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Tech entrepreneurs have climbed the ranks to grace the same magazine covers that once were reserved for Hollywood celebrities and world leaders. Each year, we see more innovation and success in this space, and 2016 is no exception. The pioneers profiled here come from a range of industries that want to revolutionize their categories and create thousands of new jobs, shifting — through their success — what our future looks like. Allow me to introduce you, in no particular order, to eight tech entrepreneurs you need to know in 2016.
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1. Marc Gorlin, Roadie
Marc Gorlin, founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Roadie. Roadie, the first on-the-way delivery network, puts unused capacity into passenger vehicles to work by connecting people who have items they need to send with drivers headed to the same destination. Roadie’s model enables efficient, low-cost delivery for senders and rewards drivers for trips they were already taking.
Fun Fact: The average delivery time for Roadie gigs up to 200 miles is 5.5 hours.
Milestone: “We will continue to build out the Roadie community to make same-day delivery over hundreds of miles a reality. We want it to be as easy and convenient, to get big, bulky, hard-to-handle stuff delivered hundreds of miles, as it is to get a sandwich delivered down the street,” Gorlin told me.
2. Bogdan Constantin, Menguin
Bogdan Constantin is co-founder and CMO of Fayetteville, Ark.-based Menguin, a technology company infatuated with bettering its clients' formal wear needs by creating the coolest and easiest way to rent a suit or tuxedo for any event. These rentals happen online, and delivery includes 24/7 customer service.
Fun fact: Menguin saves penguins, real penguins. With each rental, the company donates a portion of its proceeds to these endangered animals in South America. Select customers get to name them and receive framed copies and plush toys.
Milestone: “Menguin plans to save over 100,000 people from the pain and frustration of having to rent a tux the old way in 2016," Constantin told me.
3. Louis Ziskin, DropIn
Louis Ziskin is CEO and founder of West Hollywood-based DropIn, Inc., which is changing “the way insurance industries do business, by providing on demand remote video inspection," Ziskin said. "The app provides a new way to process claims and preview risk while increasing revenue in an industry that generates over $700 billion annually.”
Fun Fact: Ziskin is a philanthropist who speaks nationally about causes like anti-recidivism and addiction recovery.
Milestone: DropIn is expanding to San Francisco, New York and Chicago and is launching pilot programs with two nationwide insurance companies.
4. Lauren Roxburgh, Aligned Life
Lauren Roxburgh (Lo Rox) is founder of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Aligned Life. Named the “Body Alignment Pro” by Vogue, Roxburgh is an author and alignment expert who empowers people to move better, improve posture, reduce stress and connect to their authentic selves. She is also the creator of the Aligned Rollers and Aligned Life digital downloads workouts and is launching an app and more digital content to make her method accessible to all, anytime and anywhere.
Fun Fact: Roxburgh was dubbed “The Body Whisperer” by Goop.
Milestone: Roxburgh will be launching The Taller Slimmer Younger Meal Plan this year.
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5. Tom X Lee, One Medical
Tom X Lee is founder and CEO of San Francisco-based One Medical, an organization on a mission to make high-quality healthcare more accessible and affordable for everyone. “We offer a modern, tech-enabled approach to primary care that combines people-centered design, smart application of technology and a team of talented providers who have the time and tools necessary to make smarter decisions," Lee told me. "Our members have access to top health professionals, 24/7 virtual care, same-day appointments."
Fun Fact: Lee studied fine arts at Yale before ultimately deciding to pursue a career in medicine.
Milestone: One Medical will grow to about 60 offices across the United States by the end of the year.
6. Kyle Porter, SalesLoft
Kyle Porter is CEO and founder of the Atlanta-based tech company SalesLoft. “We live, eat, and breath sales development best practices," Porter said. "Most importantly, we help sales development teams increase the number of qualified appointments set by a dramatic amount — in some cases more than 300 percent. We built the application of record for the sales development team, which allows SDRs [sales development reps] to do what they do well: set qualified sales appointments.”
Fun Fact: Porter spends his time between Atlanta, home of SalesLoft, and Winter Haven, Fla., where his wife's family are fourth-generation tangerine famers. He likes to spend time in the tangerine groves.
Milestone: SalesLoft plans to triple its annual recurring revenue by the end of the year.
7. David Gardner, ColorJar
David Gardner is founder and CEO of Chicago-based ColorJar, a creative tech agency that specializes in brand-positioning strategy and custom websites and apps. “Our in-house team of designers and technology developers use brand strategy as their compass to create user experiences that cut through the noise of today’s cluttered world,” Gardner told me.
Fun Fact: ColorJar is a bootstrapping success. The creative tech agency was self-funded with $5,000 and has grown to a team of 20 without raising capital.
Milestone: “We only work with select clients we fall in love with — and this year we will fall in love for the 150th time,” Gardner said.
8. Tom McLeod, Omni
Tom McLeod is CEO and founder of San Francisco-based Omni, a company aiming to revolutionize personal storage and the relationships people have with their belongings. It provides an on-demand concierge-style service with convenient pickup and delivery solutions to residents of San Francisco. Users are able to reclaim space in their homes and manage their belongings through an easy-to-use mobile interface.
Fun Fact: Books are the most common singular item in Omni's system: It has literally thousands of books, ranging from Dr. Seuss to Grey's Anatomy. “It's amazing how books are constantly being flagged as obsolete in the post iPad/Kindle world, but in reality people have real emotion and attachment to tangible physical books," McLeod told me, describing those emotions as "both the memories of where [the owners] were when they experienced them, as well as the knowledge contained within.”
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Milestone: McLeod promises an "expansion outside of 7×7" [San Francisco] as well as some other exciting in-app sharing capabilities among users that will be first of its kind.”
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