From chip-resistant windshields to streamlining access to education, the 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 list highlights five entrepreneurs with University of Waterloo connections. Take a look at the innovators who are shaking up some of the world’s most competitive industries, one product at a time.

Chong ShenChong Shen

Khanjan DesaiKhanjan Desai

Chong Shen and Khanjan Desai

Ages: 29

Company: Co-founders, Alchemy

Education: Faculty of Engineering – Nanotechnology Engineering

Category: Manufacturing & Industry

Chong Shen (BASc ’13) and Khanjan Desai (BASc ’13) are co-founders of Alchemy, a startup that produces a thin plastic membrane known as "ExoShield." The product affixes to windshields to prevent chipping and cracking. Shen and Desai started working together in 2013 during their fourth year at Waterloo. For their final project, the pair developed a solution that was sprayed onto windshields to keep frost and ice from forming overnight. Since then, iterations have led them to develop the ExoShield, which they claim to be six times more impact-resistant than regular windshields. To date, Alchemy has raised $3.4 million in funding and has remained local, basing its offices in Kitchener. 

Martin Basiri

Age: 31

Company: Co-founder & CEO, ApplyBoard

Education: Faculty of Engineering - Mechanical Engineering

Category:  Education & Big Money

Martin Basiri with brothers

Left to right: Meti Basiri (CMO), Martin Basiri (CEO), Massi Basiri (COO).

Martin Basiri (MASc ’13) is the co-founder and CEO of ApplyBoard, a platform that streamlines the application process for students looking to study abroad. Missing the Forbes cut-off by two years, Martin (who is 31-years-old) runs ApplyBoard with his younger twin brothers Meti and Massi—the pair (who graduated from Conestoga) made this year’s list at the age of 26. With $55 million in funding, the Ontario-based company has 300 employees across eight countries and has assisted around 70,000 students with tuition payments and visas. Originally from Iran, Basiri moved to Canada for school and in 2015 launched ApplyBoard out of Velocity with one goal in mind: to make confusing application processes seamless and more accessible. In the future, the company hopes to pursue partnerships with airlines and banks. Basiri was recently honoured with the Young Alumni Achievement Medal by Waterloo Engineering and, during his time at Waterloo, won the Gold Medal from the Geneva International Invention.

Richard HenkelRichard Henkel

Richard Henkel

Age: 28

Company: Product Lead, Riot Games

Education: Faculty of Arts – Liberal Studies

Category: Games

Richard Henkel (BA ’15) is the product lead of Riot Games, a platform that develops and publishes online action, adventure, casual and multi-player games. At just 28-years-old, Henkel leads the team that created popular League of Legends spinoff, Teamfight Tactics. Released in June 2019, the game now attracts more than 33 million players per month, motivating the company to announce the creation of a standalone mobile version in 2020. During his time at Waterloo, Henkel completed co-op terms as a data analyst and project manager at BlackBerry and an admissions officer at the Leysin American School in Switzerland. Henkel credits Waterloo as his lucky charm for breaking into the gaming industry, claiming that it was the University’s recognizable name that helped secure his job.

Ryan GibsonRyan Gibson

Ryan Gibson

Age: 26

Company: Co-founder & CTO, Agora Systems

Education: Faculty of Engineering – Electrical Engineering

Category: Enterprise Technology

Ryan Gibson (BASc ’16) is the co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO) at Agora Systems, a materials management platform for modern construction companies.  Gibson met his co-founder, Maria Rioumine, during a co-op work term at venture firm 8VC. The pair drew on Gibson’s four-generation family history in the construction business to create Agora, which helps contractors buy and manage the materials for their projects. In October 2018, Agora received $4.1 million from nine investors including 8VC, Index Ventures and Charlie Songhurst. During his time at Waterloo, Gibson completed engineering co-op jobs at Google, Facebook and Microsoft.