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12 immigrant-founded tech companies that made Philly their home

It looks like 2017 is going to be an interesting year for immigrants.

Though your mind may have gone directly to Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency (you know, the one that asked companies to “hire American, buy American” in his inauguration speech, called Mexican immigrants “bad hombres” and proposed a ban on Muslim immigrants), we were actually thinking more about Philly’s clan of immigrant tech founders.

In times of great uncertainty for immigrants in the U.S., solace can be found in companies led by those born in another country. (Foreign-born — that’s what we mean in this list when we refer to “immigrants.” We’re not necessarily speaking to citizenship.) Working on spaces like wearable technology and health IT, this year will likely see us talk about these startups and what they’re up to.

Many on our list are South Asian (that is, Indian or Pakistani).

As always, tell us which companies and founders we missed.

ROAR for Good

Yes, we’re putting Kuwait-born Yasmine Mustafa’s weareable tech company in yet another list. Why? We’ve followed closely the development of the company’s flagship product: Athena (a “high-tech rape whistle”) and it’s getting very close to the projected ship date. Mustafa just got back from China where she was overseeing the manufacturing process for the gadget.

2017 is meant to be the year the product will see light. We’re eager to see what comes next.


Founded by VFA fellows Charlie Molthrop and Nazli Danis (born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey), the company is putting together a machine-learning text bot to help improve sleep, fitness and other health habits. We last checked in with them when VFA brought its accelerator companies to Philly.

Tern Water

Fresh of a six-figure investment from a real estate company’s venture arm, Drexel-based IoT company Tern Water will take 2017 to further develop its smart faucet. The company was founded in 2014 by Mohamed Zerban, a Drexel engineer born in Egypt and raised in England.


Founded in 2012 by India-born Khushboo Shah, the DreamIt company, backed by the local Gabriel Investments, is now led by CEO Bob Moul. In 2016, the company added two new modules to its platform to offer companies an end-to-end analysis of their cloud usage. Will it mean more traction for the Center City-based company? Stay tuned.


Backed by an NSF grant for the development of their content enhancement platform, and having brought on exec Keith Gornish as CEO, it’s gearing up to be an interesting year for the company founded in 2013 by Prasanna Krishnan in 2013. Krishnan was born in Chennai, India, and came to the U.S. in 2000 to get her master’s degree in computer science.


It’s been a busy couple of years for the Center City-based social learning company founded by Indian immigrant Shaunak Roy, a former corporate exec who grew up in India. The company recently attracted some funding and opened a NYC office.


Pakistani founder Zikria Syed sold his former company NextDocs in 2015 and got right back on the entrepreneurial track with VitalTrax, a patient engagement platform for clinical trials. Here are some tips from Syed on landing a company’s first client in the health IT space.

The One Health Company

Founded by Brazilian Christina Lopes, the University City-based company is setting out to streamline how drugs and medical devices come to market by improving the animal testing process. Lopes shared how the company got its first break during Founder Factory.

Haystack Informatics

This DreamIt Ventures grad and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphiaspinout got some money from Rittenhouse Ventures last year. The company, which monitors patient privacy in clinical environments, was founded by Romanian entrepreneur Adrian Talapan.

GraphWear Technologies

The makers of a patch that analyzes your sweat was founded by Indian entrepreneurs Rajatesh Gudibande and Saurabh Radhakrishnan.


This company was founded by Mexican immigrant and MIT grad Adriana Vásquez, who came to the U.S. in 2007 and worked for Morgan Stanley. The hardware startup is working on products to make breast pumping easier for first-time mothers.


Canadian-born immigration attorney Jeremy Peskin got $250,000 seed funding for his company, which makes offers an online platform to streamline visa applications.

Media Contact:

Kristen Fitch

Kristen Fitch

Senior Director, Marketing