The honorees for BostInno’s 25 Under 25 for 2023 include several South Asians, including Women Who Win Co-founder Shaleen Sheth.
The class of 2023 includes a nonprofit leader supporting refugees and immigrants in their entrepreneurial ventures; a high schooler bringing virtual reality to the elderly; a university founder building a platform to connect students across college campuses; and recent graduates who are already leaders in local institutions like Greentown Labs and Techstars Boston, Bostinno said in releasing the winners of this year.
This year’s honorees also include Women Who Win co-founder Shaleen Sheth. Ms. Sheth founded Women Who Win with Dr. Manju Sheth, MD and Dr. Deepa Jhaveri, president of Indian Medical Association of New England.
“A graduate of Babson College, Sheth wanted to use her background in entrepreneurship to amplify the voices of women and minority communities. Women Who Win has conducted hundreds of interviews with female leaders across the world. This includes notable Boston figures such as Dr. Reshma Kewalramani, CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals,” said Bostinno, a digital publication of the Boston Business Journal.
Bostinno said that Ms. Sheth, 25, is also an advocate for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, and has received the Massachusetts Commission for Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders’ Unsung Hero award earlier this year and was appointed as the youngest advisory council member for Saheli Boston, a nonprofit which supports South Asian and Arab survivors of domestic violence.
Shaan Arora, 22; Cory Gill, 22; co-founders of Alia Software Inc.: Shaan Arora and Cory Gill have been hustlers since they started as freshmen at Northeastern University. They are the co-founders of Alia Software, an embedded Shopify app for ecommerce retailers. The app allows shoppers to learn more about the business’ story and products and get rewarded for doing so, helping to increase conversions and sales, according to Bostinno.
Arora dreamed up the idea for Alia in December 2021 to help his mom tell her own brand’s story on her Shopify store and assembled a team to help him live out the idea. On top of his busy schedule with Alia, he graduated from Northeastern in May 2023 with a degree in computer science and business. Gill is graduating this December from Northeastern with a degree in finance and economics. Both will be working on Alia full-time, said Bostinno.
Johar Singh, 22; Taha Moukara, 21; Josh Bruehwiler, 22; co-founders of Astra Wellbeing: The three co-founders of Astra Wellbeing all had their own brushes with the hospital system, from surviving severe medical conditions and injuries to seeing their family members serve on the frontlines during the Covid-19 pandemic, said Bostinno. These experiences gave the three a personal appreciation for healthcare workers and a glimpse into some of the challenges they face — namely, burnout and turnover.
As students at Boston University, Johar Singh, Josh Bruehwiler, and Taha Moukara founded Astra Wellbeing, an SMS-based wellness platform that they say can improve the wellbeing of frontline healthcare employees through positive reinforcement. One year in, Astra Wellbeing has rolled out pilots of its platform to thousands of employees at Boston hospitals, won Boston University’s two biggest student innovation competitions and been accepted into MassChallenge, according to Bostinno.
Venkat Sundaram, 18, founder of Andover Alumni Angels: Venkat Sundaram founded Andover Alumni Angels (AAA) as a rising-senior at Phillips Academy in June 2022, said Bostinno. Sundaram says AAA is the first high school alumni angel investment group. It’s made of Phillips Academy alumni who invest in Phillips Academy alumni-affiliated startups. This summer Andover Alumni Angels celebrated its first anniversary. In its first fifteen months, the group has raised $1.4 million, made 24 individual investments and brought together a group of more than 120 angel investors, according to Bostinno. “While Sundaram is now a student at The University of Texas at Austin, he continues to lead AAA. He hopes AAA inspires people of all ages to explore angel investing and invest in entrepreneurs and businesses around the world,” said Bostinno.
Neena Tarafdar, 17, founder of the Lotus Project: Neena Tarafdar is the founder of the Lotus Project, a volunteer organization that pairs Massachusetts high schoolers with Tibetan students for individualized English tutoring and cultural exchange. Tarafdar is half Tibetan and her mom’s side of the family lives in Tibet, according to Bostinno. The Tibetan students range from kindergarten to college age.
Tarafdar said she wanted to help connect the students, who are often isolated and underserved, with the broader global community. Today, the organization has taught more than 500 classes and has its own English curriculum tailored for students of all levels, according to Bostinno. Tarafdar is a senior at Newton South High School where she is varsity captain of the debate team and president of three other clubs. She was also the only high schooler working in the Sherwood laboratory shared by Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital this past summer.
Vivek Udaykumar, 21, project manager at Banyan Tree Global and lead organizer at Techstars Startup Weekend Boston 2023: Vivek Udaykumar is an international student from India who is working towards his master’s in project management at Northeastern University, while also pursuing his interest in community building.
After arriving in the U.S. in January, he quickly immersed himself in the startup space. He hosts startup and tech events in Boston with partners such as Techstars, Boston New Technology and Startup Boston, Bostoninno said. Udaykumar is also the lead organizer for Techstars Startup Weekend Boston, which took place in September. It was a hackathon-like global entrepreneurship event and Boston founders and investors networked with entrepreneurs from different countries. He is also developing a platform to unite the Indian community in the U.S. with the entrepreneurship community through events, podcasts, and informative panel discussions, according to Bostinno.