The 32 Hottest Startup CEOs In America

Payal kadakiaPayalkadia.comPayal Kadakia, cofounder of Class Pass.

There’s no shortage of hot startups.

To stand out, startup CEOs are getting creative by launching innovative products and raising tons of money — and they have got the world talking.

We’ve found the hottest startup CEOs in the US. We ranked the CEOs by buzz, accounting for how much money their company raised and how much they have been in the news this year.

For the purpose of this list, we defined a startup as a private tech company that’s less than five years old. With one exception, we included only US-based startups that have taken venture-capital funding and have not yet IPO’d or been acquired.

Did we miss a buzzy startup CEO? Let us know in the comments.

32. David Arabov

Company: Elite Daily

Arabov 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, $US1.5 million from Social Starts, Vast Ventures, Red Sea Ventures, and Greycroft Partners.

31. Or Arbel

Arbel created the Yo app in eight hours.

Company: Yo

The Yo app is incredibly simple. You just tap a friend's name and the app sends that person a notification saying 'Yo!' in a robotic voice, which is actually the voice of Arbel.

Yo, which came about when a friend enlisted Arbel to make an app that notified his personal assistant, has 1 million users.

In one round of fundraising, the app received $US1.5 million. We wait to see which direction Arbel will go from here.

30. Paul Budnitz

Company: Ello

Ello is an invite-only ad-free social network that allows users to customise 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 $US5.9 million in two rounds of fundraising from the Foundry Group, Bullet Time Ventures, and FreshTracks Capital.

29. Alan Tisch

Company: Spring

Tisch is the CEO of Spring, the mobile app for shopping on your phone. Tisch can use his app to feed his sneaker addiction.

The app shows lifestyle photos of styled outfits. If you want to purchase one of the items pictured, all you have to do is swipe your finger across the screen to buy. Upon installing the app you put in your credit-card information, address, and clothing size, so that you have to enter it only once.

As of August, more than 350 brands had agreed to join Spring. The company received $US7.5 million from Series A fundraising on July 9, from eight investors including Spring cofounder and tech investor David Tisch.

28. Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin

Company: 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 subscribers.

TheSkimm raised $US1.6 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 revolutionise the mattress industry by selling solely from the web and offering a no-hassle consumer experience.

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 $US500 and are delivered to your door within two hours.

The company raised $US1.85 million in its first round of fundraising and grew exponentially when it raised $US13.1 million through Series A fundraising on Aug. 7.

26. Christina Mercando

Company: 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 notification.

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 $US145, but once they ship, the price will go up to $US195.

Ringly has raised $US1 million in funding from Mesa+, First Round Capital, PCH, and Andreessen Horowitz.

25. Alexandra Wilkis Wilson

Company: Glamsquad

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 $US7 million round of Series A funding in October from BBG Ventures, Montage Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and SoftBank Capital. To date, Glamsquad has raised $US9 million in venture capital.

24. 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 is no stranger to futuristic food -- he cofounded Organovo, which engineers animal tissue with 3D printing.

Modern Meadow raised $US10 million in a Series A round of funding from Artis Ventures and Horizons Ventures this summer.

23. Grace Choi

Company: Mink

Mink has provided a way for people to hack the $US55 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 colour.'

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 rumoured to be an Amazon-killer.

Lore raised $US25 million in funding in September to complete an $US80 million Series A round. Lore has said Jet would be a 'new kind of e-commerce experience, uniquely grounded in transparency and customer empowerment.'

21. David Byttow

Company: 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 $US35 million after three rounds of fundraising from 26 investors.

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

Company: 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 $US99 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 $US2 million in seed funding from investors like BoxGroup and SV Angel. In September ClassPass raised a $US12 million Series A from angel investors including David Tisch, Shana Fisher, Kal Vepuri, Fritz Lanman, and Hank Vigil.

19. Ryan Hoover

Company: 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 $US7.5 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

Company: Hinge

McLeod made the bold move to spend the last $US25,000 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 $US8.6 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

Company: 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 $US71.9 million in funding.

16. Joshua Tetrick

Company: 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 $US30 million in funding.

15. Tyler Droll

Company: 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 app.

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 startup.

Yik Yak raised $US62 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 $US73.5 million.

14. Michael Heyward

Company: Whisper

If you want to know the hottest gossip in Silicon Valley, you're most likely already using Whisper.

Heyward's Silicon Valley rumour mill 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 $US1 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 $US36 million Series C round in May from CAA Ventures, Tencent, Thrive Capital, Sequoia Capital, Shasta Ventures, and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Whisper has raised $US60 million in total.

13. Peter Szulczewski

Company: 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 $US50 million from four rounds of fundraising from Founders Fund, Legent Capital, Formation 8, GGV Capital, Jerry Yang, Cherubic Ventures, and Jared Leto.

12. Jeff Raider and Andy Katz-Mayfield

Company: 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 $US100 million.

This year, Harry's raised $US132.5 million from Harrison Metal, Tiger Global Management, Thrive Capital, SV Angel, Highland Capital Partners, and Lakestar.

11. Matt Salzberg

Company: 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 recipes.

Blue Apron has $US58 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

Company: Flatiron Health

Before founding Flatiron Health, Turner and Zach Weinberg sold their first company, an adtech startup called Invite Media, to Google for $US81 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 $US130 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

Company: 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 $US115.5 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

Company: 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 mum.

'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 mum,' 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 $US122 million in funding and has a valuation of $US1 billion.

7. Logan Green

Company: 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 $US332.5 million in six rounds of funding from Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, Floodgate, AFSquare, and more.

5. Patrick Collison

Company: 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 annually.

Stripe has raised $US120 million in venture capital. Most recently, Stripe raised an $US80 million Series C round in January 2014 from Khosla Ventures, Founders Fund, Allen & Company, and Sequoia Capital.

4. Rony Abovitz

Company: 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 $US542 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 $US592 million.

3. Evan Spiegel

Company: 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 $US10 billion.

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

Snapchat has received $US163 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.'

1. Elizabeth Holmes

Company: 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 $US400 million in venture capital funding on a $US9 billion valuation.

Now see who made our 40 under 40 list.

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