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Brave New Girls
Cassandra Feliciano | November 22, 2011
The stereotype: Female founders play it safe, especially when they’re (relative) novices. The reality: Just because women don’t bragabout their big ideas doesn’t mean they don’t have them.
The big idea: Dish- specific variation of yelp, where “foodspotters” can find and suggest menu items they’ve “nommed” (loved).
In the beginning: After a trip to japan, Andrzejewski was looking for a place in San Francisco that served good takoyaki, deep-fried octopus dumplings in a savory batter.
Cofounders: Tedd Grub; Soraya Darabi
Initial funding: $750k in August 2010; $3m of series a funding in December 2010
Investors: Felicis Ventures; Dave mcclure (500 startups); high Line Venture partners; Zelkova Ventures; 2020 Ventures; Dave Morin (path); Bluerun Ventures
Measures of success: At press time, more than 1 million dishes recommended around the world; 2 million downloads.
The woman thing: “i have to prove i’m not just a girl food blogger—this is a product that lots of people want to use.”
Susan Feldman, Alison Pincus
One kings Lane
Ages: 56; 37
Titles: Feldman (L): Chief Merchandising Officer; Pincus (r): Chief Strategy Officer
The big idea: Online discount site for high-end home furnishings.
In the beginning: Feldman was decorating her new place in L.A. on a busy schedule and became frustrated with the lack of options in home decor.
Initial funding: $65m to date
Investors: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; First round capital; Reid Hoffman (Linkedin)
Measures of success: Valued at $440m; has more than 2 million registered members.
The woman thing: Pincus: “remember that the technology is the medium. at its core, building a business is really about connecting with people and truly connecting with an idea.”
Susan Gregg Koger
Title: Chief Creative Officer and Lead Buyer
The big idea: E-boutique for affordable vintage and vintage-inspired fashion.
In the beginning: Koger was 17 when she launched the modcloth prototype to turn her love for thrift-store shopping into a business; she ran the site part-time while attending carnegie mellon.
Cofounder: Her husband, Eric Koger
Initial funding: $1m seed; $2m series a
Investors: First round capital; Floodgate Fund
Measures of success: 25 to 50 new products on the site daily from more than 700 independent designers; more than $15m in revenue in 2009.
The woman thing: “I get a lot of press and speaking opportunities. on the one hand, it’s great, but on the other hand, i want the recognition because my business is a success, not because they need a female face.”
The big idea: Facilitate communication between large corporations and their clients through social media networks.
In the beginning: While doing research for her bestselling the Facebook era (required reading at harvard business school), shih discovered that big companies were having trouble embracing social media.
Cofounder: Steve Garrity
Initial funding: $3m series A
Investors: sequoia capital; michael abbott (twitter); steve chen (youtube); Dave morin; David Lawee (google); aaron sittig (Facebook)
Measures of success: Positive cash flow in its first year; clients include state Farm, Farmers insurance, and 24 hour Fitness.
The woman thing: “One of my goals for the company culture was to have a great balance of people and backgrounds. today one-third of our product/eng team and almost half of our employees are female.”
The big idea: nonpartisan site that helps voters, unions, and other groups weigh in on pending legislation and issues “in the language of congress.”
In the beginning: as a congressional staffer deluged by information from advocacy groups and voters, harris realized that the communications system between the people and their elected officials was broken.
Cofounders: rachna choudhry; joshua tauberer
Initial funding: $400k from friends and family; looking to close $1.5m seed funding by the end of the year
Investors: Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly Media); Jeremy Lizt (Rapleaf)
Measure of success: Has worked with 300 organizations and 50,000 users to deliver messages to every member of congress.
The woman thing: “The key to more funding for women- led companies? more successful women-led companies!”
The big idea: Q&A site that lets students talk about course-related topics outside the classroom. In the beginning: as one of just three women majoring in computer science at the indian institute of technology, sankar felt intimidated speaking up in class. Initial funding: $1.5m seed Investors: aydin senkut (Felicis Ventures); sequoia capital; kapor capital; ron conway Measure of success: Used at more than 1,000 campuses worldwide.
The woman thing: “I’ve learned to go out of my way to ask questions, something i don’t see in many of my male counterparts. it goes back to the stereotype of men not asking for directions. i think it gives me an advantage.”
Silver Tail Systems
Title: Chief Strategy Officer
The big idea: Identifies potential fraudsters based on how normal people use a website.
In the beginning: As head of fraud detection at ebay, mather spent much of her time responding to criminal attacks. After she left the company, she started to focus on identifying attackers before they strike.
Cofounder: Mike Eynon Initial funding: $22.1m
Investors: Leapfrog Ventures; andreessen horowitz; seraph group; startup capital Ventures
Measure of success: Provides security for some of the world’s biggest financial, government, and e-commerce institutions.
Other ventures: Vestyl software, LLC
The woman thing: “The first year, i didn’t have any income. i was betting everything on this. there’s a perception that women don’t take risks, but that’s changing.”
Title: Founding CEO
The big idea: Online news source where users can report and comment on current events anywhere in the world.
In the beginning: Anti-muslim senti- ment after 9/11 and tareen’s experi- ences volunteering in pakistan after the 2005 earthquake made her yearn for a platform from which to encourage global dialogue.
Initial funding: $4.5m
Investor: Vantagepoint Venture partners
Measures of success: Reporters in 180 countries and more than 500,000 users all over the world; acquired by Datran media in may.
The woman thing: “I’ve seen more women entre- preneurs building iphone and ipad apps, but they’re having a hard time raising capital. We don’t think big, and that bothers the hell out of me. if we don’t reach for the stars, we’re not going to convince the guys to put money in.”
Title: Chief Technology Officer
The big idea: A mobile app search engine.
In the beginning: Edwards spent three months talking to app users to understand what they did and didn’t like.
The biggest problem: People didn’t have a good way to find apps based on function.
Cofounder: Ben Kieghran
Initial funding: $565k seed; $2m series A
Investors: Bluerun Ventures; Ron Conway; Aydin Senkut; David Lee; Brian Pokorny; Auren Hoffman
Measures of success: They don’t share numbers.
The woman thing: “I think people are definitely surprised that i’m the cto and not a marketing person or something like that, but once we start talking, i get evaluated on my own merits.”
Title: Founding CEO (now product line manager at autodesk)
The big idea: Open- source platform that allows users to create fully interactive, collaborative 3D worlds that run on a web browser.
In the beginning: While earning her ms at carnegie mellon, tellerman was working on a startup idea to help the FDny train new firefighters. at a Wired conference, she noticed that the project appealed to teachers and kids, too.
Initial funding: $3.5m
Investors: Innovation Works; Idea Foundry; Levensohn Venture partners; Illuminate Ventures; SK Telecom
Measures of success: Thousands of firefighters worldwide use the platform; sold to Autodesk in December 2010.
The woman thing: “As a woman seeking funding, you get to stand out a little. this can be good or bad, but it’s an opportunity, and as an entrepreneur you want to use as many opportunities as you can.”
The big idea: Create an online community for shar- ing presentations.
In the beginning: One of Sinha’s cofounders was at a conference when he noticed how eagerly speakers traded Usb key chains to view one another’s presentations.
Cofounders: Jonathan Boutelle; Amit Ranjan
Initial funding: $3m series A
Investors: Dave McClure; Venrock; Ariel Poler (I/PRO); Jonathan Abrams (Founders Den); Hal Varian; Mark Cuban; Yee Lee; Saul Klein
Measure of success: Gets 60 million unique visitors monthly.
Other ventures: Uzanto (closed in 2007)
The woman thing: “That’s something i don’t spend any time thinking about—I focus on the company.”