Ross said King-Bischof’s willingness to get her hands dirty is a big driver of the company’s success.

“With Ashley, before she even got to the program, I would see pictures of her on Facebook in the back of a vehicle shipping onions,” Ross said. “That’s the kind of hustle you need. It’s incredible to see how hands-on she was able to get at an early stage.”

King-Bischof, in turn, credits much of the company’s rapid success to the connections she made at Halcyon, which houses eight social entrepreneurs for five months at a time in Washington and provides them with stipends and support from Amazon Web Services, Deloitte, KPMG and other major business brands.

“It’s a really great example of public-private partnership,” said Kate Goodall, the chief operating officer of the S&R Foundation, which operates the incubator. “It provides fellows with headspace so you can breathe and focus on what you’re doing. And something we call facilitated serendipity: access, which is really about connecting with great problem solvers.”

That’s also where King-Bischof met co-founder Zeluis Teixeira, or Ze for short, who is using his expertise as a former bank executive to strike global deals for Markit Opportunity. Teixeira, who has lived in developing nations around the world and has familial roots in agriculture, has a vision for how Markit Opportunity can scale globally.

“With Ze, he has an ability to pivot, do it so seamlessly, and not get down about leaving a lot of work on the table,” said Ross, the director of Halcyon.

The two have dramatically different backgrounds. King-Bischof was inspired to create the company after combining knowledge from her Ivy League economics degree, work consulting for NGOs and experience at companies like Yelp and, where she worked in the field in Cameroon. But the pair have one important quality in common, said Ross.

“They have resilience,” he said. “It’s something you can’t just put on an application. You see it in the day to day.”