40 Under 40: Finale!
This is it – our final round of 40 Under 40 profiles. This group is disrupting everything from flower delivery and what books kids read to store receipts and fashion. And don't forget to sign up for the 40 Under 40 celebration on Thursday in Crystal City.
Ajay Kori and Jeff Sheely
Valentine’s Day is three days away, so perfect timing for UrbanStems to announce a $1.5M seed round. Consumers in DC, Arlington and Manhattan use the service (iPhone app coming) to send $35 bouquets from eco-friendly farms in South America. When it arrives within an hour and without delivery fees, a photo confirmation is sent in front of the recipient’s building. The nine-person company was launched by Ajay Kori, 31, and Jeff Sheely, 30, a year ago and is seeing sales growing double digits month over month. Previously, Ajay (above), a Duke and Harvard grad, started and sold an Internet company for $1M while in high school, worked at GSK and Microsoft, and launched Amazon's first pharmacy. Jeff, also a Duke grad, worked in marketing for growth stage companies and startups.
What you don’t know about Ajay and Jeff (above):
- Ajay once acted in a play in a foreign country, in a language he didn’t speak.
- He’s a perpetually heartbroken fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- He cooks a mean knock-off of Outback Steakhouse’s Alice Springs Chicken.
- When UrbanStems launched, he didn’t know the difference between a tulip and a lily.
- He wears a breathing strip to bed every night.
- Jeff was born on July 4, and as a child (and possibly into his teen years) was convinced the fireworks were for him.
- He won a Houston-wide science fair in high school.
- He grew up in Texas and has high standards for BBQ. He smokes his own brisket.
- He has an “unbelievably cute and sneaky” German Shepherd/Spaniel mix named after Clint Dempsey of US Soccer.
- His favorite flower is the orange “free spirit” garden roses used in UrbanStems’ fall bouquets.
Jordan Lloyd Bookey
Zoobean is a web app that creates personalized playlists of books, apps and literacy resources for little kids. Jordan Lloyd Bookey, 36, is a former teacher who launched the business with her husband in 2013. The six-person company, which also has part-time curators around the country, has raised $1.2M and recently started partnering with public libraries. The service is called Beanstack and it launched at the Sacramento Library and will continue with several other partners, including some in the DC region, in the coming weeks. Jordan, who’s been on Bisnow’s Power Women in Tech, was recently selected to be on Wharton’s inaugural 40 Under 40 list.
What you didn’t know about Jordan:
- She doesn’t read parenting books.
- Her favorite TV shows are Scandal and True Detective.
- The book that got her hooked on reading was Roald Dahl’s Matilda.
- The one item on her bucket list is to stay in a glass igloo and see the Northern Lights.
- Her personal mantra: Just do what’s next.
Interfolio provides a collaboration platform to big universities like UVA, Stanford and Yale to make tenure and hiring decisions online rather than through legacy technology, emails and spreadsheets. Steve Goldenberg, 37, who launched Interfolio in 1999 as a consumer service, says it released the first web-based product focused on faculty tenure promotions last year. The 40-person company, which raised a $1M seed round in 2013, also saw enterprise revenue grow 100% last year. The company is raising growth capital and plans to hire 10 more people this year.
What you didn’t know about Steve:
- His favorite band is Tool, and he’s always loved mosh pits and crowd surfing at concerts.
- When he was 16, he spent a summer in Oman to visit a friend, swim with sharks and go canyoneering.
- He met his wife on a blind date during March Madness in 2005. They now have one son.
- His hobbies include CrossFit and photography.
- One of his employees is a PhD in music and lead singer of Gwar, a thrash metal band.