Provider of financial services for underbanked customers.
Where Sheena Allen grew up, in tiny Terry, Mississippi, there was but one small bank. "People cashed their checks at the grocery store" and used payday lenders and other often-predatory providers, she recalls. "We've lived the problem." She decided to solve it. She spent 2016 researching the financial industry, and then launched CapWay, which created a "social fintech" app to show your balance and transaction information, as well as to warn you if a Netflix fee will drain your account. Up next: a debit card and smartphone-enabled microloans. The revenue model--still a work in progress--involves payments from colleges using CapWay materials, and customer fees. Providing these services to the underbanked is complex, but Allen is undaunted. "We can be profitable, have a social impact—and have a great company," she says. --Maria Aspan
A booking platform for personalized videos from 10,000-plus celebrities and influencers.
In 2017, Cameo was a website for booking appearances and personalized videos by athletes. One of its first sales: a $20 video from the NFL's Cassius Marsh that a fan in Renton, Washington, bought for his daughter. The man filmed his daughter's reaction--tears of joy--and sent it to co-founder and CTO Devon Townsend and his team. It prompted them to focus entirely on videos and start inviting web personalities with rabid fan bases on to the platform. Cameo has now signed up more than 10,000 celebrities--from Ice-T to Kevin O'Leary--who charge as much as $2,500 per shoot. (The company keeps 25 percent of each booking.) Cameo is now super hot--but Townsend swears he won't sell. "I would just have a lot of money, and I would be bored," he says. "And probably try to start a company that's very, very similar to Cameo." --Cameron Albert-Deitch
A private in-home chef service for meal-prep and special occasions.
Tiana Tenent, 29, had spent five years as a financial advisor and consultant for J.P. Morgan when she realized she wanted to reconnect with her one true love: food. She was considering opening a restaurant when she met Jill Donenfeld, a now 34-year-old private chef, caterer, and cookbook author who was running a private chef placement agency. Together, they launched The Culinistas, an in-home chef service for meal-prep and private event meal production. With a focus on easing the burden of busy parents, the service--which starts at $250 plus the cost of groceries--brings a private chef into users' homes to prepare a week's worth of meals selected from a rotating menu. The service is also available for dinner parties and special occasions. The Culinistas' stable of 80 chefs work out of people's homes in New York City, Palm Beach, Aspen, and the Hamptons. The service is launching in Los Angeles in fall 2019. "There's such a personal component to it," says Tiana. "These chefs are coming into your home and changing your lives, your schedules, the way you move throughout the day." The company hit $920,000 in revenue in 2018 and expects to book $2.4 million this year. -- Brit Morse
A supplier of fast-shipping services to e-commerce businesses selling on eBay, Shopify, and Walmart.
Deliverr's model mimics Fulfillment by Amazon, with the company taking care of the shipping and logistics arrangements on behalf of third-party sellers. Clients using Deliverr's services are automatically approved and granted fast-shipping tags on eBay and Walmart, a badge similar to Amazon's Prime blue checkmark. Unlike the Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth, however, Deliverr does not own its warehouses; it leases them, which co-founder Michael Krakaris, 24, says has helped the company scale faster. At the end of 2018, Deliverr had access to 13 warehouses scattered throughout the U.S., though Krakaris says the number is changing every day. Deliverr has raised about $7.1 million from investors including 8VC, the San Francisco-based venture fund started by Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale. In February, Walmart chose Deliverr to be its exclusive delivery provider for its two-day shipping program. --Guadalupe Gonzalez
A maker of health-promoting apple cider vinegar and energy shots.
Ethan Hirshberg's organic food business pedigree is second to none. His father, Gary Hirshberg, is the chairman and former president and CEO of Stonyfield Farm, and his mother, Meg Hirshberg, a longtime farmer, helped run the family business for many years. So his foray into the organic beverage business, with Ethan's, a maker of apple cider vinegar and MCT oil shots, certainly had a helping hand. "I grew up on Stonyfield farm," says the 29-year-old Hirshberg, who notes that his company's products can be found in Whole Foods stores nationwide. But he still has much to overcome in the world of consumer products--namely, getting people to see the benefits of drinking vinegar. He's hopeful the purported health benefits--improved digestion, weight loss, and more--along with the small size of the brand's "shots," which are two ounces each and come in flavors like Cinnamon Maple and Tumeric Apple, will help ease the process. --Tim Crino