3. Top Techie
Jennifer Medbery, 28, founder, Kickboard
Résumé: Medbery is phasing out the classic school grade book; Kickboard's software captures and analyzes students' academic progress, skills, and weaknesses. This fall, 150 schools in 15 states will adopt the technology.
Path to the Top: "My senior year at Columbia, where I majored in computer science, I was recruited for Teach for America. I'd wanted to do software development in Silicon Valley, but I decided teaching would help me learn about management and goal-setting. Those skills were crucial when I founded Kickboard."
Defining Moment: "In 2009, I was working at a high school in New Orleans, but I didn't have a way of tracking students' grades, learning habits, behavior, and family contacts, so I sat at my computer and built Kickboard that summer. Colleagues loved it, and within months, I'd scored seed funding. We've raised more than $850,000 to date."
Learning Curve: "The guys in my college computer science classes always showed off in lectures. But when we did problem sets in the lab, they struggled. The lightbulb went off: Even though the guys acted tough, they ran into bugs, crashes, and glitches, too. That gave me confidence."