Three MIP Alumni Named to the 2023 Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ List
Alex Laplaza ('20), Abuzar Royesh ('20), and Amélie-Sophie Vavrovsky ('22), alumni of the Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy have been recognized for their impacts on global social issues and venture capital.
Each year, Forbes magazine publishes their “30 Under 30” list, a spotlight on young, rising entrepreneurs and influencers making an impact on the world. The American list features 600 individuals and businesses across a variety of different categories such as “Art and Style,” “Healthcare,” “Education,” and “Science.”
This year, the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies is thrilled to announce that three former students from the Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy (MIP) have been named to the 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Alex Laplaza ('20), Abuzar Royesh ('20), and Amélie-Sophie Vavrovsky ('22) and their organizations have been recognized for their influences in venture capital and social impact. Read on to learn more about each of these incredible alums and the work they are doing.
Alex Laplaza — MIP Class of 2020
While an MIP student, Alex Laplaza specialized in Energy, Natural Resources, and the Environment with a particular interest in the intersection of governance and technology. He was also a Fulbright Scholar and conducted fieldwork research on climate adaptation, food security, and water governance among Indonesia’s rural communities. In his second year at MIP, Laplaza interned as a Global Green Scholar at ReNew Energy, India’s largest clean energy producer.
After his studies at Stanford, Laplaza became the first official hire at Lowercarbon Capital in Palo Alto, CA. Lowercarbon Capital is a venture capital fund focused on companies that are proactively working to cut carbon emissions and developing technologies that help move businesses and industries away from fossil fuels.
Lowercarbon has contributed to projects working to develop lab-grown meat and dairy products, carbon-eating fungus, and more cost-effective technologies for nuclear fusion, among otherrs. Since joining Lowercarbon, Laplaza has played a key role in tripling the team size, quadrupling the portfolio company count, and raising six different funds to approximately 30 times the firm’s total assets under management. In just two years, he has increased these funds from $50 million to nearly $1.4 billion. He has been recognized in the “Venture Capital” category of Forbes 2023 “30 Under 30.”
Reflecting on his time at Stanford, Laplaza says, “Stanford offered near-endless meaningful opportunities for tangible impact around the world, but it was MIP that offered the flexibility and the resources to chase them. Lowercarbon Capital is a dream job for me, and that was only made possible through the opportunities provided to me at Stanford.”
Abuzar Royesh — MIP Class of 2020
Abuzar Royesh was both a member of the 2020 MIP class and a Knight-Hennessy scholar while at Stanford, where he worked on ways technologies such as machine learning, deep learning, remote sensing and other novel computational methods can be utilized to spur economic growth and improve public service delivery in developing countries. He went on to pursue a second master’s degree at Stanford in Management Science and Engineering.
In August of 2021, American military forces began withdrawing from Afghanistan, Royesh’s home country. As the situation became more uncertain, Royesh, like many Afghan expatriates, began working furiously to help family members — especially female family members like his younger sister Simin — leave the country. His efforts to extract his family were successful, but Royesh knew that he couldn’t stop there. With the help of an extensive network of Afghan contacts and fellow Stanford alumni, Royesh set up the Thirty Birds Foundation, which successfully evacuated an additional 450 Afghans, many of them schoolgirls.
Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Royesh explained, “Could we have left the rest of the community behind? No, we knew we had to stay involved.”
That impulse to help the whole has continued with Royesh through his work with Pastel, which he co-founded with Olamide Oladeji and Izunna Okonkwo. The app offers digital bookkeeping services to small businesses to help them manage their business, make payments, and receive low-cost financing. In marketplaces in Nigeria, a target audience for Pastel, the majority of business still takes place on paper, which introduces high degrees of inefficiencies and inaccuracies. This in turn leads to a high degree of business failure and blocks to native entrepreneurship.
The goal of Pastel is to provide reliable support to small, local businesses and vastly reduce these inefficiencies. More accurate bookkeeping gives small owners a much stronger foothold, which then brings more stability to local economies and the opportunity for establishing a basis of personal wealth and more security for individuals and their families. To date, Pastel has helped over 120,000 small businesses around the world and has raised over $6.1 million. Royesh is recognized in the "Social Impact" category of the Forbes "30 Under 30" list.
Amélie-Sophie Vavrovsky — MIP Class of 2022
Amélie-Sophie Vavrovsky was already working on her start-up Formally when she joined the Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy class of 2022. As an international student, Vavrosky has first-hand experience with how difficult the U.S. immigration system can be. Armed with this background, her studies in international policy, and her command of eight languages, she set out to make the process easier for others.
Formally is a legal company with a mission to simplify immigration applications by breaking down bureaucratic barriers and making the legal world more accessible through inclusive design. The service combines computer-assisted paperwork with guidance from legal professionals to help customers navigate applications, and is available in multiple languages. It has already raised $2.3 million and helped thousands of people complete asylum applications. Forbes recognizes her in the “Social Impact” section of the “30 Under 30” list.
While she has formally completed her degree at MIP, Vavrovsky is still at Stanford finishing a dual Master of Science in Environment and Resources with an anticipated graduation of Spring 2023.
The Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy
Interested in studying international affairs? Learn more about the Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy and how to apply for the Class of 2025.