October 4, 2014
Look around: Women are changing the world, especially in the entrepreneurship and tech fields. From Megan Smith, the former Google executive turned U.S. Chief Technology Officer, to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, there’s no shortage of powerful, passionate and innovative women. But if you need a little more inspiration, here’s a list of women to watch in tech and entrepreneurship:
Biddle is a writer, connector and currently works at GLG Share. She’s also the former Chief Community Officer and Director of Talent at BrightCo, a company known for connecting young entrepreneurs, innovators, leaders and creatives with brands and investors.
In the past few months, BrightCo joined GLG Share and Biddle redesigned PippaBiddle.com and Pippaloves.com. Not only has Biddle learned about building her personal brand through building a company, but she’s learned a few other important lessons as well.
“Over the last two-and-a-half years, I’ve learned how important honesty is an as entrepreneur,” says Biddle. “I’ve worked with many entrepreneurs who exaggerate their funding, oversell products, and promise things that they know they can’t deliver on. In 90% of cases, they mean well. Often, it even works out in their favor in the short term, but in the long run honesty and authenticity are priceless.”
Gabriel has had a passion for fashion for as long as she can remember. She’s the Founder of WNDRLUST – a company that lets users shop from their favorite brands and stores all on one simple interface. Using leading edge technology, Gabriel is also making visual editorials and look books “shoppable” — meaning users can view the content and instantly find out where an item is from, how much it costs and personal information about the model.
Here advice to young entrepreneurs is “don’t ask for money, ask for advice,” stick to your vision, and more importantly to trust the struggle.
“It’s all a part of the journey of being an entrepreneur” says Gabriel who graduated from the University of the Pacific. “We are given these ideas to bring to life and the journey is the best part, not necessarily the end goal.”
Goldstein wears a number of hats — she’s the former Regional President and current Board Member of Kairos New York and the COO of Fever Smart, a a smart wireless thermometer that allows parents to remotely monitor their children’s temperature via their smartphone.
She says part of her role at the Kairos Society is to help actively recruit the top female entrepreneurs to be a part of their fellowship and create a set of resources to help grow the organization.
“I also believe that the change makers who will truly scale the community of female entrepreneurs are the passionate young women who are already involved,” says Goldstein. “We have the ability to connect and introduce and discuss and build; we are each others’ biggest advocates.”
Koullias is bringing together the world of fashion and technology. She is the co-founder and CEO of Jon Lou, a company that has created a luxury leather and “intelligent” handbag that will charge a users cell phone.
Her advice to anyone in the entrepreneur field is stay persistent and never give up.
“Never give up, it’s just so important because I’ve been working on this since 2011,” says Koullias who attended MIT. “This idea came to me in 2011 and yet I didn’t have a chance to work on it full-time until 2014. I knew this was an idea that would take off and I knew this was something people wanted and the opportunities for us weren’t right until wearables started coming into play.”
Malaihollo is reinventing the way companies collect consumer feedback with her company Wyzerr.
“Goodbye long, time-consuming, cumbersome surveys. Customer feedback just became fun, fast, and easy,” reads an excerpt on their site. “Around here, we like to say its big data for millennials, by millennials.”
Malaihollo started her first company three years ago. She says sometimes it was challenging to pitch in places like Silicon Valley, but she has learned to change her approach.
“I don’t give people a chance to project their own perceptions of me,” says Malaihollo, who graduated from the University of California Berkeley in just three years. “I make a conscientious effort to eliminate any stereotype of a woman in tech by being knowledgeable about my field, up to date on new tech developments, building a great product, and just being honest and friendly.”
Tess Micheals is a social entrepreneur and the founder of Soceana, a tech-platform for corporate volunteerism. Michaels says she founded Soceana as a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania to pursue her passion for generating social good. Michaels currently has a patent-pending on a social currency that creates a multiplier effect on impact investments.
Michaels says there is support from women in all parts of the field, but she would love to see more in the technology, strategy, operations, and primary founder roles.
“Having a diverse team brings so many great perspectives into play. Women are phenomenal at understanding design (user interface) and strategy (creative business models) – now let’s see that utilized more in the entrepreneurial arena,” says Michaels who studies Finance, Legal Studies, and Operations Management in Wharton and Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences at UPenn.
Caroline Pugh is the COO of VirtualU, named the Youth Ambassador for Entrepreneurship for the State of Virginia by former U.S. CTO, Aneesh Chopra and won a CIT Gap 50 Award winner for being most likely to build Virginia’s next generation of life science, technology, and energy companies.
“We are using 3D scanning to accurately show how the body is changing over time after working out,” says Pugh of VirtualU, which has developed the first 3D scanner for fitness to help users maximize their workout.
In terms of getting more women into the field, she says we should focus on breaking down barriers about women being in a technical field.
“If we can show more examples of women and young entrepreneurs actually starting businesses that’s a good thing,” says Pugh. “As well as offering resources, funding and mentorship. I would love to see more women starting companies.”
Sarah Roche and Nomi Foster, Platypus TV
Roche and Foster are bring you fan conversation synced to whenever and whenever you watch a TV show. Platypus TV “time-stamps conversations around TV episodes, allowing viewers to share the experience of watching their favorite shows,” according to their page.
The team, which recently completed the StartFast Venture Accelerator, says one of the most exciting parts about being entrepreneurs is building something from the ground up and seeing where it will take you.
“It’s exciting to be part of making things from nothing,” says Roche, the company’s CCO. “The tech field allows you to constantly learn and grow, keeps you captivated, and offers a huge number of trajectories to choose from. Every day is exciting.”
In a world consumed by the latest tweet, selfie or Instagram post, Sample’s goal is to get people to put down their phones and talk (or tock). Along with a team, she has created Tock – both an app and game that rewards users for being away from their device. Now in Los Angeles, Samples who majored in Television Radio and Film at Syracuse University and says she enjoys learning something new everyday.
“I’ve become more interested tech, from physical products to apps to tech driven companies, in the past year. It’s a constant learning curve to keep up with and I love that challenge,” says Samples. “There’s a lot of people to learn from, both men and women.”
If there is anyone you should know in large scale events for entrepreneurship, it’s Victoria Schramm. Part of her role at UP Global is to produce yearly events ranging from the organization’s Summits to engagements with other large events such as CES and SXSW.
While Schramm is a big proponent of getting women involved in the field, she says it’s a major goal of UP Global as well. The organization runs a Startup Women initiative, run by Claire Topalian and funded by Google for Entrepreneurs and Blackstone Foundation, and has positioned themselves as a leading organization devoted to leveling the playing field.
“One of the things I also like about our program is that it’s not just women who are involved in the conversation. We believe that it’s critical to have men engaged in these discussions – we encourage men to attend our women’s focused events and speak up about their ideas and beliefs as well,” says Schramm.
InsertHeals will be a game changer for the Autism community. Thomas says “InsertHeals is a slip in the shoe foot orthotic that is designed to help decrease toe walking in children with Autism through the use of hemispherical studs that are strategically placed on the heel of the orthotic.” Despite there being other options such as botox and foot orthotics, a solution like InsertHeals gives children with autism the stimulation they are looking for.
While creating her own business has been very rewarding, Thomas says she discovered entrepreneurship by chance, and encourages other women to push forward with their ideas.
“I think a lot of women have some really great business ideas, but they might not act on them because they are unaware of all of the opportunities available and how exactly to lay the foundation in order to move forward with the idea,” says Thomas, a senior at Ithaca College. “The prospect of starting your own business can be especially daunting if you don’t have a network of like-minded entrepreneurs to guide you along the way,” says Thomas.”
Tammy Tibbetts run’s a non-profit organization called She’s the First, which has a mission to “sponsors girls’ education in low-income countries, giving them the chance to become the first in their families to graduate from secondary school,” according to the site.
With more than 65 million girls across the globe who aren’t in school, Tibbetts became passionate about this issue through a college reporting assignment and a volunteer experience building a school in Liberia. She’s the First launched in November of 2009 through a YouTube video – and Tibbetts has continued to grow She’s the First and inspire people around the world.
Recognized in Forbes “30 Under 30” in Education, Tibbetts has already made an enormous mark in her industry. She believes the way to get more women involved is through sharing the stories of women who are excelling as entrepreneurs.
“Introduce young women you know to videos, TED talks, articles, and books that highlight the success of female entrepreneurs, or bring them along to an event where a leader is speaking,” says Tibbetts. “Help your mentee find a conference she can go to and be exposed to lots of amazing speakers.
Lori Greiner and Barbara Corcoran from ABC’s Shark Tank are two female investors that America has come to know and love, but there’s another young female VC you should have your eye on — meet Stephanie Weiner, a Venture Capitalist at Bain Capital Ventures.
Weiner graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and studied Applied Economics at the Wharton School of Business with concentrations in Operations & Information Management and Finance. Prior to her position at Bain Capital Ventures, Weiner joined the Dorm Room Fund, a venture firm that was seeded by First Round Capital and invests solely in student entrepreneurs, and spent some time at Insight Venture Partners.
Despite the fact that only 11% of investors were women, according to 2011 survey by the NVCA and Dow Jones Venture Source, Weiner has had both an amazing experience at BCV and in the industry.
“I have been able to find a rich community of female founders and women in venture with whom I can easily network,” says Weiner. “At an event I recently attended, the female investors were offering to grab coffee, introduce me to other women in the field, add me to networking groups and serve as a resource as I start off in the industry. There’s this powerful instant bond and feeling of “let’s do this together.”
Witkower is the CEO of Screen-Bridge – her company collaborates with a television show’s social media team and works directly with production to seamlessly produce unique social media content and enhance a show’s online presence.
Currently based in L.A, Witkower says it’s important to build and maintain connections with women who are entrepreneurs in her industry.
“It has been imperative to align myself with high achieving women,” says Witkower who graduated from Syracuse University. “These female mentors constantly inspire me through their successful leadership and earned respect. In the end, all of the adversity inspires me. I want to be a CEO who paves the way to a better future for other businesswomen.”
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