Fundraising: $20 Million
Amy Nelson is a no-holds-barred strong female who broke out on her own after a career as an attorney and activist. Her model of a co-working space that is female-first but not, “no men allowed” is revolutionary in a world where The Wing (no men, ever) and WeWork (not a single woman on its board) are the norm. Where businesses, particularly in tech, are founded by men, funded by men (women-owned companies only get 2% of VC funds annually), co-work spaces are no different. There is, in fact, not a single woman on a board or as a co-founder of the major co-work players – WeWork, Industrious or Rocketspace. Amy founded The Riveter in the midst of her third pregnancy, fundraising all the way. As many women have experienced, she was doubted in her career and passed over for promotions as she grew her family. She knew other women must be experiencing the same thing – and she wanted more.
Fundraising: $30 million
Jane Park is another attorney-turned-CEO who founded beauty brand, Julep. While the beauty category seems like it would be female-dominated, it’s not. In fact, Revlon just got its first female CEO in 86 years. Jane has a wide berth of experience from fundraising as a female to male VCs not interested in the beauty category to being taken off projects while pregnant. Founding Julep was a way to start the kind of company she felt proud of – being able to use her experience leaning into her family as a way to lean into everything she did that much more. Julep is now one of the best-selling brands at Ulta and QVC, raised over $30 million in funding, and was acquired in 2016.
Fundraising: $20 million
Another product of the burgeoning Seattle tech scene is SaaS founder of Skilljar, Sandi Lin. Sandi started Skilljar after a stint at Amazon. First launched as Everpath, Sandi and her co-founders were members of the TechStars Seattle accelerator, which pivoted into Skilljar as bigger brands started to come onboard. Skilljar helps companies provide customer-training and certification programs, helping businesses teach their customers how to use their products. Tie-ins from Skilljar to Salesforce make this product one to watch and Sandi Lim a force to be reckoned with on the tech scene.
Fundraising: $15 million
Serial entrepreneur Kristen Hamilton is no stranger to hard work and solving complex problems, having gone from growing up on a farm in Canada to a gap year in Cyprus and Germany, founding a company and bringing it to IPO and then starting her newest venture, Koru. Koru is set to transform the way companies hire top talent, targeting recent college graduates and using predictive analytics to determine best-fit candidates from factors far beyond grades. By looking at seven ‘Impact Skills,’ soft skills that consist of grit, rigor, impact, teamwork, curiosity, ownership and polish, Koru’s system can predict a candidate’s culture and performance fit in your organization before they are hired.
Fundraising: $3 Million
Armoire is a Seattle-based startup that wants to change the way women approach their wardrobes by applying the Netflix and Spotify models to clothes-borrowing. Founder and CEO, Ambika Singh, is an Eastside native who did not have a traditional path to startup culture or to apparel, leaving the Eastside for college in New Hampshire and returning to work at Microsoft. The startup life found her, and she worked for a startup that laid off 85% of its workforce, and then had the courage to go out on her own, finding help, advice and even money from other angel investor women in the local Seattle scene. Ambika found a kindred spirit in fellow female founder, Amy Nelson, and runs Armoire out of the Riveter on Capitol Hill.
Karen Clark Cole
Karen Clark Cole’s career took her from visual design and creating to business leadership when she founded BlinkUX with Kelly Franznick. She’s also the founder of the nonprofit organization, Girls Can Do, which is an event series for girls with the mission to inspire a generation for possibility and equal opportunity. Blink recently expanded into Austin and also acquired 15-year-old experience design firm, Tectonic, with whom Blink partnered on many projects for Amazon and Microsoft. This acquisition brings Blink’s influence to Boston, a newer office in San Diego, Seattle and the newly opened Austin location. Is there anything Karen Clark Cole can’t do?
Dr. Daniela Braga
Fundraising: $12.9 Million
DefinedCrowd is an early stage venture intelligent data platform for AI and founder Dr. Daniela Braga is CEO and founder and brought the company to Series A in less than three years. Don’t forget to include Dr. in the title – Dr. Braga has a Ph.D. and a client list that includes BMW, Mastercard, Nuance and Yahoo Japan, and is only growing from there. Using their value proposition of quality, speed and scale, DefinedCrowd is a global product available in 90 languages and primed to give businesses the data intelligence they need to grow.