Luminate Medical CEO Aaron Hannon Receives Thiel Fellowship



The Thiel Foundation today named 24 people into the 2020 class of Thiel Fellows. The Fellowship program, which launched in 2011, encourages talented young people to pursue big ideas and start companies instead of attending college.


“Of all the bad ideas permeating college campuses, the worst is the self-serving myth that everybody has to go to college, and pay tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to do it,” said Blake Masters, President of the Thiel Foundation. “This is even more obvious when ‘college’ just means wasting time on Zoom.”


During the course of the two-year program, Fellows receive $100,000 and mentorship from the Thiel Foundation’s network of technology founders, investors, and scientists.


“If you want to be optimistic about the future, just look at what young people are creating now,” said Allyson Dias, director of the Thiel Fellowship. “This year marks our tenth class of Fellows, and every year they continue to exceed our expectations and push the boundaries of what is possible.”


To date, companies created by Thiel Fellows are together worth more than $29 billion, not including 2014 Thiel fellow Vitalik Buterin’s Ethereum, a distributed computing platform whose cryptocurrency Ether currently has a market cap of more than $40 billion. This year alone, 2013 Fellow Austin Russell and 2011 Fellow Paul Gu led their companies, Luminar and Upstart, through successful public offerings and are now valued at $8.5 billion and $4.8 billion, respectively; 2018 Fellow Robert Habermeier launched Polkadot, a blockchain-connecting platform that facilitates digital asset interoperability and now has a market cap of $6.6 billion; and 2018 Fellow Tara Bosch sold her company, SmartSweets, for $400 million.

Thiel Fellows also answered the call in the fight against COVID-19, with 2017 Fellow Fred Turner creating and growing Curative to over 10 million COVID tests with the help of 2011 Fellow Laura Deming, 2019 Fellow Emily Wang leveraging AI technology at Phoenix Health to develop new diagnostic methods, and 2019 Fellow Claire Coder pivoting Aunt Flow’s supply chain to make and deploy essential PPE where it was needed most.


About the 2020 Thiel Fellows (Name: Hometown, Current Location)

Aaron Hannon: Galway, Ireland

  • Luminate Medical is developing medical devices to prevent hair loss during chemotherapy.

Adam Guild: Los Angeles, CA

  • Profitboss makes online ordering and marketing software for independent restaurants, helping restaurant owners increase sales and maximize profitability while keeping their customer data safe from third party delivery companies.

Ben Stern: Melbourne, FL

  • Nohbo aims to eliminate single-use plastic bottles in the hospitality industry by manufacturing water soluble drops containing shampoo, soap, and other personal care items.

Blake Resnick: Las Vegas, NV

  • Brinc Drones designs and manufactures advanced aerial robots that help tactical teams respond to barricade, hostage, and active shooter situations.

Brandon Wang: San Francisco, CA

  • Dreambound provides low-income Americans with planning tools and financing for workforce training courses, starting with a certified nursing assistant (CNA) program.

Brian Gu: Seattle, WA

  • Dark Forest is the world's first decentralized real-time strategy game, built on Ethereum with zkSNARKs.

Dylan Diamond: New York, NY

  • Saturn is an app that builds community through the calendar, focusing on helping high schoolers make plans and share schedules with friends.

Griffin Barnicutt: Waterloo, Ontario

  • Palitronica builds software that protect critical infrastructure and military systems, by detecting compromised parts in the supply chain and monitoring for cyber attacks and tampering.

Ignacio Belieres Montero: Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • Epic Aerospace is building a last-mile delivery service for rockets and satellites.

Jasmine Wang: Edmonton, Alberta

  • When she’s not working on Copysmith, a service that uses AI to turn keywords into written copy, Jasmine is writing a speculative fiction novel.

Joseph Kitonga: Philadelphia, PA

  • Vitable offers its members primary and urgent care medical coverage, utilizing virtual and in-home visits, with no copays.

Kenta Iwasaki: Tokyo, Japan

  • Hyperia is the first decentralized virtual power plant that traces, analyzes, and distributes energy to households and enterprises from renewable energy sources.

Lyn Chen: Toronto, Canada

  • LayerCI’s cloud-based SaaS provides software developers with efficient CI/CD + staging environments so they can build full-stack web apps faster.

Margaret Nyawira Karaba: Nairobi, Kenya

  • Nurture and Reset sells highly nutritious moringa teas and powder, sourced from partner farmers in Kenya who receive fair wages and benefits.

Michael Broughton: Los Angeles, CA

  • Perch helps users instantly boost their credit scores by using recurring expenses such as streaming subscriptions and rent payments.

Michael Chime: Broadview Heights, OH

  • Prepared makes software that provides comprehensive support for educators and law enforcement during emergencies at school.

Phoebe Yao: St. Louis, MO

  • Pareto is a human API for business operations, helping entrepreneurs to outsource repetitive tasks.

Robbie Ferguson: Sydney, Australia

  • Immutable develops software that powers the world's most popular blockchain games.

Scott Fitsimones: San Francisco, CA

  • AirGarage has developed a suite of technical solutions for parking lot management: enforcement, payment collection, visitor registration, customer support, and more.

Shane Curran: Dublin, Ireland

  • Evervault is building a data protection solution that helps developers encrypt sensitive data as soon as it leaves a user’s device.

Sheridan Clayborne: San Francisco, CA

  • LendTable provides cash advances to people to help them enroll in and take advantage of their employer’s 401(k) match program.

Stephanie Mills: Newmarket, Ontario

  • CodeGem integrates with existing workflows to analyze a software team's productivity, collaboration, and engagement.

Thomas Suarez: Los Angeles, CA

  • Teleportal is a spatial computing company building a 3D operating system that will empower users to connect to shared mixed reality experiences in realtime.

Toni Oloko: New York, NY

  • Dandy is a business-in-a-box for dentists, and aims to become the operating system for dentistry in America as the dental industry digitizes.

About The Thiel Foundation

The Thiel Foundation supports science, technology, and long-term thinking about the future. For more information, see www.thielfoundation.org.