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Honors and Awards

Students Featured in Chicago Inno’s ‘25 Under 25’

Rising young innovators are making a mark in Chicago’s entrepreneurship community

Northwestern had a strong showing in this year’s Chicago Inno ‘25 Under 25’ list. Of the 27 young innovators featured, nine were Northwestern students and alumni. 

The annual list recognizes Chicago-area innovators under 25 who are shaping the city’s technology and business industries. “The young startup leaders tackling important problems, the super-connectors working to boost the city's tech scene, the techies bringing innovative approaches to complex challenges and more will help define Chicago's innovation economy for years to come,” wrote Jim Dalke and Alex Zorn of Chicago Inno in this year’s announcement 

The Northwestern students and alumni include: 

Ana CornellAna Cornell, founder and CEO of Acorn Genetics 

Cornell is on a leave of absence from her McCormick studies after receiving the distinguished Thiel Fellowship to pursue her biotech startup, Acorn Genetics. Born in the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation course Principles of Entrepreneurship, Acorn Genetics produces at-home DNA testing kits that make genetic analysis more accessible while preserving privacy. She was also named to Chicago Inno’s ‘25 Under 25’ list in 2020, and while at Northwestern participated in myriad programs at The Garage including Residency, Propel, X-Factor, and Jumpstart. She is currently a Founder in Residence at The Garage. 


Shane DolanShane Dolan (’22), founder of OptiAg 

Dolan received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and is the founder of OptiAg, an Internet-of-Things intelligent sprinkler controller for large agricultural operations. His goal is to make a difference in one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century: food supply. For his senior year independent study project, he developed the prototype device under the guidance of Michael Peshkin, Breed Senior Professor of Design and professor of mechanical engineering. Dolan is currently a program manager at Tesla. 


Yasmeena FaycurryYasmeena Faycurry (’22), investor at Chicago Ventures 

Faycurry received a bachelor’s degree in economics and a minor in entrepreneurship at the Farley Center. She is the founder of Unfound, an app that helps people discover and share unique places they love. The platform also boasts more than 100,000 followers on TikTok. Faycurry is an investor at Chicago Ventures and while at Northwestern was a semifinalist at VentureCat, Northwestern’s annual student startup competition. She also participated in The Garage’s Residency, Propel, Tinker, and Jumpstart programs. 


Kevin KasparKevin Kaspar (’24), CEO and cofounder of InfernoGuard 

Kaspar is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing and design engineering (MaDE) at the Segal Design Institute and a minor in entrepreneurship at the Farley Center. He is the CEO and cofounder of InfernoGuard, a startup wildfire detection and notification platform that aims to eliminate reliance on word-of-mouth detection. Kaspar and his company earned the $150,000 grand prize at VentureCat. Kaspar is part of the 2022 Little Joe Ventures cohort, and participated in the Residency, X-Factor, and Jumpstart programs at The Garage. 


Alexis Chan (left) and Izzy Mokotoff (right)Izzy Mokotoff (’24) and Alexis Chan (’24), cofounders of SteadyScrib 

Mokotoff is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in journalism, a minor in entrepreneurship at the Farley Center, and a certificate at Segal Design Institute. Chan is studying toward a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering. Both are cofounders of SteadyScrib, a startup that produces a self-stabilizing pen for people with Parkinson’s disease. The team, advised by Farley Center director Hayes Ferguson, was awarded a VentureWell grant, which includes Ferguson as the principal investigator. Mokotoff and Chan also won first place and audience favorite at Jumpstart Demo Day, The Garage’s pre-accelerator program. SteadyScrib has been awarded over $23,000 in non-dilutive capital to date and has filed provisional patents for its device.  

Mateo PriceMateo Price (’21), founder and CEO at Authentic Media Ascension 

Price received a bachelor’s degree in economics and psychology and is the founder and CEO of Authentic Media Ascension (AMA), a startup that helps YouTube creators and their communities through analytics. He started working on AMA the summer before his sophomore year, and since then has helped creators acquire more than $6 million in additional revenue. In 2021, Mateo was a semi-finalist at VentureCat, and in 2022, he sold AMA to Jellysmack where he is currently director of YouTube development. He is an adviser for the Farley Center class NUvention: Arts and Entertainment, founder-in-residence at The Garage, and this summer was the program manager of Jumpstart.  


Will Xenakis (left) and Niraj Shah (right)Will Xenakis (’23) and Niraj Shah (’23), cofounders of Xenah Developers 

Xenakis and Shah are pursuing bachelor’s degrees in computer science and are cofounders of Xenah Developers, a startup that provides technical consulting and assists businesses in building their apps and websites. Xenah works with fellow computer science students at Northwestern, and the duo were semifinalists at VentureCat 2022 and have participated in the Tinker Program at The Garage.