The Up and Comers

The Bethesda area is home to lots of movers and shakers who’ve built long careers in politics, business and the arts. But it also has a number of rising stars who are making their mark before they’re even 40.

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Photo by Sean ScheidtBen Wald

26, co-founder and managing partner of Spartan Companies

Rolling with the punches—whether in the boxing ring or the business world—comes naturally to Ben Wald.

An amateur boxer since he was a teen,  he’s now an entrepreneur in the world of technology, a field in which risk-taking can lead to spectacular success or failure.

“A lot of training we do inside the ring has direct applications to…my work ethic and how I think from a strategy perspective,” says Wald, who lives in Chevy Chase with his wife, Alicia. “If I want to get to where I want to go, it’s going to take a lot of scratched knees.”

Wald first made a name for himself in 2008, when he and his business partner, Tyler Jenks, made Businessweek’s list of “America’s Best Young Entrepreneurs” after securing funding for an online education software company.

Wald since has built on that reputation with Spartan Companies, which develops software for consumers and business clients in addition to investing in other high-tech firms. His company, with offices along the East Coast, built software for Bridge, an online platform designed to accelerate medical research through open source collaboration.  

Wald realized he wanted to be his own boss after being dissatisfied with several jobs while attending Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He went to Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., for its undergraduate business program, but dropped out after his sophomore year when his online education software company received funding from investors.   

Wald’s decision to leave college prompted a “huge discussion in our family,” recalls his mother, Tess Wald, who, like her husband, Andrew, holds an advanced degree. But as small-business owners themselves, the Walds realized that Ben’s decision made sense.

Tess Wald attributes her son’s success to the perseverance that once helped him in the boxing ring. “Nothing is a problem,” she says. “He always sees opportunities.”

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