During a year of steep losses in financial markets, these entrepreneurs, traders and investors are skillfully navigating choppy waters and making an outsize impact.
By Jeff Kauflin, Maneet Ahuja, Nina Bambysheva, and Michael del Castillo
Back in 2010, Ham Serunjogi saw the problems his father encountered trying to move money through Africa’s ossified banking system. Then just 16 years old, Serunjogi had made the Ugandan Youth Olympic team and needed to pay his swim coach, but his dad couldn’t make a simple bank transfer–he had to fly to South Africa with an envelope full of cash. Two years later, at Grinnell college, Serunjogi met Maijid Moujaled, a Ghanaian computer science major who had started a popular student coding group. Almost immediately, the two began talking about developing an African money transfer app, which they later called Chipper Cash, launching it in 2018.
Today, five million-plus customers use Chipper Cash to zip money among seven nations including Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, the U.K. and the U.S. Customers can pay bills, as well as trade stocks and crypto. In 2021, San Francisco-based Chipper booked more than $75 million in revenue, mostly from foreign-exchange fees, and in the first half of 2022, it brought in more than $100 million. The pair has raised $300 million in funding, reaching a valuation of $2.2 billion in November 2021.
Serunjogi, 28, is just one of the honorees on the 30 Under 30 list in finance for 2023, which covers traditional financial services, fintech, and crypto and blockchain. The list makers were chosen from more than a thousand nominations and were evaluated by an all-star set of judges, including David Vélez, the cofounder and CEO of Sao-Paulo-based digital bank Nubank; Alex Atallah, a cofounder of nonfungible token marketplace OpenSea; Christine Moy, a partner and head of digital asset strategy at Apollo Global Management; and Jenny Just, a cofounder and managing partner of investment firm Peak6 Investments.
Despite the steep fall in cryptocurrency prices over the past year, digital asset entrepreneurs continue to gain rapid traction and have a broad impact, and they made a strong showing on this year’s list. One example is Hayden Adams, 28, who pursued an idea created by Ethereum inventor Vitalik Buterin for a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange that uses automated market makers controlled by code instead of people. Uniswap launched in 2018 and has become one of the most popular crypto applications, with millions of users and more than $1 trillion in lifetime trading volume.
Kevin Sekniqi, 29, is a cofounder of Avalanche, a high-speed blockchain that has over three million users. In September, private equity giant KKR said it would use Avalanche to tokenize part of a healthcare-focused private equity fund, granting investors access to private equity with a fraction of the typically required capital.
Many list makers also hailed from fintech. David Dindi, 29, Marco Alban-Hidalgo, 28, and Emma Marriott, 28, are cofounders of Atomic Invest, a white-label product that lets businesses offer investing services within their apps. Atomic has 30 customers that range from regional banks and credit unions to fintech startups, and it expects to reach $2 million in annualized revenue this year.
Megan Harris, 27, did stints as a product manager at a title insurance startup and auto insurer Root before founding Empora Title in 2020. The Columbus, Ohio, startup aims to speed up and increase the transparency of the often-opaque title search process that’s required for every real estate transaction in America. Valued earlier this year at $95 million according to PitchBook, they have done 1,000 transactions, and the title fees they collect typically range from $1,000 to $2,000-plus.
Leaders in traditional financial services made up the final third of our list. In under five years, Kate Dunbar, 27, has risen the ranks to lead the macroeconomic research team at Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund with $150 billion in assets under management. As the youngest person ever appointed to the firm’s investment committee, she drove research examining the Covid crisis and subsequent economic shock during the pandemic.
After enrolling at the University of Washington at 16 years old with a triple major in computer science, mathematics, and economics, Eric Lei completed his Ph.D. in machine learning from Carnegie Mellon by the time he was 25, conducting research in physics and medicine. Now, as a portfolio manager at WorldQuant, a $7 billion quantitative hedge fund spun out of $58 billion Millennium Management, Lei, 28, trades securities using artificial intelligence, machine learning and statistics to leverage market inefficiencies.
This year’s list was edited by Jeff Kauflin, Maneet Ahuja, Nina Bambysheva and Michael del Castillo. For a link to our complete finance list, click here, and for full 30 Under 30 coverage, click here.