AlleyWatch, the largest organization focused on NYC Tech, celebrates the work of these 50 individuals that serve as a catalyst for innovation within the NYC Tech ecosystem.
MEET THE 2019 NYC TECH INFLUENCERS
Ragy Thomas is the founder and CEO of Sprinklr, the customer experience management platform enables brands to understand social interactions with customers across all channels. Focused on technology management development and software engineering early in his career, Thomas served as the CTO of Big Foot Interactive, which was acquired by Epsilon. At Epsilon, Thomas noticed how brands were using starting to email to engage customers. He quickly came to the realization that this paradigm shift would soon happen for social media. That set the foundation for launching Sprinklr in 2009.
Sprinklr today is an end-to-end platform for enterprises to manage customer experiences across every touch point. Sprinklr's impressive client list includes 1500+ of the world's largest brands including CNN, Disney, Nike, McDonald's, NASA, and Marriott. Under Thomas' leadership, Sprinklr has scaled to 1300+ employees and was valued at $1.8B after its last funding round in 2017. Sprinklr has raised ~$230M in funding and is backed by Wellington Management, Intel Capital, Battery Ventures, and Temasek.
Outside of his work, Thomas is an avid volleyball player.
Hilary Gosher is a Managing Director at Insight Venture Partners, one of the first venture capital firms in New York currently investing out of its tenth fund. Joining the firm in 2000 shortly after receiving her MBA at INSEAD, Gosher has led investments in 30+ companies including 5 companies that have gone on to IPO (Cvent, Shutterstock, Mimecast, Medidata Solutions, Alteryx) and thirteen companies that have been acquired. During her tenure at Insight Venture Partners, she launched Insight Onsite, the firm's platform to scale its portfolio companies and through this program, she has worked directly with over 200 portfolio companies in an operational capacity.
As one of the first females in an investment position at a prominent venture capital firm in New York, Gosher has always been committed to fostering diversity. Since 2016 she serves on the board of Parity Partners, which is focused on building diversity at the investment-decision level through educational programming, events, and networking. A self-proclaimed "growth zealot", Gosher is fostering the growth of entrepreneurship at the academic level as well. She is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University's SIPA for Tech Entrepreneurship and prior held the same role at NYU's School of Business.
A globally recognized leader in software development, Joel Spolsky is currently the founder and CEO of Stack Overflow, the Q&A site for programming questions. Chances if you're a developer or have had a programming question, you've visited the site. Reaching more than 50M people in a month, Stack Overflow is an authoritative crowdsourced site that serves as the first point of reference for the development community. The company has grown to employ more than 250 employees.
Stack Overflow emerged from Fog Creek Software, which Spolsky launched in 2000 with Michael Pryor; initially as a consultancy. Fog Creek is also is responsible for project management tool Trello, which the company launched in 2011 and spun off into its own company in 2014. Trello was sold to Atlassian in 2017 for $425M.
Born in New Mexico, raised in Israel, Spolsky is has been at the forefront of technology for almost thirty years. He joined Microsoft after his undergraduate studies at Yale and was responsible for creating VBA in Excel. Splosky has authored five books on the topic of software development. His blog Joel on Software was one of the first blogs in the software development world, launched in 1999.
A native New Yorker, Gabby Slome is the cofounder and chief experience officer for Ollie, the meal delivery service for dogs. A graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Business School, Slome launched Ollie in 2016 out of personal need when she began noticing that her rescue dog Pancho started to gain weight. Researching the ingredients in her dog's diets, she quickly realized that the dog food market was filled with preservatives, artificial ingredients, and low-quality components, manufactured by an industry that was unregulated and lacked transparency.
Slome and her cofounders recognized there was an opportunity to provide freshly cooked, high-quality dog food to dog owners. All of the company's ingredients that are used in its meals are traceable and everything is prepared in an USDA-inspected and FDA-regulated kitchen. Recognizing that no two dogs are alike, Ollie has built a proprietary algorithm that creates personalized meals plans based on the dog's individual characteristics. As the millennial generation pushes off marriage and kids to later in life, if at all, they are spending more of their disposable income on pets and 70% of US household presently contain a pet.
Under Slome's leadership, Ollie has raised $16M in funding and is backed by investors that include Lerer Hippeau, Canaan Partners, Primary Venture Partners, Correlation Ventures, and Rosecliff Ventures. The daughter of two entrepreneurs, Slome is no stranger to the e-commerce space. She started her career working in flash sales at Vente-prive and Karmaloop and later worked at Primary.com, the online retailer for children's clothing. Immediately prior to founding Ollie, Slome served as the Entrepreneur in Residence at Primary Venture Partners.
Undoubtedly, New York is becoming a growing destination for companies to expand their operations. Sitting at the helm of this charge is Mark Anthony Thomas, the Senior Vice President of Partnerships at the NYCEDC. Thomas' team is responsible for serving as a catalyst and first point of contact with the city for these businesses, small and large, that are looking to build their presence within the city's five boroughs.
Thomas came to the NYCEDC after working with Mayor Eric Garcetti in LA, where Thomas served as the Director of Operations Innovation Team, which worked to improve the city's operations for procurement, asset management, risk management, and sanitation. Thomas came to the public sector from the media world with roles at Georgia Pacific, Ben Gurion, and Urban Future.
Thomas' work at the NYCEDC has been instrumental in cementing NYC's positioning as a global center for innovation and destination of choice for companies expanding As New York continues to draw more anchor tenants and build world-class programs like the recently announced CyberNYC initiative, it will be Thomas leading the efforts serving as an ambassador for the New York economy.
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A native of Russia, Mariya Nurislamova is the CEO and Founder of Scentbird, a direct-to-consumer fragrance startup that has been described as the "Netflix of Perfume". Nurislamova, a graduate of Baruch, started Scentbird inspired by childhood and the emotions she would feel when exposed to new fragrances that were brought back for her from abroad. She is now bringing the power of fragrances to the masses (a market 3x the size of razor blades), in an affordable and strategic way. Consumers can sample scents based on sophisticated taste profiles that are generated from consumer preferences and the vast data that the company has gathered.
Launched in 2013, the company initially went through Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator in New York. The company later went through Y-Combinator. Under Nurislamova's leadership, the company now boasts over 250,000 customers. The team has scaled to over one hundred individuals and in May of 2018, Scentbird raised the largest funding round for a direct-to-consumer brand led by a female CEO. The company is backed by investors that include 500Startups, Scrum Ventures, Soma Capital, Goodwater Capital, Rainfall Ventures, and Casper cofounder and CEO Philip Krim and has raised over $28.4M.
Dan Reich is the founder of not one but two thriving NYC startups ñ Troops and TULA. A veteran in the startup space, Reich has been involved with companies that have raised over $100M in venture capital and exited closed to $1B in aggregate value. A graduate of the University of Madison, Reich's first startup Spinback, a platform for measuring ROI of social shares, was acquired by Buddy Media in 2011. Reich joined the team at Buddy Media after the acquisition and led account management at the company while when it was acquired by Salesforce in 2012 for $689M.
In 2013, Reich went out to cofound TULA, a health and beauty probiotic skincare brand that's backed by LCatteron, QVC, and Great Oaks and served as CEO for the first two years. Reich still serves as President but after building a very capable team, he now spends the bulk of his on Troops, the AI-powered slackbot that integrates with Salesforce. The platform allows a variety of different teams including sales, marketing, customer success, and management to harness the power of Salesforce right from their existing workflows in Slack. Under Reich's leadership, Troops has gone on to raise $17.3M in funding and is backed by venture firms that include Vast Ventures, Slack, First Round Capital, Nextview, and Aspect Ventures and a number of notable angels including Zach Weinberg (Flatiron Health), Jack Groetzinger (SeatGeek), Jason Finger (Seamless Web), Wiley Cerilli (Good Uncle).
Outside of his work, Reich is extremely active in the startup ecosystem and actively consults for, invests in, and mentors a number of startup and founders including Olapic, Tid.al, Electric, and RealTargeting. He was selected by the city as a 2016 NYC Venture Fellows, a world-class, fellowship program designed to help high potential entrepreneurs scale their ventures.
Operator-turned-investor Hadley Harris is one of the Founding General Partners at Eniac Ventures, which he cofounded with Vic Singh, Tim Young, and NYC Tech Influencers past honoree Nihal Mehta in 2010. After completing his MBA at Wharton, Harris held roles in Product Management at Microsoft and Corporate Strategy at Samsung. While living in Korea during his time at Samsung in 2007, he quickly and correctly envisioned that the increases in bandwidth capacity along with new, sophisticated devices like the iPhone would ensure that mobile would be the next key evolution in computing and ultimately consumer behavior.
A native of Boston, Harris returned to the US and began working in an operational capacity with Vlingo, a voice and AI startup out of MIT, which later exited to Nuance for $225M. Hadley then became CMO of Thumb, a real-time recommendation app, which was acquired the following year. While working on these startups, Hadley, Singh, Young, and Mehta started Eniac with ~$1.5M of their own money to invest in early-stage opportunities, initially focused on mobile.
Three funds later, Eniac has become one of the most active seed stage investors in New York with 160+ investments and over 30 exits. Names in the portfolio include Zero, AirBnB, Anchor, Virgin Hyperloop One, Boxed, Navdy, TapCommerce, SoundCloud, and OnSwipe. Hadley's experience, operating across a number of silos including product management, business development, and marketing coupled with his engineering background, has cemented his position as a key investor, advisor, and board member in the New York tech community.
Peloton is one of the fastest growing tech companies in New York, rumored to be preparing to go public shortly. The ability of any company to hire effectively and quickly has been instrumental in maintaining this type of meteoric growth. At Peloton, that responsibility belongs to Will Blaze, the managing of Technical Recruiting. Under Blaze's direction, the engineering team has scaled from 20 to 130 in two and a half years with plans to grow to 300 by 2020. He also looks after the hiring needs for product, hardware, design, and operations in addition to IT and Engineering. Peloton, as a whole, has scaled to 1100+ individuals with no signs of slowing down.
Blaze comes to Peloton from Birchbox, where he led its hiring efforts for data science, product, and engineering during its hyper-growth phase from 2015 to 2016. He is a noted authority on strategically developing solutions to make mission-critical hires and implement plans using top of the funnel and direct methods to staff and grow technology organizations. As Blaze continues to scale and become another one of the NYC tech community's breakout companies, Blaze is there to make sure that the company is able to feed the machine that it has built with talent.
Raised in Paris, Scott Birnbaum launched his fourth entrepreneurial venture Epok, an information sharing and collaboration platform, while he was pursuing his undergraduate degree at Georgetown. After the company was acquired seven years later, Birnbaum kept a promise to himself and his grandmother and didn't launch another business; instead, he enrolled in law school. After earning his law degree at Fordham, Birnbaum spent a few years focused on M&A and project finance at White & Case. A few years later Birnbaum joined CBS focusing on strategy and partnerships, where exposed to a large number of entrepreneurs looking to partner with CBS Local. During this time he began to angel invest and later formally founded Red Sea Ventures.
Fast forward to today, Red Sea Ventures has invested in several category-defining companies and the portfolio includes four unicorns while the majority of NYC early-stage investors that got their start around the same time are still looking for their first. The portfolio largely focuses on consumer names and includes investments in Nest, AllBirds, Ample Hills Creamery, sweetgreen, and Joor. As a past operator, Birnbaum is always mindful that the firm is able to provide the guidance and support needed for early-stage companies outside of just the investment.
Outside of professional activities, Birnbaum serves as the Board Director for Seeds of Peace, a non-profit that catalyzes new generations of leaders in communities that are divided by conflict.
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