When James Beard Award-winning restaurant critic Sierra Tishgart couldn’t find a home cookware brand to both inspire her inner chef and satisfy her eye for style, she invited childhood friend Maddy Moelis W12 over for dinner to help figure out a solution. Soon after, the pair founded Great Jones, named in homage to star cookbook editor Judith Jones. Tishgart, product and marketing lead, interviewed chefs and food writers to design the perfect pan; Moelis, who worked for millennial-friendly wedding registry Zola, focuses on operations and finance. By 2018, Great Jones had raised more than $3 million, including from VC General Catalyst and Momofuku’s David Chang. Their mini nonstick skillet sold out in weeks. In an estimated $17 billion total market, Great Jones is already cooking up a storm.
All entrepreneurs, no matter their race, gender, or cultural background, should have an equal shot at starting their own businesses. However, the huge venture capital funding gap greatly disadvantages underrepresented groups. Jarrid Tingle W13 and his team at Harlem Capital Partners have set out to tackle this problem by pledging to invest in 1,000 diverse founders in the United States over the next 20 years. This early-stage venture capital firm based in New York is planning to raise $1 billion to achieve this goal and fund minority and women-led startups with disruptive business models. The company recently received a $10 million commitment from the Consumer Technology Association, which shares its passion for diversity in entrepreneurship.
As a former Peace Corps volunteer and social impact consultant, Leeatt Rothschild G10 WG10 found it only natural to start a company dedicated to creating positive change. Her strong connections to various social organizations motivated her to upgrade typical corporate gifts to convey greater meaning. In 2016, Rothschild launched Packed with Purpose, a specialty gifting company whose products are crafted by vendors that prioritize social impact—or, in her words, “Purposeful Purveyors.” Along with providing high-quality gifts, such as gourmet snacks, travel accessories, and handmade journals, Packed with Purpose allows companies to express their commitment to social causes such as supporting workers with disabilities, youth development, and environmental sustainability.
Applying for jobs is a daunting task in any field, but Incredible Health is changing the game for some members of the health-care community. Led by Iman Abuzeid WG13, the company connects nurses and hospitals in a process it touts as more efficient than job boards and cheaper than recruiting through traditional agencies. Here’s how it works: Nurses fill out a profile with information such as their education level, experience, and preferred cities. The company then matches hospitals on the platform with top candidates in its pool. Employers reach out to the job seekers they’re interested in—and if all goes well, there’s a match made in health-care heaven.
“Jump-start your creative career”: That's the tagline for Creative Breakthrough, a new podcast by Shereen Kassam WG12 in which the stand-up comedian talks about turning passions into professions in areas such as film, TV, music, and literature. Guests so far have included New York Times best-selling author Jasmin Darznik, radio personality Laura Diaz, and Tina Mabry, a producer on Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay’s Queen Sugar. Topics in the show’s first season run the gamut from time management to effective self-promotion, and most of the episodes total less than 45 minutes, giving listeners quick hits of inspiration for light-bulb moments.
The impact of family runs deep at A Dozen Cousins. Not only did founder Ibraheem Basir C07 WG12 name the venture after his daughter and her 11 cousins; he also drew inspiration for his line of ready-to-eat beans from his mother’s cooking. The company’s selection of Cuban black beans, Mexican cowboy beans, and Trini chickpeas is the direct result of the Caribbean and Latin American flavors his mom infused in her Southern-style cooking as he was growing up in Brooklyn. Basir isn’t the only fan of those flavors: The company recently expanded its reach with buy-in from one of America’s most influential grocers—Amazon’s Whole Foods Market, where it now has shelf space at roughly 450 stores.
Andrew Pietra WG17 knows firsthand the devastating effects of intoxication behind the wheel. The alumnus, who lost three close friends to drinking and driving, now leads Qorum to help tackle this serious problem. Kick-started at Wharton, the company won best pitch at the 2016 Wharton Business Plan Competition (now the Penn Wharton Startup Challenge). Think of Qorum as a designated driver for the modern age: At its core, it offers free Uber rides from bars and restaurants by partnering with alcohol brands that sponsor the trips. Qorum currently provides services—which also include in-app bar tabs, discounts, and location recommendations—at more than 100 participating venues in Southern California, ensuring that a safe ride on a night out is just a click away.
Too many emails, fliers, messages, signup forms, and outdated website info—it wasn’t until Vlada Lotkina WG08 became a parent that she grasped the daily grind of staying on top of parent/teacher communication. In 2015, she founded ClassTag, a free app that serves as a hub for teacher-to-parent messaging, calendar updates, and activities announcements. Currently being used by 50,000 educators nationwide, the app just received $2 million in seed funding. In Lotkina’s spare time, she teamed up with Allison Williams W07 to launch POP256, an initiative named for the number of female billionaires in the world and aimed at connecting trailblazing women through invite-only dinners.