Founder Profile

Kristen Denzer

Tierra Encantada

She's absolutely serious when she says it's never too early to learn a second language

Company Information
Year Founded
2013
Location
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Industry
Education
Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020

Kristin Groos Richmond

Revolution Foods

Because during Covid, school kids aren't the only ones without healthy meals

Company Information
Year Founded
2006
Location
Oakland, California
Industry
Food & Beverages
Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020
Company Description

Kristin Groos Richmond came to her passion for solving food insecurity by an unexpected path. After a stint on Wall Street, she helped start a school in Kenya, where “I saw firsthand what a difference good nutrition makes for students in and out of the classroom—how it affected their academic performance and energy and ability to succeed.” Back in the U.S., the company she co-founded in 2006, Revolution Foods, aimed to “completely transform the quality of meals offered to students” by reinventing school lunch.

In the intervening years, that mission has grown to include other vulnerable populations, such as the homeless, seniors, and the homebound, and the company now distributes several million meals per week in 170 cities across the country. This year, with schools closed amid the pandemic, Revolution’s mission became more important than ever, because many families rely on school lunch as one of their primary sources of food. The company pivoted in March to partner with cities to create new distribution models.

In order to serve diverse communities equitably, Revolution designs its meals to cater to different regions and backgrounds—and hires accordingly. “We are 66 percent female and 86 people of color across the company,” Richmond says. “Forty-four percent of management are leaders of color.” She sees that inclusiveness as a key to the company’s success—making sure that we are building in a way that supports the mission of listening to and responding to and designing for the communities we serve.” – Tom Foster

Kristin Karst

AmaWaterways

Because cruise ships don't have to be impersonal

Company Information
Year Founded
2002
Location
Calabasas, California
Industry
Travel & Hospitality
Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020
Company Description

Kristin Karst was raised to bootstrap. Her parents took the family on vacations around the world, but required their kids to contribute to the expense, which Karst and her brother earned by recycling paper products or selling vegetables from their garden to the neighbors. Raised in Dresden, Germany, the executive vice president and co-founder of AmaWaterways speaks English, German, Russian and French, and helps lead a company that, pre-pandemic, supplied consumers with 25 ships sailing rivers throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The draw of the Ama experience, which Karst founded with Rudi Schreiner and Jimmy Murphy in 2002, is a high-quality luxury river cruise with healthy food, panoramic river views, and morning yoga lessons on the deck. Ama had to shut operations entirely from March until July. The fleet remains moored until November 30, with the exception of a five-night cruise of the Rhine for locals.

Karst is committed to living up to the optimistic ethos embedded in the name of the company – Ama meaning “love” in Latin—during the pandemic. “It’s our choice to get up in the morning to try and keep it positive--whatever we do today for our customers, they will never forget.” –Gabrielle Bienasz

Kristy Kim

TomoCredit

For making it easier for Millennials to build a credit history

Company Information
Year Founded
2019
Location
San Francisco, California
Industry
Financial Services
Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020

Laureen Asseo

Fresh n' Lean

For bootstrapping -- and winning -- in the overcrowded mealkit space

Company Information
Year Founded
2010
Location
Anaheim, California
Industry
Food & Beverages
Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020
Company Description

Laureen Asseo was 18 when her father, who had been sick from a poor diet, recovered after eating organic and clean foods, cooked by Asseo herself. In 2010, Asseo and her brother Thomas co-founded Fresh ‘n Lean, an organic preheat-and-eat meal delivery service. It started as friend and family packing meals in tupperware, but by 2019 it had grown to $30 million in sales. Then the pandemic hit, causing orders to suddenly spike by 250 percent.

Asseo was ready: She’s says she’s been “obsessed” with scalability since starting the company, which is entirely bootstrapped. “When you don’t have a lot of money you have to be creative about the risks, because it might be the last risk you take,” she says. The company now has 400 employees, ran a pilot in 120 Whole Foods this year, and is on track to make $82 million in 2020. –Gabrielle Bienasz