The first class of Harvard numbered 9 souls. There were 8 students in Columbia’s inaugural class, and 10 in Princeton’s. Over time, these institutions became minters of exceptional talent. We hope Pioneer will be the same, for the next generation. An Ivy League community for children of the Internet. So far we’ve managed to exceed our ancient incumbents: in Pioneer’s first year, we’ve funded 65 creative hackers from around the world in over 20 different countries.
The game continues! We’re excited to tell you some more about our latest winners:
Mohamad Rajabifard (18) and Behnam Rajabifard (24), Estonia
The Internet is a borderless world, enabling more and more teams to work fully remotely. Yet we lack the software yet to fully simulate a sense of an “office.” Their company, There, solves that problem. It’s a desktop app that gives you a sense of who's around, who might be sleeping, what they’re up to, etc.
Noteworthy: Behnam’s previous projects include one of the most popular subtitle-search websites. And Mohamad, though only 18, has created popular open-source libraries and organized one of the largest GraphQL conferences in Europe.
Dave Jeffery (33), Ireland
Making a website is significantly easier than a native app. But native apps have powerful advantages: fixed real-estate on your dock, better API access, and more generally, they become part of your life in a way a website doesn’t. ToDesktop enables any web developer to have their own Spotify or Discord-style native experience.
Noteworthy: Dave started careening through the Internet as a 17-year-old, making thousands of dollars by juicing Dreamhost for affiliate marketing. He also started selling newspapers— about himself—when he was 9 years old.
Brad Dwyer (31), United States
Roboflow grew out of Brad’s award-winning Sudoku solver, which is a great demonstration of the power of AR. Imagine everything around you—your headphones, water bottle, desk—all coming to life through AR. Meshing atoms and bits. This feels like the inevitable future we all want. Like payments before Stripe, it’s just hard to do. Roboflow is a set of APIs that make it drastically easier to bridge worlds over AR.
Noteworthy: Brad previously build a gaming company that hit 10 million players without raising any outside capital. He’s also a serial project-builder, placing top-10 or winning awards at MHacks, LAHacks and PennApps. You want him on your hackathon team.
Esteban Vargas (25) and Juan Sanmiguel (26), Colombia
If you’re a business that handles credit cards, you’re burning a lot of time ensuring you remain PCI-compliant. Engineers writing tests. Paying manual auditing firms. You do this because you must; it’s critical to your business. SafeTalpa is bringing the magic of SaaS to this hairy problem. It’s a Kubernetes pod. Install it. Stay compliant. Like Norton Antivirus on your 2005 Windows XP machine.
Noteworthy: Esteban has rich experience in adjacent areas, building a polymorphic malware detector and organizing an online machine learning group. Juan has similarly worked on hate-speech detection through ML, and focused on cybersecurity during his CS studies. He’s also a born leader, having been captain of multiple athletic teams in high school.
Andrey Pyankov (30), Russia
Shopify is an enormously popular website builder. But it requires a desktop to use. Billions of people are coming online in a mobile-first world—without a desktop. The universe needs a website builder that works with just a few taps and swipes, from the palm of your hand. Airsite is that.
Noteworthy: Andrey left a rich career to start Airsite: he previously studied physics and economics and was working in private equity. His previous project was an English learning app which he bootstrapped to six-figure revenue.