10 Awesome Female-Founded Startups You Should Know

While conducting my research on Madison Reed for my presentation and blog post, I was inspired by CEO Amy Errett’s story and success in both venture capital and the startup space. She has raised over $70 million to disrupt the hair color industry with her fast-growing, tech-savvy company. However, Errett’s story is not always the case. Women on average are still underrepresented at every step of the corporate ladder and the disparity only increases the higher up one climbs. Only 1 in 5 C-suite executives is a woman, and not even 1 in 30 is a woman of color. This is a problem that continues to be pervasive in Silicon Valley tech companies. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, women hold only 23% of roles in the technical ranks at the top 75 Silicon Valley companies.

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Leaders like Sheryl Sandberg continue to speak out against the lack of gender equality. Companies like Sephora, where 62% of the cosmetic retailer’s technology workers are women and women hold five out of six positions on the digital executive leadership team, are making strides in combatting this issue. Still, one has to acknowledge that is hard for women to break into the tech space, especially at the C-level or as founders. But even in a time where women receive less than 2.19% of all venture capital funding, there are some amazing female founders achieving significant traction with customers and raising millions of investment dollars to expand their businesses. In this post, I want to highlight ten awesome companies, originally founded by women, that are making big waves in the Silicon Valley/startup community:

  1. Accompany

    Accompany

    With only 54% of Fortune 500 CEOs having Linkedin profiles, CEO Amy Chang (who used to run Google Analytics) started Accompany, the largest database of senior decision makers in the world to help connect leaders and build relationships. As a “virtual chief of staff,” Accompany’s proprietary data platform uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze billions of web pages and create profiles for hundreds of millions of people with minimal human intervention. Their algorithm tracks your calendar, contacts, and communication patterns to gain insights and make recommendations about which profiles are most valuable to you. Accompany even monitors the news to pull the most important and personally relevant stories from the mass of information on the web so you can stay informed on what matters to you and your business. Accompany has raised $40 million in funding and 40% of their growing team are women.

  2. Brandless

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    The goal of e-commerce startup Brandless is to change the way consumers buy everyday products. Offering over 250 staples at just $3 each, Brandless is disrupting traditional grocery stores and CPG brands. Their collection of products include non-perishable food, cleaning supplies, health and beauty products, personal care items and office supplies. By stripping away the “brand tax” and offering a direct to consumer model, Brandless is able to offer goods an average of 40% cheaper and simultaneously develop a direct relationship with the consumer.  Led by CEO Tina Sharkey,  the former CEO of Sherpa Foundry and SVP at AOL, Brandless’s e-commerce approach to retail and use of social channels has earned great interest from its investors, raising $50 million over 3 rounds prior to its launch.

  3. Verge Genomics

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    Verge has moved drug discovery “from the lab to the computer” by using machine learning and human genomic data to find new, cheaper drugs and find them faster. Founded by Alice Zhang, who was recently named to Forbes 30 Under 30, Verge Genomics actually uses the same technology that powers Google’s search engines to fight neurodegeneration. Traditional approaches have been limited in targeting multiple issues at once but with Verge’s technology they have discovered a way to map out the hundreds of genes that cause diseases like Alzheimers, ALS, and Parkinsons, and subsequently have a better chance of developing drugs to target all of the genes at once.

  4. Hipcamp

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    Possibly best described as Airbnb for camping, Hipcamp is taking advantage of the rise of the sharing economy by offering a platform to connect campers and land. 60% of land in the United States is privately owned and to conserve these wild habitats, Hipcamp wants to engage these private landowners and connect them with ecologically-minded campers.  Owners get revenue from land that was not being enjoyed and an incentive not to develop on it while campers engage in recreation in some of the most beautiful spots in the country. Founder Alyssa Ravasio’s mission was to build a technology to help people get outside and connect with nature. After attending Dev Bootcamp, an intensive ten-week programming course, she built Hipcamp which has now grown to have over 325,982 campsite listings in all 50 states across the country.

  5. Lumi

    lumi-card-01.jpgLumi is the startup that caters to e-commerce startups. Founder Jesse Genet turned down a Shark Tank deal and went through Y Combinator to develop her new-age, online packaging company that helps thousands of companies produce memorable and sustainable packaging at low prices. In the e-commerce space, packaging is a crucial part of the retail experience as a storefront display would be to a brick-and-mortar establishment. Lumi streamlines this creative and traditionally costly process with their Dashboard that facilitates the sourcing, designing, purchasing, and tracking of a company’s packaging designs. Lumi’s worldwide network of factories currently serves customers from all 50 states and 20 countries globally with clients including MeUndies, Parachute Bedding, Supergoop!, MailChimp, and the Wall Street Journal.

  6. Shippo

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    Shippo was born from Laura Behrens-Wu’s frustration with the shipping process. Running her own small online retail operation out of her home, she faced inefficiency obstacles with shipping that delayed her turnaround and raised her costs.  So, she stopped selling sustainable handbags and founded Shippo to simplify shipping. Using Shippo’s API and web app, merchants can compare rates, routes, and times across USPS, FedEx, UPS, and other private carriers allowing them to choose the fastest one. The company also helps over 10,000 clients print labels, track packages, and automatically submit paperwork. Shippo is notable for giving smaller e-commerce business the best chance to survive the shipping wars with giants like Amazon.

  7. May Mobility

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    May Mobility is an autonomous vehicle startup co-founded by Alisyn Malek, who previously worked at GM Ventures. She is an engineer by training and she oversaw the acquisition of driverless car startup Cruise Automation by GM in 2016. Using this experience, Malek has headed May Mobility’s initiative to deploy fleets of driverless vehicles for public and private customers. Each fleet is customized to the needs of the customer, ensuring comfort, safety, and convenience. These environmentally-friendly electric vehicles can be hailed on-demand with a smartphone or drive in circulating routes. May Mobility capitalizes on the perception capabilities and behavior of their fleets to make them as reactive, predictive, and intelligent as possible. The company rolled out its autonomous vehicles in downtown Detroit less than a year after their launch.

  8. Werk

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    McKinsey alum, Anna Auerbach, and former big law attorney, Annie Dean, are co-founders of Werk, an online platform that acts a job marketplace, sourcing and curating highly flexible jobs from top companies like HBO, Deloitte, and Wayfair. The goal of Werk is to fight against the loss of talented employees, especially women, who would like to continue to work but can’t because of outdated corporate policies and demands that conflict with the other sectors of their lives. At Werk, they believe that flexibility is not a lifestyle perk or a benefit but a necessary structural change to how we work. They view flexibility as compatibility between the needs of an employee and the objectives of an employer, as well as the highest-impact, lowest-cost tool available to companies to create strong, productive communities. After all, humans aren’t one size fits all, so work shouldn’t be either.

  9. Maven

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    With women in America making 80% of all health decisions for themselves and their families, founder and CEO Kate Ryder (a former early-stage investor at Index Ventures) wanted to find a way to make it easier for women to get immediate, professional care from someone they trust. Moving into the rising “femtech” market she developed the network Maven, which connects women with doctors, nurse practitioners, mental health providers, and specialists.  Video appointments or private messages provide on-demand service starting at $18. Maven has helped nearly 100,000 patients since 2015 by providing specialized, accessible, and affordable care.

  10. Future Fuel

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    FutureFuel.io is a SaaS platform that easily allows employers to offer debt repayment and refinancing as a new employee benefit. What founder Laurel Taylor discovered is that 86% of employees aged 22 to 33 would stay in a job for five years if their employer helped pay down their student loans. So by combining the private sector’s need to hire and retain top talent with young employees’ need to pay off student loans, FutureFuel allows both parties benefit as more student debt is eliminated.  The company aims at facilitating the repayment of more the $10 billion in student debt by 2021, allowing the next generation to begin to build financial wellness and wealth.

If, you want to read even more about some pretty cool companies check out AngelList’s original list, “20 Female Founded Startups to Join in 2018”  (they are all hiring!):

https://angel.co/job-collections/20-female-founded-startups-to-join-in-2018?utm_campaign=platform-newsletter-121317&utm_content=main-content-link&utm_medium=email&utm_source=platform-newsletter

Or Insider Picks’s “30 female-founded startups that are doing big things” :

http://www.thisisinsider.com/female-founded-startups-to-watch/#jen-rubio-and-steph-korey-away-travel-1

I would love to hear which company is your favorite or if you know of another you would add to the list (there are lots I wanted to!).

11 thoughts on “10 Awesome Female-Founded Startups You Should Know

  1. Your introduction to this blog had me fired up. Gender inequality in the workplace/tech industry is so incredibly frustrating (like how only 2.19% of all VC funding goes to women), but you turned this blog into an empowering manifesto to some incredible women. You touched on all different industries with these companies—powerhouse women are everywhere! I have heard of some of these companies (especially Brandless!) but had no idea they were founded by women. Thanks for writing this!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Awesome blog post, Julia! It astounds me that such a pervasive, problematic issue can continue to go unaddressed in today’s day and age. That said, it’s reassuring to see these powerful women and awesome companies pave the way for future female-founded startups! In particular, I love how both Lumi and Shippo are enabling smaller e-commerce players (and hopefully female-founded retailers!) to compete with Amazon and lowering the barriers to entry for its startup clients.

    Another great female-founded startup to watch is 23andMe (from Insider Picks’ article). Co-founder and CEO Anne Wojcicki (sister of YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki) graduated Yale with a degree in Biology and worked as a healthcare investment analyst before starting the direct-to-consumer genetic testing company. It’s great to see strong women making an impact in a male-dominated sphere!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, Julia! It seems like all companies push for the importance of diversity in the workplace, yet true diversity cannot be achieved when companies are so male-dominant. I find Maven really interesting because I had no idea that women make 80% of healthcare decisions in the household. Women definitely have more strengths than healthcare decisions and these strengths may potentially be used for other business ventures!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Julia, excellent post! It’s important to recognize the barriers that women face in the startup community, especially when pitching to panels that are often all-male. While this week’s reading emphasized investors’ focus on the market and the market’s potential, I think these inherent biases can and do play a role in influencing investors’ decisions.

    Your post captured the incredible potential of women and their ability to transform the world with ideas. My favorite company you mentioned was Werk. I like how it really simplifies the job search while prioritizing flexibility. Another one of my favorite female-founded startups gone viral is The Skimm. Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg nurtured their vision of quick and easy-to-read news and grew it into an empire. Love to see this!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Like you mentioned at the top, Sheryl Sandberg is a driving force for innovation and is a real beacon for women in tech. I’m consistently empowered when I hear her speak or see her writing, along with other leaders like Karli Kloss. I’m glad you were able to highlight these women founders and hope to see more of their successes in the future!

    In the meantime, check out this awesome Sheryl Sandberg TED Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/sheryl_sandberg_why_we_have_too_few_women_leaders

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Awesome post, Julia! I love seeing this shift in such a male-dominated industry, and I think it’s indisputably better for the field’s progression as a whole. My mom has actually been holding pitch events for quite some time to support startups led by women, and after attending many of them, I can say first-hand that their entrepreneurial passion is incredible. With that said, I personally connect very much to this topic and was really interested to see all of the different endeavors that these founders are pursuing.

    Also, I’ve watched Jesse’s episode with Lumi on Shark Tank! Turning down one of them is no easy task, but I definitely commend her for believing in the product.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved this post, Julia! The gender disparity in start ups is appalling, especially technology focused start ups. The numbers cited are astonishing (women receiving 2.19% of venture capital funding?!). The companies that you described, though, prove that when provided with the tools, women can transform the startup world.
    HipCamp and Werk are two that you mentioned that I am extremely excited about. I looked up HipCamp in Colorado and will definitely be exploring that this summer! Such a unique spinoff of Airbnb – tailored to utilizing outdoor space in the best possible way!
    Additionally, I love that Werk is an amazing solution for working mothers. Mothers have such a difficult position in balancing both work and raising their child. Werk excites me because I think it will help solve the imbalance of men and women in the workplace if implemented correctly.

    Like

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