When it comes to startup companies, it’s mostly a man’s world. Of all the tech IPOs of the past year, only one had a female founder: Angie Hicks of Angie’s List (NASDAQ:ANGI).
But times, they are a-changin’. In fact, there has been a surge in female founders who are getting venture funding from tier-1 firms. And some of these startups will be the initial public offerings of tomorrow.
So who are some of the breakout women founders? Here’s a look:
Clara Shih, Hearsay Social
A couple years ago, Clara Shih launched Hearsay Social — a cloud-based platform that helps companies manage their social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD). Hearsay Social’s customers include Farmers Insurance and 24-Hour Fitness, and the company boasts “the most successful social campaign in Facebook history,” which included 1,000-plus tabs and 2 million-plus fans in 24 hours.
Shih is one of the top brains in social media. She wrote the New York Times bestseller The Facebook Era (good thing she didn’t focus on MySpace!) and coded the first social business app on Facebook. She also is on the board of Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), having taken the place of Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.
So far, Shih has raised $21 million for Hearsay Social.
Susan Feldman and Alison Pincus, One Kings Lane
It took a lot of guts to start a company with the global economy imploding all around us in 2009. And Susan Feldman and Alison Pincus had guts.
Feldman had moved to Los Angeles and did not have time to decorate her new home. The frustration sparked the idea for One Kings Lane, a flash-sale site for high-quality furniture, antiques and accessories, and she teamed up with Pincus — wife of Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) CEO and co-founder Mark Pincus — to make it happen.
Their timing actually was spot-on. After all, major retailers wanted to unload their inventory amid the recession. One Kings Lane was a perfect outlet.
One Kings Lane has raised $63 million, and the buzz is that it will reach $200 million in revenues for this year.
Leah Busque, TaskRabbit
Leah Busque, a former IBM (NYSE:IBM) engineer, got the inspiration for her company one day when her 100-pound-dog, Kobe, got hungry. She had dinner plans with her husband and didn’t want to go to the store to get dog food, which led to the next thought: What if there was a website where she could hire someone to do the task?
Busque used her engineering skills to create TaskRabbit, a site where people with chores, errands — whatever needs done — can get in touch with people ready to tackle those jobs. She first launched the service in Boston for testing, where she learned several important things. For example, she realized posters wanted TaskRabbit to be safe, unlike freewheeling sites like Craigslist. To this end, she added a background check system, which includes a live video interview as well as a criminal record investigation.
Another key to TaskRabbit’s success is that the site provides a nice source of income for service providers, some of whom make more than $5,000 per month.
To date, TaskRabbit has raised $22.8 million in venture capital.
Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp, Birchbox
While at Harvard Business School, Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp didn’t have much time to shop for beauty products, and the pair figured there were plenty more people like them. The result was the creation of Birchbox — for $10 a month, women get a box containing samples of beauty products, such as from Kerastase and Laura Mercier.
Birchbox turned into an instant hit, with customers even posting YouTube videos of their reactions when they opened a Birchbox.
Since inception, the company has raised $11.9 million in venture capital.
Alexa Von Tobel, LearnVest
Alexa Von Tobel also went to Harvard Business School — and while she certainly got a great education, she didn’t have any classes focusing on personal finance.
Von Tobel’s original goal was to get a job on Wall Street, but the thought of personal finance kept eating away. This sparked her to launch LearnVest, which provides resources about how to deal with school loans, IRAs, health plans and mutual funds — with a focus on women.
LearnVest is plenty financially sound itself, with $25 million in venture capital.
Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPO Playbook, a site dedicated to the hottest news and rumors about initial public offerings. He also is the author of “The Complete M&A Handbook”, “All About Short Selling” and “All About Commodities.” Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli or reach him via email. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.