Blackbox Connect #11: The Female Founders Edition

8 min readMay 18, 2015

This month, we organized our first Blackbox Connect Female Founders Edition. 20 founders with 18 different nationalities, based in 14 countries, joined us in Palo Alto to learn, share and connect with our Silicon Valley community. The event culminated in a Startup Showcase where they pitched their ideas in front of a panel of investors and gained valuable contacts for their development.

Read more about them below:

  1. 30Second Mobile (Elisa All —US/Puerto Rico)

With one acquisition by Walt Disney under her belt, Elisa All embarked on a new adventure to deliver fast, high quality content through short, 30-second videos. Seeing a demand for high quality personalized content, she started 30Second Mobile, a mobile first media company delivering 30 second videos targeted to the user’s needs. With a reach of nearly 2 million, her first successful implementation is 30Second Mom, reaching out to moms who are on the go but are always interested to catch up with the latest tips and tricks on parenting and motherhood.

2. AdAdapted (Molly McFarland — US)

After working as a Marketing Director at Amplifinity, Molly McFarland decided to launch AdAdapted, a native advertising platform aimed at maximizing advertising returns through scalable, trackable, custom branded campaigns. She is in talks with major brands already and managed to raise her first round of investment, increase the revenue to 6 figures and growing each month.

3. Artips (Coline Debayle — France)

With a background in private equity, innovation, HR and marketing in France and abroad, Coline Debayle decided to work on her passion and make art history more accessible and fun. She is now leading Artips, an email service centered around daily quirky anecdotes on notable art pieces. With 150k active users, she is now raising a second round of investment and growing her community.

4. Beats Medical (Ciara Clancy — Ireland)

As a chartered physiotherapist/physical therapist, Ciara has worked alongside people with Parkinson’s both as a professional and a charity volunteer. She had the idea to create a more accessible tool to help people with Parkinson’s through a medical smartphone application, and this is how Beats Medical was born.
With an international patent filed and seed funding already acquired, she’s on her way to closing her next investment round.

5. BonLook (Sophie Boulanger — Canada)

Sophie’s passion for retail led her to different positions in merchandising at L’Oreal, Dior Couture and Jacob. Her love for fashion and eyewear materialized into BonLook, a platform for carefully curated, perfect fitted, latest fashion eyewear. With a strong 6 digit revenue per month and a steady growth, she was able to raise 1.2 million and is currently expanding.

6. CashKaro (Swati Bhargava — India)

Often cited as among top 10 women entrepreneurs in India, Swati Bhargava founded CashKaro, the largest Indian cashback and coupon platform. Swati Bhargava studied at the London School of Economics, and moved on to working at Goldman Sachs London in Investment Banking & Executive Office for 5 years. At CashKaro, she already gave back US$2M in cashback to her users and is constantly growing month on month.

7. Cookit (Juliana Zarate & Shanshan Xu — UK/ Columbia & China)

Passionate about how people actually eat, Juliana and Shanshan took a whole year to research shopping and eating habits. They took their results to heart and created Cookit, a grocery shopping service optimizing costs, nutrients and meal prep time. They are targeting busy professionals and young families to allow them to smartly choose their products and easily order. Currently in closed beta, Cookit works closely with 150 users to perfect their platform before launching to the wider market.

8. Cosinuss (Greta Kreuzer — Germany)

Based in Munich, Germany, Greta Kreuzer founded Cosinuss, the first in class professional grade wearable sensor, accurately measuring vital signs when human bodies are pushed to extreme conditions. With 2 patents already filed, Cosinuss is getting a lot of attention from athletes and automotive companies.
Before founding Cosinuss, Greta worked at Yahoo!, Bosch, Schreiner and another startup in the field of robotics.

9. DailyArt (Zuzanna Stanska — Poland)

With a background in art history, Zuzanna created Daily Art, a mobile app offering a daily dose of inspiring fine art masterpieces and stories they hide. It was featured as the best Edu app by TheNextWeb as well as other media channels. With a strong user base and great readership, Daily Art has bootstrapped to 200,000 users and continues its growth.

10. GradTrain (Lital Helman — Israel)

Fulbright alumna, and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Lital came up with the idea of easing student’s transition into moving abroad to study. She launched GradTrain, a platform connecting previous and potential students to facilitate the application and studying abroad process. With 2000 active users and seed round closed, GradTrain is growing across borders and connecting current and potential students.

11. InstaHealth (Brenda Katwesigye & Elizabeth Kasujja — Uganda)

With a combined knowledge in telecommunications engineering and business development, Brenda and Elizabeth took on the challenge to make health care more accessible in Uganda. They cofounded InstaHealth, a service aimed at bridging the gap between medical professionals and patients with mobile access to health information and services.

12. MATI Energy (Tatiana Birgisson — US)

Tatiana Birgisson is the founder of Mati Energy, the first truly healthy long lasting energy drink. With 75000 cans already shipped and already outselling less healthy energy drinks 3 to 1 on the shelf, Mati Energy is on its way to new stores across the country and closing key investment rounds. With a BS in Economics from Duke University, Tatiana also worked at P&G and NeuroSpire.

13. MeetMindful (Amy Baglan — US)

Amy is a passionate, cause-driven entrepreneur on a mission to evolve the dating industry. Based in Denver, CO, she stands at the intersection of online dating and the explosion of mindfulness in mainstream culture. MeetMindful is the first dating site for the growing demographic of self-aware, healthy-living, mindful singles. With 5000 users in their early launch and having closed their seed round already, they are on their way to expanding and helping even more mindful singles connect.

14. Nabbesh (Loulou Khazen Baz — UAE/Lebanon)

Loulou Khazen Baz founded Nabbesh in early 2012 and launched the first prototype in April 2012. In November 2012, Loulou competed with over 2000 regional entrepreneurs and won the reality TV show “The Entrepreneur” for the Nabbesh concept bringing the business US$272k in prize money. Loulou has since worked on building the Nabbesh team and has successfully positioned Nabbesh as a sought after Middle East brand and a startup to watch. Nabbesh has been featured in several leading local, regional and international publications mostly for its potential to disrupt the job market and facilitate the creation of thousands of virtual jobs in the region. As of February 2015, Nabbesh boasts 50,000 registered members with over 6000 job listings posted on the site, as the fastest growing marketplace in the Middle East.

15. Narrative Apparel (Brenda Wilton — US)

Having worked with aging and disabled people, Brenda experienced the need for people with disabilities to become independent and be able to dress themselves with ease. This was the starting point for Narrative Apparel, stylish patient garments that are critically functional to fit different disabilities and needs. Having already filed a patent on design IP and being completely bootstrapped, Brenda takes pride in growing her company forward and is enthusiastic to be already speaking and selling to several organisations in this field.

16. SnapEDA (Natasha Baker — Canada)

Natasha started SnapEDA after seeing the lost productivity that engineers face when designing electronics. She has nine years experience in the electronics industry, spanning research and development to product marketing. During her work, she experienced how each designer spends a lot of time designing circuit boards from scratch, so she is tacking this problem with a large database of ready to use designs that engineers can download in a snap. These modular building blocks allow engineers to be more efficient and also helps maintain a strong community around best practices. With thousand of users in over 80 countries, SnapEDA is growing strong.

17. Sohati (Zena Sfeir — Lebanon)

Before launching Sohati, Zena held different positions in sales and marketing in a leading pharmaceutical company in France and Middle East, gaining good insight on the healthcare industry dynamics and challenges. She decided to help improve heathcare in the Arab world, and this is how Sohati was born, a platform that provides reliable medical solutions to patients. With 500,000 active users monthly, Sohati is close to finalizing its 1 million investment round and growing to help even more people receive the medical advice they need in a fast, efficient and reliable way.

18. Stashd (Jessica Wilson — Australia)

Jessica Wilson grew up on a small farm starting her first company at 16, then going on to study Business and Events Management at University. Jessica soon dropped out of University after a careers advisor told her she ‘didn’t have it in her’ to land an internship in fashion. Now, Jessica works throughout Australia, New York and Paris Fashion Weeks, which was the inspiration to launch her online shopping app Stashd. Stashd now has users in 86 countries, has been featured as Apples Best New App in 11 countries and Jessica as the founder has been pinned by Forbes as an Under 30 entrepreneur with the potential to change the world in the next 50 years. Jessica was the youngest Australian woman in history to attend the Forbes Under 30 Summit.

Altogether, we’re thrilled to have had the honor to work with them and see them shine. It is truly important to support women entrepreneurs, not only for changing the gap but for being completely inspired by how successful, hard working and dedicated they are at growing their startups. Congrats to you all!