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These 14 Philly founders made Forbes’ Next 1000 list for 2021

The fall round of 250 "ambitious" entrepreneurs includes familiar names including Tribaja's Shannon Morales and Moxie Labs' Justin Mathews.

Moxie Labs' Justin Mathews and Tribaja's Shannon Morales. (Courtesy photos)
Shining a light on small businesses after a year of challenges, Forbes just released the third part of its Next 1000 series highlighting 1,000 U.S. founders, with some healthy Philly representation.

It’s been quite a year for entrepreneurship. Numbers at the end of 2020 indicated there were more biz applications last year than ever before.

“There’s some good news and bad news,” Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and a Forbes Next 1000 judge said of new businesses. “The good news is that fewer small businesses remained closed at 18%, down from 24% in February. But the bad news is that women and people of color-led small businesses remain the hardest hit.”

In the fall class of 250 entrepreneurs that were honored in the third installment of this series, 14 Philly founders were mentioned for their resiliency. They were chosen for being “ambitious” entrepreneurs with under $10 million in revenue or funding. The list came together with a mix of nominations that were screened by business judges. And the last part of the series will debut later this year — you can still nominate a founder.

Philly’s representatives span industries including coffee, sustainability, tech, healthcare and ecommerce.

Shannon Morales, the 34-year old founder of Tribaja, made the list this round for her work on the diversity and inclusion-focused HR SaaS platform and community. Morales has grown the platform to thousands of users and launched the Diversitech Summit this spring.

“I wanted to build a recruiting platform that made it easy for employers to find and hire diverse tech talent,” Morales said of her spot on the list. “Tribaja however has grown to be so much more than that. It takes a village to break barriers and I am able to do the work I do because I have a tribe of supporters behind me.”

Tribaja founder Shannon Morales. (Courtesy photo)

Digital agency Moxie Labs CEO, Justin Mathews, also made this round. He and cofounder Mike O’Malley launched the venture last year with the hopes of building an agency at the intersection of tech and marketing.

“We noticed a niche there, especially in Philly,” Mathews said last year. “There’s a ton of dev-only shops, or SEO shops, but we don’t really see dev shops that also include marketing.”

In a Slack DM, the 42-year-old cofounder told that it was challenging to operate the business during the pandemic — he and O’Malley started the agency at the same time he welcomed a new baby. A network of support for both he and his wife made it possible, he said.

“We aren’t taking this one lightly,” Mathews said of making Forbes’ list. “It’s a huge win for not just me — but the whole entire Moxie team. I am so proud of what they’ve accomplished to date, and we’re looking forward to finishing the year strong.”

The 12 other Philly founders to be included in this round are:

  • Rakia Reynolds, 42, founder of Skai Blue Media
  • Kevin Weschler, 30, founder of Fuego
  • Abrar Hashmi, 36, founder of Agile Brains Consulting
  • Beau Wangtrakuldee, 33, founder of AmorSui
  • Dana Donofree, 39, founder of AnaOno
  • Eleanor Turner, 35, founder of The Big Favorite
  • Jake Still, 30, cofounder of Junk Rescue
  • Page Neal, 40, cofounder of Bario Neal 
  • Alexis Miles, 29, founder of The Partnership Project
  • Kris Mendoza, 38, founder of Maestro Filmworks
  • Tia Lyles-Williams, 37, founder of LucasPye BIO
  • Nakisha Bailey, 37, cofounder of Win Win Coffee
Companies: Tribaja / Forbes

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