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Startups We’re Thankful For: 2023 Edition


Key Takeaways

Carl Niedbala - Founder Shield
Carl Niedbala

COO & Co-Founder

Many of us will soon gather with people we care about — one colleague will be in a car with her nephew for 16 hours and another is soon jetting off to Portugal. We’ll catch up with family and friends, telling stories about our plans for the future or reminiscing. No doubt an embarrassing childhood story of my own will be retold with more dramatic flair than ever this year — ’tis the season.  

However, this time of year can be challenging for those who’ve experienced loss. Here’s the thing: we regularly guide our clients through various losses and often find gratitude bubbling up in these moments. So, in this post, our Founder Shield family embraces those sentiments by sharing with you a few notable clients who are breaking ground and making the world a better place — and we’re grateful for you!


Aanika Biosciences aims to bridge the gap between biology and the digital world. Their story began when co-founder Vishaal Bhyuan ordered fresh, ethically sourced seeds only to receive them stale and contaminated. This experience motivated him to team with molecular biologist Dr. Ellen Jorgensen to create Aanika. Now, their team uses microbial-based tech to trace and authenticate products as they move through the supply chain, ensuring the integrity of supply chains and reducing potential losses.


Julie is trying to change the conversation about Emergency Contraception, identifying as your “friend with benefits.” But Julie’s stance is more than a play on words. This healthcare brand provides emergency contraception in the form of a one-step tablet that helps stop a pregnancy before it starts. Nope, it’s not the “abortion pill,” nor does it impact an existing pregnancy; it merely delays ovulation. The coolest part? For every box of Julie you buy, they donate a box of Julie to those most disproportionately impacted by health inequities.


Lingokids is a familiar icon on most parents’ smartphones. As a mobile app for kids aged 2-8, Lingokids offers a fun and interactive way to learn English and essential life skills through games, quizzes, digital books, videos, and songs. With “screen time” becoming an issue for today’s younger generation, this app takes the sting out. Kids don’t have to be glued to empty content; instead, our littles glean valuable information from the digital world (and keep entertained while adults are adulting).


SplashLearn is a fun-filled, award-winning educational program making waves with over 40 million kids! Designed to turn learning into an adventure, SplashLearn offers a captivating game-based curriculum covering Math and English Language Arts from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 5. Whether on the web, App Store, or Play Store, SplashLearn is easily accessible, ensuring that learning is effective and incredibly enjoyable for young minds. Big applause to SplashLearn for helping our kids fall in love with learning!

Vytalize Health

Vytalize Health is blazing trails in the healthcare sector! Vytalize Health is a beacon of innovation with its value-based care platform, revolutionizing the way primary care is delivered. By empowering primary care doctors with data-driven and holistic approaches, they’re not just treating patients but transforming lives. Vytalize Health’s commitment to personalized care ensures that each patient receives a healthcare experience tailored to their unique needs, championing an efficient and empathetic future.

Seraphina Therapeutics

Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health by discovering essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics. The company develops fatty acid supplements, food fortifiers, and nutritional interventions through rigorous breakthrough science to strengthen cells, keep mitochondria working, and advance cellular homeostasis to counter age-related breakdown. With its team of industry-leading scientists, Seraphina Therapeutics challenges long-held approaches to nutrition, enabling the creation of novel health products designed to support quality of life.

Moon Surgical

Moon Surgical is a pioneering force in the medical technology landscape, revolutionizing the field with its groundbreaking innovations. Specializing in robotic assistance, Moon Surgical’s advanced solutions are redefining surgical precision and safety. Their state-of-the-art technology facilitates complex surgical procedures with enhanced accuracy, offering surgeons unprecedented control and flexibility. This approach improves surgical outcomes and significantly reduces the risk of complications, contributing to better patient recovery experiences while helping medical professionals accept risk more effectively.

3T Biosciences

3T Biosciences is making groundbreaking strides in immunotherapy, unfolding new horizons in healthcare. This dynamic company is at the forefront of developing transformative therapies, specifically targeting the challenging realm of solid tumors and various immune-mediated diseases. With a focus on broad patient populations, 3T Biosciences is not just about creating treatments but pioneering a future where more patients have access to life-saving options. 

Their cutting-edge approach harnesses the power of the body’s immune system, unlocking potential therapies that could redefine the standards of care in oncology and beyond. At 3T Biosciences, the mission is clear: to push the boundaries of science in pursuit of better, more effective treatments, bringing hope and healing to countless lives impacted by these complex conditions.

Sky's The Limit

Sky’s The Limit is a  beacon of empowerment in the professional world, dedicated to elevating underrepresented entrepreneurs. As a non-profit organization, they are breaking down barriers by connecting these ambitious entrepreneurs with seasoned volunteer business professionals. This invaluable one-on-one mentoring, offered completely free of charge, is a game-changer, providing personalized guidance, insights, and encouragement. Beyond mentorship, Sky’s The Limit enriches its members with comprehensive business guides, equipping them with essential knowledge and tools to navigate the business landscape successfully. Adding to their incredible support, they also present monthly funding opportunities, opening doors for these entrepreneurs to bring their innovative ideas to fruition.

Project Glimmer

Project Glimmer brings hope and empowerment, reaching across the nation to uplift and inspire girls to a future filled with potential and power. With a significant impact on over a million teenage girls and women, 86% of whom are young women of color, Project Glimmer has established a robust presence in all 50 states. The company collaborates with over 1,000 organizations, encompassing foster care, homeless shelters, crisis care, and youth services. The organization’s comprehensive approach includes Gifts + Goods, Empowerment Events + Academy, and personalized 1:1 Career Coaching programs. These initiatives are at the heart of Project Glimmer’s dedication to dismantling gender and racial inequalities, offering young women hope and tangible pathways to personal and professional success.

From our Founder Shield family to yours, we hope you enjoy this holiday season. We’ll leave you with a quote from Marcus Tullius Cicero:

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.”