Entrepreneurs / Startups

These Baltimore entrepreneurs were named to Forbes 30 Under 30 for 2020

Locals honored on the list include Carolyn Yarina of Sisu Global, James Fayal of Zest Tea and Melanie Shimano of the Food Computer Program.

Zest Tea cofounder James Fayal. (Courtesy photo)
Updated to include additional thoughts from Melanie Shimano, 12/18/19, 9:55 a.m.

You might’ve missed it amid the holiday bustle (we almost did), but the Forbes 30 Under 30 was released for the year this month.

The annual list spotlights entrepreneurs who are “proof positive that the future will be new, exciting and profoundly different,” per the business media brand. For the 2020 list, 600 20-somethings people were named across 20 industries.

Baltimore made its presence known with several local founders represented on the list.

Carolyn Yarina, CEO of Sisu Global was recognized in the healthcare category.

Yarina, 29, is a cofounder of the Remington-based medical device company that has a focus on emerging markets. The company’s blood autotransfusion device, called the Hemafuse, is currently being sold in Africa through Kenyan medical distributor Surgipharm, and in partnership with NGO Amref.

“I’m incredibly proud of Sisu’s journey. We have brought together a talented and tenacious team, dedicated partners and supportive investors,” Yarina said. “While I am honored to be recognized for my role in the company’s success, I am even more proud to see Sisu’s first product, Hemafuse, succeed in proving our ability to build a strong, scalable business by designing medical devices with and for emerging markets.”

Heading into 2020, the company is looking to bring Hemafuse to new markets, and expand its product portfolio. That the company was honored in the healthcare category underscores what it is building: a VC-backed business with high growth potential.

“I look forward to continuing to do good in the world and do well as a business, to providing strong returns to our investors, and enabling clinicians to save millions of lives,” Yarina said.

In the consumer products category, Zest Tea CEO James Fayal earned a spot. A Venture for America alum who graduated from the University of Maryland, Fayal runs the caffeinated tea company that’s based out of 1100 Wicomico in Pigtown.

The nod comes about a year after the company raised $1 million amid growth of its line of sparkling teas. Now Fayal said Zest Tea products are available at major East Coast retailers like Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Giant and Safeway. The company is also launching a line of zero-sugar, zero-calorie iced teas, with blackberry lime as the first flavor.

“It’s easy to get lost in the day to day grind of running and growing a startup and it means a lot to my team and myself when that hard work is recognized and appreciated,” Fayal said. “I’m honored to be part of the Forbes 30 under 30 lister community.”

Fayal joins his sister among that group: Lydia Fayal was recognized in the education category on the 2017 list.

Melanie Shimano was named to the list in the education category. Shimano is the founder of the Food Computer Program, which is a STEM program that engages middle and high school students in using technology to solve community problems, such as food deserts.

I truly believe that we can create sustainable education systems that seamlessly integrate new technology and community-focused collaboration to improve education, our workforce, and our cities in general, and being honored by Forbes 30 Under 30 is such an incredible platform for my and the rest of the honorees’ work and visions to continue to grow,” Shimano said.

We first got a glimpse of the program at TECHealth, the city health department’s program connecting local technologists and government.

Now, she has “helped hundreds of young people apply fundamental skills in computer programming, engineering, science, and design-thinking to real-world local challenges,” Forbes wrote.

The recognition brings national reach. And in less than a month since being recognized, the 30 Under 30 awardees are also finding community among each other.

“It’s amazing to see my students work on projects with Raspberry Pi and data analysis that go beyond the classroom and to see them focus on issues in the Baltimore community that they can have a positive impact in developing, and I think that the Forbes 30 Under 30 recognition can also nudge other people in the tech community, in and outside of Baltimore, to imagine how they can help advance technology in their own communities, starting at the primary education level,” Shimano said. “Reading about and already connecting with some of the other honorees has made me more excited to continue efforts in education, and I can’t wait to work and learn with this community.”

A Johns Hopkins University alumna, Shimano is among 10 with JHU ties that received recognition on the list, according to JHU Hub.

Among those living in Baltimore, in the healthcare category, they also include:

  • Jean Fan, who was recognized “her development of computational methods to study the role of cellular spatial context in cancer,” and will join JHU’s faculty in 2020, the Hub reports.
  • Kunal Parikh, an entrepreneur and JHU research associate, is leading a team working to find and commercialize biomedical solutions.
  • Bryan Patenaude, an assistant professor at JHU’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, is a healthcare economist working to quantify return on investment for vaccines.
Companies: Sisu Global Health / Forbes

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