Following in the path of business tycoon Mark Zuckerberg, two of UW’s very own graduates were named to Forbes’ list of the 40 richest entrepreneurs under 40: Apoorva Mehta and Peter Szulczewski. </p>
Mehta, CEO of Instacart, ranked number 40 on the list. Much like Uber and Airbnb, Instacart falls in a series of trendy same-day service applications. Often dubbed the “Uber of grocery delivery,” Instacart allows shoppers to place their grocery orders online, and receive their order within the hour. Much like Uber services, employees have the option of working when and where they want.
According to a UW Daily Bulletin press release, the app has over 4,000 users in over 18 cities.
Mehta graduated from the University of Waterloo in 2008 with a degree in electrical engineering. After graduating he worked at Amazon for a period of time as a backend logistics engineer on supply chain infrastructure, but quit to pursue his business ideas. Today he resides in California with a net worth of roughly $400 million.
Alongside Mehta, topping the list was Mark Zuckerberg with a reported net worth of $47.1 billion. Other business heavyweights named on the list were Jan Koum, the CEO of WhatsApp, Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, Evan Spiegel, the CEO of Snapchat and Drew Houston, the CEO of Dropbox.
Szulczewski, founder of Wish, ranked number 25 on the list. Szulczewski and his co-founder Danny Zhang graduated from mathematics at the University of Waterloo.
Wish is presently valued at $3.5 billion, with over 31 million active users.
It is an e-commerce app that “learns consumers’ interests and sends them direct, attainable products to their smartphone.”
Szulczewski explained to the university why he and Zhang stopped working for companies like Google and decided to become entrepreneurs.
“In risk-averse companies you often have to wait to get really innovative, whether from waiting for projects to get underway, or for a certain smartphone to release. In a start-up, you have to innovate to survive and that was very appealing to us.”
Szulczewski and Zhang often provide Wish scholarships for students involved in the Association for Computing Machinery teams that participate in the International Collegiate Programming Content competition each year.
“Being in the position Danny and I are in now, we have the unique ability to give back to something like a scholarship for the next generation of students,” explained Szulczewski. “We thought to ourselves, why wouldn’t we give back?”
Szulczewski explained to the university that this was just the beginning, and that he and Zhang plan on giving back to the campus community in a variety of different ways.