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Monthly Archives: August 2015

Vincent Kitirattragarn, founder of Dang Foods, turned his habit of snacking on toasted coconut into a successful food business that many are also going coconuts, too. He is an engineer by profession and entrepreneur by vocation, a combination that serves him well in the competitive food industry.

He started Dang Foods in 2011 based on his mother’s recipes for Minag Kium, a Northern Thai dish with toasted coconut as one of its ingredients. The dish has zero gluten and made from sliced coconut meat with just salt and sugar for seasoning. The result: An addicting snack with a buttery umani flavor, which is now sold in Whole Foods and Safeway stores.

Dang Foods continue to experiment with other treats, most of which are unconventional culinary delights from several culinary traditions worldwide. Its motto, “Dang, that’s good!” continues to inspire Vincent and his team to deliver more savoury and sweet treats to its discerning clientele.


Luke Holden, the founder and current president of Luke’s Lobster, has fisherman’s blood running through his veins. When he was 13 years old, he started learning about the lobster business and by the time he was in high school, he owned his own fishing boat – and, thus, the seeds of his business were sown.

But he did not immediately plunge into the business of offering among the best lobster, crab and shrimp rolls in the United States. After getting his Bachelor of Science (BS) Accounting and Finance degree from the Georgetown University’s The McDonough School of Business, he worked as an investment banker at Cohen & Steers Capital Advisors. But the job stress and insecurity eventually encouraged him to establish his own business, Luke’s Lobster; he founded the restaurant chain in October 2009.

Today, Luke’s Lobster is rapidly expanding with 11 present locations. Holden has also launched his own seafood company, Cape Seafood LLC, the restaurants’ main supplier of fresh seafood including lobster, crabs and shrimp. He is the co-founder and managing partner of Cape Seafood LLC, which was founded in December 2012.

Luke’s Lobster is chain of fast casual seafood restaurants offering deliciously filling lobster, crab and shrimp rolls as well as chilled empress crab claws, clam chowder, and coleslaw without the mayo. Customers can order just half a roll of each sandwich, which can be complemented by 2 crab claws, chips, and pickle as well as soda for $23. While the items are pricier than many of the seafood rolls offered in street stalls and fastfood joints, the price is well worth the taste, texture and flavors.

Holden has been recognized for his success. His honors include being cited as one of the Future Leaders by QSR Magazine; Forbes 30 Under 30 by Forbes; and Inc. 30 Under 30 by Inc. Magazine.

Amit Avner, the co-founder of Taykey, is a coding whiz who started coding when he was just 10 years old. He is a self-taught whiz who, at 15 years old, was simultaneously finishing his high school studies and starting on his computer science degree in college. He has also built a meta search engine prior to it.

His development of Taykey does not come as a surprise. He co-founded Taykey with Itay Birnbaum in 2009 after working in a questions-and-answer website.

The core idea for Taykey was completely unrelated to advertising. He was managing online message boards when he realized that these were inefficient. He then designed an algorithm that can make forecasts about the topics people were talking about on the website.

From the algorithm was born Taykey, Inc., a global advertising technology start-up. The company provides marketers and advertisers useful real-time tools that automatically target ads as well as gather insights from the trending topics among the audience.

Taykey has offices in London, Chicago, New York City, and San Francisco. Its clients include Volkswagen, American Express, Sony, Samsung, Pepsi, and Unilever.

Michael Heyward may have called his proprietary iOS and Android mobile app Whisper but he is certainly not entering the tech industry with anything but a bang. He launched Whisper in March 2012 as WhisperText as its Chief Executive Officer. He was co-founder of the company with Brad Brooks, the CEO of Tigertext, a mobile messaging service.

Whisper is a free-of-charge mobile app that allows users to send messages in an anonymous manner and receive replies. All users do not maintain public identities on the app although persistent handles can be used.

Basically, a user can post an anonymous message sent as an image macro (i.e., a text superimposed on a picture). When the app is opened, the user sees six images with each one containing a so-called secret. The user can then respond in a private (i.e., private pseudonymous chat) or public manner (i.e., public anonymous post).

Whisper was designed to promote digital anonymity, a stark counterpoint to the ego-driven posts and photos on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. According to many sources, the online anonymity has resulted in several benefits including an online support network where care and concern among users are common; the app discourages cyberbullying in this manner, too.

Heyward’s app continues to earn raves for its innovative approach to online activity particularly in a world where too much information (i.e., oversharing) has become commonplace. Many tech and business publications including Forbes, Business Insider, and The Daily Dot have called Whisper as the anti-Facebook. This is in reference to the popularity of oversharing on the giant social networking site, a practice that has been known to ruin relationships, careers, and reputations.

Whisper is a popular app on college campuses across the United States because of its anonymity features. It has reached 10 million monthly active users as of April 2015.

Mallory Blair is a small woman whose career ambitions are anything but small. At her 21st birthday, she met Bianca Caampued, also a petite woman, and together they co-founded the Small Girls PR. The digital marketing and public relations company is a up-and-coming force to be reckoned with despite the petite stature of its co-founders.

Small Girls PR has taken the path less followed by its competitors and, thus, made itself known. Blair and her team adopt a savvy approach to building buzz for brands without the usual line-up of press releases, blanket pitches, and generic wires. Instead, the firm prioritizes person-to-person personable media relations that emphasize the importance of business reputation among customers, suppliers and stakeholders.

As Blair puts it, business reputation is the driver of profitability. Nice heads finish first while not-so-nice heads finish last.

The personal interactions that Small Girl PR focuses on are making dramatic changes for its clients’ brands. A few of these include Meetup, GE, Gawker, Google, AOL, and Flavorpill.

Victor Cheng, the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of PaperG, is on an entrepreneurial roll. He has worked for several companies, all of which are still in existence as of this writing.

PaperG is a company founded to provide the so-called paper generation with expert assistance in moving print advertising from the traditional media to the digital media (i.e., online). Its technology automatically creates and distributes online advertisements across several platforms and devices. Its clients, most of which are small and medium-sized businesses, then benefit from the reduced costs and turnaround time of online advertising.

Its creative management platform is designed and developed by many of the best technologists in creative digital advertisements including engineers from Amazon and Microsoft. With Cheng at the helm as the Chief Technology Officer, the technologists continue to improve the digital advertising experience for the paper generation.

With its technology platform, PaperG’s clients enjoy several advantages. These include simultaneous design of advertisements in multiple sizes that can be run on both desktop and mobile devices; choice from several approved design templates; and opportunity to build and test the iterations at no extra production costs. The bottom line: Significant reductions in monetary and non-monetary (i.e., time) costs associated with digital ads design, development and distribution.

PaperG has been recognized by the industry for its innovative approaches. Its awards include the Forbes’ 100 Most Promising Companies in America while Cheng himself has been recognized by Forbes Magazine in its 30 under 30 List. Its clients include Time Warner Cable, Hearst, Tribune, and Charter Communications.

Cheng prefers the competitive vibe of technology start-ups over the complacent attitude prevalent in large software companies. He has worked for technology start-ups Kiko, a Y Combinator company, among others. He brings a comprehensive experience in product development and programming to PaperG, thanks in part to his degree in BS in Computer Science from Yale University.

Blake Masters has an unmistakable passion for the law. But his passion is complemented by a Silicon Valley ethos, which resulted in his becoming a co-founder of Judicata, a start-up getting the positive attention of investors and customers alike. His other co-founders are Itai Gurari and Adam Hahn.

As its name implies, Judicata is a legal technology start-up that provides research and analytics tools crucial in turning unstructured case law into structured information. Legal professionals are increasingly turning to the start-up for their related needs and wants. Its founders consider Judicata as a trailblazer in automating legal intelligence.

Judicata has received over $7.8 million in funding in two rounds from seven investors including Khosla Ventures, Peter Thiel, SV Angel, and Aaron Levie. Its most recent funding was from a Series A round amounting to $5.8 million on 28 May 2013. In many ways, the San Francisco-based start-up is on a roll.

Masters is also an author; he co-authored Zero to One with Peter Thiel.

Aaron Letzeiser has a passion for advocacy in education and medical amnesty, twin passions that he continues to act on in his various endeavours. In June 2012, he established the Medical Amnesty Initiative, the only non-profit of its kind in the United States dedicated solely to the introduction, promotion and passage of as well as the education about the Medical Amnesty legislation across the country.

Letzeiser was at the forefront of the legislation from drafting to pushing it in the combined Houses of Representatives in Michigan. The Medical Amnesty Initiative has successfully pushed for the adoption of the groundbreaking legislation in 26 states and in Washington. D.C., as of March 2015. Several other states already have the legislation undergoing the legislative process with high chances for their passage and approval.

The non-profit organization engages in direct nationwide advocacy programs and projects in coordination with its corporate partners, education stakeholders, and individuals, among others. Letzeiser manages Medical Amnesty Initiative’s operations with a charisma, effectiveness and efficiency despite his youth.

Of course, Letzeiser has extensive experience in several fields that contributed to his savvy management skills. He is the co-founder of Creisoft, Inc. (Obie), which was established in January 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina, as a company offering its clients with a commercial real estate platform and marketplace. It is a venue for connecting investment professionals with specialized tools and technology that will contribute to dramatic improvements in the transaction process.

He was also a director at the ASMSU Office of Governmental Affairs where he advocated for the passage of student-friendly legislation. He also worked with the office on state education policy.

As a legislative aide at the Office of Senator Jason Allen, Letzeiser honed his legislative skills particularly in district communications, constituent correspondence, and research on legislation. With his exposure to the legislative system, no wonder that Letzeiser succeeded in promoting a landmark law across several states!