Young Entrepreneur of the Year is our GeekWire Awards category that spotlights innovators doing amazing things in tech who are 30 or younger.
This year, our nominees lead companies across the technology ecosystem from fintech to robotics to housing. They are Shivaas Gulati, co-founder of Remitly; Tony Huang, co-founder and CEO of Possible Finance; Phil Kimmey, co-founder of Rover; Garett Ochs, co-founder and CEO of Otto Robotics; and Yifan Zhang and Adam Stelle, co-founders of Loftium.
Over the next two weeks, we’re opening voting in 13 GeekWire Awards categories, with GeekWire readers choosing their top picks from finalists selected by our panel of judges from community nominations. Check back on GeekWire each day to cast your ballot. Winners will be revealed at the GeekWire Awards — presented by Wave Business — on May 10th at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle. The GeekWire Awards sell out every year, so go here to purchase tickets for this one-of-a-kind tech celebration.
Cast your vote below and continue reading for more on our Young Entrepreneur of the Year nominees.
A big thanks to Honest Buck, which is sponsoring this year’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year category.
Shivaas Gulati (30) co-founded Remitly in 2011. Over the past seven years, he’s played a critical role on the international remittance startup’s engineering team and watched the company grow to 400 employees across four offices worldwide. Remitly is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most heavily funded startups, raising $115 million in 2017, bringing its total equity funding to $150 million.
Before Remitly, Gulati was an engineer and platform architect several startups. He has degrees in computer science and business technology from Wilkes University and Carnegie Mellon.
Philip Kimmey (28) co-founded Rover seven years ago and has watched as the peer-to-peer petsitting startup has grown to 236 people with $156 million in funding. Kimmey started developing Rover when he was still in college, according to Inc. Veteran investor Greg Gottesman met Kimmey after his junior year at a Startup Weekend event. They discussed Gottesman’s negative experience boarding his dog at a kennel. He later called Kimmey and asked if he wanted to spend the summer building what would become Rover out of the offices of Madrona Venture Group, where Gottesman was a partner.
Today, Kimmey serves as Rover’s director of software development, where he is involved in developing the product and manages part of the engineering team. Kimmey attended Washington University in St. Louis but left to work on Rover full time.
Tony Huang (28) left his job as lead product manager for Axon to launch Possible Finance last year. His vision was to create a startup that could offer small loans without the steep fees and short payback window associated with payday loans. Possible Finance is currently facilitating small loans for Washington and Utah residents that they can pay back in installments.
Huang serves as CEO of Possible Finance. He’s building the startup with other members of the original software team from Axon, which recruited Huang when he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Harvard University in 2012.
Garett Ochs (28) has been quietly building Otto Robotics since the summer of 2016. He is the co-founder and CEO of the startup, which is still operating in stealth mode. What we do know is Otto Robotics is working on automated systems to make and deliver food. Ochs helped the startup raise $1.5 million in private equity funding from Draper Associates and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital in 2017.
Before Otto Robotics, Ochs helped raise more than $500,000 for UW Formula Motorsports as a student at the University of Washington. He went on to become a mechanical engineer at Planetary Resources, and then at Oculus VR. Ochs left Oculus last June to found Otto Robotics.
Yifan Zhang (29) and Adam Stelle (30) made a splash last year with the launch of Loftium, a startup that provides down payment assistance for homebuyers who agree to Airbnb a bedroom and split the profits with the company.
Zhang has launched several startups since graduating with a degree in economics from Harvard University. She serves as Loftium’s CEO. Stelle is the Loftium’s COO, a role he previously held at UP Global. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in philosophy from the University of British Columbia.
“The goal is to ensure that cities don’t become places where only the very, very wealthy can afford to own, that there’s still this ability for middle-class people to be able to own a home,” Loftium’s Zhang told GeekWire in a previous interview.