Meet the Pioneers - December 2019

Meetings about meetings. OKRs. QBRs. DRIs. Politics. Big companies tend to get less productive as they grow. We think the world ought to have more small colorful tight-knit teams, and far fewer large monoliths. We all want a rich petri dish full of different ideas and different cultures instead of one (or five) Big Brothers.

Pioneer is an experiment in generating more of these small companies. Our idea is to fund capable people working on small projects that might become significant. Often you're not quite sure if what you're building could even be a company. Or if you could be a "founder". Pioneer is a great way to figure that out for yourself.

Our latest cohort includes everything from AI-powered RPA to a Google Docs for music, to a modern Heroku. We're really excited to have these Pioneers in our online city:

RoboticTape - Jura Fitzgerald
With solutions that break with minor design changes, it’s difficult to automate processes on websites that don’t have an API. Jura is solving this with AI-powered Robotic Process Automation (RPA). For example, his startup can understand and fill payment forms regardless of design.

Noteworthy: Jura has built a cryptocurrency exchange, a robot for home automation, and a voice assistant that ordered Pizza for him a year before Google Duplex was released.


Green Governance - Eric McKay
The "Big 3" index fund managers own about 18% of every company in the US. This allows them to vote and influence corporate policies. GreenGovernance is an index fund that uses that power for good. It fights climate change by voting for corporate policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Noteworthy: Eric won the Thiel Fellowship when he was 20. Instead of dropping out, he took so many courses in his last semester that he graduated after just two years of school.


Blueskin - Emma Phuong Thi Minh Nguyen
Several academic studies show a correlation between climate change and health. BlueSkin aims at providing more scientific evidence at the relationship between climate change and skin disease. It allows you to take a photo of your skin, and uses that data as an input for actuaries in insurance companies to calculate personal health packages.

Noteworthy: Emma got her first paid job at 19, and became a managing director at 22. Using the internet, she taught herself mathematics, computer science and neuroscience, which led to a scholarship sponsored by IBM. You can read about her story and her research on her blog.


Walnut - Harrison Lo
Youtube is a distracting place to learn things. Its algorithms don’t help you learn, they keep you entertained. Walnut is a video app that solves this problem. Every video is followed by a set of interactive quizzes to help learners reinforce what they just learned.

Noteworthy: Harrison is 24 years old from Taiwan. He’s already made two startups. In 2018, he got a cease and desist letter from Ray Dalio after launching an app inspired by Dalio’s Dot Collector method. He later rebranded the app and sold it to a Texas-based company.


Conduit - Isaac Aderogba
There are many issue management tools, but very few help teams decide what to build, and why they're building it. To solve this, Isaac is building Conduit, a product management tooling for self-managed engineering teams.

Noteworthy: Isaac is no stranger to building products. Previously, he’s created an interactive quiz management platform and a tool for building skills-based resumes.


Clearcall - Justin Glibert, Florian Muller, Jay Yeung
E-commerce businesses spend a lot of time on customer support. Clearcall is working to streamline this process with a fully automated AI that can answer queries and make decisions on returns and refunds.

Noteworthy: Justin’s summer intern project that generated anime was used by over 1 million users. Florian previously made an app for Shopify e-commerce stores which was actively used by over 1000 stores and generated $12,000+ in ARR. Jay created a popular science media startup with 120,000+ social media followers, 300,000+ monthly page views, and 5 employees.


Plai - Andriy Bas
Most people management solutions are complicated and focus on enterprise clients. Plai is a performance management software for SMB that solves this problem. It’s simple to use and designed for millennials.

Noteworthy: Andriy previously co-founded a design and development company Uptech, and grew it to 55+ employees in 3 years.


Pricolo - Michał Śmiałko
There’s no place online for young musicians to compete in online challenges and get feedback from others. Pricolo solves this by encouraging interactions between musicians with group jam sessions and music challenges that range from performing classical songs to freestyling.

Noteworthy: Michał has won Apple’s WWDC scholarship multiple times, and sold his mobile-focused software agency after 4 years to focus on building his own products.


Foundry - Vaclav Mlejnsky, Tomáš Valenta
Creating a backend often involves programming the same functionality from scratch every time. Foundry reduces the time needed to make a backend from days to minutes with a drag-and-drop editor for building backends on top of existing cloud platforms. The editor provides configurable prebuilt code blocks that developers can connect together and 1-click integrate into their projects.

Noteworthy: When Vaclav was in high school, he created an iOS game that reached #9 in the Czech Republic’s app store. Today, he hosts the 3rd most listened to tech podcast in his country. Tomas is a computer science student at the Masaryk University in Brno who’s interested in the structure and emergence of complex systems from simpler ones.


If these people and projects sound interesting to you, check out the full list: http://pioneer.app/winners. And if you’d like to earn your place on that list… just start playing: https://pioneer.app.