Founder Profile

Devaki Raj

CrowdAI

For giving companies a better software platform, no coding required.

Making a splash at Y Combinator helped CrowdAI, then a geospatial imaging company, land on Inc.’s 30 Under 30 list in 2017. But last year offered a different kind of popularity, says CEO and co-founder Devaki Raj. Demand for CrowdAI’s product, which by then had evolved into a no-code platform to help clients better understand visual data like imagery and streaming videos, had surged. CrowdAI managed to raise a Series A within days of the pandemic's hitting the U.S., while interest in the former Googler’s business drove Raj to double her team—all while the entire staff worked remotely. With the sudden need for social distancing, she says, customers such as factory owners were placing a premium on being able to shut off machinery remotely if CrowdAI spotted something out of the ordinary. And she doesn’t see companies going back from that. “The pandemic is giving them pause to rethink their current workflow,” says Raj. “This is just the beginning. The fact that we’ve been able to morph and expand our reach beyond starting in geospatial to now working with the largest beer manufacturer in the world and the largest roof tile manufacturer in the world, it’s really just a testament to the flexibility of the team, and the tech that we’ve built."--Diana Ransom

Company Information
Location
San Francisco, California
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Mary Blackford

Market 7

For helping Black-owned companies tackle food scarcity.

In some neighborhoods within Washington, D.C., residents have as many as 16 grocery stores to choose from. East of the Anacostia River, in the city’s lowest-income wards, 7 and 8, the area’s roughly 150,000 residents have just three full-service grocery stores. To Mary Blackford, the founder of community marketplace Market 7, that’s not just the worst food insecurity, it’s “food apartheid, stemming from a long history of discriminatory practices that have happened in communities of color--particularly Black communities--that have left them economically disenfranchised and unable to support retail.” She’s out to change that. After launching her business in 2017 with a series of pop-up markets in parking lots, she is now developing a 7,000-square-foot food hall that will feature Black-owned vendors. She separately operates a Market 7 space, with products made by Black-owned businesses, within every Whole Foods in the District, plus two in Maryland and one in Virginia. “In my mind, this is only the beginning,” says Blackford. “I would love to help communities all over the country that need access to more food retail that also suffer from food apartheid.”--Diana Ransom

Company Information
Location
Washington , District of Columbia
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Mandy Price

Kanarys

For helping companies address systemic racism in the workplace.

For Mandy Price and Star Carter, 2020 marked a turning point for them and Kanarys, a diversity, equity, and inclusion data and analytics company they co-founded with Bennie King in 2018. In May 2020, after the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, interest in Kanarys skyrocketed, as more companies finally attempted to address systemic racism in the workplace. Kanarys’s bookings increased 11x over the third quarter of 2020, and the company raised $4.6 million from investors such as Rise of the Rest fund, Morgan Stanley, Rackhouse Ventures, Segal Ventures, and Zeal Capital Partners. “It wasn’t until the death of George Floyd that people started talking about systemic inequities and systemic racism,” says Price, whose company relies on benchmarking diversity data and assessing clients’ performance in relation to industry peers. “So many organizations aren’t really measuring diversity, equity, and inclusion. They’re not developing a cohesive strategy around equity.” She adds: “That’s something we want to address. It’s easy to dismiss the voices of certain employees. But you can’t dismiss the data.”--Diana Ransom

Company Information
Location
Dallas, Texas
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Star Carter

Kanarys

For helping companies address systemic racism in the workplace.

For Mandy Price and Star Carter, 2020 marked a turning point for them and Kanarys, a diversity, equity, and inclusion data and analytics company they co-founded with Bennie King in 2018. In May 2020, after the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, interest in Kanarys skyrocketed, as more companies finally attempted to address systemic racism in the workplace. Kanarys’s bookings increased 11x over the third quarter of 2020, and the company raised $4.6 million from investors such as Rise of the Rest fund, Morgan Stanley, Rackhouse Ventures, Segal Ventures, and Zeal Capital Partners. “It’s a silver lining to see these companies open their ears and their hearts, and being more willing to talk about racial equity and talk about DEI and the importance of it,” says Carter, whose company relies on benchmarking diversity data and assessing clients’ performance in relation to industry peers. “For me, the ultimate goal is simple: to really put everybody on the same playing field; to get rid of these inequities and to have it be a true meritocracy. We know as underrepresented individuals in the corporate workplace that we can do something to make changes here.”--Diana Ransom

Company Information
Location
Dallas, Texas
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Katherine Salisbury

Qapital

For making it easier to sock away savings.

People don’t like saving as much as they like to spend. So in 2015 Katherine Salisbury and George Friedman, business partners and spouses, devised their personal finance app, Qapital, to flip that. By putting a label on users’ savings, they could save toward something tangible, instead of just socking money away in an account for some sort of distant, unnamed goal. Salisbury says the idea came into full view while she was designing the platform. She says she started a savings account of her own, where she would put money into certain funds like a piano fund or the-trip-to-Kenya fund. “I felt like I was buying something even though I was really saving,” Salisbury adds. The concept of putting a label on one’s savings speaks to what Duke University professor and behavioral economist Dan Ariely calls “the retail therapy experience.” Ariely, who also works at Qapital, explains: People have X number of units of good behavior in a day, and most people don’t want to use their good behavior on savings. But maybe they would if they could more clearly draw lines between their money and their savings goals. So, did people save more? As it turns out, yes: Users have saved more than $2 billion on the app to date.--Alicia Doniger

Company Information
Location
New York, New York
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021