Tyler Seguin, Alex Rodriguez, Alessia Cara

Best Of Canada: These Are The Forbes Under 30 Innovators You Need To Know

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images, Jamel Toppin for Forbes, Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images
Author and illustrator Jonny Sun

Author and illustrator Jonny Sun

Getty Images

Jonny Sun, 29

Illustrator, Writer | Class of 2019

A bestselling author, MIT Ph.D. candidate and internet celebrity, Calgary-native Jonny Sun has credentials that would make even the most accomplished polymath blush. His recent achievements include delivering a TedTalk on loneliness, which racked up more than 2 million views, and illustrating Gmorning, Gnite! Little Pep Talks For Me & You, a tweet-compilation book by Lin-Manuel Miranda, which spent 10 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Francis Davidson, 27 & Lucas Pellan, 27

Cofounders, Sonder | Class of 2018

Earlier this year, Francis Davidson and Lucas Pellan’s Sonder — a travel company that rents out entire floors or entire apartment buildings — became a full-blown unicorn, following a $225 million Series D. That’s a long haul from where the company started, with Davidson renting out his college apartment in Montreal.

Michelle Kunimoto, 26

Ph.D. candidate, University of British Columbia | Class of 2017 

University of British Columbia grad student Michelle Kunimoto has discovered dozens of planets and planet candidates since making the Under 30 list. She expects to complete her Ph.D. program in spring of 2020, by which time she will have leveraged her discoveries to estimate how common Earth-like planets are in the Milky Way.

Justin Bieber, 25

Musician | Class of 2017

Exotic cat owner and Baldwin-in-law Justin Bieber engenders strong opinions. Since turning YouTube virality into bonafide fame, the Ontario-born singer has found legions of fans⁠ — and sure, a number of detractors ⁠— at every turn. His latest project? That would be Drew House,  which self-describes as “a place where you can be yourself. blah blah blah blahsdkbksjdfh. wear like you don’t care. come chill. k. bye.” Mostly, it’s a line of skateboards and hoodies emblazoned with smiley faces.

Lauren Lake, 28 & Mallorie Brodie, 28

Cofounders, Bridgit | Class of 2019

Construction is in Mallorie Brodie and Lauren Lake’s blood. The Ontario-natives grew up in construction families and quickly saw the opportunity to modernize the industry with software tailormade to the needs of construction workers. Since founding project management solution Bridgit in 2012, they have raised $7.75 million from top-notch investors like Salesforce Ventures.

Alessia Cara, 23

Musician | Class of 2017

Alessia Cara’s infectious 2016 hit “Here” minted a soulful pop star. From touring with Coldplay to singing in Disney’s “Moana” the Ontario-born singer has kept busy in the three years since soaring to fame. In 2018, she became the first Canadian artist to nab the Grammy award for Best New Artist, and just a few weeks ago, she scored two Latin Grammy nominations. 

Braden Handley, 29

Cofounders, Inkbox Tattoos | Class of 2019

Commitment-phobes and needle-phobes alike can enjoy Inkbox Tattoos ⁠— a semi-permanent brand that can be applied at home. Founded by Braden Handley and his brother Tyler, Inkbox has raised more than $14 million, with $12 million in revenue projected for this year.

Jeanny Yao, 25 & Miranda Wang, 25

Cofounders, Biocollection | Class of 2019

Jeanny Yao and Miranda Wang met in their high school’s recycling club and quickly set their sites on tackling one of the world’s most pressing problems: Only 9% of plastic is currently being recycled. They invented a proprietary chemical recycling technology that transforms previously unrecyclable plastic into usable (and financially lucrative) chemicals.

Sonja Reid, 28 

Gaming influencer | Class of 2016 

If you’re a gamer, you might be more familiar with Sonja Reid’s Twitch handle OMGitsfirefoxx. She joined the platform in 2013 and has garnered over 750,000 followers on it (in addition to 420,000 followers on Instagram). It even earned her a Guinness World Records title as the most followed female gamer on Twitch in 2017.

Cameron Dearsley, 24 & Darren Fung, 29

Cofounders, Drop | Class of 2019

Toronto-based rewards application Drop helps over two million users earn points every time they shop. Founded by 2019 Under 30 honorees Cameron Dearsley and Darren Fung (along with Darren’s brother, Derrick ⁠— a 2014 Under honoree), the company recently raised more than $44 million Series B funding.

Tyler Seguin, 27

Centre, Dallas Stars | Class of 2016

This Ontario-native kicked off his rookie season helping the Boston Bruins hoist the Stanley Cup in 2011. Now he centers the Dallas Stars’ top line and hasn’t missed a single regular season game in three years. That commitment pays off: last year he signed an eight-year $78.8 million contract extension.

Greta Cutulenco, 27

Cofounder, Acerta | Class of 2019

When building a new product, it is often a race against the clock to get it to market (while still maintaining quality). So Greta Cutulenco built a machine learning platform perfectly attuned to the needs of the automotive industry. Acerta uses real-time malfunction detection and failure prediction to reduce waste and enhance quality.

The Weeknd, 29

Musician | Class of 2016

The Weeknd graced the cover of Forbes in 2017, shortly after appearing on the Forbes Under 30 list. The musician, known for songs like “Starboy” and “Can’t Feel my Face,” has inked deals with Puma and Bacardi, raking in $40 million over the past year.

Emilie Cushman, 29

Founder, Kira Talent | Class of 2019

Aiming to supplant an admissions process riddled with bias, Kira Talent provides a holistic look at candidates for higher education by including metrics like leadership, motivation and grit. "There's just so many other types of intelligence, and what we're hoping is that over time, we can start to have more balance," cofounder and University of Windsor grad Emilie Cushman says of the company’s goal. So far, more than 150 universities, including Yale and INSEAD, have signed on as clients, and the company just raised $8.8 million.

Phil De Luna, 27

Director, CERT | Class of 2019

Since making the list, Taiwan-born Phil De Luna has completed a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at the University of Toronto. Following his graduation, he became the Director of the Clean Fuels Program National Research Council Canada. 

Petra Collins, 27

Artist | Class of 2017

When Petra Collins’ Rolling Stone cover shoot of Billie Eilish debuted earlier this year, the internet, as it is wont to do, broke. But unlike the scintillating and scantily-clad shots of young pop stars past, Collins’ shoot showed an emerging artist, dressed in baggy clothes, straight chilling. The effect was relaxed yet intimate, reminiscent of the Polaroids you might snap of your high school best friend.

WondaGurl, 22 

Producer | Class of 2018

Ebony Oshunrinde, also known as WondaGurl, is something of a wunderkind. At 16-years-old, she scored her first producing credit for Jay Z’s “Crown.” With a finely-tuned balance of versatility and style, the 22-year-old Brampton, Ontario-native continues to stack her impressive resume. In the past few years, she’s worked with stars like Rihanna, Drake, Big Sean, SZA, Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert and Travis Scott, making her one of hip-hop’s most in-demand producers.

Joseph Lee, 24 & Robert Kirstiuk, 24

Cofounders, Coastline Market | Class of 2018

Thiel Fellow Robert Kirstiuk and Joseph Lee have raised $2.5 million dollars to build a more sustainable ecosystem among commercial fishermen and shopkeepers that sell their wares. The Vancouver-based duo has built a big business: their online marketplace has delivered over 500,000 pounds of fresh seafood to everyone from Pokeworks and Hard Rock Casino.

Cheryl Cui, 29

Cofounder, Nest.Bio | Class of 2019

Cheryl Cui, who has a Ph.D. in medical engineering from MIT, started Nest.Bio, a venture fund with close to $100 million under management, to help founders pioneer groundbreaking technologies. Now, with Nest.Bio Labs, the company is taking that goal to the next level, by offering more than 40,000 square feet of office and lab space for visionary biotechnology ventures.

Shawn Mendes, 21

Musician | Class of 2016

If Shawn Mendes had not yet solidified his heartthrob status, his steamy performance with Camila Cabello at the 2019 VMAs certainly did the trick. The Pickering, Ontario-born singer rocketed to international fame in recent years with hits like “Senorita,” “Lost in Japan” and “If I Can’t Have You,” and his music videos have billions of views on YouTube (yes, really: billions with a “b”).

Alex Rodrigues, 23 & Brandon Moak, 24

Cofounders, Embark | Class of 2019

Autonomous vehicles are all the rage right now, and a pair of college dropouts are leading the pack to own the industry.  Alex Rodrigues and Brandon Moak met in college before leaving university to found Embark, an autonomous trucking company. Amazon has already reportedly started using their trucks to haul cargo and they’ve raised over $115 million from heavy hitters like Sequoia Capital.

Dani Roche, 27

Founder, Kastor & Pollux | Class of 2019

While moonlighting as a design professor at Sheridan College in Ontario, Dani Roche also is the founder, owner and director of creative studio Kastor & Pollux. With a portfolio that includes Fujifilm and L’Oreal, the company’s goal is to empower independent creatives while boosting representation of Asia women in media. Also, she has a Neopets tattoo.

Nadia Masri, 28

Founder, Perksy | Class of 2019

Inspiration struck while Nadia Masri was taking an extension class at Harvard Summer School. Enter Perksy: a mobile app which allows users to earn rewards points and gift cards for filling out online surveys for brands like Pepsi, Target and Smuckers. And the numbers speak for themselves: Perksy’s survey completion rates average 85%; market researchers typically only hit 1 to 3%.

Cathy Tie, 23 

Partner, Cervin Ventures | Class of 2018 

At only 23 years old, Cathy Tie already has a career people twice her age would envy. After founding Ranomics, a gene-tracking biotech startup, the Thiel Fellow (and University of Toronto dropout) joined Cervin Ventures as the firm’s youngest partner. The firm is focused on seeking out and investing in seed-stage enterprise companies.

Kartik Talwar, 27

Partner, A.Capital Ventures | Class of 2019

Waterloo-grad Kartik Talwar, who has a degree in Astrophysics and Mathematics, proved his technical chops at SV Angel, where he built a CRM to manage thousands of the company’s prospective investments. And it turns out, he’s also a savvy investor himself. Since making the Forbes Under 30 list, he has moved to A.Capital Ventures, where he leads technical and crypto investments.


Rupi Kaur, 27 

Author | Class of 2018

Revered for its spare poetry and glamorous portraits, Punjabi-Canadian Rupi Kaur’s Instagram clocks in at a cool 3.7 million followers. Kaur’s aesthetic is made for social media but immortalized in print. Case in point: her first book, milk and honey, (Kaur writes exclusively in lower-case) spent 77 weeks on the New York Times Trade Paperback Best-Seller list and sold more than 2.5 million copies.

Alexander Harmsen, 27 & James Howard, 26

Cofounders, Iris Automation | Class of 2019

James Howard and Alexander Harmsen built Iris Automation to make flying autonomous industrial drones safer. Even the White House took notice, including the company in a federal pilot on drone technology.

Nohémie Mawaka, 27

Founder, Stats Congo | Class of 2019

After winning a Grand Challenges Canada Stars in Global Health grant in 2017, Nohémie Mawaka’s Stats Congo took off. The company operates as a third party, documenting and analyzing morbidity and mortality rates among women and children in order to improve health outcomes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

David Ouaknine, 28 

CEO, CDI Furniture | Class of 2018

Though he inherited the family company from his uncle, David Ouaknine has managed to put his own spin on Montreal-based CDI Furniture, a leading manufacturer and B2B supplier of home goods. With their recently completed 80,000 square foot office and showroom space, the company is rapidly expanding and solidifying its status as an industry powerhouse.

Tyler Menezes, 27

Cofounder, SRND | Class of 2019

Tyler Menezes developed a love of coding at a young age — so much so that he even competed in a Microsoft-led video game programming competition as a high school student. Now, he is sharing that love with others as executive director of SRND, which aims to make STEM education more widely available to low income students. Under Menezes’ leadership, the nonprofit has helped more than 20,000 across 50 cities pursue computer science through its flagship event, CodeDay.


Catch Jonny Sun and other listmakers at the Under 30 Summit in Detroit, October 27-30. 

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With emerging tech hubs like Vancouver and Toronto, and cutting-edge research universities like McGill and Waterloo, Canada is brimming with young talent. Recent years have seen the rise of Canadian startups like Vancouver’s Hootsuite, plus the successful IPOs of Ottowa’s Shopify and Montreal’s Lightspeed. So who will be next?

Here are thirty of the hottest Canadian entrepreneurs and artists who have graced the Forbes Under 30 list (and are still under 30) that are leading the next wave of innovation.


Jonny Sun, 29

Illustrator, Writer | Class of 2019

A bestselling author, MIT Ph.D. candidate and internet celebrity, Calgary-native Jonny Sun has credentials that would make even the most accomplished polymath blush. His recent achievements include delivering a TedTalk on loneliness, which racked up more than 2 million views, and illustrating Gmorning, Gnite! Little Pep Talks For Me & You, a tweet-compilation book by Lin-Manuel Miranda, which spent 10 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Francis Davidson, 27 & Lucas Pellan, 27

Cofounders, Sonder | Class of 2018

Earlier this year, Francis Davidson and Lucas Pellan’s Sonder — a travel company that rents out entire floors or entire apartment buildings — became a full-blown unicorn, following a $225 million Series D. That’s a long haul from where the company started, with Davidson renting out his college apartment in Montreal.

Michelle Kunimoto, 26

Ph.D. candidate, University of British Columbia | Class of 2017 

University of British Columbia grad student Michelle Kunimoto has discovered dozens of planets and planet candidates since making the Under 30 list. She expects to complete her Ph.D. program in spring of 2020, by which time she will have leveraged her discoveries to estimate how common Earth-like planets are in the Milky Way.

Justin Bieber, 25

Musician | Class of 2017

Exotic cat owner and Baldwin-in-law Justin Bieber engenders strong opinions. Since turning YouTube virality into bonafide fame, the Ontario-born singer has found legions of fans⁠ — and sure, a number of detractors ⁠— at every turn. His latest project? That would be Drew House,  which self-describes as “a place where you can be yourself. blah blah blah blahsdkbksjdfh. wear like you don’t care. come chill. k. bye.” Mostly, it’s a line of skateboards and hoodies emblazoned with smiley faces.

Lauren Lake, 28 & Mallorie Brodie, 28

Cofounders, Bridgit | Class of 2019

Construction is in Mallorie Brodie and Lauren Lake’s blood. The Ontario-natives grew up in construction families and quickly saw the opportunity to modernize the industry with software tailormade to the needs of construction workers. Since founding project management solution Bridgit in 2012, they have raised $7.75 million from top-notch investors like Salesforce Ventures.

Alessia Cara, 23

Musician | Class of 2017

Alessia Cara’s infectious 2016 hit “Here” minted a soulful pop star. From touring with Coldplay to singing in Disney’s “Moana” the Ontario-born singer has kept busy in the three years since soaring to fame. In 2018, she became the first Canadian artist to nab the Grammy award for Best New Artist, and just a few weeks ago, she scored two Latin Grammy nominations. 

Braden Handley, 29

Cofounders, Inkbox Tattoos | Class of 2019

Commitment-phobes and needle-phobes alike can enjoy Inkbox Tattoos ⁠— a semi-permanent brand that can be applied at home. Founded by Braden Handley and his brother Tyler, Inkbox has raised more than $14 million, with $12 million in revenue projected for this year.

Jeanny Yao, 25 & Miranda Wang, 25

Cofounders, Biocollection | Class of 2019

Jeanny Yao and Miranda Wang met in their high school’s recycling club and quickly set their sites on tackling one of the world’s most pressing problems: Only 9% of plastic is currently being recycled. They invented a proprietary chemical recycling technology that transforms previously unrecyclable plastic into usable (and financially lucrative) chemicals.

Sonja Reid, 28 

Gaming influencer | Class of 2016 

If you’re a gamer, you might be more familiar with Sonja Reid’s Twitch handle OMGitsfirefoxx. She joined the platform in 2013 and has garnered over 750,000 followers on it (in addition to 420,000 followers on Instagram). It even earned her a Guinness World Records title as the most followed female gamer on Twitch in 2017.

Cameron Dearsley, 24 & Darren Fung, 29

Cofounders, Drop | Class of 2019

Toronto-based rewards application Drop helps over two million users earn points every time they shop. Founded by 2019 Under 30 honorees Cameron Dearsley and Darren Fung (along with Darren’s brother, Derrick ⁠— a 2014 Under honoree), the company recently raised more than $44 million Series B funding.

Tyler Seguin, 27

Centre, Dallas Stars | Class of 2016

This Ontario-native kicked off his rookie season helping the Boston Bruins hoist the Stanley Cup in 2011. Now he centers the Dallas Stars’ top line and hasn’t missed a single regular season game in three years. That commitment pays off: last year he signed an eight-year $78.8 million contract extension.

Greta Cutulenco, 27

Cofounder, Acerta | Class of 2019

When building a new product, it is often a race against the clock to get it to market (while still maintaining quality). So Greta Cutulenco built a machine learning platform perfectly attuned to the needs of the automotive industry. Acerta uses real-time malfunction detection and failure prediction to reduce waste and enhance quality.

The Weeknd, 29

Musician | Class of 2016

The Weeknd graced the cover of Forbes in 2017, shortly after appearing on the Forbes Under 30 list. The musician, known for songs like “Starboy” and “Can’t Feel my Face,” has inked deals with Puma and Bacardi, raking in $40 million over the past year.

Emilie Cushman, 29

Founder, Kira Talent | Class of 2019

Aiming to supplant an admissions process riddled with bias, Kira Talent provides a holistic look at candidates for higher education by including metrics like leadership, motivation and grit. "There's just so many other types of intelligence, and what we're hoping is that over time, we can start to have more balance," cofounder and University of Windsor grad Emilie Cushman says of the company’s goal. So far, more than 150 universities, including Yale and INSEAD, have signed on as clients, and the company just raised $8.8 million.

Phil De Luna, 27

Director, CERT | Class of 2019

Since making the list, Taiwan-born Phil De Luna has completed a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at the University of Toronto. Following his graduation, he became the Director of the Clean Fuels Program National Research Council Canada. 

Petra Collins, 27

Artist | Class of 2017

When Petra Collins’ Rolling Stone cover shoot of Billie Eilish debuted earlier this year, the internet, as it is wont to do, broke. But unlike the scintillating and scantily-clad shots of young pop stars past, Collins’ shoot showed an emerging artist, dressed in baggy clothes, straight chilling. The effect was relaxed yet intimate, reminiscent of the Polaroids you might snap of your high school best friend.

WondaGurl, 22 

Producer | Class of 2018

Ebony Oshunrinde, also known as WondaGurl, is something of a wunderkind. At 16-years-old, she scored her first producing credit for Jay Z’s “Crown.” With a finely-tuned balance of versatility and style, the 22-year-old Brampton, Ontario-native continues to stack her impressive resume. In the past few years, she’s worked with stars like Rihanna, Drake, Big Sean, SZA, Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert and Travis Scott, making her one of hip-hop’s most in-demand producers.

Joseph Lee, 24 & Robert Kirstiuk, 24

Cofounders, Coastline Market | Class of 2018

Thiel Fellow Robert Kirstiuk and Joseph Lee have raised $2.5 million dollars to build a more sustainable ecosystem among commercial fishermen and shopkeepers that sell their wares. The Vancouver-based duo has built a big business: their online marketplace has delivered over 500,000 pounds of fresh seafood to everyone from Pokeworks and Hard Rock Casino.

Cheryl Cui, 29

Cofounder, Nest.Bio | Class of 2019

Cheryl Cui, who has a Ph.D. in medical engineering from MIT, started Nest.Bio, a venture fund with close to $100 million under management, to help founders pioneer groundbreaking technologies. Now, with Nest.Bio Labs, the company is taking that goal to the next level, by offering more than 40,000 square feet of office and lab space for visionary biotechnology ventures.

Shawn Mendes, 21

Musician | Class of 2016

If Shawn Mendes had not yet solidified his heartthrob status, his steamy performance with Camila Cabello at the 2019 VMAs certainly did the trick. The Pickering, Ontario-born singer rocketed to international fame in recent years with hits like “Senorita,” “Lost in Japan” and “If I Can’t Have You,” and his music videos have billions of views on YouTube (yes, really: billions with a “b”).

Alex Rodrigues, 23 & Brandon Moak, 24

Cofounders, Embark | Class of 2019

Autonomous vehicles are all the rage right now, and a pair of college dropouts are leading the pack to own the industry.  Alex Rodrigues and Brandon Moak met in college before leaving university to found Embark, an autonomous trucking company. Amazon has already reportedly started using their trucks to haul cargo and they’ve raised over $115 million from heavy hitters like Sequoia Capital.

Dani Roche, 27

Founder, Kastor & Pollux | Class of 2019

While moonlighting as a design professor at Sheridan College in Ontario, Dani Roche also is the founder, owner and director of creative studio Kastor & Pollux. With a portfolio that includes Fujifilm and L’Oreal, the company’s goal is to empower independent creatives while boosting representation of Asia women in media. Also, she has a Neopets tattoo.

Nadia Masri, 28

Founder, Perksy | Class of 2019

Inspiration struck while Nadia Masri was taking an extension class at Harvard Summer School. Enter Perksy: a mobile app which allows users to earn rewards points and gift cards for filling out online surveys for brands like Pepsi, Target and Smuckers. And the numbers speak for themselves: Perksy’s survey completion rates average 85%; market researchers typically only hit 1 to 3%.

Cathy Tie, 23 

Partner, Cervin Ventures | Class of 2018 

At only 23 years old, Cathy Tie already has a career people twice her age would envy. After founding Ranomics, a gene-tracking biotech startup, the Thiel Fellow (and University of Toronto dropout) joined Cervin Ventures as the firm’s youngest partner. The firm is focused on seeking out and investing in seed-stage enterprise companies.

Kartik Talwar, 27

Partner, A.Capital Ventures | Class of 2019

Waterloo-grad Kartik Talwar, who has a degree in Astrophysics and Mathematics, proved his technical chops at SV Angel, where he built a CRM to manage thousands of the company’s prospective investments. And it turns out, he’s also a savvy investor himself. Since making the Forbes Under 30 list, he has moved to A.Capital Ventures, where he leads technical and crypto investments.


Rupi Kaur, 27 

Author | Class of 2018

Revered for its spare poetry and glamorous portraits, Punjabi-Canadian Rupi Kaur’s Instagram clocks in at a cool 3.7 million followers. Kaur’s aesthetic is made for social media but immortalized in print. Case in point: her first book, milk and honey, (Kaur writes exclusively in lower-case) spent 77 weeks on the New York Times Trade Paperback Best-Seller list and sold more than 2.5 million copies.

Alexander Harmsen, 27 & James Howard, 26

Cofounders, Iris Automation | Class of 2019

James Howard and Alexander Harmsen built Iris Automation to make flying autonomous industrial drones safer. Even the White House took notice, including the company in a federal pilot on drone technology.

Nohémie Mawaka, 27

Founder, Stats Congo | Class of 2019

After winning a Grand Challenges Canada Stars in Global Health grant in 2017, Nohémie Mawaka’s Stats Congo took off. The company operates as a third party, documenting and analyzing morbidity and mortality rates among women and children in order to improve health outcomes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

David Ouaknine, 28 

CEO, CDI Furniture | Class of 2018

Though he inherited the family company from his uncle, David Ouaknine has managed to put his own spin on Montreal-based CDI Furniture, a leading manufacturer and B2B supplier of home goods. With their recently completed 80,000 square foot office and showroom space, the company is rapidly expanding and solidifying its status as an industry powerhouse.

Tyler Menezes, 27

Cofounder, SRND | Class of 2019

Tyler Menezes developed a love of coding at a young age — so much so that he even competed in a Microsoft-led video game programming competition as a high school student. Now, he is sharing that love with others as executive director of SRND, which aims to make STEM education more widely available to low income students. Under Menezes’ leadership, the nonprofit has helped more than 20,000 across 50 cities pursue computer science through its flagship event, CodeDay.


Catch Jonny Sun and other listmakers at the Under 30 Summit in Detroit, October 27-30.