25 Women-Run Startups to Watch

We continue our Women in Tech coverage with a list of startups with female founders and CEOs by Allyson Kapin, one of our Most Influential Women in Technology in 2010.



Think women don’t launch startups?

1) You’re not alone, and 2) Think again!

Over the last couple of months there has been another round of women in tech and startup debates.

Robert Scoble says in a Facebook Group that he wants to write about women launching world-changing startups but struggles to find them. Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch says “the press is dying to write about [women startups].” Over on Quora, there is a discussion about the hottest companies started by women. Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr and Hunch is one of the most popular answers.

It’s easy to complain that it’s hard to find women run startups–or to provide excuses. But instead, let’s focus on 25 women running kick-ass startups. Will they change the world? I don’t use crystal balls, but I sure do think that they have huge potential to make a serious mark.

  1. Pauline Alker, Founder, a la Mobile

    Streamlining the way mobile handsets are developed and deployed. They aim to be the independent,
    open Linux system platform for the mobile phone industry. They adhere
    to design and development disciplines of openness, innovation and
    freedom of choice with configurable and customizable architecture.
    Series A, B

  2. Alexa Andrzejewski, CEO and Co-Founder, Foodspotting

    A visual guide to good food and where to find it. Foodspotting lets consumers find and share the foods they love: Instead of reviewing restaurants, consumers can recommend their favorite dishes and see what others have recommended wherever you go.
    Funding: Series A

  3. Kris Appel, Founder, Encore Path

    Encore Path developed Tailwind, a device that helps improve arm function and range of motion for people with stroke or other brain injury.

  4. Linda Avey and Anne Wojcicki, Co-Founders, 23andme

    Genetics just got personal. 23andme is a human genome indexing/application. They analyze your genetics through saliva testing and store the results online and help you interpret the data. You can keep it private or you can share it with family and doctors.
    Funding: Series B

  5. Patricia Bright, Founder, BioFuelBox

    Provides modular bio-refineries for converting waste materials into biodiesel.
    Funding: Series A

  6. Annie Chang, Co-Founder, LOLapps

    LOLapps builds quizzes, gifts, and game platforms that provide user-generated, customizable applications. They are a growing social games company with over 300,000 user generated applications and 11 games in their portfolio.
    Series A

  7. Rachna Choudhry and Marci Harries Co-Founders, Popvox

    POPVOX bridges the gap between the input the public wants to provide and the information Members of Congress want and need to receive. The product is based on the founders experience working with Congress and research with Congressional staff.

  8. Cathy Edwards, Co-Founder & CTO, Chomp

    Billed as a “a sort-of Yelp for iPhone apps” by TechCrunch, Chomp is an app discovery engine that enables users to search for iPhone apps on the Apple App Store, through a combination of app search and personalized recommendations.
    Series A

  9. Cindy Gallop, Founder, IfWeRantheWorld

    If you ran the world, what would you do? IfWeRanTheWorld is a crowdsourced, collective action-generating platform, that makes things happen in the real world and reports back on the results. “If Facebook is the social graph, and Twitter is the interest graph, then IfWeRanTheWorld is designed to be the action graph,” said Gallop.
    Funding: Seed

  10. Kaliya Hamlin, Founder, Personal Data Ecosystem

    A leader and vocal advocate in the user-centric identity movement, Hamlin recently launched a new nonprofit to focus on how people control and access their own data online.
    Seeking funding

  11. Julia Hartz, Co-Founder and President, Eventbrite

    Eventbrite is a social commerce platform for ticketing and event management. They processed $207 million in ticket sales in 2010, more than double from 2009.
    Series A, B, C, D

  12. Tara Hunt, Co-Founder, Shwowp

    Shwowp helps you gather your purchase history in one place. It’s a purchase sharing site where you can input product purchases, share items on Twitter or Facebook, follow friends’ purchase activity and start conversations around products.
    Seeking funding

  13. Amy Jo Kim, Co-Founder, ShuffleBrain

    by the explosion of Brain Games, and passionate about creating games
    that keep you sharp and socially connected, Shufflebrain builds games
    for a connected world. They’ve helped design games including Bejewelled
    2, The Sims, and Rock Band.

  14. Annalea Krebs, Founder, ethicalDeal

    Similar to the Groupon and LivingSocial model but aimed at green consumers who love local deals on green products, ethicalDeal launched in November 2010 in Vancouver. Krebs expects they’ll launch in Toronto and San Francisco in early in 2011 and a new city every three months thereafter.
    Funding: Seeking funding

  15. Kristen Kuhns, Co-Founder and COO, Story of My Life

    collection of online stories of people’s lives. The site helps users
    build an interactive 360-degree view of who you are: your
    accomplishments, your feelings and thoughts, your narrative–the
    essence of who you are and what you will leave behind.
    Funding: Angel

  16. Jen Pahlka, Founder, Code for America

    Code for America recruits savvy web industry folks into public service to use their skills to solve core problems facing communities. They help talented technologists leverage the power of the Internet to make governments more open and efficient, and become civic leaders able to realize transformational change with technology.
    Funding: Grants

  17. April Pedersen, Co-Founder, Salsa Labs

    Salsa Labs has grown into one of the most established online organizing and fundraising platforms for the nonprofit and political sectors. The platform allows over 3K nonprofits to organize and communicate with their supporters, activists, fans, and donors all managed through a single, hosted application.
    Seeking funding

  18. Elisabet de los Pinos, Founder: Aura Biosciences

    Elisabet and her team are pioneering the development of nano-delivered drugs through its proprietary Nanosmart platform. In layman’s terms? They are working on a chemotherapy agent that will have the ability to treat, target and be monitored in the body. Hat tip to Robert Scoble who highlighted her work while he was at Davos.
    Series A

  19. Charlotte Rademaekers, Founder and CEO, Call2Action

    Call2Action puts videos and action tools together in a portable online engagement and marketing tool. Their current product is a widget, called Spark to support social justice causes. The company says that they have an average interaction rate (number of actions taken anywhere on a widget divided by the number of times it has been loaded) of 6 times the industry standard at 28%.
    Funding: Seeking funding

  20. Victoria Ransom, Co-Founder, Wildfire Interactive

    Their patent-pending technology allows corporations, small businesses, marketing agencies, bloggers and nonprofits to easily create their own branded interactive campaigns (e.g. sweepstakes, contests, give-aways, incentive-based surveys, etc) and to simultaneously publish them in multiple social networks and on their website.
    Funding: Series A

  21. Carol Realini, Founder & CEO, Obopay

    A pioneer in mobile payments, Obopay lets consumers pay anyone, anywhere in the U.S. in just a few seconds using your phone. It offers flexible, instant mobile money that lets you send money to family, collect or make online payments, get a prepaid debit card or send a remittance.
    Series A, B, C, D, and E

  22. Birame Sock, Founder, MyReceipts

    A green solution for consumers to receive and file receipts. Participating retailers include Whole Foods (who also offer digital coupons to MyReceipts users), Best Buy, Amazon, and more.
    Funding: Uknown

  23. Wendy Tan White, Co-Founder, MoonFruit

    Moonfruit provides software that allows users, with no previous web technology experience, to build and develop websites. Over 1.2 million business and individual websites have been built by people around the world using Moonfruit’s website building tool SiteMaker. The company started in 1999, endured the dot com bust and made a big come back in 2009.
    Series A

  24. Amra Tareen, Founder and CEO,

    A global community that shares and validates user-generated news, videos, images and opinions tied to news events and people from all over the world. In January the site received over 11 million unique web visitors.
    Series A

  25. Alexa von Tobel, Founder, Learnvest

    Learnvest makes personal finance fun (well as fun as you can possibly make it). Whether you’re buying a home, saving for grad school, or simply trying to become a better ‘budgeter,’ LearnVest provides products, content, and a community to make personal financial information accessible to millions of women. Learnvest offers a customized financial action plan, a budgeting tool, and more.
    Funding: Series A

More Resources: Thanks to the following organizations, the women run startup community is energized and flourishing. All of these groups helped contribute to the 25 Women Run Startups to Watch list by not only supporting women entrepreneurs but by building comprehensive databases of women run startups.


What women-led startups are you most excited about?

Read about The Most Influential Women in Technology and our expert views on Women in Tech

Note: The funding information was compiled through public and organizational databases. In some cases, the funding information maybe incomplete if the databases were not updated in time for the publication of this article.

Disclosure: My web firm Rad Campaign has worked with Salsa Labs. Annie Chang, Kaliya Hamlin, Tara Hunt, and Amra Tareen have participated in the Women Who Tech TeleSummit, which I founded in 2008.

Allyson Kapin is the Founder of the award winning web agency Rad Campaign, Women Who Tech, and the Blogger-in-Chief for Care2’s Frogloop blog. You can follow her on Twitter at @WomenWhoTech.

[Image by Marion Doss | illustration by AH]

About the author

Allyson has been named one of "Top Tech Titans" by the Washingtonian, one of the Most Influential Women In Tech by Fast Company and one of the top 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Forbes for her leadership role in technology and social media. As Founding Partner of Rad Campaign she leads the firm’s client and online strategic services. For over a decade Allyson has helped non-profit organizations and political campaigns create dynamic and award-winning websites and online marketing and recruitment campaigns