18 Female Founders Who Killed It In 2015

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18 Female Founders Who Killed It In 2015

Last week, on an internal conversational thread here at TechCrunch, the staff began chatting about some of female founders who’ve made a major dent on the tech scene in 2015, and the thread quickly became a very long and involved one.

The following are some of the people who popped immediately into mind. This list is in no way comprehensive, so please do reach out to us with your own thoughts about some of the women impacting the world of startups right now. We welcome any and all nominations.


Alexandra Depledge

Back in July, Alex Depledge sold Hassle.com for $32 million in mostly stock to a direct competitor, Helpling, which is financed by Rocket Internet.

The U.K.-based company, a marketplace for home cleaning services that Depledge cofounded with friend Jules Coleman, had raised roughly $6.8 million from investors, including Accel Partners and Ventech.

That’s not too shabby an exit for Depledge, who spent six years as a management consultant with Accenture before leaping into entrepreneurship with Hassle.com in 2012 and becoming among London’s highest-profile female entrepreneurs.


Minnie Ingersoll

Two years ago, Minnie Ingersoll co-founded Shift with fellow Google alums George Arison, Christian Ohler, and Morgan Knutson, along with Joel Washington, who previously worked in venture capital.

It was a big leap for Ingersoll, an HBS and Stanford grad (and avid surfer) who’d logged more than 11 years with the search giant. But VCs seem to have a lot of faith in the used car marketplace they’re building.

So far, Shift, headquartered in San Francisco, Ca., has raised $73.8 million in funding, including a $50 million round led by Goldman Sachs in September.


Tracy Young

Tracy Young studied construction engineering management, then spent more than four years with a general contracting firm, where she learned firsthand how expensive blueprints are to print. (And they need to be reprinted whenever a mistake is discovered, which isn’t infrequently.)

In fact, it’d be hard to find another young entrepreneur better suited to cofound the construction blueprint app PlanGrid, which is now four years old and thriving, seemingly. The San Francisco company says it has worked on 300,000 construction projects worldwide and managed 30 million blueprints.

In the meantime, investors have poured nearly $60 million into the company, including a $40 million Series B round that closed last month.


Melody McCloskey

In the late aughts, Melody McCloskey was working as a manager of online content at CurrentTV, a short-lived TV channel. But since 2011, McCloskey has been building her San Francisco-based company, StyleSeat, into a powerful player in the lucrative beauty and wellness industry.

The company, which helps independent beauty pros schedule clients and manage their business, had attracted more than 320,000 professionals across 15,000 cities to its platform as of this summer.

It has also attracted roughly $40 million in venture capital from investors that include Fosun Kinzon Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Cowboy Ventures, Slow Ventures and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.


Katelyn Gleason

Katelyn Gleason is the cofounder and CEO of Eligible, a startup that makes it easy for health insurers to respond in real-time to queries about a customer’s coverage and eligibility for specific procedures. (It charges a per-transaction fee for the service.)

The Brooklyn-based company, which has passed through both the the Y Combinator and Rock Health accelerator programs, has gained plenty of attention from investors along its four-year-long path, too. Though it never made an announcement, Eligible quietly closed a large Series A round last fall with the best investors in Silicon Valley.


Robin Chase

In 2000, Robin Chase cofounded the car-sharing service Zipcar, which went public, then sold in 2013 for $500 million to Avis Budget Group.

Chase might have hung up her hat somewhere. Instead, she’s back as cofounder and executive chairman of Veniam, an interesting, three-year-old company aims to turn vehicles, including public city buses, into Wi-Fi hotspots to build city-scale vehicular networks that expand wireless coverage and collect terabytes of urban data.

We don’t know where its ambitions will lead, but a year ago, the Mountain View, Ca., firm raised $4.9 million in Series A funding from some of the best early-stage VCs in the business, including True Ventures and Union Square Ventures.


Angie Nwandu

You might not have heard of Angie Nwandu yet, but you can bet investors are paying close attention to her nascent but fast-growing media company, The Shade Room.

Started in March 2014 as a personal Instagram account of Nwandu, the 25-year-old has managed to become a hugely popular purveyor of black celebrity gossip, taking on older, more established competitors with a small staff and very flexible ideas about where she wants to take her business next.

Glowing media coverage should help. The New York Times Magazine called The Shade Room  “Instagram’s TMZ” last April. And Buzzfeed (whose Ysa Perez took the accompanying photo) says that as celebrity gossip sites go, Nwandu is “figuring it out faster than everyone else.”


Payal Kadakia

Payal Kadakia started with a so-so idea, to create a better registration product for local fitness outfits in New York. When that didn’t gain traction, Kadakia and her cofounder, Mary Biggins, didn’t give up; they smartly pivoted their business into ClassPass, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based startup whose membership program allows users to pay a flat monthly fee to take fitness classes at a wide group of studios and gyms.

Businesses in more than 30 U.S. cities had adopted ClassPass as of this summer, and the company, which has already raised nearly $85 million from investors, has plans to expand internationally.


Maran Nelson

Like Kadakia, the first business idea of Maran Nelson — bringing A/B testing to product creators — didn’t pan out. But Nelson and her childhood friend, Michael Akilian, quickly settled on a new company and idea, Clara Labs, and life for its hundreds of over-scheduled business customers has been a little sweeter since, we’d imagine.

The reason: YC alum Clara Labs charges subscribers monthly rates of $49 (and up) in exchange for access to a machine-learning, software-driven virtual assistant dubbed Clara that, when looped into a conversation by email, is capable of scheduling appointments. Hooray for that idea. (We don’t know about you, but keeping track of who to call when is the bane of everyone’s existence here at TC.)


Adi Tatarko

Adi Tatarko and her husband created Houzz — a platform for home remodeling — when it was time to update their own home more than six years ago.

The company now sees 35 million unique visitors per month and says that more than 800,000 home professionals like architects, decorators, and contractors engage on the service.

Maybe it’s no wonder that Houzz had a rumored valuation of $2.3 billion as of its last fundraising round, which Sequoia Capital led last year.


Christina Lomasney

Christina Lomasney is the cofounder and CEO of Modumetal, an eight-year-old, Seattle-based company that’s developing a nano-laminated alloy that it hopes will replace metals in many applications like military armor and even cars (so they can’t be corroded by rust).

Founders Fund likes it so much, it led a $33.5 million round in the company in August.

Worth noting: Lomasney also happens to be among the first American physicists allowed to study nuclear technology in Russia.


Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin

Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin are co-CEOs of TheSkimm, a popular daily e-newsletter that’s marketed towards young women and strives to give readers a comprehensive briefing of the day’s biggest news stories.

We love the product personally; so does Oprah, whose endorsement has surely been good for business.

Investors have also backed the duo, both former associate producers at NBC News. To date, their three-year-old, New York-based company has raised $7.8 million, including from RRE Ventures, Homebrew, and Greycroft Partners.


Piraye Yurttas Beim

Piraye Yurttas Beim is the CEO of Celmatix, a six-year-old, New York-based company whose platform helps patients and doctors predict the time to a successful pregnancy—or determine whether one isn’t likely.

Beim and cofounder Laura Towart Bandak — both Ph.Ds. — reportedly founded the company in Bandak’s TriBeCa living room, hoping to use data and predictive analytics to improve the success rate of in vitro fertilization. Today, the company has partnerships with large reproductive centers throughout the U.S.; it also has venture funding.

The low-flying company raised at least $5.5 million this year, according to an SEC filing, and it had raised roughly $8 million previously, including from the private equity firm Topspin Partners.


Valerie Wagoner

After nabbing a couple of degrees from Stanford, Valerie Wagoner spent time at numerous Silicon Valley companies, including the voice-based mobile social application SayNow and eBay. Then, in  2008, when Wagoner was still in her mid-twenties, she decided to leave the Bay Area and move to India, where she’d previously spent time researching microfinance.

Smart move. Wagoner went on to cofound ZipDial, a Bangalore-based marketing engagement and analytics platform that sold to Twitter earlier this year — marking Twitter’s first acquisition in the country. The deal was rumored to be between $30 million and $40 million. (The company had raised an undisclosed amount of funding from 500 Startups, Jungle Ventures, Mumbai Angels, and Times Internet.)


Tan Hooi Ling

Tan Hooi Ling followed the same path as many smart engineers. She was a business analyst at McKinsey & Co., and worked as a senior director at Saleforce.com, among other things. But in 2011, while at Harvard Business School, Ling and classmate Anthony Tan entered a startup competition at the school, and their company, GrabTaxi (known locally as MyTeksi) was born.

It’s undoubtedly been a wild ride since. GrabTaxi, which connects customers directly to taxi drivers via their phone and launched in Malaysia in June 2012, has since become a major player in Southeast Asia — and a big threat to Uber.

Tons of funding has helped. In August, the company raised $350 million in Series E funding; it has raised at least $680 million to date.


Maria Ressa

Maria Ressa used to be a CNN bureau chief and investigative reporter who focused on terrorism in Southeast Asia.

Four years ago, she struck out on her own to found Rappler, a highly regarded social news network that combines traditional journalism with social media, crowdsourcing and big data.

It now has a couple of bureaus itself, both in the Philippines and in Jakarta, Indonesia.


Danielle Morrill

Danielle Morrill is the cofounder and CEO of Mattermark, a San Francisco-based database company that rates startups and private companies.

Though the company entered into a crowded field, Morrill has kept her company top of mind for many current and potential customers by working, seemingly, twice as hard as many founders at giving Mattermark a voice, including on Twitter, where Morrill is an active participant, and in a widely read, free daily email filled with curated information that’s relevant to founders and investors.

VCs have certainly heard her loud and clear. The three-year-old company has raised roughly $10 million to date, including from Data Collective and Andreessen Horowitz.