20 Female Founders to Watch in Colorado
Written by Scout Hill and Sydney Burckhardt
This past year, we have been more inspired than ever by women in business.
We already know that there are tremendous benefits when we put women in leadership. Companies with women at the helm or at the C-Suite level have almost 75% higher return on assets and equity. Fortune 500 companies that have women on their board of directors outperform companies that do not. In Colorado alone, hundreds of women have made a drastic impact on their community through their leadership.
We are thrilled to have the opportunity to acknowledge and recognize a handful of these women. This list is a result of our research of hundreds of female founders and CEOs in Colorado. We looked for women who had been recognized by their peers, had started companies that were ambitious and courageous, gave back to their communities in extraordinary ways, and had achieved monumental success in their fields. We then reached out to all of the women on our list, learned more about them personally, and listened to what information they thought was most important to share.
The entrepreneurs, founders and visionaries that are on this list deserve our thanks, our praise and our appreciation for how they are changing not only Colorado but the world around them.
Ashley Colpaart, Co-Founder and CEO of The Food Corridor
Ashley is co-founder and CEO of The Food Corridor, a virtual food hub that connects food entrepreneurs to commercial kitchen space. Ashley is a Registered Dietitian and earned a Doctorate in Food Systems from Colorado State University and a Masters in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. She has a unique systems understanding of food and human health in social, economic, and environmental spheres.
Anke Corbin, Founder and CEO of Globig
Anke Corbin is the co-founder and CEO of Globig.co, a SaaS platform that makes it easy to manage GDPR compliance, international business back office, and global HR. Her background includes executive positions in sales, marketing, product, compliance, international business, and BD for technology startups and enterprise companies including MapQuest, Time Inc., Times Mirror, Splick.it and more.
Danielle Dannenberg, CEO and Founder of WildeGuide
Danielle Dannenberg is the Founder and CEO of WildeGuide, a platform to find and review your favorite outdoor adventure guides. Instead of reviewing the outfitter or guiding company, you can review the individual guide who takes you backpacking or rafting, because it’s the individual guide who really makes or breaks your experience. WildeGuide is the first review platform for outdoor traveler at the individual level. As a female entrepreneur and founder, Danielle is passionate about promoting women in leadership and enabling more access to entrepreneurial resources. Danielle recently graduated with her MBA from the Leeds School of Business (’18) after serving as the President of the Women in Business Club. Danielle also serves as the Director of Startup Summer and is energized by working with entrepreneurs. She loves traveling, cooking, and the great outdoors, and is proud to be a part of the Boulder startup community.
Jaclyn Fu is the Co-Founder & CEO of Pepper, the first body positive bra company for small cup sizes. Pepper is solving the fit issues for a $4B underserved market in the U.S and is rallying women to embrace the ‘flat’ in flattering. Before Pepper, Jaclyn worked in San Francisco and New York City where she led product marketing at tech companies like Mozilla, Etsy and Conversocial. She is passionate about building community-focused products and leveraging social media and digital to change how brands interact with customers. Jaclyn is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, and is also a registered yoga instructor in Denver. She’s blogging about her adventures as a first time founder at thejaclynventures.com and enjoys a good apres ski without the ski.
Sommer Grandchamp, Founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of EmpowerDenver
Sommer has always been intrigued by the business world and studied communications and business to gain knowledge on how the two work together. After moving to Denver and jumping into the corporate world, she noticed negative tendencies happening with working women and wanted to do something to help. Sommer combined her experience with event planning and networking to create a 3rd party training company for women in business. Coming from a family where her mother is an oil painter and her father is a computer engineer, she had the mix of creativity, entrepreneurship, and organized logic to look up to and implement in her own business. She plans to give back to the community as well as support other women’s organizations throughout the world.
Nicole Gravagna, Founder of NeuroEQ
Dr. Nicole Gravagna is founder of NeuroEQ, neuroscientist, and author. She contributes to Forbes, Inc., Newsweek, and others. Nicole has coached leaders at top institutions including Lockheed Martin and Yale. Nicole’s cutting-edge research is currently measuring thought diversity in corporate teams. She is a Quora Top Writer x3. Her first book was Venture Capital for Dummies and her most recent book was MindSET Your Manners.
You can purchase her book here.
Sherisse Hawkins, CEO of Pagedip
Sherisse Hawkins has an engineering degree from the University of Arizona and a Masters in Engineering Management from University of Colorado at Boulder. She worked as a Walt Disney Imagineer, building theme park attractions around the globe, and a system architect specializing in digital video delivery. Prior to starting Pagedip, Sherisse held a VP engineering position at Time Warner Cable where her team’s product was deployed to over 13 million subscribers.
Sherisse has always loved working on projects that come to fruition at the intersection of creativity and technology and this mindset served as the basis for founding Pagedip. Pagedip recognizes that thorough content is no longer enough to attract and keep a reader’s attention. You must now write for the distracted user by creating a media-enabled narrative flow within the content to help the reader “determine” the optimal path to choosing the most useful content without leaving the original page.
Follow Pagedip on Facebook.
Maria Hennessey, Founder of SMAK Strategies
Maria Hennessey is the founder of SMAK Strategies, PR and marketing firm based in Boulder, CO. SMAK is small by design, providing highly customized service to clients. Aside from leading the #SMAKpack and helping other businesses and organizations, Maria’s greatest passions are found outside: mountain biking with her husband, playing with her two young kids, or hiking with friends.
Follow Maria on Twitter.
Kristin Lawrence, Co-Founder and CEO of The Hopper
Kristin taught Planetary Geophysics at Stanford University before moving to Boulder to found The Hopper, a place that blends hands-on STEAM learning with seasonal dining and local craft beer. She completed her PhD at Scripps by cooking rocks from the moon in highly-specialized magnetometers. She likes to joke that she has literally held the Moon in her hands. Her leadership philosophy is all about empowering a team of dedicated and creative individuals to collaborate to create something greater than themselves. Her mission is to make science and discovery accessible to everyone. She would love to recreate her childhood basement for everyone so that they too could have access to lasers, dry ice and tools on a daily basis. On her day off, Kristin enjoys playing with all these tools to build as well as rebuild things around the house including life-size cardboard mazes and rockets for her kids.
Stephanie Maxwell, CEO and Founder of Sirvo
Stephanie is an experienced startup Founder passionate about hospitality, marketing, automation and design. Stephanie previously opened two successful nightclubs in Colorado as well as an event staffing company before launching Sirvo — an online job board for the service industry. A self-taught coder, Stephanie loves launching new concepts, products and campaigns. In her free time she loves to play volleyball, snowboard and scuba dive. Stephanie studied International Business and Business Marketing at the University of Colorado Denver.
Melanie Meador, Co-CEO of Crafted Leadership, LLC
With over 20 years of experience transforming organizations with Deloitte, Dell, and IBM, Melanie knows the importance of great leadership and engaged teams in today’s complex business environment. Melanie, along with 2 other women equally passionate about leadership, formed the Ft. Collins-based consultancy Crafted Leadership, LLC in 2017. Their mission is to inspire and instruct leaders to be their best through leadership and organizational development. Melanie uses Crafted Leadership’s proprietary “Architecture for Inspiring Leaders” as she works with leaders and their teams on skills and behaviors essential to trust, creativity and collaboration. She is in her second year as Co-CEO. While she is proud and grateful for the work she’s been able to to with Fortune 500 and high-growth companies, one of the highlights so far in 2018 is the Lead by Design program launched for Larimer County.
Krista Morgan, CEO of P2Binvestor
Krista Morgan is cofounder and CEO of P2Binvestor (p2bi.com), a marketplace lender that helps entrepreneurs and innovators transform their companies from sector newcomers to industry leaders. P2Bi partners with banks and investors, while also offering a robust crowdfunding platform, to provide affordable, flexible capital that evolves with business growth. Krista has quickly grown P2Bi into a multimillion-dollar company and one of the few tech-enabled commercial lenders that can rapidly underwrite and fund million-dollar lines of credit. In addition, she is cohost of the popular podcast, Women Who Startup Radio, a global networking and learning platform for female entrepreneurs and innovators. As an IFC Advisor, she brings her technology sector expertise to IFC’s new Impact Investing Education Institute. Krista earned a BA in Economics and Political Science from McGill University.
Liz Oertle, Co-Founder and CEO of Nanno
Liz is a recovering attorney who joined forces with software developer and CTO Desi McAdam to create the on-demand childcare marketplace Nanno. Prior to founding Nanno, Liz founded the Independent Law Group, a network of solo and small-firm attorneys who give their clients big-law legal services at a fraction of the cost. Liz lives in Denver with her husband and their two daughters.
Olivia Omega, Director of Brazen Denver and Co-Founder of Wallace Marketing Group
As a branding consultant, coach and speaker, Olivia Omega is the director at Brazen Denver, co-founder at Wallace Marketing Group, and the author of Beautifully Branded: The Girl’s Guide to Understanding the Anatomy of Brand You. She encourages creative women to walk in their God-given entrepreneurial purpose by empowering them to create an authentically unique brand…from strategy to execution and through messaging, identity and branded online experiences. She helps them dance to the beat of their own brand through workshops, mentorship, online courses and one-on-one coaching. Olivia provides the strategies and tools needed to successfully build a heart-centered personal brand both online and offline.
With over 15 years of corporate branding, advertising and digital marketing experience, Olivia has influenced the global brands of Frito Lay, Pepsi and Starbucks among others. She is a mom, wife, disco ball enthusiast and has been featured in USA Today, Entrepreneur, Business Week, People and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Visit Olivia’s website.
Michele Ostrander, Founder and CEO of RevoGrow
Michele is a Colorado native and 2x entrepreneur with a passion for organic farming and useful technologies that solve real-world problems. She is the founder of RevoGrow, an online farmers market platform to connect people and businesses through local food. Her goal and vision is to help create resilient local foodshed communities throughout the world, starting locally in Northern Colorado. Michele, along with her partner Justin Caswell, have three core aspects to the work they do, including: local food, logistics, and blockchain, which they believe will facilitate beneficial solutions for the challenges of the local food industry and more.
Chantel Pierrat, CEO and Founder of Emerging Women International
Chantal’s mission is to increase women’s leadership across the globe. After earning an MBA from the University of Colorado, Chantal left a career in medical device manufacturing to serve on the executive team as the VP of Sales and Marketing for Sounds True, a multimedia publishing company focused on spirituality & personal growth. In September 2012, she founded Emerging Women, a global media and consulting company that serves over 70,000 women and corporations such as HP, Oracle, Microsoft and more worldwide. Chantal is a thought leader and speaker on women’s leadership and conscious business, and she has worked with other authors and speakers such as Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Arianna Huffington, Janet Mock and more. Chantal’s ultimate vision is to weave feminine leadership and authenticity into businesses, and to create a world where women have a strong voice in the shaping of our future.
Maria Popo, Founder of AMP10x
Maria Popo is an entrepreneur recognized for leading five successful startups inside Foxconn, 3Com and 3M plus two companies from the ground up. She is a seasoned leader in technology, having managed all departments including product and engineering.
In 2016, Maria founded AMP10x to provide a cornerstone for education and innovation programs of impact. The AMP10x mission is to bridge inclusion and leadership gaps in technology.
Before AMP10x, Maria was President of Ubee, a provider of wireless broadband. Maria grew Ubee from a startup of zero dollars to over a billion dollars in revenue. Her success was validated in 2012 when Ubee ranked #8 “Top 50 Fastest Growing Women-Led Companies”.
Maria has mentored startups at TechStars, RVC Accelerator and The Commons. Maria is on the Board of Women Who Startup Foundation. She is president of Creative Connections, thee nation’s largest creative meetup with over 8k members.
Follow Maria on Instagram.
Melissa Risteff, Co-Founder and CEO of Couragion
Melissa Risteff is the CEO & Co-Founder of Couragion, a women-owned educational technology social enterprise generously supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), AT&T Aspire, and the Colorado Office of Economic Development. Couragion boosts career literacy, improves student STEM skills and abilities, better informs student choice and classroom relevance — while equitably broadening participation in STEM fields.
Melissa spent a large part of her career at General Electric and Sun Microsystems where she was a Six Sigma Black Belt and led software engineering and data analytics organizations. Melissa earned her Master’s degree in Computer & Information Technology Management from the University of Denver and Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Bentley University. When not focused on education transformation, you can find her in the Pilates studio, on the trail, in the kitchen, or traveling the globe (42 countries and counting).
Katica Roy, CEO and Founder of Pipeline
Katica Roy is a gender economist, CEO and founder of Pipeline, a Colorado-based startup and artificial intelligence (AI) SaaS platform engineered to stop unconscious bias in the workplace. With more than two decades of experience in technology, healthcare and financial services, Roy has a rare combination of expertise and passion for gender equity, people analytics, and sales operations. She pours her knowledge and unique lens into several community and global initiatives, including as a former board member of Edge of Seven and current board member of the University of San Francisco’s Women in Leadership and Philanthropy, Book Trust, and Isabella Bird Community School, a member of the CU Leeds Women’s Council, and the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, as well as a 2018 Colorado Governors’ Fellow. Katica is also an industry entrepreneur, thought-leader, and frequent editorial contributor and speaker, and in 2017 was named a Luminary by the Colorado Technology Association.
Follow Katica on Twitter.
Masha Zvereva, Founder of Coding Blonde
Masha is the founder of Coding Blonde, a blog dedicated to empowering women in technology and breaking stereotypes. She is originally from Russia, but she has lived and studied in 5 countries by now. Her background is in marketing and market research and she has worked at a few startups before joining Google, where she worked as part of the YouTube team helping creators with their content and business development strategies. Right now she works at the University of Colorado Boulder as a Global Entrepreneur in Residence while working on Coding Blonde. Masha’s mission is to introduce women to the different areas and dimensions of tech and help them find the right resources for them to learn more about it and to start their career in the industry.