The world is in the midst of an energy reset away from fossil fuels and toward decarbonization, making efficient energy management one of the top industries primed for growth over the next year. Digital Health and remote everything are also on the upswing, along with sustainable food production. Here’s our annual roundup of emerging US & Canada-based entrepreneurs who are reshaping our world.
OBCIDO’s selection process is based on rigorous criteria that include a demonstrated track record, potential that has been recognized by industry experts, and our belief that these entrepreneurs are making the world a better place.
Alex Parmley is the co-founder and CEO of Phood, a platform that lets college students use their dining dollars on meal delivery services, groceries, and at local restaurants. His company just won the $1 million prize at the 43North accelerator startup contest in Buffalo, NY. The new funding will help boost growth for the platform, which already has 51,000 student users at colleges including the University of Toronto, Ohio State University, and The University of Texas at Austin, who already spend $5.3 million monthly on the platform. Phood’s two biggest partners are DoorDash, which offers students who use Phood free delivery and Discover, the digital banking company that supplies debit cards for students.
Alex is also the Product Advisor at Sunryde, a California-based e-bike company, a guest lecturer at Rutgers Business School, and a Techstars NYC Alumni. Fun fact: like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, he does not have a college degree.
Uzo Ometu is the founder of BlackOakTV, a subscription, on-demand video service focusing on content made by black creators. Founded in 2020, it currently costs $4.99 a month and it is available on most major platforms. According to a 2021 McKinsey study, black consumers are underserved in areas such as food, housing, healthcare, broadband, and banking, representing a potential $300 billion of value annually. A media platform like BlackOakTV could be a powerful funnel for this huge consumer market.
Uzo, who has an MBA from Columbia University, has worked with Google and YouTube. He most recently served on the content partnerships team in San Francisco where he says he “witnessed the company make good but mild progress in improving its relationship with Black viewers and creators.”
Claire Friona is a co-founder and engineer at Agricycle Global, a vertically-integrated value chain and network that developed a proprietary passive solar dehydrator technology that preserves fruits and vegetables before they go to waste without using any electricity. Since it launched in 2019, the company has raised $4.3 Million in seed funding and built relationships with over 35,000 farmers across the world, helping to eradicate poverty and connect isolated citizens to markets, inputs and services.
Claire, a Wisconsin Inno 25 Under 25 honoree, is also the CEO at Netless Catch, a global frozen supply chain that distributes lionfish caught in the Caribbean by artisanal spearfishers who dive for their catch. They call this restorative seafood, aimed at fixing the damage done to the oceans by the commercial fishing industry.
Marc Angelo Coppola
Marc Angelo Coppola is the co-founder of Quebec-based Valhalla Coop Farms and the founder of Superhero Academy. His ‘farm of the future” is an 80+ acre project of regenerative agriculture and storytelling that brings together passionate agricultural producers, chefs, and entrepreneurs looking for sustainability, self-reliance, and collaborative action. The Academy is a mentorship platform that promotes Freedom Culture by aligning income and impact, a concept that is sure to appeal to Gen Z. According to a 2022 Mckinsey survey, the Gen Z demographic reports “alarming levels of negativity about themselves, their confidence in the future, and their ability to find contentment in American life.” His brand also fits into a growing trend and demand for learning how to build a self-sufficient farm, something he promotes on his podcast.
Marc, who calls himself a full-time farmer but really does a lot more, has a BCOM in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from McGill University.
Peter Schmidt is the COO & co-founder of Transcend Air, the company behind a five-passenger, $3.5 million aircraft that can land almost anywhere, like a helicopter, but can move almost as fast as a jet. While some of the biggest companies on Earth are investing billions to build eVTOLs — electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing planes or battery-powered planes— Transcend Air is financed by about $4 million from the founders’ pockets and a few outside investors, and the founders are banking on delivering flight speeds that none of today’s electric VTOLs can match using traditional fuel-combustion technology: the Vy 400 will fly at up to 400 miles per hour, or three times faster than a helicopter. With half the operating costs and enhanced safety, he expects it to grow to dominate the VIP transport helicopter segment. It will also enable a new city-center-to-city-center airline service, cheaper than current air travel options, and three to five times faster door-to-door.
Peter, an aerobatic pilot, has been a sUAS test pilot and he has an impressive resume that includes president & COO of Linear Air, COO of Jet Advisors (a business aviation consultancy), and SVP of National Aviation Academy, the second largest Part 147 aviation mechanic school in the U.S. He currently serves as Chair of the Electric Flight Test Committee of the E-VTOL Flight Test Council. He did his undergrad in computer science and his master’s in management, both at MIT.
Bianca Gonzalez is the founder and CEO of AMPAworks, an IoT system that monitors and tracks hospital inventory using computer vision AI. Her California-based company's technology can save hospitals, pharmacies, and surgery centers hours of time because employees no longer have to count inventory manually. Future plans include partnering with robotics companies to build machines that can restock supplies and medicines, which would save even more employee time, a key factor as the medical industry faces serious staffing shortages.
Bianca is a trained nurse with an MS in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA in Entrepreneurship from The Wharton School. She previously co-founded TrueCare24, a venture-backed startup in the home care space.
Albert Gozzi is the co-founder of Aleph, a NY-based financial planning & analysis platform that enables finance teams to have specialized financial tools built right into Excel/Google Sheets, keeping them dynamically up-to-date based on the latest and rapidly changing financial models. It’s a tech solution for data collection that keeps teams in sync, in a huge market that’s ripe for innovation.
Originally from Argentina, Albert has an MBA from Stanford and was a consultant at Bain & Company. We can’t help but imagine how crypto firm FTX, which did not have an internal accounting department, could have benefitted from this software and avoided much of its ‘faulty accounting’ by using Aleph. Ahem.
Alissa Baier-Lentz is the co-founder and COO of Kintra Fibers, a material science company that makes high-performing and 100% bio-based polymers for textile use, formulated to keep our oceans microfiber-free. Unlike most synthetic fabrics, their polymer is 100% intrinsically compostable. This means that any Kintra fibers released through laundry cycles will see their end-of-life at the compost environment within a wastewater treatment facility, instead of persisting to the ocean like traditional synthetic textiles.
Alissa previously founded HERO Backpacks in 2016, a company she led until 2019 that contributed to educating girls around the world, and which garnered her a Forbes 30 Under 30 in Retail accolade. She previously worked with the Gulfstream Aerospace sales team and has a Bachelor of Science and Business Administration with an emphasis on Entrepreneurship from Chapman University.
Anisa Mirza is the founder of LitNerd, a NYC-based educational program that is revolutionizing how reading is taught in elementary schools. The Y-Combinator-backed startup, founded in 2020, brings books to life and fosters life-long reading habits in students by reenacting books using actors, with interactive art and theater performances, blurring the line between learning and entertainment. It’s also solving a serious problem: as of 2019, roughly a third of U.S. fourth graders were unable to read at the level expected of them and the scores have barely changed in decades. LitNerd has raised $1.6 million so far but its B2B potential has garnered plenty of attention.
Anisa, a Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs honoree, previously founded Giveeffect in 2016, which has grown into a leading nonprofit software. The McMaster University grad is also a startup advisor who knows how to solve the world’s problems while also being profitable.
Dr. Laura Lammers
Dr. Laura Lammers is the founder and CEO of Travertine Technologies, a Boulder, CO-based carbon dioxide removal and industrial chemical production company that raised $3M in seed financing in June 2022. The company has developed a novel, cost-effective process to capture and permanently sequester ambient CO2 while producing sulfuric acid to enable carbon-negative critical element extraction and fertilizer production, essential to to feeding the world. The company also partners with mining companies to extract elements that are critical to the renewable energy transition. The process eliminates an important source of water and soil pollution while reducing the cost of industrial waste management. Carbon dioxide removal and permanent sequestration (CDR) is a key part of the global path to net-zero, something we can all agree on.
Laura is an Associate Professor at University of California in Berkely. She has a PhD of Philosophy from UC and a B.A. in Earth Sciences from Dartmouth College.