15 female founders building killer tech companies
There are a lot of lists of amazing, inspirational female founders totally crushing it around the web, but they all seem to feature the same people. We know from talking to amazing female founders and working with some awesome female-led customers, that there are so many other women out there building incredible tech companies that will change the world. These women not only deserve the spotlight for all of their hard work, but provide an excellent source of inspiration and tactical advice for anyone trying to build a business.
Here are 15 female founders you might not have heard of building killer tech companies.
1) Melanie Perkins, Canva
Sydney-based Melanie Perkins created Canva with co-founders Cliff Obrecht and Cameron Adams to provide anyone who’s not a professional designer and doesn’t know the Adobe Suite with a web-based tool for making beautiful graphics. We love Canva at CloudPeeps and use it on a daily basis.
Having raised about $12.6 million in funding and just over two-years old, 40% of Fortune 500 companies and 200,000 organizations already use Canva, according to Forbes. In an interview with Smart Company, Perkins shared that Canva has four million users across 179 countries who have created a total of 30 million designs so far.
Perkins started her first company, Fusion Yearbooks when she was 19-years old in university, which was so successful, she dropped out. Today, Canva employs 70+ people who are fed a chef-prepared lunch every day.
2) Payal Kadakia, ClassPass
ClassPass is (an amazing) flexible monthly subscription membership allowing you to join gym classes in varying locations, at different gyms, studios, etc. Founded in June of 2013, ClassPass is in more than 34 cities across the U.S. and has raised more than $54 million. As of February, the company was tracking to a $60 million revenue run rate for 2015 and even acquired its first competitor.
ClassPass originally launched out of TechStars as a search-based marketplace where users could find any type of class (guitar lessons, ballet) and sign up instantly. Today, the company has achieved success by buying discounted/wholesale inventory from gyms and boutiques and then selling a re-bundled subscription to that inventory. Co-Founder and CEO Payal Kadakia said that she is working to figure out how to build a more sophisticated pricing system that benefits both the studios and her company.
With over 25 years of dance experience, Kadakia also founded The Sa Dance Company, a contemporary Indian dance company. She has led the company to achieve tremendous community support, sold out performance, celebrity endorsements, and positive reviews in The New York Times, MTV, and prominent South Asian publications.
3) Melody McCloskey, StyleSeat
StyleSeat is a place to discover and book a salon, spa or professional online. Founded in 2011, the San Francisco-based company raised a $25 million Series B in July of 2015, bringing funding to $39.9 million. Today, it has 320,000 professionals in over 15,000 cities across the U.S.
Prior to StyleSeat, Melody McCloskey led digital distribution for Current TV. In 2011, after feeling frustrated that there was no easy way to book beauty appointments, she founded StyleSeat with Dan Levine.
With a background in ballet and a passion for gaming, McCloskey tried a computer science course in high school, but decided it wasn’t for her. After a stint in public relations, she fell in love with the startup world when working with Current TV, eventually being inspired to start StyleSeat. You can learn more about how StyleSeat got started in this interview with Kevin Rose of Foundation.
4) Robyn Exton, HER
According to Pando, the idea for HER was hatched during a conversation in a London bar in 2013. At the time, Exton was working in marketing and had a dating service client. Her initial concept was a female-only version of Grindr. She began taking coding classes, and that fall launched Dattch. She later moved away from the Grindr model in the direction of Pinterest, a new visual-heavy display aimed to make women feel more comfortable.
Exton, who is a recent transplant to San Francisco, CA, was featured in the British documentary series “How to be a Young Billionaire.”
5) Danielle Morrill, Mattermark
Mattermark is a data platform for venture capital companies to quantify signals of growing and potentially lucrative startups. Co-founder and CEO Danielle Morrill has one of the best Twitter threads out there. Not only for her amazing cat gifs, but also her stellar startup and investing advice based on actual data and personal experiences.
Founded in 2013, the company has raised $9.9M in four rounds from 41 investors. Prior to Mattermark, Morrill was a co-founder and the chief executive officer of Referly Inc., Director of Marketing at Twilio, community manager at Pelago, Editor in Chief at Seattle 2.0, and business analyst at Expeditors International.
6) Sandi MacPherson, Quibb
Former climate change scientist, Sandi MacPherson founded Quibb – an exclusive community for tech professionals to share and discuss industry news and content – in 2013. The company has raised a Seed round of $800,000 and MacPherson runs the successful content network as a solopreneur.
With a front row seat to the imbalance of visible male and female executives, MacPherson also launched the 50/50 Pledge, an effort she hopes will help technology conferences and events showcase more female speakers.
7) Alyssa Ravasio, Hipcamp
HipCamp is a platform to search, discover and book ranches, farms, vineyards, nature preserves and public sites for camping across the U.S. The company was born out of a frustration of Founder Alyssa Ravasio’s. After spending hours researching a campground to watch the first sunrise of 2013, nowhere did it say that it as a tremendous surfing spot, and she didn’t bring her board. Base on personal experience combined with learning that 30% of California’s camping grounds were set to close, she knew the system was broken.
The company raised a $2 million Seed round in 2014. Instead of hiring a dev right out of the gate, Ravasio learned to code herself with the help of ers at Dev Bootcamp. She says, for her, coding is a practice, like yoga or surfing.
8) Laura Roeder, Edgar
Laura Roeder is the Founder and CEO of Edgar, the new social media content management system that people are raving about. Roeder is a social media marketing expert who gives businesses of all sizes the tools they need to make their mark on the web. In addition to creating Edgar, she has developed social media marketing web courses like Creating Fame and Social Brilliant.
After becoming a junior designer for an ad agency when she was 22, she quickly transitioned into CEO of her own consulting company before launching Edgar. She taught herself how to code websites in junior high school was named one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under 35 in 2011, 2013 and 2014 and spoke at the White House about the value of entrepreneurship. Money isn’t everything, but making a million dollars before your 30th birthday is pretty impressive.
9) Jenny Karin Morrill and Shruti Shah, Move Loot
Jenny Karin Morrill (CMO) and Shruti Shah (COO) are two of four the Co-founder and CMO of Move Loot, the most convenient and economical way to buy and sell used furniture online. The company has raised $21.8M in three rounds from 17 investors.
The most impressive thing about Move Loot is that their mission isn’t about re-selling furniture, it’s about helping the environment. The site says: “Every year, 10.8 million tons of furniture gets dumped into landfills in the United States. By shopping and selling with Move Loot, you are lengthening the life of furniture and sending less to landfill.”
10) Marcela Sapone and Jessica Beck, Hello Alfred
Hello Alfred pairs busy individuals with organized, knowledgeable, intuitive people who handle all of life’s necessities: from groceries and dry cleaning, to tailoring and sending packages. Alfred is an automatic, hands-off service that hums along quietly in the background of users’ lives. The Alfreds — named for the butler of Bruce Wayne/Batman — are all employees of the company and not 1099 contractors.
According to Business Insider, any time the founders went to their customers and told them they were considering pumping the brakes on the company to focus on school, their customers would freak out and offer to pay more and more money to keep Alfred’s services afloat. Founded in 2013, the company won TechCrunch Disrupt in 2014 and has since raised $12.5 million in three rounds. They currently have 19 employees and average customer spend was about $4,200/year in 2014 and growing rapidly.
11) Eileen Carey and Lauren Mosenthal, Glassbreakers
Eileen Carey and Lauren Mosenthal are the Co-founders of Glassbreakers, a network for professional women that uses an algorithm to collect professional and personal details and introduce you to peers with similar career goals for free. Launched in 2014, the company has raised $1.2 million in one Angel round.
According to this interview, Carey and Mosenthall came up with the idea for Glassbreakers over a bottle of wine. As soon as an investor cut them a $5,000 check, they quit their jobs (Mosenthal worked in tech at an ad agency while Carey did communications at a healthcare firm).
12) Lauren McLeod, FlightFox
Originally from Sydney, Australia, Lauren McLeod is the Co-Founder of Flightfox, a marketplace for freelance travel experts, which has raised a Seed round of $800,000, was in YC and is a 500 Startups company. Even Lauren is a travel expert on the platform. Lauren is also the founder of Globetrooper, a social network for adventure travel, which has been since sold.
13) Gillian Morris, Hitlist
Gillian Morris is the Co-Founder and CEO of Hitlist, an app that allows users to build and share lists of places they’d like to go, then sends alerts when there are good deals to travel to those places. Investors include the Chairman of Orbitz and the founder of JetBlue.
Morris has been named one of the Young Leaders to watch in the travel industry by PhoCusWright. Before entering the startup world, she worked as a consultant, journalist and educator in Turkey, China, the Gulf states, Syria and Afghanistan. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, CNN, CNBC, TechCrunch, The Next Web, LifeHacker, Gizmodo and more. Morris has been sharing her startup journey on her blog with super practical, useful advice for founders and startup team members alike.
14) Cat Noone, Liberio
Cat Noone is the Co-founder and Designer at Liberio, a platform that allows you to create your own ebooks for free with one click right from the cloud or your computer found in 2013 in Berlin. Cat is also the co-maker of Coo, MakerHunt, Designer Relationships, The Gentle Hound and official proofer and bufferer of Typoguide.
Noone worked in special education before jumping into a career that she really loves and makes her happy. After switching tracks and before launching Liberio, she worked as a product designer at Prolific Interactive and as design lead at ADP Innovation Labs, and she has freelanced and advised startups. Read more about Noone’s story in this Smashing Magazine interview.
15) Kate Kendall, CloudPeeps
Our very own Founder and CEO, Kate Kendall has quite the back story as well. Prior to launching CloudPeeps and The Fetch – a guide where professionals share and discover what’s happening in their city – Kate started out as a business journalist and later led growth and digital at magazine companies, handled outreach for new startups and helped businesses understand the role of community.
It was when she sold most of her stuff and decided to travel around the world freelancing that she came up with the ideas behind The Fetch, and later CloudPeeps. Since, CloudPeeps has grown to a community of 1,000 freelancers who’ve helped hundreds of brands and startups reach millions of people with their content.
Her work has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Quartz, BuzzFeed, The Next Web, Marie Claire, Lifehacker and more. General Assembly named her blog in the top 10 startup founder blogs to read in 2014. A British-Australian living in San Francisco, she has one of the best accents ever.
Do you know of a badass female founder building a killer tech company? Better yet, are you one? Please share your story in the comments below, we’re always looking for more inspiration!
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