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The top young movers and shakers of 2021: Forbes reveals 30 under 30

They are the brightest and the boldest giving everyone a reason to hope in 2021.

Amid the gloom of the pandemic, Forbes has released its annual 30 under 30 list that showcases the United States and Canada's most important young movers and shakers ahead of 2021.

Some of these under 30s are defying the odds and building businesses despite Covid-19; others are helping to fight the illness, serving on hospital frontlines or working with AI to discover new drugs.

The 600-strong list includes household names – such as such as Philadelphia 76ers NBA star Ben Simmons, musicians Lil Baby and Roddy Ricch and actors Ramy Youssef and Sabrina Carpenter - but many are likely unfamiliar to most.

Ben Simmons, #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers, is one of the 30 sports stars to make Forbes 2021 30 under 30 list. In total, the list comprises of 600 honorees in 20 different categories 

Their average age is 26.6 and collectively they have raised over $1billion in venture funding. A total of 20 per cent are immigrant from 62 countries.

'Despite the pandemic, a global recession and the social-justice movement here in the United States, today's young entrepreneurs are as enterprising as ever, committed to solving the world's problems and designing a way forward that benefits us all,' said Randall Lane, Forbes' Chief Content Officer.

Alexandra Wilson, the Editor of Forbes Under 30, said: 'Some are defying the odds and building businesses despite Covid-19; others are helping to fight the illness, serving on hospital frontlines or working with A.I. to discover new drugs.'

A number of well-known judges were drafted in to help make the decisions on who made the cut for this year's list, including Taylor Swift - who has previously appeared on the list herself.

The 20 different categories include: art & style, consumer tech, education, energy, enterprise tech, finance, food & drink, games, healthcare, Hollywood & entertainment, manufacturing, marketing & advertising, media, music, retail, science, social entrepreneurship, social media, sports and venture capital.

Below are 40 of the featured nominees for each category out of the 600 total chosen for this year's list.

Hollywood and Entertainment   

Ramy Youssef, 29, Founder, Cairo Cowboy

Jeremy Pope, 28, Actor 

Pope has taken Broadway by storm. Last year, he became the first black man in history to earn two Tony nominations for different roles in the same year - an acting nomination for Choir Boy and a musical nod for Ain't Too Proud, for which he also received a Grammy nomination. 

He was Emmy nominated this year for his first onscreen role in Ryan Murphy's Hollywood for Netflix.

Next up, he is set to play Sammy Davis Jr in the upcoming Janet Mock-helmed film Scandalous!

Ramy Youssef, 29, Founder, Cairo Cowboy 

After a stint on See Dad Run in 2012 and time spent shadowing the show's writers' room, Youssef spawned his own Hulu series Ramy, following the adventures of a first-generation Muslim American.

Youssef, who also stars in the show, won a Golden Globe for his performance and the series won a Peabody award.

 It had been renewed for a third season and he is working on more series featuring underrepresented groups through his production company Cairo Cowboy.  


BEN SIMMONS, 24 - Point Guard, Philadelphia 76ers

Ben Simmons, Point Guard, Philadelphia 76ers

Australian Ben Simmons - at 6 foot 10 ins - is four inches taller than the average NBA player, and was selected by the 76ers as their No. 1 draft pick in 2016 from Louisiana State University. 

He is predicted to earn $177 million over the next give years, along with endorsements worth up to $6 million per year from Nike, SmartWater and Beats by Dre. 

An avid video-game player, Simmons recently invested in esports company FaZe Clan, and already has a stake in performance technology company Hyperice.

'I think the future of esports is as strong as the NBA's,' he told Forbes. 

IGOR KARLICIC, 29 - Cofounder, Monarc

Igor Karlicic, Cofounder, Monarc

Karlicic cofounded Monarc, the company behind the Seeker - the world's first robotic quarterback system, that's used by college sports porgrams - including LSU.

The company's intellectual property of the system extends over multiple sports, and raised $1.3 million in seed funding, with investors including NFL players.  


Roddy Ricch, 22, Musician

Roddy Ricch, 22, Musician

This has been a big year for rapper Roddy Ricch who won his first grammy for his debut album and made $20million. 

Breakout single The Box went viral on TikTok, with more than 1.2billion videos using the song. 

Compton-born Ricch is investing his money back into the community, particularly in real estate, but also plans to launch a foundation to teach financial literacy to residents in the city.  

Ava Max, 26, Musician

Albanian-American Max was one of the breakout stars of the year after releasing her debut album and performing on just about every late night American talk show.

Single Kings & Queens spent five weeks at No. 1 and the music video for her single Sweet by Psycho has been viewed more than 600million times of YouTube.

Max had a dedicated fanbase before her first record even came out, amassing four billion streams with her prior material. 

Social Media


Marques Brownless, YouTuber

Brownless runs a popular YouTube channel called 'MKBHD', where he reviews all the latest tech in video to his over 13 million subscribers.

In the last month alone, his channel has drawn in 700 million views, and has come a long way since posting his first YouTube video while still in high school - reviewing the HP Pavilion laptop which he purchased with his saved allowance. 

His channel really begun gaining traction when he graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology, and is now many people's go-to reviewer for smartphones, laptops, headphones, games consoles, smartwatches, and even Tesla cars.


Harmon is best known for being the creator behind Renegade Dance - a hit piece of TikTok choreography - which she didn't receive credit for before white celebrities made it famous. 

This served to shine a light on a disconnect between white social media influencers and those representing minority groups, and caused Harmon to shoot up from 2,000 followers on the app to over 3 million across social media.

She has since performed at the 2020 NBA All Star game, appeared on 'The Ellen Degeneres Show', and struck deals with some of the worlds biggest brands, including Netflix.  


XIAOYIN QU, 27 - Cofounder, Run The World

Xiaoyin Qu, Cofounder, Run The World

After learning of the issues her mother had travelling to an international medical conference in Chicago, Qu, from China, along with Xuan Jiang, founded Run The World - an online venue for professional events.

The platform launched in February, and one month later, events were cancelled around the world as travel ground to a halt because of the coronavirus. 

As a result, Run The World has grown from having five employees to 45, and has hosted 10,000 virtual events, and includes the feature of a virtual cocktail party where attendees are matched with another guys for a five-minute one-on-one.

The platform has raised $15 million from investors, one of which is actor Will Smith's Dreamers venture capital fund.

OMAR JIMENEZ, 27 -  National correspondent, CNN  

Omar Jimenez, National correspondent, CNN

Jimenez is a national correspondent in Chicago for CNN, and was the network's lead reporter covering the death of Kobe Bryant in January and also gained recognition when covering this year's Black Lives Matter protests.

In one now infamous incident, Jimenez and his TV crew were arrested on live television while covering protests in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd.

Because of he composure during the arrest, he won a First Amendment Award for the 'consummate professionalism' he displayed.

Venture Capital


Freferik Groce, Cofounder, BLCK VC

Groce cofounded BLCK VC - a San Francisco-based nonprofit - with Sydney Syke in 2018. The organisation's mission is to double the number of Black investors employed by centure capital firms by 4 percent. 

In October this year, BLCK VC announced that partner firms - such as Salesforce Ventures - had pledged to graduated 300 VC-trained fellows in three years time.

Among other activities, Groce is also a principle at Storm Ventures, where he has led investments in startups including Camino and Next Request.

MAYA HORGAN FAMODU, 29 - Founder, Ingressive Capital 

Maya Horgan Famodu, Founder, Ingressive Capital

Horgan Famodu is a Nigerian-American entrepreneur who - after working at JPMorgan - founded Ingressive Capital - a firm that provides market entry, technology research and market and operations services for firms and businesses expanding into Africa. 

She also founded Ingressive Capital, a venture capital fund investing in Africa-based technology companies. In addition, she also is the founder of High Growth Africa Summit, a two-day conference on how to launch a high-growth African businesses.

She previously featured on the 30 under 30 list in 2018 in the technology category. 


ALEX LIEGL, 28 - Cofounder, Layer1

Alex Liegl, Cofounder, Layer1

Liegl has combined energy production with bitcoin mining. Layer1 boasts that it is the 'world's most efficient converter of Watts to Bitcoins' and uses wind turbines to power its Bitcoin mining machines that are powered by wind.

It costs Liegl about $1,000 to mine a single Bitcoin, which currently trades at well over $10,000.

ANGELIQUE AHLSTRÖM, 29 - Cofounder, Flash Forest

Angelique Ahlstrom, Cofounder, Flashforest

In 2021, Flash Forest will plant hundreds of thousands of seedlings across Canada using flying drones.

The company aims to be the most cost effective method of reforestation, projecting the cost to be 75 cents per seedling planted by 2023.

'Our motivation is to have a substantial, tangible impact on climate change within our lifetime, to revolutionize the reforestation industry on a truly planetary scale,' the company says.


MATT MCCAMBRIDGE, 29 - Cofounder, Eden Health

Matt McCambridge, Cofounder, Eden Health

Eden Health promises to cut businesses health care costs by up to $800 per employee each year by offering primary care from doctors and staff that are part of the company's team.

By using pop-up clinics and app-based virtual consultations, Eden cuts down on unnecessary hospital visits, appointments and tests.

The company has secured $39 million in venture capital funding, and promises to revolutionise healthcare for midsize businesses (with between 10 to 5,000 employees).

PRAKRITI GABA, 28 - Cardiology fellow, Harvard University 

Prakriti Gaba, Cardiology fellow, Harvard University

As a physician and researcher, Prakriti Gaba was on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

She was inspired by what she sure during worst of the pandemic to advocate for changes to increase the speed and efficiency of clinical trials that could lead to new treatments.

Gaba was the first author of an article in Nature Reviews Cardiology that dealt with ways to transform the clinical trial process to employ remote consent and monitoring programs. 


Joanna Smith, 29, Founder, AllHere Education  

Joanna Smith, 29, Founder, AllHere Education

Smith's company, started in 2017, works with schools to address chronic truancy but when the pandemic began and schools closed, Smith wasn't sure if her business would survive.

She quickly developed a chatbot system that not only helps with truancy but also can assist students struggling with their work, troubleshoot tech issues and provide confidential healthcare referrals. 

AllHere's client numbers have increased dramatically, with 2,000 schools in 15 states now paying an annual subscription fee of $2 per student

Aly Murray, 26, Cofounder, UPchieve 

Aly Murray, 26, Cofounder, UPchieve

Murray left the trading floor at JPMogran in 2018 to work full time at her non-profit, which enlists volunteers to provide real-time tutoring and college admissions help to low-income students. 

So far more than 2,7000 students have used UPchieve and the group has raised $1million from individuals and corporate partners. 

Having been a low-income student herself, Murray knew there was a market for the services her company provides.  


Alex Bouaziz, 27, Cofounder, Deel

Alex Bouaziz, 27, Cofounder, Deel

Bouaziz cofounded Deel to facilitate companies seeking to hire and manage remote teams with software that creates contracts and manages wage payments. 

It's valuation has more than tripled since it was founded in May 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic keeps more people working remotely. 

Bouaziz said the company is now worth more than $200million. 

Flori Marquez, 29, Cofounder, BlockFi 

Flori Marquez, 29, Cofounder, BlockFi

Cryptocurrency lending platform BlockFi enables crypto holders to lend out currency at rates up to 8.6%. 

The platform also features cryto trading services, raising more than $100million from venture capital firms. 

It has 100,000 funded accounts, is on track to earn $120million in revenue this year and is preparing for an IPO. 

Art and Style

Jooyeon Song, 29, Cofounder ManiMe

Jooyeon Song, 29, Cofounder ManiMe

Korean native and former BCG consultant Song couldn't bear the two hours spent having a manicure done in a salon and suspected other busy young professionals might feel the same. 

With David Miró Llopis, she created a line of custom-fit, stick-on gel nails in 2017. Customers take a photo of their nails and send it to the start up which creates the perfect nail set starting at $15 using 3D modelling. 

Sales are expected to surpass $3million this year, with many salons closed due to the pandemic.

Jamall Osterholm, 26, Founder, Jamall Osterholm  

Jamall Osterholm, 26, Founder, Jamall Osterholm

Osterholm might be recognisable to some as contestant on the 2019 series of Bravo's Project Runway. 

A menswear designer, he has shown at New York Fashion Week three times with designs both futuristic and informed by the past. 

He currently works for Kerby Jean-Raymond's Pyer Moss label and has designed and creative-directed an award winning film. 

Enterprise Technology  

Chazz Sims, 29, Cofounder, Wise Systems 

Chazz Sims, 29, Cofounder, Wise Systems

Sims' company uses machine learning to schedule delivery routes, making adjustments in real time for traffic, new orders and drivers' locations. 

The software means recipients can known when to expect their delivery within a 20-minute window. 

Anheuser-Busch is using the software on 750 beer trucks and Lyft has also adopted it to schedule repairs. The startup has raised $24million in venture funding. 

Deborah Raji, 24, Founding member, Algorithmic Justice League 

Deborah Raji, 24, Founding member, Algorithmic Justice League

Raji has been an advocate since high school and now she directs her campaigning to the world's biggest companies. 

Her non-profit aims to raise awareness about the social implications of AI. Projects have included an audit on an Amazon facial recognition product that revealed it was less accurate for darker-skinned women than for white men. 

Over 70 top AI researchers have signed an open letter in support of her work, which led Amazon and others to halt the sale of their facial recognition product to police.


Maddie Hall, 28, Cofounder, Living Carbon

Maddie Hall, Cofounder, Living Carbon

Hall's company grows poplar and pines that have been genetically modified to absorb more carbon dioxide than regular plants, as well as being faster growing and producing more durable wood. 

Hall hopes her company can become a 'Tesla for trees' in that it is both environmentally friendly and cool.  

A love of the natural world runs in Hall's family - her grandmother was a botanist, her mother 'did flowers' and her uncle was a lumberjack.

Jelena Notaros, 27, Assistant professor, MIT 

Jelena Notaros, Assistant professor, MIT

Notators is working to produce new silicon-photonics systems that will provide solutions to issues with displays, sensing, communications, quantum and biology. 

She recently pioneered a display made from a single undetectable transparent photonic chip. 

The display sits in front of a user's eye, projecting 3D holograms that only they can see.

Manufacturing & Industry 

ALEXANDER LE ROUX, 28 - Cofounder, Icon

Alexander Le Roux, cofounder, Icon

Le Roux was the master minds behind Vulcan - a 12-foot tall 3D printer that uses concrete, and can build a house in 24 hours for up to 30 percent less than through normal methods.

In 2018, Icon built its first permanent 3D-printed home, and since then, has built 16 more in Austin, Texas and has also expanded into Mexico.

There, the company - that has raised $44 million - is building the world's first 3D-printed community for low income families.

Icon has also received funding to help NASA find a way to build structures on the moon. 

Payam Pourtaheri, 27; Ameer Shakeel, 26 - Cofounders, AgroSpheres  

The founders of AgroSpheres - Pourtaheri and Shakeel - both came from developing countries (Iran and Pakistan respectively) and had witnesses how misuse of pesticides had contaminated the environment.

While at the University of Virginia together, they founded the company with the aim of making crop protection that could replace the harmful chemicals.

They currently have 30 patents pending globally which enable a suite of bio-control products that would be alternative to synthetic chemicals, and have received $11 million in funding.

Payam Pourtaheri and Ameer Shakeel, cofounders of AgroSpheres

Food & Drink

Dan Leyva, co-owner, Wings Over 

DAN LEYVA, 28 - Co-owner, Wings Over

When Leyva's favourite place for wings in New York - Wings Over - closed, he was so devastated he persuaded three wealthy college friends to invest him in for an estimated $10 million to buy the entire franchise.

He improved the menu - removing frozen meat and off-brand items such as burgers - and revolutionised the 20-year-old chain's online ordering, its design and branding.

Sales have since grown 20 percent to over $50 million, and he has just opened his thirty-seventh location in New Jersey. 

Priya Krishna, author of cookbook 'Indian-ish' 


Krishna is a YouTube cooking personality and contributes to publications including the New York Times.

In April 2019, she released her best-selling cookbook called 'Indian-ish', which was named as one of the best cookbooks of the spring by a number of publications, including The New York Times, New York Magazine, Eater, Food & Wine, and Bon Appétit.

She is now pitching a TV show and is writing a new cookery book with David Chang, founder of Momofuku.

Social Impact

CLEMENTINE JACOBY, 29 - Cofounder, Recidiviz

Clementine Jacoby, co-founder, Recidiviz 

Recidiviz - cofounded by Jacoby in 2018 - aims to address criminal justice reform using data as a way to gain a systemic understanding of the system.

It aggregates and standardizes fragmented data across the system including prisons, probation and parole.

As coronavirus started to spread thorugh the prison system, North Dakota used Recidiviz to determine who was eligible for an early release and to track their impact on public safety.

In doing so, the state was able to reduce its prison population by 25 percent in one month. The country has attracted $15 million in funding.

KIMBERLIE LE, 25; JOSHUA NIXON, 26 - Cofounders, Prime Roots

Together, the founders of Prime Roots make seafood and other meat alternatives, and have gone on to raise $18 million for its meat alternatives. 

The company uses a Japanese plant-based superprotein that mimics the taste and texture of beef, chicken and seafood.  

Kimberlie Le, left, and Joshua Nixon, right, cofounders of Prime Roots 

Retail & eCommerce 

CAMI TÉLLEZ, 23 - Cofounder, Parade 

Téllez founded Parade with the view of designing underwear that's sole focus wasn't sex appeal, and instead is fun, colorful and comes in inclusive sizes.

The daughter of Colombian immigrants calls the industry a '$13 billion category in crisis', and is targeting Gen-Z with the company's super-soft underwear made from 85 percent recycled plastic and compostable packaging. 

So far, Parade has sold over 650,000 pairs of underwear and is on track to generate $10 million in revenue in 2020 alone. 

ANN MCFERRAN, 27 - Cofounder, Glamnetic

McFerran, who immigrated from Thailand at the age of seven, found that glue-on lashes were difficult to apply and didn't last long.

To solve the problem, she took it upon herself to test some prototypes and develop magnetic lashes that take just seconds to apply, don't fall off and can be re-used 40 times.

The company is now on track to make $50 million in sales this year, after only launching in August 2019.

Marketing & Advertising  

Chirag Kulkarni, 25, Cofounder, Medly Pharmacy

Chirag Kulkarni, 25, Cofounder, Medly Pharmacy  

The frustration of waiting at the pharmacy prompted Kulkarni to try something different in 2017. 

He has raised $110million for an online pharmacy which offers same-day prescription delivery through an app that connects customers with staff pharmacists who can answer queries. 

Instead of investing in advertising campaigns, Medly opted to persuade doctors to refer patients and so far has 70,000 users.   

Apoorva Dornadula, 25, and Michelle Lu, 22, Cofounders, Viralspace 

Viralspace started as a class project between Dornadula, Lu and their third cofounder Hiro Tien. 

It uses AI to help marketers harness the power of data to make decisions about images and videos. 

The trio have raised $1.7million in funding since launching in 2019.  

Apoorva Dornadula, 25, and Michelle Lu, 22, Cofounders, Viralspace 


Yang Liu, 29, Cofounder, End Game Interactive

Yang Liu, Cofounder, End Game Interactive

In 2018, Liu and Luke Zbihlyj founded End Game Interactive, creating simple but addictive online games like the ones Liu played as a child. 

One of its first big hits was developed in less than a month, in sharp contrast to many games which take years to develop - and drew in 65 million players. 

The company has attracted investors including Twitch cofounder Kevin Lin and talent manager Scooter Braun. 

Imane Anys, 24, Streamer, Pokimane 

The award-winning streamer became known playing League of Legends and Fortnite and went on to cofound creators collective Offline TV.

This year, she inked a deal with Twitch, promising to exclusively stream on the platform for years to come, became creative director of a gaming clothes brand and set up a scholarship for UC Irvine's esports program.  

Consumer Technology

Ben Pasternak, 21, Founder, Simulate 

Ben Pasternak, 21, Founder, Simulate

Pasternak has built his brand around making beloved chicken nuggets accessible to everyone with Nuggs, a vegan version of the favourite food.

Primarily sold online, Nuggs is on track to make the company $8million in revenue this year after Pasternak tested thousands of formulas to find the perfect substitute.

The next challenge for the Australian-born IT whiz whop dropped out of school at 15 and sold a video-chat app he made by 18 - is veggie hot dogs. 

Christelle Rohaut, 26, Cofounder, Codi

Christelle Rohaut, 26, Cofounder, Codi

A home office-sharing company, Codi enables users to lend rooms in their house to others as a working space. 

The pandemic put something of a damper on plans for this year but the company has reopened in San Francisco, with launches in more cities soon.

The company, described as the 'airbnb of coworking' is backed by Coatue, NFX and others.

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