In today’s world, trends like #GirlBoss, #EndTheGap, and #HeForShe are common topics for articles, books, podcasts, Twitter rants, and bar talk. While we’ve seen significant changes with the gender gap issue, a recent study by Crunchbase found that only a mere 17% of venture-backed startups were founded by women. What’s worse? That percentage hasn’t increased since 2012.
The study further revealed that the problem didn’t lie in the number of female entrepreneurs, but instead with the lack of capital the mostly male-dominated investment firms were shelling out to female founded start-ups.
However, with social role models like Sophia Amoruso (founder of NastyGal and author of GirlBoss) on the loose, we believe females are bound to make a splash this year in the business world. Here are four female-founded start-ups to prove it:
Started by Lynda Weinman, Lynda is an online education platform offering thousands of tutorial and how-to type videos. Aside from their extensive content library, they also work with major companies such as Adobe, Patagonia, ABC, Disney, and almost every major US college campus to produce training tutorial programs for employees and students.
Lynda started her company using $20,000 from her savings, and didn’t take any investment money for the first several years of the start-up. In 2014, Lynda had a revenue of about $150 million, and in 2015 it closed a deal with LinkedIn, who bought the company for $1.5 billion.
Lynda continues to grow everyday, creating more content, most of which is created at the Lynda headquarters, adding new topics to cover, and gaining new business partners.
Founded by friends Jordana Kier and Alex Friedman, both of whom graduated from Dartmouth and received their MBAs from Columbia and Wharton respectively, LOLA is the first subscription tampon service to provide 100% cotton tampons to their faithful female customers. Their mission started with a simple question over a drink (or two): What are tampons made of? When neither of the girls could answer, their business began to unfold.
Since then, the LOLA startup, which was taking “a modern approach to feminine care,” raised $11.2 million over the course of 3 investing rounds, as well as gained celebrity investors like Lena Dunham and Karlie Kloss. Since its founding in 2014, LOLA has sold millions of tampons, been featured by Vogue, Forbes, Newsweek and more, and has been credited for starting a national conversation about periods.
Founder Kat Schneider started her business after a fruitless and stressful search for the perfect prenatal vitamin. After getting pregnant, Schneider started a spring-cleaning of her house and kitchen, eliminating products and ingredients that didn’t work for her. Schneider found her vitamins were difficult to understand, littered with unknown ingredients and food coloring, and generally untrustworthy. Her search for a better option led her to realize that the vitamin world was in need of some clarity. Enter Ritual’s slogan: “The future of vitamins is clear.”
Ritual brought in $5 million from investors in just two rounds. The company’s first product is a women’s multivitamin with nine ingredients (compared to the 25+ that some multivitamins are using). Together with three scientists, Schneider and the Ritual team came up with the most important nutrients women need on a daily basis. The physical appearance of the pill and bottle accentuate the companies mission perfectly: the bottle and pills are clear and the ingredients can be seen floating around inside each little cylinder.
Jocelyn Leavitt, a former teacher, partnered with a software engineer, Samantha John, to create the insanely successful app, Hopscotch, with the slogan “programming designed for everyone.” The app is designed for children to learn coding and programming in a simple, object-based way. Leavitt explains that while similar programs can lead to students getting confused over long code lines and typos, Hopscotch uses objects to teach users coding through basic steps and fun games. After raising $1.2 million in investments from just one round, Hopscotch took off with over 4 million downloads and 6 million published projects.