5 Digital Companies Founded By Inspirational Women

Maria Onzain

Did you know that teams with a slight female majority tend to be more confident? This was discovered in a recent study conducted by the National Center for Women & Information Technology, which looked into the impact of gender diversity on technology business performance. The research also reveals that “gender diversity at top management levels improves companies’ financial performance.”

An expert in digital marketing and a teacher, Kellie Pevy said in an interview with Australian online education provider Open Colleges,“There are many complex reasons why women are resistant to enter the technology industry, including stereotyping, company cultures, job flexibility and education.” Pevy also explained why the technology industry needs more women: “Women bring a new set of skills to the table, a more balanced perspective, a different way of thinking, drive, passion, as well as creativity and even financial benefits. Combining the way both men and women work can only make teams stronger, and a more diverse industry means better output.”

Technology companies still have changes to make to develop more female leaders and more gender-diverse teams. However, some companies are already doing this exceptionally well. For inspiration, here are 5 brilliant examples of successful female entrepreneurs in the digital industry:

1. SlideShare

Rashmi Sinha co-founded the well-known presentation-sharing platform SlideShare, along with her husband, Jonathan Boutelle and with the help of her older brother Amit Ranjan, back in 2006. Sinha earned a PhD in Cognitive Neuropsychology at Brown University and started two companies before launching SlideShere. First, she created Uzanto, a user experience consulting company, which did projects with eBay and Yahoo, among many others. She then founded MindCanvas, a user research software, to help designers create better interfaces for the final user.

When creating SlideShare, her original idea was to build a platform that businesses could use internally to share presentations among employees in a much easier way than existing services. However, it quickly turned into much more, allowing users to upload work-related presentations, but also use it for entertainment with the ability to share, like, and comment on the content. Sinha continues to be the CEO of SlideShare and in May 2012, LinkedIn acquired the business in a reported deal of $118.75 million.

2. Flickr

Caterina Fake co-founded Flickr in Vancouver, in 2002, with Stewart Butterfield and Jason Classonback. Yahoo acquired the photo-sharing website in 2005 for an impressive $22 million. Yahoo Photos closed soon after the acquisition, and all users had to migrate to Flickr in order to continue using the photo-sharing services.

Since 2005, Fake’s career has taken some interesting directions. First, she took a job at Yahoo, where she ran the Technology Development group for over 3 years. In 2009, she started a new entrepreneurial adventure with Chris Dixon, co-founding the website Hunch, a decision-making system that made recommendations based on a user’s interests. eBay acquired hunch.com in 2011 for a reported $80 million. The same year, Fake founded Findery, a micro-blogging platform hosting the world’s first crowd-sourced travel guide. Caterina Fake also sits on the board of directors of Creative Commons and serves as chairman of the board at Etsy.

3. Houzz

Adi Tatarko co-founded Houzz with her husband, Alon Cohen, in 2009. After a bad remodeling experience, the couple created a home design platform where the community can exchange photos, recommendations, and advice to help others decorate their homes. The business has grown internationally, with over 40 million users, and the online community statistics are more than impressive.

Born in Israel, Tatarko moved to the U.S. in the late 1990s and worked part-time as a financial advisor while taking care of her children. In Forbes, Tatarko explains, “We’re not typical founders. We’re simple people. We don’t come from privileged backgrounds.”

4. Eventbrite

Julia Hartz co-founded Eventbrite in 2005 with Renaud Visage and her husband, Kevin Hartz. They bootstrapped the company during the first 2 years and started hiring their first employees in year 4. Since then, the company’s growth has been spectacular, with 10 offices around the world and 575 “britelings” (Eventbrite employees). The company considers its culture to be extremely important, always putting people at the center of everything they do. The unicorn startup has even been voted 7 times as the best company to work for in San Francisco.

5. The Muse

Kathryn Minshew, Alex Cavoulacos, and Melissa McCreery all worked at McKinsey & Company but felt it wasn’t the right cultural fit for them. They therefore started to think about where they wanted to be in 5 or 10 years. Watching a colleague start his own company gave them the idea to do it themselves.

They founded The Daily Muse, a content site for people who believe in being passionate about work, in 2011. They understand very well the needs of their audience (millennials, career changers, parents returning to work…) and create content that adds value for them. A few months later, they launched The Muse, a job site that gives personalized job recommendations and very useful information about hiring companies, with beautiful office photos and videos. The Muse now gets around 5 million monthly visitors, raising $16 million of funding in June 2016.

Although these five examples represent diverse business ideas, there is a key takeaway from all these accomplished entrepreneurial women: The human element is the most important resource of every company. People make or break a business. That’s why today’s most successful enterprises need to have a company culture that combines both motivated men and women who work efficiently together.

For more on women in technology, see How Women Are Poised To Impact Cybersecurity.


About Maria Onzain

Maria Onzain is a content marketing expert and digital entrepreneur writing about startups, education and productivity. Passionate about all things digital, she loves technology, social media, travelling and good food.