
co-founder and CEO of BioMetrix, a wearable platform for injury
prediction and prevention. Their wholesome, slow-simmered bone broth is available at select
Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Market locations, and several online
Eva Shang (Cambridge, MA)
Eva is co-founder of Legalist, a legal analytics and
alert platform that helps lawyers keep track of new developments in case
law so that they can represent their clients more effectively.
“We launched the fellowship in 2011 to test a simple thesis: college
isn’t right for everyone–especially for young people who want to create
new things,” said Blake Masters, President of the Thiel Foundation. Augur is built on the Ethereum blockchain
and allows users to forecast events and be rewarded for predicting them
Pamela Valdes Esteva (Mexico City, Mexico)
Pamela is co-founder and CEO of Beek, a social
network for millennial book lovers. “Many are applying to the program with one or
two companies already under their belts–they’ve become successful
founders before they can even buy a beer. Through a
workforce of students who live on campus, EnvoyNow makes delivery
direct-to-dorm room, direct-to-lecture hall, and direct-to-study nook
faster and more accurate than mapping software-based delivery services
Grace Xiao & Raul Jordan (Cambridge, MA)
Grace and Raul are co-founders of Kynplex, a startup
that provides communication tools for scientific laboratories. In turn, HelloToken has created an engine for real-time contextual
research across millions of people.
Nick Mares (San Francisco)
Kettle & Fire
co-founded Kettle & Fire with his brother to bring to market the world’s
first shelf-stable bone broth made from grass-fed, pasture-raised
cattle. BioMetrix is pushing the limits of connected
technology and insight-driven intelligence with a simple, skin-adhered
enables farmers to sell their produce directly to institutional buyers
using a smartphone, rather than going through the physical marketplace
dominated by middlemen.
Joey Krug (Knoxville, IL)
Joey is building the world’s first decentralized
prediction market platform. Retinad helps
developers create better VR content with tools such as heat maps and
user emotional tracking so that consumers can enjoy a more immersive,
personalized virtual reality experience.
Cosmo Scharf (Los Angeles, CA)
The Virtual Reality
Foundation and Visionary VR
co-founded The Virtual Reality Foundation, a non-profit organization
that produces the world’s largest event showcasing virtual reality
technology, VRLA Expo, as well as The Proto Awards, the premier
celebration for recognizing virtual reality content. Our message may have seemed
odd four or five years ago–some found it blasphemous to question how
well American higher education was working, and to suggest
entrepreneurship as an alternative path–but today even the colleges are
waking up; top schools are creating their own incubators, crafting more
flexible stop-out policies, and even raising venture capital funds.
This year’s cohort was selected from more than 6,000 applications
received from around the world.
Matthew Salsamendi & James Boehm (Seattle, WA)
Matt and James co-founded Beam, an interactive
live-streaming platform for gamers. For more information, see thielfoundation.org.
Hunter Rosenblume & Rohith Varanasi (Detroit, MI)
Hunter and Rohith
co-founded Lunar Labs, a startup that sells smartphones with no monthly
contracts and pay-as-you-go data on a per-app basis starting at just
pennies per day. Beek casts aside sterile 5-star
rating systems and lets users discuss and react to books while they are
actually reading them.
Thiel Fellows receive mentorship and guidance from current and former
fellows, as well as from the Thiel Foundation’s network of technology
entrepreneurs, investors, and scientists.
To date, companies created by Thiel Fellows are together worth more than
Panashe Mahachi (Kitchener, Ontario, Canada / Mountain View, CA)
co-founder of Lace, a marketplace for cities and other municipalities to
find and purchase cutting-edge software. He is now working on Quizr, a sports betting
application that launches in Europe in late 2016.
Sohail Prasad (Plano, TX / San Francisco)
Sohail is the founder and co-CEO of Equidate, a
secondary marketplace for shares in private companies. Brian Truong (Boston, MA)
Brian is CEO and co-founder of HelloToken, a company
that enables digital publishers to earn up to 10x more for their content
by posing simple market research questions to readers instead of serving
ads. The fellowship provides young people with $100,000 to
learn by doing rather than by following conventional paths like college. NeoReach is currently used by industry giants such as
Wal-Mart, Amazon, and NBC.
Christian Owens (London)
is the founder and CEO of Paddle.com, which builds infrastructure for
software companies to help companies deal with complex issues such as
payments, taxes, localization, and analytics.
Samuel F. Local governments are
increasingly interested in innovation; the Lace platform helps municipal
staff to build smarter cities.
Matt Arbesfeld (Cambridge, MA)
Matt co-founded AppHub, a company that builds tools that
let app developers deploy and update software applications easily and
instantly. Lunar Labs aims to bring online the 64 million
Americans–and then billions more worldwide–that don’t yet own a
Joey Levy (New York)
Joey founded Draftpot, a daily fantasy sports platform,
from his dorm room in 2014.
Young people now have more options than ever.”
Luke Sophios (San Diego)
Luke is founder and CEO of CourseKey, a software
company that allows teachers to leverage the devices that their students
are already bringing to class – laptops, tablets, and smartphones – to
instantly create a more interactive, engaging “smart classroom”.
Boyan Slat (Delft, The Netherlands)
The Ocean Cleanup
Boyan founded and runs The Ocean Cleanup, a
non-profit organization that develops technologies to rid the world’s
oceans of plastic. Revlo makes it easy for
broadcasters to interact with all their fans and monetize them.
Henry Hu (Hong Kong / San Francisco)
A native of Beijing, Henry Hu is CEO and
co-founder of Cafe X, which designs, manufactures, and operates
automated robotic cafés that serve locally roasted coffee in 10 seconds.
The Thiel Foundation supports science, technology, and long-term
thinking about the future. Poirier (Montreal)
Samuel is co-founder and CEO of Retinad, the
preeminent analytics platform for virtual reality apps. AppHub’s mission is to empower engineers by eliminating
tedious and redundant, time-consuming work.
Anthony Zhang (Calgary, Alberta, Canada / Mountain View, CA)
Anthony is CEO and co-founder of EnvoyNow, a last-mile
food delivery service focusing on colleges and universities
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