Want to Be CEO? Look to These 27 Tech Companies Started by Women
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This morning, I clocked into work by joining my daily video checkin. Looking back at me were 6 people, 5 of whom are women. Did I mention I work in tech? The stats aren’t usually skewed in that direction.
But I work at Skillcrush, a company founded AND run by a woman CEO. I’ve been at Skillcrush since almost the very beginning when we were a teeny team of 3! Now, a few years later, I work on a fully remote, global team of mostly women (Max, Brian, love you guys too!!). We are a team of STEMinists, a team of leaders.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably familiar with recent research that shows the importance of diversity in the workplace. Diversity makes us smarter, it pushes us to innovate, and yes—it even improves the bottom line.
This kind of research proving the benefits and need for diversity in the workplace has been around for a while, but it’s only recently that the topic has gained media momentum. Despite the recent media buzz, progress towards diversity and inclusion in the workplace within tech has been disappointingly slow, especially given the usual rapid pace that typifies the industry.
This kind of research drives home the reality that working at a woman-founded and woman-powered company means I AM IN AN AWESOME BUBBLE!
Not only is Skillcrush run by Adda Birnir, Tech Bae extraordinaire, but Skillcrush partners with some fantastic companies ALSO built and run by lady CEOs. I get to work with these fantastic women on a daily basis.
So while it’s totally mind boggling that the pace of change in this arena is sooooo slow, I can, with a glimmer of hope and some relief, confidently say that impact is not.
There are AWESOME women building and growing inclusive companies creating exciting products, solving critical issues and harnessing the power of technology to incite innovation.
At Skillcrush, we want to add to this group of women. We want to help nudge the aforementioned stats in a better direction. Part of that mission includes celebrating each inspiring #bosslady out there.
Below, meet 27 inspiring women tech catalysts at the helm of influential companies.
1. Limor Fried, Adafruit
Fried founded Adafruit Industries in her dorm room at MIT while studying electrical engineering and computer science. Adafruit provides makers of all ages with electronic kits and tools. Fried was named “Entrepreneur of the Year by Entrepreneur as well as the Most Influential Woman in Tech by Fast Company.
2. Meredith Perry, uBeam
uBeam solves a problem we all have, but have become so desensitized towards—charging. Hate tangled wires? How about heavy, bulky chargers? Ever gone to a conference and fought like an animal over the ONE outlet in the room? Meredith Perry feels your pain and her startup, uBeam aims to make wireless devices ACTUALLY wireless.
3. Leah Busque, Task Rabbit
Busque’s startup, Task Rabbit, is a service networking online platform that connects you with people near you who are willing to take some items off your to-do list. The platform outsources tasks for busy (or unwilling) people. The platform showcases price transparency and a guarantee on every task.
4. Tracy Young, Plangrid
Young’s app, Plangrid, is an app that enables contractors and architects to collaborate on plans via their ipads. Young founded Plangrid after graduating college and working in construction management. She realized quickly that the industry was behind the times and created Plangrid with a focus on blueprints—helping the industry go paperless.
5. Gina Bianchini, Mightybell
Bianchini is the CEO & Co-Founder of Mightybell, an online platform for niche, personalized social networks. Before running Mightybell, Bianchini founded Ning with co-founder Marc Andreessen & Leanin.org with Sheryl Sandberg. Bianchini is also an investor and an entrepreneur in residence at the Andreessen Horowitz venture firm.
6. Tiffani Ashley Bell and
7. Kristy Tillman, Detroit Water Project
Bell and Tillman created The Detroit Water Project when the city was in the midst of the largest bankruptcy in US history. The DWP website connects donors to those in need—essentially crowdfunding water bills in Detroit.
You log on, enter an amount you’re willing to pay and the site finds you matches with unpaid water bills. You can pay a bill in full or fund a portion of the bill. The non-profit project launched as part of Y Combinator’s winter class in 2015.
8. Jess Lee, Polyvore
Lee was an avid Polyvore user who wrote a letter to the company detailing features and functionality she felt would make the site even better and even pointing out some errors and issues. Polyvore’s co-founders wrote her back and invited her to come fix issues and build on the platform herself. Combining her passions for tech and art, Lee turned Polyvore into a profitable company for 3 years, and was awarded honorary co-founder status after being named CEO in 2012.
9. Rashmi Sinha, Slideshare
Rashmi Sinha is an entrepreneur and investor who was named one of The World’s Top 10 Women Influencers by Fast Company. Sinha co-founded Slideshare, the presentation-sharing platform, in 2006. It was acquired by LinkedIn in 2012.
10. Kathryn Finney, digitalundivided
Finney founded, then sold the popular Budget Fashionista blog, served as editor-at-large at BlogHer and then founded her firm digitalundivided. DU seeks to narrow the gender and minority gap that exists in tech via its programs and initiatives.
11. Melanie Perkins, Canva
Perkins founded Canva in Australia, intending it to be a “disruptive online platform allowing anyone to create professional quality designs.” Canva was founded on a $5,000 tax rebate as well as a bank loan. In 2015, Canva raised $15 million in Series A funding, with a valuation of $165 million. Fun fact: Canva counts Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson amongst its investors.
12. Whitney Wolfe, Bumble
Bumble, widely considered the “feminist Tinder” is a dating app founded by ex-Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe. Wolfe, a tireless voice against sexism in Silicon Valley, founded the app to empower women to make the first move in the online dating scene. On Bumble, women initiate contact with potential dates first and matches disappear within 24 hours if contact is not initiated (in the case of same-sex couples, either woman can send the first message).
13. Lara Setrakian, Newsdeeply
Setrakian is a foreign correspondent who founded NewsDeeply—an interactive community platform that serves as a “single-subject information hub connecting experts and key decisions makers.” Setrakian has created several niche communities that cover underreported stories for users including SyriaDeeply, WaterDeeply and EbolaDeeply.
14. Adi Tatarko, Houzz
Tatarko founded Houzz to cater to homeowners interested in interior design and home remodeling. The platform allows users to browse photos for inspiration, connect with professionals and contractors and even shop for their home.
15. Danielle Weisberg and
16. Carly Zakin, The Skimm
The Skimm is a daily newsletter that breaks down current events. I’m a longtime subscriber and I love Skimm’s quick, approachable coverage. Weisberg and Zakin had lengthy careers at NBC before they decided to leave and launch The Skimm.
17. Jocelyn Leavitt, Hopscotch
Former teacher Leavitt founded Hopscotch, a startup that aims to make programming accessible to kids in grades 5 through 8, when she got tired of watching her students “mindlessly consuming games.” The Hopscotch curriculum focuses on creating games and the platform comes with an online forum and other resources students can use to ask questions and learn the skills they need.
18. Brit Morin, Brit & Co
Morin founded Brit + Co, an online content and e-commerce company that caters to the DIY set in 2011. The site is focused on fostering creativity amongst young girls and women and includes a website, several apps and microsites as well as online classes and it’s own DIY project kits.
19. Sarah Chipps, Jewelbots
Before Sara founded Jewelbots, she was CTO at Flatiron school and also cofounded Girl Develop It. Jewelbots are programmable friendship bracelets with advanced capabilities. Jewelbots can be connected to a computer and kids can program their own Jewelbots using Arduino software. I don’t care if they’re for kids—I want some for my squad!
20. Robin Exton, Her
As the second dating app on this list, Her proves that with diversity comes better products. Her is a dating app for queer women that also lets you find events, chat, make friends, or yes, go on an actual date.
21. Elisa Miller-Out, Singlebrook
Miller-Out is the founder and CEO of Singlebrook Technology, a NY-based custom web and mobile development company. Singlebrook is a certified B Corp focused on using technology for change, emphasizing social and environmental responsibility.
22. Lynda Weinman, Lynda.com
In 1995, Weinman founded lynda.com, which sold to Linkedin in 2015. Lynda.com is an online education company that offers a huge catalogue of tech video tutorials. The company has over 500 employees globally and until recently, Weinman was still its executive chair.
23. Gina Trapani, Lifehacker
Trapani founded Lifehacker back in 2005, although she is no longer its CEO. She’s currently working on ThinkUp.com, a platform that analyzes and shares your social media activity. Trapani has received several prestigious awards and has been listed on multiple Most Influential Women in Tech lists.
24. Jessica H Ladd, Sexual Health Innovations
Ladd left John Hopkins University in the middle of her PhD program to launch SHI. The organization’s mission focuses on the development of apps, websites, and software to provide access to sexual health and wellbeing education.
25. Kate Kendall, CloudPeeps
Kendall is the founder and CEO of CloudPeeps, a platform that matches freelancers with businesses looking to hire them. She’s also the creator of The Fetch and often writes on the topics of entrepreneurship and business.
26. Milena Berry, and Katharine Zaleski – PowerToFly
Milena and Zaleski are tech industry vets who founded PowerToFly, a global platform that places talented tech women in awesome remote positions. Both women are incredibly inspiring and Berry has even taught a master class right here at Skillcrush!
27. Pooja Sankar, Piazza
Sankar founded edtech platform Piazza to enable student learning in large classrooms. Piazza allows students (and instructors) to pose and answer questions, help others, and build an online community around class resources.
Have a woman you’d like to see on a future list? Tweet us @skillcrush with your pick of a #bosslady.
Inspired as heck but worried you don’t have the tech chops to be one of this crew? Check out Skillcrush’s 10-Day Coding Bootcamp. In the free email course, you’ll get a taste of what it’s like to work in tech and even get to write your first lines of code.
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