The Top 25 Entrepreneurs of Austin for 2024

Great Entrepreneurs is pleased to announce The Top 25 Entrepreneurs of Austin for 2024. In recent years, Austin has become synonymous with innovation, emerging onto the scene as a city with a unique business landscape that fosters creativity and collaboration. As an entrepreneurial hub, more than 25 unicorns have risen from Austin’s vibrant startup ecosystem that spans a wide range of industries, from biotech and software to healthcare and energy. The city is anchored by a supportive community of creative entrepreneurs, with the individuals on this year’s list contributing greatly to its continued growth.

Among this year’s awardees, we recognize Aaron Schurman, Founder of Sciplay, whose company became the top free-to-play casino game developer in the United States. Next, we have the CEO and Founder of Everly Health, Julia Cheek, whose game-changing business gives consumers a cost-effective alternative to laboratory testing, earning a valuation of $1 billion after just four years. Lastly, Allison Ellsworth transformed the non-alcoholic beverage industry when she co-founded Poppi, a producer of next-generation health sodas. 

The founders on this year’s list are pioneers in their industries, driven by their entrepreneurial spirit, passion, and desire to make change. Please join us in recognizing the accomplishments of The Top 25 Entrepreneurs of Austin for 2024. 


1. Sal Sferlazza
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Ninjaone

Sal Sferlazza is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ninjaone, one of the fastest-growing SaaS companies in the IT management space. Ninjaone is a leading unified IT management solution that simplifies the way IT teams work, empowering more than 17,000 IT teams with visibility, security, and control over all endpoints while increasing productivity and reducing risk and cost. In 2020, Ninjaone raised a $30 million equity round from Summit Partners. 

Sferlazza’s impressive background includes the founding and selling of four startups. In 2001, he founded his first startup, Realm Interactive, which he sold in 2004 to NCSoft. From there he founded data protection company Lasso Logic, IT network management company PacketTrap, and cloud MSP Anchor. Earlier in his career, he worked with Accenture as a consultant. Sferlazza earned an undergraduate degree in finance and computer science from the University of Albany, SUNY.


2. Justin Kathan
Founder & Chief Executive Officer, RA

Justin Kathan is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of RA Homes, a luxury builder specializing in custom luxury homes and renovations throughout Ontario. The RA Homes team is made up of second and third-generation builders known for elite workmanship when it comes to luxury homes and turnkey services. While known for residential development, the company is also known globally for building some of the most stunning structures in the modern day.  

Before joining RA, Kathan was a CEO and co-founder at Joist, a company producing an app for contractors that does estimates, invoicing, and collects payments.  Earlier in his career, he worked with the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization of Manitoba as a president. Kathan graduated from the University of Manitoba with an undergraduate degree in entrepreneurship.


3. Aaron Schurman
Founder, Sciplay

Aaron Schurman is the founder of Sciplay, originally Phantom EFX, which Schurman founded in 1997. Sciplay is a leading developer and publisher of digital games on mobile and web platforms, providing highly entertaining free-to-play games that millions of people play every day for their authenticity, engagement, and fun. The company has grown to over 400 employees and an extensive library of both original and licensed brands. 

When Schurman first founded Phantom EFX in 1997, it became the top free-to-play casino game developer in the U.S., selling over 10 million games through the nation’s largest retailers. Schurman graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with an undergraduate degree in management information systems and services.


4. James Garvey
Founder, Self Financial

James Garvey is the founder of Self Financial, a credit-building platform working to increase economic inclusion and financial resilience through products that make building credit accessible. With no hard credit check to get started, Self's signature Credit Builder Account and secured Self Visa® Credit Card issued by partner banks are designed to enable people to build credit in a way that can fit their budgets. Garvey raised $127 million in venture capital for the company. 

Previously, Garvey was a founder at GK Equity LLC. Earlier in his career, he worked with Objective Loyalty LLC as a co-founder and CTO. Garvey earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of California, Davis.


5. Eric Salwan
Co-Founder, Firefly Aerospace

Eric Salwan is the co-founder of Firefly Aerospace. Firefly’s small-to-medium lift launch vehicles, lunar landers, and orbital vehicles provide more affordable, responsive, and reliable space access for government and commercial customers. As one of the company’s first investors and initial employees, he was a member of the team that helped create an innovative small satellite launch solution. As  Director of Commercial Business Development at Firefly Aerospace, Eric is responsible for developing the commercial business pipeline for the Firefly Alpha launch vehicle. He is also responsible for Firefly’s press relations and public media presence. 

Salwan has 23 years of systems implementation experience. Before joining Firefly Aerospace, Salwan was an IT director at Firefly Space Systems and before that a trackwise consultant at CompuSolve Ohio, Inc. Earlier in his career he worked with Progressive Insurance as a systems analyst. Salwan graduated from Miami University with an undergraduate degree in system analysis.


6. Prasad Gundumogula
Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Mondee

Prasad Gundumogula is the Co-Founder of Mondee, a $3 billion travel marketplace and leading technology company, and has been serving as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer since 2015. Under his leadership and guidance, Mondee has emerged as a rapidly growing travel technology company with a portfolio of globally recognized brands acquired through key strategic acquisitions. The company operates 17 offices across the United States and Canada and has core operations in India, Thailand, and Greece.  Mr. Gundumogula previously served as Mondee’s chief operating officer and chief technology officer, where he crafted and played foundational roles in executing Mondee’s vision.

Prior to Mondee's founding, Gundumogula was the founder and CEO of Explore Trip Inc., where he pioneered a world-class system-based travel technology solution and state-of-the-art content hub platform. Previously, he founded Metaminds Global Solutions, where he created highly scalable logistics systems and artificial and business intelligence solutions for companies such as Lowe's and Mercedes Benz. Gundumogula is a seasoned entrepreneur with an excellent track record of founding multiple transformative ventures and nurturing them from startups to multi-million dollar businesses. Gundumogula holds both a master's degree and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Andhra University. 


7. Scott Gordon
Founder and Culture Evangelist, Open Mortgage

Scott Gordon is the Founder and Culture Evangelist of Open Mortgage, a nationally recognized, rapidly growing, multi-channel mortgage lender. He is an innovator and serial entrepreneur with a background in finance, software development, and technology. 

Previously, Gordon was a founder and CEO at Brava Services, LLC, and before that a software engineering and project manager at VERITAS Software. Earlier in his career, he worked with G-Cube, Inc. as a co-founder. Gordon earned an undergraduate degree in software engineering from Arizona State University.


8. Bill Lolos
Co-Founder & CTO, Schoox

Bill Lolos is the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer for Schoox, a workplace learning and talent development platform that helps businesses of all sizes shift from traditional, compliance-based training to an approach that unlocks and accelerates employee potential as well as business growth. In his current role, Lolos leads the company's growing engineering team responsible for the ongoing development and operations that make Schoox a uniquely agile learning and talent development platform. 

Before co-founding Schoox, Lolos founded and served as the CTO for software development provider Pheron. He earned a bachelor’s in software engineering from the Alexander Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki.


9. Julia Cheek
Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Everly Health

Julia Cheek founded Everly Health in 2015. This digital health company now stands at the forefront of the virtual diagnostics care industry. Everlywell, born out of Everly Health, provides consumers with an alternative to expensive lab testing, providing easy access to at-home testing kits, and allowing everyone access to care grounded in diagnostic data. Four years after the company launched, it was valued at over $1 billion. 

Cheek had several roles before founding Everly Health, first getting her start as a consultant at Deloitte. From there, she went on to serve in the role of director of strategy and operations at the George W. Bush Presidential Center and subsequently took on the role of VP of corporate strategy at MoneyGram International. Cheek graduated from Harvard Business School with an MBA and from Vanderbilt University with an undergraduate degree in economics and psychology.


10. Charles Nelson
Co-Founder, Sprinkles Cupcakes

Charles Nelson is the Co-Founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes, the first cupcake-only bakery that now boasts locations worldwide. Since 2005, Sprinkles has innovated its way to an ever-growing, loyal fan base for their unexpected flavors, on-demand Cupcake ATMs, convenient online ordering and steadily expanding footprint of design-forward bakeries coast to coast. 

Nelson has continued his entrepreneurial journey, investing in consumer-facing brands such as the award-winning Pizzana restaurants, DTC athleisure brand Willy California, and tech-ed company Play 2 Progress. Prior to founding Sprinkles, Nelson earned his MBA and worked in technology corporate finance where he developed an admiration for innovative start-ups. 


11. Allison Ellsworth
Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer, Poppi

Allison Ellsworth is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Poppi, a delicious, better-for-you soda made with clean ingredients. Struggling with a variety of health issues, she created Poppi after discovering the health benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV). Poppi has quickly become one of the fastest-growing non-alcoholic beverages in the U.S.

Ellsworth leads the Austin-based beverage company’s overall brand strategy and innovation. She pioneered the brand’s cultural cache and digital-first approach. She graduated from the University of North Texas with an undergraduate degree in sociology.


12. Nicholas Tys
Co-Founder, Removery

Nicholas Tys began his professional career 21 years ago, eventually co-founding Removery, the world's leading tattoo removal company with over 130 locations and counting. They have performed over 750,000 tattoo removal treatments using state-of-the-art PicoWay lasers at every location. 

Tys first got his start in 2003 as a publication editor at Wilton Hanford Hanover. From there, he went on to Maliganis Edwards Johnson, before eventually rising to founder at Big Blue Local Internet Marketing, his most recent position before joining Removery. Tys graduated from The Australian National University with a master’s in finance and from The Australian National University with an undergraduate degree in law and commerce.


13. Kirsten Galbraith
Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Leaf'Em

Kirsten Galbraith is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Leaf'Em, a marketplace that revolutionizes the way plant parents find reliable and dedicated plant sitters. The Leaf’Em platform connects plant enthusiasts with experienced caregivers who provide personalized attention and nurturing care to both houseplants and outdoor plants. Galbraith is a results-oriented project manager with 10 years of experience in scoping, planning, building, and managing project teams. Her background also includes strategy consulting and process development, along with Scrum Master and Product Owner training and experience. 

Galbraith has held roles in highly technical environments, as well as in different industries and business units. Previously, she was a technology project manager and HR benefits at H-E-B and before that a project manager in investing and lending at Goldman Sachs. Earlier in her career she worked with MEMdata, LLC as a capital equipment analyst. Galbraith earned an MBA and an undergraduate degree in environmental studies from Texas A&M University.  


14. Eyal Orgil
Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer, Dealhub.Io

Eyal Orgil is the Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of Dealhub.Io. DealHub offers a complete quote-to-revenue solution designed to drive sales processes forward at a faster rate. As the only low-code commerce engine that balances customizability with business agility, DealHub's intelligent and integrated solution empowers mid-market and enterprise leaders to streamline their teams and processes, execute deals faster, and create predictable pipelines more efficiently. 

Orgil’s experience leading sales teams and interfacing with prospects and customers, combined with his engineering background, has been instrumental in the creation of DealHub's Revenue Platform. Before joining Dealhub.Io, Orgil was a marketing programs director at Panaya and before that a marketing director at CYREN. Earlier in his career, he worked with Hewlett-Packard as an account executive. Orgil graduated from Carleton University with an undergraduate degree in engineering and computer systems.


15. Jacqueline Samira
Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Howdy.Com

Jacqueline Samira is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Howdy, a company that helps U.S. tech companies find and retain the best LATAM software engineering talent to power successful, diverse long-term tech teams. 

Samira has over 15 years of experience in building companies, scaling revenues, driving sales, mentoring teams, and contributing to bottom-line strategies across a variety of industries. She worked as the head of growth for Chatfuel in San Francisco, as the VP of sales for OwnLocal, and as U.S. sales director for a national beauty and wellness company. Prior to this, Samira started her career as an editorial assistant at a women’s lifestyle magazine while completing her Economics degree from the University of California, Irvine.


16. Marty and Jennifer Hale
Co-founders, Cannaglobe

Marty Hale and Jennifer Hale are the co-founders of Cannaglobe. Cannaglobe’s mission is to make hemp-derived products available to all men, women, children, and pets around the globe.

Marty serves as the current CEO of Cannaglobe. Previously, Marty Hale was a chief ambassador at Viridian Energy and before that a president of North America at bHIP Global. Earlier in his career, he worked with Trump Network as a chief strategist. He graduated from Sunset International Bible Institute with an MDiv in bible and biblical studies.

Jennifer Hale is the Chief Development Officer of Cannaglobe. Previously, she was a VP of Marketing at Folium Biosciences and an international director at Just Energy. Jennifer, together with Marty, co-founded other companies such as LIV Labs and LIVIT International.


17. Craig Malloy
Chief Executive Officer & Founder, Lifesize

Craig Malloy is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Lifesize, the first company to market high-definition video communication, having introduced HD video conferencing in 2005 and subsequently achieving global growth due to their game-changing technology, ease of use, and lower cost than other services. Malloy has 25 years of experience in founding, scaling, and leading global technology companies in venture capital, publicly traded, and private equity environments, including Lifesize, Bloomfire, and ViaVideo. 

Before entering the corporate world, he served as a Lieutenant, Surface Warfare Officer, and Nuclear Weapons Officer in the United States Navy. Malloy holds a bachelor’s degree from the United States Naval Academy and a master’s in business administration from the University of California, Los Angeles Anderson School of Management.


18. Shannon Pitts
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, GreatAuPair

Founded in 2001 by Shannon Pitts, GreatAuPair is an online job-matching service that helps people find affordable, trustworthy childcare, senior care, and other services in 195 countries. Their global team of 165 people serves GreatAuPair's customers worldwide. Pitts has over 25 years of business experience as a successful entrepreneur and senior executive. His primary focus has been in the technology and marketing services industries with high-growth business models. He has significant experience in the areas of strategy, technology, marketing, and operational management. 

Before creating GreatAuPair in 2001, Pitts was co-founder of several internet companies and served in executive positions ranging from VP of marketing, CMO, and regional president. Pitts has participated in numerous mergers, acquisitions, and public offerings for companies he's managed. Throughout his career, he has provided his expertise and professional services to many Fortune 500 companies, including Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, US WEST/QWEST, Viacom, Disney, and PG&E. He graduated from Washington State University with a bachelor’s in communications and a minor in fine arts.


19. Jeffrey Cardenas
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Apptronik

Jeffrey Cardenas co-founded Apptronik in 2016 to bring forth the next generation of robots that will change the way humans live and work. The company has built some of the most diverse robots, spanning from exoskeletons to humanoid torsos, biped mobility platforms, and unique robotic arms that lift more than they weigh. The experience and learning from all this work led to the development of Apollo, the world’s most advanced humanoid robot. 

Cardenas specializes in new product development and go-to-market strategy. Before joining Apptronik, Cardenas was a co-founder and chief strategy officer at ThinkVoting, and before that a commercialization consultant at IC2 Institute University of Texas at Austin, where he worked with innovators all over the world. Earlier in his career, he worked with Deloitte Consulting as a senior consultant. He holds a BBA degree from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.S. in technology commercialization from the University of Texas at Austin.


20. John Simard
Founder, President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman, Xbiotech USA

John Simard is the Founder, President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of Xbiotech USA, a fully integrated global biosciences company dedicated to pioneering the discovery, development, and commercialization of therapeutic antibodies based on its True Human proprietary technology.   Prior to founding XBiotech, Simard was the founder and Chief Executive Officer of CTL ImmunoTherapies Corp., a developer of therapeutic vaccines to treat cancer and chronic infectious diseases. He also founded AlleCure Corp., a developer of allergy treatments and immune-modulating therapies. In 2001, AlleCure and CTL ImmunoTherapies merged to form MannKind Corp., where Simard served as corporate vice president and board member. 

Simard holds a degree in biochemistry from the University of Saskatchewan and attended graduate studies in medical biophysics/immunology at the University of Toronto. He has more than 140 issued and pending patents related to cancer therapy, therapeutic vaccines, and therapeutic antibodies, as well as substantial peer-reviewed scientific publications and co-authored the textbook Handbook of Immune Response Genes.


21. Ashley Wainscott
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Simply Home

Ashley Wainscott, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Simply Home, has transformed the home renovation process with this remodeling agency. After graduating with an entrepreneurship degree from St. Edward’s University, Wainscott launched Simply Home, a remodeling agency that eliminates surprises by pushing for accountability and demanding quality. Simply Home has expertly guided homeowners through a seamless remodel process for the past 10 years. 

Previously, Wainscott was an event coordinator, consultant, server, and bartender at 2 Dine 4 Fine Catering and Swoop Events and before that an AR coordinator at ThyssenKrupp Elevators. Earlier in her career she worked with Charlotte's Fiesta Flowers as a sales and marketing administrator.


22. Taylor Schreiber
Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, Shattuck Labs

Taylor Schreiber is a Co-founder of Shattuck Labs, a clinical-stage biotechnology company pioneering the development of bi-functional fusion proteins as a new class of biologic medicine for the treatment of patients with cancer and autoimmune diseases. Schreiber currently serves as Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors. Before he was appointed CEO in January 2020, Schreiber served as the company’s chief scientific officer. Schreiber is also the lead inventor of Shattuck’s ARC technology platform.

Prior to Shattuck, Schreiber served as chief scientific officer of Heat Biologics, Inc. where he was a co-inventor of significant elements of Heat’s ImPACT and ComPACT technology platforms. Schreiber was also co-inventor at Pelican Therapeutics, where he served as chairman of the scientific advisory board. Schreiber has numerous publications in the field of tumor immunology and immunotherapy, spanning the subjects of cancer vaccines, therapeutic proteins and antibodies, and more. Schreiber received both his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the Sheila and David Fuente Program in Cancer Biology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and received his bachelor’s in biology from Bucknell University.


23. Harish Daiya
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Lumenci

Harish Daiya is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Lumenci, overseeing the company's operation across all global offices. With over 12 years of industry experience in technical consulting in IP litigation and licensing, Daiya has been a part of over $2 billion in IP value creation at Lumenci.  As the CEO, Daiya is elemental in driving Lumenci's vision, goals, sales, and revenue. He oversees organizational growth, business strategy, people culture, client relationships, business development, strategic partnerships, and the launching of new businesses. 

Prior to founding Lumenci, Daiya was VP of strategic partnerships at REM Loyalty and VP of solutioning at iRunway. Daiya holds a B.Tech (Hons.) in computer science & engineering from IIT Kharagpur and has participated in Stanford Continuing Studies. marketing.


24. Marjorie Adams
Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Fourlane

Marjorie Adams founded Fourlane in 2009 after years of working in-house as a controller for a large manufacturing company and as a consultant at Armanino, a top 25 accounting firm. Fourlane is the country's #1 QuickBooks Consulting Firm, providing technology and business consulting centered around financial, accounting, and supply chain management software. They have been Intuit's top QuickBooks Solution Provider every year since 2010, and have worked with more than 10,000 small and mid-size businesses. 

Previously, Adams was a president at and before that a senior accountant at Armanino McKenna LLP. Earlier in her career she worked with InBus Engineering, Inc. as a financial manager. Adams earned an M.A. in accountancy from Saint Mary's College of California and an undergraduate degree in political science and ethics from Santa Clara University.


25. Nick Arab
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Pattern Bioscience

Nick Arab has been the Chief Executive Officer of Pattern Bioscience since co-founding it in 2016. Pattern Bioscience advances single-cell microbiology to make targeted antimicrobial treatment information available days sooner, allowing for rapid diagnosis that guides precise antibiotic treatments. The company aims to revolutionize bacterial diagnosis and address the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. An electrical engineer by training, Arab is the primary inventor of over ten patents and founded Pattern to improve antibiotic treatment decisions. 

Before Pattern, Arab held various leadership positions at Luminex Corporation for a decade, most recently serving as senior director of the advanced technology group, and before that was an engineering scientist at Applied Research Labs. Arab earned his B.S. in electrical engineering at UT Austin.