August 3, 2016
Being an entrepreneur is often thankless, stressful, and certainly not a competition amongst one's peers. Here at Tech.co, we celebrate and shine spotlights on those who take big risks to create something new and follow their dreams. As such, we reached out to the DC community to see each of you believe should be recognized for their hard work, regardless of industry, because they are making an impact both locally and their field.
While many publications focus on entrepreneurs under a certain age, we feel that it takes even more guts to change your way of life, to break routine, to pursue something new and exciting.
Tech.Co has chosen those we felt truly stood out based on your recommendations. Here are the top DC startup founders over 40 that you need to know about, and why those who nominated them believe they standout.
DC’s Top Founders Over 40
- Rick Robinson, cofounder and SVP of Urgent.ly: Rick is a true seer of the advancement of human interactions. His vision was an engine that drove the AOL’s Digital Cities, which he then transferred to AOL’s mobile and community.
- Bethany Roberston, cofounder and CIO of ParentsTogether: ParentsTogether is an innovative nonprofit that is pioneering an exciting new model to make a difference in the lives of families and kids. ParentsTogether creates mobile content parents love, delivers it by text message, and then use that same channel to organize parents to make a difference together on important issues like paid family leave and affordable childcare. It’s a whole new way to build advocacy organizations, and so far, it’s going great. ParentsTogether is growing fast (from 3,000 parents to over 27,000 since April), making powerful connections with parents across the country, starting to make a difference on important issues, and has raised over a million dollars to make it happen.
- James Quigley, cofounder and CEO of Canvas: James is the CEO and Co-Founder of Canvas, a Reston-based tech startup that has raised $20m+ and has 70 employees, with thousands of paying subscribers globally. In addition to this, he is a partner in Refraction, a co-working community here in Reston, and serves on the board of the Washington West Film Festival. He has also recently been named Commissioner & Board Member at Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. James is a big believer in company culture and fostering a sense of empathy that can be seen in how the Canvas product, marketing, sales and support teams operate. He also is an active mentor of other founders and startup companies in the area and feels mentorship is a great way for startups to reach back and help others on the path of entrepreneurship.
- Marsha Ralls, President and CEO of Closed Monday: Marsha is a re-inventor of dreams. She’s taken a career as a successful art gallery owner, and is beginning a new career to bring art online in a way that’s never been done before. A civic leader, Marsha is involved with and has founded more charities, non-profits and causes than one could name here. She’s raised millions personally for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, the Entrepreneurs’ Organization and was the CEO of Children’s Press Line – a non-profit dedicated to teaching youth about journalism standards, reporting and teaching the values of a free and open press. Marsha started off at Miss Texas, in the Miss USA pagent with a single goal – to put herself through college. A single mom to two boys, Marsha has become a tireless advocate for women entrepreneurs and is leading the Aspen Women’s Leadership Summit this August 2016 to bring women leaders together and share their wisdom with other women. She is a breakthrough leader and a role model to 100s of young women and men whom she mentors around the world.
- Patrick Parodi, Cofounder and CEO of Wireless Registry: Patrick and his co-founder Stillman Bradish started the Wireless Registry in 2013. Patrick led both an initial seed round as well as a follow on $2M seed equity round, which closed this year. He build an incredible team, in addition to strategically cultivating advisors and investors from angels, VCs and corporate ventures. The initial work the Wireless Registry deployed centers around providing users with the ability to manage how their MAC ID is used for in-store analytics in partnership with the Future of Privacy Forum and its Smart Places initiative. The vision is much grander as the Wireless Registry builds the SignalGraph to map the Internet of Things in the physical world.
- Amy Nichols, Founder and CEO of bThere: Amy has one of the more unique (and successful) founder and entrepreneurial backgrounds of anyone in the DC area. In 2002 she left a successful sales career in telecommunications (Verizon, Cable & Wireless) to follow her passion and start Dogtopia. She opened her first location in Tysons Corner, VA and grew the company to 35 locations in the US and Canada before exiting in June 2015. She took off the summer and was back at again, but this time with a virtual reality startup, bThere. She is currently raising angel capital and is poised to take bThere to even higher levels than Dogtopia, and faster. Amy also started a 501(c)3, K9 Support, to raise funding for service dogs, in particular those that assist veterans. She has won the Brava Women in Business Award (SmartCEO), the Women Who Mean Business Award (WBJ) and was a finalist for DC in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2014. Lastly, while running Dogtopia it appeared seven times in a row on the INC 5000 list.
- Mark Casey, President and CEO of CFN Services: CFN Services is a high-performance network and application delivery solutions for real-time, mission-critical and geographically distributed applications and data sources. They were a boot-strapped $30M company until their recent closure of a Series A round.
- Teresa Hodge, Cofounder and Director of Strategy & Innovation of Mission: Launch: Teresa Y. Hodge, a passionate advocate for people with criminal connections, is committed to reducing the lasting harm caused by prison. It was a 70-month federal prison sentence for a white-collar, non-violent, first-time offense that introduced her first-hand to the justice system and mass incarceration in America. Upon coming home, she and her daughter Laurin Hodge co-founded Mission: Launch, Inc. a non-profit focused on introducing technology and entrepreneurship to previously incarcerated individuals as a way of ensuring self-sufficiency. Additionally, the organization manages the Rebuilding Re-Entry Coalition, a citizen-led movement committed to creating a more just and inclusive society for returning citizens (a person who exits prison or jail).The Coalition and its members desire to leverage its efforts within the Washington DC region to ensure re-entry is more efficient and safer for everyone. As the Director of Strategy & Innovation for Mission: Launch, Inc. Teresa plays a critical role in building strategic partnerships and establishing social enterprise models for greater reach and sustainability. Prior experience as an entrepreneur allowed her to maximize her time in prison looking for best practices to not only help her and others, get back on their feet upon release. Hodge is a certified life coach, with a specialty in prison re-entry. Her memoir and private coaching practice through Pearls & Prison continues to bring meaning and closure to the time she spent in prison. Teresa was named a 2016-2017 Open Society Soros Justice Fellow and will be spending a significant portion of her time focused on advocating for digital inclusion for Americans with an arrest and/or conviction record.
- Iris Sherman, Cofounder and President of Kitchology: KItchology is Maryland Incubator company of the year in consumer products, growing its user base 40% from quarter to quarter to about 250,000 visitors/users every month. The company has raised $800,000 so far and in discussions with major brands. Iris drove this progress even after being hit by a bullet in a random shooting and having to live and work with a bullet lodged 1/2 inch from her femoral artery for 3 months.
- Alain Briancon, Cofounder and CEO of Kitchology: KItchology is Maryland Incubator company of the year in consumer products, growing its user base 40% from quarter to quarter to about 250,000 visitors/users every month. The company has raised $800,000 so far and in discussions with major brands. Alain currently holds 220 patents.
- Tom Davidson, Cofounder and CEO of EverFi: Tom Davidson has led EverFi’s incredible growth and impact across the past 8+ years. He’s also led two venture funding rounds that have raised $21 million from Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, New Enterprise Associates, Rethink Education, and Allen and Company. He has driven the development of strategic partnerships with the Financial Services Roundtable, the Mortgage Bankers Association and twenty-eight state banks associations. And in addition to directing EverFi’s overall growth and development, Tom is a frequent speaker at global, national and state financial services and technology events and has been featured in numerous media outlets including Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Bloomberg, CNN Money, Fox Business News, Yahoo Finance and Fast Company. In 2012, Tom was recognized as a Top 100 Entrepreneur by Goldman Sachs, in 2013 he won Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Greater Washington, D.C and in 2016 he made Glassdoor’s Highest Rated CEO’s list for SMBs with a 99% approval rating from his employees.
- Kimberly Moore, Founder and CEO of CarpooltoSchool: Kimberly Moore is a Builder, Innovator and Specialist. Her greatest work is building teams with shared values who create amazing experiences for the clients we serve. She sets the tone for value and profitability by creating a container and infrastructure by her team’s vision not just by the numbers. It’s her intention for her team and clients to make a mark in all the markets they’re in. Newest venture… The Mom Valet is one of the most innovative and exciting companies leading this new category of the share economy for parents. Weaved in our strategy is a big vision to create flexible entrepreneurial opportunities that launch women in tech and create the freedom to do work on your own terms. CarpooltoSchool, her first product in the market, is revolutionizing how schools help parents create and schedule carpools. Immediately, parents can see how many parents are nearby and invite them to carpool! Tools to schedule, alert to drive, and see their individual contribution to save our environment. CarpooltoSchool, a SaaS, offers school their own branded site, marketing tools to inspire parents to register, and attract families to their schools.
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