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
Maker of a web-based tool that lets designers collaborate in real time.
Thanks to Google Docs and Office 365, much of your work likely has shifted to the cloud, where you can easily collaborate with colleagues on shared documents. Designers, meanwhile, largely have been left out of this workflow revolution. Their projects tend to go like this: Use a number of tools to create a design mockup, export it to file, save it on Dropbox, and then send the file link via email for review. There's a lot of back and forth, and the risk of winding up with multiple versions of the same file along the way is high. That's the problem Dylan Field and Evan Wallace set out to solve when they created Figma, a web-based tool that lets designers collaborate in real time. They hit on a problem a lot of people want to see solved: Within four years of launching, Figma has collected over a million sign-ups and a customer roster that includes Slack, Twitter, Uber, Dropbox, the New York Times, and Microsoft. The San Francisco-based startup has raised $82.9 million to date from investors including Sequoia Capital and Greylock Partners. --Michelle Cheng
A maker of portable, reusable straws made from metal and silicone.
While training for a half-marathon, Miles Pepper, 24, developed an interesting habit: picking up straws on the streets of Los Angeles. Within two months, he had 300. "I began to see how all the plastic trash got swept into the ocean," he says. Few reuseable straws were available--so he and co-founder Emma Rose Cohen built one. With a $30,000 loan from Pepper's parents, some engineering help, and a 3-D printer, the pair started developing FinalStraw, a fully collapsible straw made of stainless steel and silicone that folds like a tent pole and fits in a case the size of a keychain. The pair launched FinalStraw on Kickstarter in April 2018 with a campy marketing video featuring a mermaid; within two days, it had raised $200,000. (Ultimately, the campaign raised $1.9 million.) With its eponymous product, which costs $24.50, FinalStraw expects revenue to hit $13 million this year.. --Brit Morse
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly indicated that Miles Pepper decided to create the straw, secured a loan, and used his film industry engineering connections to help initiate the development of the product on his own. In fact, co-founder Emma Rose Cohen was directly involved in the product’s creation from the start. The article also misstated the price of a FinalStraw, as well as the company's location and number of employees. The price is $24.50, and the company is based in Santa Barbara, California, and has 18 employees.
Harlem Capital Partners
Nearing the end of his time at Harvard Business School, Henri Pierre-Jacques had an uncomfortable realization: He didn't want to work for a "non-minority-owned" firm. His background was in private equity, and minority-owned financial firms are rare. Already an active angel investor, he decided instead to start his own business. Teaming with colleagues Jarrid Tingle and Brandon Bryant, as well as entrepreneur John Henry, Pierre-Jacques founded Harlem Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in female, black, and Latinx founders. As of March 2019, Harlem Capital had closed on about $7.5 million of a proposed $25 million fund. The company now has four portfolio companies: men's skin care company Pangaea; health tech company Moving Analytics; supply chain software Sudu; and menstrual products maker Aunt Flow. The long-term goal: to raise a billion-dollar fund and invest in 1,000 diverse founders in the next 20 years.
A software platform maker that automates common care-management tasks so that care providers can better serve patients.
The year before leaving his home in Cape Town, South Africa, for Harvard, Joe Kahn got sick. "I was on my back for about a month," says Kahn, who has never been satisfactorily diagnosed. "I never really got better." He went to Harvard anyway, and found himself bounced around the U.S. health care system, unable to get answers. Feeling frustrated and isolated, Kahn realized that millions of people were even less equipped to navigate such complexity. He and Yasyf Mohamedali, an MIT student, raised $1.3 million from First Round Capital to launch Karuna Health, in San Francisco. The platform is used by patient-care managers--who may be employed by social service agencies, community-based organizations, and others that work with Medicaid recipients--to help those coping with educational, financial, social, or logistical barriers to health care. All patient communications--scheduling appointments, arranging transportation for appointments, checking on worrisome symptoms--take place through the platform. Patients can send and receive messages through any media, including SMS, email, text, phone, and WhatsApp. "For the care team, it is like a shared inbox to manage every single touch point with patients," says Kahn. "For the patient, it is like texting a friend." --Leigh Buchanan