Blog: Stealth: No see, no hear, no talk
We’re conjuring all forces of our crystal ball to look between the cracks of entrepreneurship in this Stealth Edition.
Looking closely, we found something wildly peculiar. It appears that there are powerhouses working off-the-grid, cooking behind closed doors, broiling their startups in the dark before their success breaks into the light. Alas, as professional sorcerers, we had to get to the bottom of this!
Stealth startups hide away from public attention, keep a strictly in-house focus on their ideation and early execution phase, and are invisible to competition. A 2016 CB Insights Report shows that the top 14 US-based startups launching from stealth have raised over $250M combined.
The earlier you’re lucky enough to spot these golden snitches, the better the chance you can be part of their win-in-the-making. We’ve gathered up a list of stealth startups across several industries that scored high on our algorithm but are still, well, under wraps.
We’ve got ex-GoFetch founder building a new marketplace startup, and a former Apple and Amazon engineer debuting his entrepreneurial journey cooking something stealthy. We have a World Bank consultant building a renewable energy solution, and former Microsoft researcher and ex-Googler using their ad-tech experience in stealth.
A roundup of some stealth startup founding teams is coming your way!
NYU Dropout Builds Second Startup Under Wraps
The 26-year-old entrepreneur, runner, and cyclist, Willson Cross has the spirit of an adventurer on the hunt to build successful tech startups. He is currently building “a new marketplace company” in stealth mode.
“Working on something stealth, especially early on, has given me the opportunity to dive extremely deep into the writings of Boris Wertz, Version One Ventures, James Currier, NFX, Li Jin, Jeff Jordan and a16z,” he recently tweeted.
His first startup, GoFetch, started from his basement. The platform connects pet owners to a trusted network of sitters and dog walkers. He raised USD $3.5 million before getting acquired by Future Pet, which Willson currently advises.
A student member of the Entrepreneurship Club, Willson dropped out of NYU where he was studying Economics to join Shoes.com as Product Manager. He also founded a university club in 2014 that connects students to cryptocurrency job opportunities.
Willson was quoted by Techvibes as saying, “Dropping out of school to join a startup, then selling one of my own has been nothing but fun. I don’t know why more Canadians in their twenties are not doing their own startup — the career trajectory and learnings are more than you would get anywhere else.”
On his blog, Will also shares some precious advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, “Pick the right problem to solve. Don’t think about doing a startup if you don’t like solving problems.”
Siri, Get to the Bottom of this Stealth Company
This secret startup is founded by an MIT Engineer with experiences in Apple, Amazon, and startups acquired by the same two companies. Keeping it in the family!
Before Ishan Mukherjee began his entrepreneurial endeavor with this mystery company in January 2019, he helped build machine intelligence systems from scratch in fields like e-commerce, finance, and AI assistants. Ishan led the Siri Product Team at Apple, working on the voice assistant’s Knowledge Graph. The Graph is basically the inner workings of all we wanted to know about Siri’s mind.
Earlier, he worked at AI company Lattice (acquired by Apple) as Head of Product. He was also Director of Product at analytics company Premise Data for two years, and Integration Lead at Kiva Systems (acquired by Amazon).
Ishan’s experience features Siri, AI, and a lot of data. He could be up to a new invincible, all knowing voice assistant or something!
Stealthy AI Formula Monitors Electricity
Ricky Buch is an advocate for access to energy and sustainability. Ricky told The Sorcerer his stealth company is “developing an AI-enabled distributed infrastructure IoT platform.” His platform builds upon a distributed renewable energy solution that allows for monitoring and managing the delivery of electricity and the assets that utilize it.
An entrepreneur and strategist with solid expertise in energy, software, and product management, Ricky led Energy Access and Hybrid Distributed Power as GE Power Commercial Director and Senior Strategy Leader. He was a fellow at the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program, where he developed a community solar project using blockchain technology to manage electricity payments. He also worked at Microsoft for four years as Program Manager.
In his current role as World Bank Consultant in the Energy sector, Ricky develops programs that accelerate mini and micro grid deployments to achieve universal energy access. He is an Advisory Board Member in Verterra Energy where he helps power the 1.2 billion without electricity. He holds an MBA from the University of Michigan and a BS in Computer Science and Engineering from UCLA.
Once in Stealth, Always in Stealth
This founding team is made up of an ex co-founder of a prominent data startup and former VP Product of an ad-tech giant. If we know anything about this baby-in-stealth, we know that the marriage of data and ads results in something very powerful.
CEO Venky Ganti is far from new to working stealthily. The co-founder and former CTO of Alation, founded the rising star in stealth mode for three years until it was revealed in 2015. Currently a board member, this data whiz helped Alation become the Series C data catalog go-to for more than 100 organizations like eBay and Pfizer.
Before co-founding Alation, Venky was a Google engineer for three years. Prior to that, he was a Microsoft Senior Researcher for 10 years. He’s also not a data whiz from nothing, Venky has a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Venky’s partner in crime is Rahul Lahiri, ex-VP Product at Criteo and former Senior Product Manager of Search Ads for Google, where he built the Remarketing Lists for Search Ads from scratch and scaled it to a multi-billion dollar product. He was also VP Search Product Management of Ask.com. Rahul holds an MBA from UC Berkeley.
Search queries, data, personalized ad targeting, this startup team keeps giving us recurrent keyword clues!
Whether you think products should bask in the limelight or some stealth is needed to kick things off, these startups are on to something big. We can’t wait to see them step out, break the market, and show the world what they’ve been cooking.
P.S. You didn’t hear it from us!
How do we shortlist companies?
Aingel’s Sorcerer is designed to help you discover great startups early.
Here is how we do it in a nutshell. First, we use different sources and automated tools to detect new startups early. Then, we analyze and filter for startups that score high on our proprietary predictive algorithm. The algo was developed at NYU by Aingel’s co-founders.
Founding teams data include educational background, work history, startup experience and personality. We deduce character traits using AI from founders’ digital footprint. We also analyze aggregate team experience and composition.
The list above is further curated after analyzing types of startups to make sure they are VC-friendly. Startups do not pay to be listed.
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