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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lumi 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Future Fuel
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!):
Or Insider Picks’s “30 female-founded startups that are doing big things” :
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!).