Dareen Salama, 34

Dareen Salama.

Dareen Salama, 34

CEO and co-founder at Gryps

Dareen Salama, 34
By December 6, 2022 9:00 AM

Starting a business during the pandemic is no easy feat. And doing it while finishing an MBA and after losing a parent — that’s even harder.

Such was the case for Dareen Salama, who returned to her native Egypt in 2020 while the pandemic was in full swing. Her master’s program at Harvard had moved online, and so she found herself free to travel back to Cairo and spend time with her family. Then, once she finished her degree in the spring of 2020, she decided to build the company she had been planning for the last few years: Gryps.

Salama already had another master’s that she obtained from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2012, and back then Salama thought most construction firms had digitized their data and might use artificial intelligence to make decisions. After moving to New York to work in construction, she quickly realized how wrong she was.

“When I graduated, a lot of companies were still on paper, and said, ‘We don’t have cloud data systems. What AI are you talking about?’ ” she said. “The biggest challenge was about, ‘How do we get the data?’ ”

Coordinating between Cairo, Boston and New York over video chat, Salama and her co-founder, Amir Tasbihi, developed a platform that can pull information from dozens of construction data sources, including budgeting software, project management systems, and regulators such as New York City’s Buildings Department.

The pair met while working at a construction management company, STV, in 2013. While working on massive projects like the new LaGuardia Airport terminals, they realized how much owners, developers and contractors needed something that would help them track documents, deadlines and permits in one place. Salama and Tasbihi started thinking about their startup idea back then, and continued developing it after both of them departed STV in 2017.

Salama did a yearlong stint at a different construction manager, Lehrer (now Lehrer Cumming), before starting her MBA at Harvard in 2018. While she was in school, she and Tasbihi discussed incorporating their company, and began courting clients and investors.

Since officially launching in the summer of 2020, the pair have raised $1.3 million in seed funding. A handful of major institutions now use the Gryps platform for their construction projects, including Mount Sinai Hospital, the Hospital for Special Surgery and the Javits Center.—R.B.R.

More articles about Young Professionals 2022