10 Rising Tech Stars Who Are Fueling a New Wave of Digital Insights

Meet Adweek's Young Influentials

From breaking new ground in artificial intelligence to promoting digital advertiser transparency, these Young Influentials are shaking up the tech world. For more up-and-coming talent in media, brands and marketing, check out our full list.
—Emma Bazilian

Andrew Casale
President and CEO, Index Exchange 

Few established ad-tech entrepreneurs could claim that their careers started as a teenager. Index Exchange president and CEO Andrew Casale is an exception.

At 15, Casale started helping his father run Casale Media, designing websites and eventually building an ad network to make money from content. After rebranding as Index Exchange in 2015, Casale began constructing the tech pipes to power programmatic advertising for publishers including Time Inc. and Condé Nast while growing the company to more than 300 staffers.

“You can’t lose sight of the realities of being a publisher, and I think that’s something that a lot of ad-tech companies get wrong,” says Casale, 31. “The reality of our customer base is that they’re a little fed up with ad tech.”

Index Exchange’s focus on header bidding has increased revenue by more than 100 percent year over year for the past three years. Today, more than 3,000 domains use the company’s header-bidding technology. —Lauren Johnson

Anda Gansca 
CEO and co-founder, Knotch

Growing up in Transylvania, Knotch co-founder and CEO Anda Gansca was always a self-starter and problem solver—she even created her own interdisciplinary class in high school because she “felt like the educational system was too theoretical,” she says.

Fast forward to today and Gansca, 29, has turned her focus to addressing issues in digital advertising. She believes consumers deserve to have their opinions heard about brands, and advertisers need to listen. Plus, transparency issues with how data is collected and packaged back to brands complicates advertisers’ trust in their digital marketing spend.

Brands like Chase, Unilever and GE embed Knotch’s technology into their ads in exchange for collecting real-time analytics and research on how consumers engage with content. Knotch also offers a branded search engine that lets marketers compare those stats to their competitors’.

“I think it’s really easy in our industry to lose track of the fact that we’re ultimately serving people, not impressions,” Gansca says. “We’re in this industry because advertising pays for the internet to work, and we’re simply there to make the internet a better experience and give marketers the ability to listen to their audience’s voice.” —L.J.

Stephanie Horbaczewski
Founder and CEO, StyleHaul 

StyleHaul’s Stephanie Horbaczewski credits none other than Ashton Kutcher with giving her the aha moment that jump-started her career: in 2010, she happened upon an issue of Fast Company in which Kutcher, while talking about making branded content for Kraft, predicted that brands would need to build their own social networks in the future.

“I was like, oh my god, this is the future of everything. It’s video, it’s brand integration, it’s social content and making sure brands connect with their consumers on social platforms,” says Horbaczewski, 37.

She founded StyleHaul—a network of fashion-forward influencers with more than 275 million subscribers that boasts over 1.5 billion impressions each month—in 2011. Since then, the company has grown by 50 percent year over year for six years in a row. Last year, it launched a new product, Society, that gives the network’s creators access to a dashboard with data and analytics about the content they create and post.

“I am obsessively passionate about this. I live and breathe it,” Horbaczewski explains. “I’m also really proud of the people who work for me. They are out there grinding like it’s a startup every single day and it shows.” —Katie Richards

This story first appeared in the Oct. 9, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.