7 Women-Founded Startups You Need to Know About
From personalized cancer therapeutics to social virtual and augmented reality experiences, the following startups are shining examples of companies that are changing the way our world works. We’re honored to have these brilliant women-founded startups in our Startup Program and excited to highlight them here for you.
1. My Personal Therapeutics
Laura Towart, Founder & CEO
Offers cancer patients worldwide access to the most advanced personalized cancer therapeutics.
How My Personal Therapeutics Got Started:
“I was introduced to Dr. Ross Cagan, the Mt. Sinai Professor who invented the technology (also the Director of the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapeutics) and was immediately captivated by the potential of the platform to be transformative for personalized medicine.
After years of awaiting the first clinical outcomes data and tinkering with commercialisation strategies, I founded My Personal Therapeutics in London in August 2018. After finalising a licensing and partnership agreement with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt Sinai and securing funding in April 2019, I began the search for a Chief Scientific Officer and wider team. Through my extended network I was introduced to Dr. Nahuel Villegas, an experienced drosophila biologist who had been pursuing similar work in his own lab and who was also friends with Ross. We then set out to build a world class team.”
On Overcoming a Challenge:
“I attempted to commercialise this technology for the MENA region, and the licensing arrangement was prohibitive for investors. It ultimately failed and I worked with Mt. Sinai to restructure for the global license with the institution as a partner. It was a very difficult time and I lost personal funds I had invested in the previous venture. But in the end I was grateful for the chance to try again.”
How You Can Support My Personal Therapeutics:
“We are a small team and can use your help to shine some attention on our unique solution. We’re always looking to expand our partnership network so if you are an oncologist, cancer center, foundation, healthcare concierge service or any other other potential stakeholder and are interested please get in touch!”
Want to connect with My Personal Therapeutics? Email us to request an intro.
2. CEEK VR
Mary Spio, Founder
Premium social virtual and augmented reality experiences, simulating the communal experience of attending a live concert, being in a classroom, attending a sporting event, etc.
How CEEK VR Got Started:
“I sold multiple satellite streaming patents to The Boeing company, and helped create Boeing’s Digital Cinema platform, which enabled the digital distribution of movies over satellite. This offered a cost savings to the movie industry; thus, all studios were eager to switch to the technology.
Many of them came to me to help with the transition, being just one person, I created my first company to help studios with the transition. I later saw a vast underserved independent film market and launched an online video platform, after exiting that company; I created CEEK a virtual reality streaming platform for virtual events and experiences once again to fill a massive industry need.”
On Overcoming a Challenge:
“Raising capital for female founders is a huge challenge, Fortune magazine reported that last year only 2.2% of VC money went to female founders, the numbers are even worse when you look at black founders.
I focused on offering CEEK’s technology to companies that were looking for VR solutions to generate revenue to build the CEEK VR platform. We managed to get Facebook, Google and Berkshire Hathaway’s Richline as clients which helped in getting the attention of funds for black and brown founders to build our initial platform and partner with the likes of Universal Music, Google and Apple. I also applied to many startup programs, got credit from Amazon to help offset initial server costs and made it into Microsoft for Startups.
It’s been an arduous slow grind, but the process has helped me in building a phenomenal company. Rough waters do really make good sailors; most of the companies that had millions piled on them have gone out of business or been acquired in fire sales, while CEEK is patent-awarded, revenue generating and continue to lead the mobile VR market. We’ve had exclusive VR experiences releases featuring the likes of Demi Lovato, Bon Jovi, DL Hughley and more.
We just extended our partnership with Universal Music and have a pipeline that’s bursting at the seams. We are now being very selective of the kinds of investors that we’ll consider for growth capital.”
Advice to Founders from CEEK’s Founder:
For all female founders who may be struggling to raise capital despite checking all the boxes, my advice is do not cut corners by playing the game.
What I mean by the game is adding a white male co-founder, graduate from this school or that school and other nonsensical requirements that have nothing to do with your product quality, company or its long-term success.
Don’t fill their racist/sexist checkboxes just to get the money. Instead build a really great company that can be revenue generating and stand on its own. It may take longer, but it can be done. It’s the only way we can change the current prevailing mindset — if you keep feeding their views it will never change.
There are good people out there looking for great opportunities. Grind until you find them. Protect your IP, because there are a lot of copycats out there. ;)
Want to connect with CEEK? Email us to request an intro.
Bonnie Takkar, Founder
Retail / eCommerce
Makes it easy to share the things you love with friends, get paid for it, and support your favorite charities.
How LetsBab Got Started:
“Where to start? My journey over the years has taken me through the heady heights of the fashion world. From the Chief at Earl Jean, to the deputy at Jimmy Choo, back in the driving seat at Halston and Charlotte Olympia.
In 2009, whilst at home on maternity leave, I came up with the idea of launching a platform for people to make and receive recommendations to their trusted friends and family. Looking for a means to channel my energy and natural skillset, and well aware of the power of a personal recommendation, the origins of LetsBab were born.
The sentiment of ‘if I had a dollar for every time I recommend this’ was something I had heard time and time again, but which had never been realised. I saw a clear opportunity to enable others like myself to be empowered and feel connected, whilst doing something they naturally already do — sharing ideas and recommendations.
At LetsBab, we are setting out to democratise the voice of recommendation. Everyday we share our taste with friends. Currently the only people getting paid for their influence are influencers and bloggers, with companies spending billions on influencer marketing. We’d like a big chunk of this to go to you.
We’ve also set out to create the ultimate shopping experience — a digital mall at your fingertips. With LetsBab you can browse through all your favourite brands with swipe and a click.”
On Overcoming a Challenge:
“As a startup app it was hard to get our ‘voice heard’ with a limited marketing budget. We solved this by forming key partnerships with our wider network.
- Hosting the LIVE London Fashion Week schedule within the LetsBab app as their official app partner, notifying all attendees with up to the minute notifications of show start times and delays, giving us mass exposure to the fashion community through the provision of this service.
- Being our charity partner, CoppaFeel’s official 2019 University Partner. We helped them achieve >7,000 text sign ups to get students to check their breasts for early signs for breast cancer, and raised awareness of our app as a new way to donate across 52 UK universities.
- Becoming the Official App of the Baby Show, the UK’s largest parenting show with 25,000+ attendees. Again this allowed us to engage with an active shopping community by providing a key service.
- Leveraging our WeWork membership to host a number of ‘download for a donut’ activations across their offices to raise awareness.”
Want to connect with LetsBab? Email us to request an intro.
4. SenSanna Incorporated
Jacqueline Hines, Founder
Manufacturing / Industry
Brings connectivity to the industries that operate in the world’s harshest conditions.
How SenSanna Got Started:
“While leading the R&D effort for the largest cell phone filter manufacturer in the USA, I realized that the devices we made to filter radio frequency signals in cell phones could also be used to monitor a wide range of physical, chemical, and biological measures. I founded ASR&D Corp (now SenSanna Inc) to take advantage of the commercial opportunity for wireless sensors in harsh environments.”
On Overcoming a Challenge:
“Initially, sets of sensors would interfere with one another — so the response of sensor number 5 would depend on which other devices were present, and on the relative positions of the sensors. This made it impossible to extract calibrated measurements from the devices. We invented a new type of radio frequency identification (RFID) approach that enables us to produce sets of sensors that operate simultaneously in the field of view of a reader, without interfering. This capability spurred interest in our sensors among industrial customers.”
How You Can Support SenSanna:
“SenSanna has just announced the start of our Series A raise, and is looking for investors with expertise in the industrial internet-of-things (IIOT) field.”
Want to connect with SenSanna? Email us to request an intro.
5. Virtual Gurus
Bobbie Racette, Founder
A virtual assistant marketplace that matches businesses and entrepreneurs with freelancers using a proprietary algorithm.
How Virtual Gurus Got Started:
“I started it in 2016 while being the only freelancer to work for my company, I bootstrapped it up to $1.3M ARR before closing a funding round of $1.25M.”
Virtual Gurus On Overcoming a Challenge:
“Building a Marketplace you will always run into a Chicken and Egg situation; should you attract buyers or sellers first and once you start attracting both sides how do you maintain? Virtual Gurus focused on bringing in just enough suppliers and had those suppliers bring in the demand by doing their own sales, from there we quickly grew and built our own sales team to take the torch.”
How You Can Support Virtual Gurus:
“Virtual Gurus is launching an app called askBetty that will be available to any Slack user where you can download the app and delegate tasks in 15 minute increments costing $6 — $8 per task directly through Slack. We’ll be looking for strategic partnerships — please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Want to connect with Virtual Gurus? Email us to request an intro.
Kimberly Carney, Founder & CEO
Design & Fashion
A discovery and shopping marketplace democratizing the fashion industry by offering all fashion-conscious consumers, no matter their demographics or geo-graphics, a direct link to designers and fashion worldwide.
How Fashwire Got Started:
“As an experienced store owner with a background in tech, I saw a need for brands from around the world to exist on one platform with a data hub to increase brand awareness, costly ordering decisions and improve margins.” — Kimberly Carney, Founder & CEO
On Overcoming a Challenge:
“I hired my first developer in 2015. We learned at the end of 2016 that it was not a viable app and built on poor technology with unusable code. In order to start over, we had to find a new developer and raise more money.
As painful as it was, I was straight forward with my shareholders about having to start over and they agreed to increase their investments. In May 2017, we found an amazing development partner at a tech show and launched in May 2018 with an incredible platform and a Google partnership.”
How You Can Support Fashwire:
“If you’re interested in investing in fashion tech, we are in a Series A Round for private angel investors.”
Want to connect with Fashwire? Email us to request an intro.
Anouk Van Pol, Co-Founder
Yvonne van den Berg, Co-Founder
How Ingu Got Started:
“INGU actually had two starts (I guess common for a lot of startups 😊). Initially, we started as a spin-off of a private sensor research institute with a strong technology push. In our search for clients, we came on the radar of Shell and Chevron and it became clear to us that the actual use case was pipeline safety. Both super majors started to do trials with us and it really got going when we became a participant in Chevron’s Catalyst program in 2017.
Following that we joined the Creative Destruction Lab program where we met Scott Saxberg, one of the mentors and a former CEO of Crescent Point Energy, who provided the opportunity to run our Pipers® in the first operational pipeline.”
On Overcoming a Challenge:
“During the early stages of the company we got the opportunity to join the 500 Startups accelerator. This was a pivotal moment; it became clear that we were totally product focused and not at all market focused. The best example of that are the close to 100 VC rejections we received.
We effectively restarted the company after this experience with one single focus on one specific market. 3 years later we closed our Series A with Chevron and Energy Innovation Capital as investors, have over 30 clients and hit our first million in revenue in the traditional oil & gas space.”
Want to connect with INGU? Email us to request an intro.
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