Women may be underrepresented throughout the tech sector — but they’re building some incredible startups, apps, and products.
We’ve rounded up a collection of 19 female-founded startups that made the news this year.
Some of them launched or came out of beta, while others raised funding or launched new services.
You’ll want to keep these startups — and their founders — on your radar.
These days it seems like everybody has an app in the App Store. And why not? It's a great way to make extra money while putting out a product that you believe in.
Alexandra Keating is capitalising on that idea with DWNLD, a mobile app-creation platform that helps companies, brands, and other influencers easily and affordably turn their content, from social media to photos to videos to GIFs, into native mobile apps in minutes. DWNLD landed a $12 million investment from Greylock Partners in September,and works with clients like Nylon, xoJane, and a number of YouTube stars and bloggers.
Reham Ragiri is one of the only minority female founders to take a company through the prestigious startup incubator Y Combinator, transforming the preowned-furniture marketplace in New York City.
She and cofounder Kalam Dennis developed their service so that buyers and sellers of used furniture don't have to coordinate delivery or pick-up times, or even do the actual delivering or picking up themselves -- AptDeco has a delivery partner that does it all, taking one of the biggest hassles of trying to buy or sell furniture in New York City out of the equation.
Spoon University -- a website to share recipes, health and lifestyle stories, restaurant reviews, BuzzFeed-esque quizzes, and other food-related content -- went live in September 2013 and quickly grew to a 100-person student staff at Northwestern's campus, before expanding nationwide.
Spoon University, which has raised a $2 million seed round, says it attracts 2 million unique visitors every month -- 10x growth from the 200,000 it had earlier this year. Schools like Penn, NYU, Dartmouth, and Michigan all have their own Spoon University pages, with 3,000 students actively contributing stories, photos, and videos to the website.
Spoon University's advisors include digital media startup talents like Bryan Goldberg, the CEO and founder of Bustle and Bleacher Report, and Chris Altchek, the CEO of Mic. Its readership is 75% female.
Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin quit their jobs at NBC to start a daily email newsletter called The Skimm. In December 2014, The Skimm raised a $6.3 million series A round from Greycroft Partners, Irving Azoff, and RRE Ventures.
The Oprah Winfrey-endorsed newsletter launched three years ago. The last time subscriber numbers were released the count was at 1.5 million. 'We've grown a lot since then,' Zakin told BI a few months ago. In addition to growing its readership, The Skimm has grown from two friends on a couch to more than a dozen people in an office.
WayUp (formerly Campus Job) is a marketplace for college kids looking for internships and jobs. About 90% of the positions offered on WayUp are paid, and the startup sees 10,000 new college-age users signing up weekly. Listings on the website include freelancing gigs, bartending jobs, and campus representative roles for companies.
WayUp was born out of a campus-rep company that former Googler Liz Wessel had started with a fellow student at Penn; it's an alternative to a college career-service center and Symplicity, a job board employers have to pay for postings on. It recently went through the startup accelerator Y Combinator, moved back to New York from Silicon Valley, and raised $7.8 million in May, bringing its total funding to $8.9 million.
Few things make a woman feel more fabulous than a fresh blowout. But at $40 to $90 a pop in New York City, it's a luxury that quickly adds up. Enter Vive, a 'ClassPass for blowouts' startup that lets members book unlimited blowout appointments at salons nearby for a monthly fee. Founded by Alanna Gregory, Vive launched earlier this year and is still working with investors to raise funding.
The service is definitely gaining traction. Vive capitalises on the popularity of on-demand services like Uber that make it possible to get what you want when you want it, relatively hassle-free.
Revel Systems sells point-of-sale systems based on Apple's iOS mobile platform. Since its 2010 founding, Revel Systems has sold its POS systems to 10,000 customers -- including Dairy Queen, Goodwill, and Tully's Coffee. Its employee count has doubled in the past year, from 200 to 400 people, and Revel Systems has deals with tech companies like Apple and Intuit.
In November 2014, Lisa Falzone's company raised a $110 million round of funding led by private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson, and Stowe. In August, it raised another $13 million at a $500 million valuation.
Karen Horiuchi, who has degrees in law and biotech, was on a trip abroad when she realised she had brought several containers of pretty much the same purple shade of eye shadow.
She wanted to make some money selling it instead of throwing it away, but realised Amazon and eBay don't accept used makeup. People looking to buy cheaper or discontinued versions of their favourites were relegated to forums and Craigslist, Horiuchi told Business Insider.
She started Glambot as a side-business in 2013, but in the past year the team has grown to 12 people and is on track for $1 million in sales. By setting the minimum number of products that can be sold to Glambot to 20, Horiuchi has found that most of their sellers are people within the industry who receive extra samples and freebies or make-up obsessed people who take good care of their products anyway.
Kathryn Minshew and Alex Cavoulacos are the cofounders of the job-search and career-advice site The Muse. This year, it raised a $10 million series A round of funding from investors including Aspect Ventures, DBL Partners, Great Oaks Venture Capital Partner, and QED Investors. In total, the Y Combinator startup has raised $12.8 million from investors.
The Muse receives 3 million active users every month and is competing with other career-advice and job-search sites like LinkedIn and Monster.com. By the end of 2015, The Muse expects to hire 25 people. The startup also wants to expand to skills development. Compared to the average age of users on LinkedIn -- 47 -- The Muse's is much lower at 29.
Gym rats love ClassPass, a service that lets users take unlimited classes (up to three per location) at boutique fitness studios for a monthly flat fee. Not only does the ClassPass give users a steep discount on pricey classes like Pure Barre, but it allows them to try a multitude of things, from spin to hot yoga to Pilates.
Investors are pretty keen on ClassPass as well. The startup is valued at about $400 million, and in November 2015, ClassPass raised a $30 million Series C round led by Google Ventures, bringing its total amount of venture capital raised to $84 million since its launch in 2013.
The League -- a selective dating app for elite, successful individuals -- launched in San Francisco and in New York City this year. Stanford graduate Amanda Bradford founded The League to match up highly motivated and interesting single professionals.
Its users often have advanced degrees. The startup has raised a $2.1 million seed round from Jon Vlassopulos, IDG Ventures USA, Roman Feola, Naomi Gleit, Cowboy Ventures, XSeed Capital, Peter Kelly, Russ Siegelman, Mark Leslie, Allen DeBevoise, SherpaVentures, and Structure Capital.
Danielle Morrill, Kevin Morrill, and Andy Sparks are the dream team behind Mattermark. Mattermark is a data platform that helps VC firms keep tabs on up-and-coming startups. Mattermark's software lets users look at information about startups based on news stories, Twitter, SEC filings, AngelList, CrunchBase, and more.
The company has raised $9.9 million in four rounds from investors including Great Oaks Venture Capital and Andreessen Horowitz. Danielle Morrill is Mattermark's CEO.
Tech needs more women.
Now, that concern has become the mantra for Jewelbots, a NYC-based customisable-by-code accessories startup, which sees the deficit as an opportunity for young girls interested in tech. Jewelbots is currently part of the TechStars NYC accelerator program.
'Girls love expressing themselves through customisation,' Sara Chipps, now co-founder and CEO at Jewelbots, told Business Insider earlier this year. Cofounders Chipps and Brooke Moreland worked together at 4-year-old startup Fashism, before it closed in 2013. Chipps, who had the idea for Jewelbots, is former CTO of the FlatIron School for students in web development and co-founder of Girl Develop It, a non-profit that connects women interested in web and software development with resources.
Kegan Schouwenburg got the idea for her startup Sols back when she worked at 3D printery Shapeways, while walking around the factory floor in her black leather platform boots. Sols is a startup that 3D prints orthopaedic shoe insoles.
The startup has raised $19.3 million from investors including Grape Arbor VC, FundersGuild, Felicis Ventures, Rothenberg Ventures, RRE Ventures, Lux Capital, and Founders Fund.
Brit Morin is Silicon Valley's answer to Martha Stewart. The former Googler's ecommerce and DIY project startup, Brit + Co, lets users curate crafty ideas and buy monthly DIY craft kits. Brit + Co. features articles, recipes, and tutorials for skills like knitting, hand-lettering, and 3D printing.
Morin has been dubbed the 'Martha Stewart of Silicon Valley' due to her unique combination of tech savvy and craftiness. This spring, Brit + Co. raised $23 million. In total, the startup has raised more than $27 million from investors like Cowboy Ventures, Yahoo's Marissa Mayer, Index Ventures, and Lerer Hippeau Ventures.
Three-year-old Loverly is a wedding inspiration startup for millennial brides. Earlier this year it announced it would dive into e-commerce with the launch of 'The Loverly Collection,' which offers an assortment of curated and branded wedding products including bridesmaids dresses, floral arrangements, and vintage wedding decor.
The company told Business Insider that in the last quarter of 2014, it saw a 400% gain in online reach year-over-year. Loverly has raised $9.9 million in funding from investors including Great Oaks Venture Capital, 645 Ventures, SoftBank Capital, Montage Ventures, Female Founders Fund, and angel investors including Joanne Wilson.
Formerly a professional interior designer, Leura Fine decided to start her own company when she realised how inaccessible interior design was for the everyday person. 'It's inefficient, expensive, a waste of time, and there's got to be a better way of doing this,' she told Business Insider.
Laurel & Wolf, has software that connects designers and clients virtually, letting designers work for customers anywhere across the country. When you're someone who wants interior design work done, you go to the website, take a style quiz, answer questions about the space you want designed, and upload pictures and information about the dimensions of your space.
A typical customer gets different designs from 3 to 5 designers, who have been matched in regard to your style, your profile, and the type of room you're doing. Then, you pick the designer you like the best, and you go through an iterative process with them to figure out how best to style your home. The startup offers packages ranging from $299 to $499. Laurel & Wolf takes a 20% cut. The startup has 800 interior designers across North America, all hand-vetted and established individuals.
Marcela Sapone and Jessica Beck met at Harvard Business School, fresh out of stints in the finance world. To keep their lives in order and their apartments clean, they had hired someone from Craigslist to buy their groceries and do their laundry. The woman they hired, Jenny, came to their apartments to take care of errands that would otherwise pile up. This was the earliest iteration of what would become their company, Alfred.
Today, Alfred is a startup that hires employees -- Alfred Client Managers, or just 'Alfreds' -- to run weekly errands: things like buying your groceries, sorting your mail, dropping off packages, and taking care of your laundry for you. You pay $99 a month for the service, plus the cost of things like your groceries.
In May, Alfred raised a $10.5 million Series A round of funding from New Enterprise Associates, Spark Capital, CrunchFund, and Sherpa Capital. In total, Alfred has raised $12.5 million since it was founded in 2013.
Almost two years after the FDA stopped consumer genetics company 23andMe from providing its direct-to-consumer health reports, the company is still very much alive and kicking. This summer, 23andMe raised a $115 million Series E round of funding led by Fidelity.
The Mountain View, California-based company, which was founded in 2006, is known for its $99 genetic test kits. Customers who use the kits send in a sample of spit. Then, 23andMe's labs isolate the DNA in the sample and scan it for single genetic variations that are linked to specific traits like hair and eye colour, susceptibility to certain diseases, and ancestry.
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