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The Serial Entrepreneurs

The stereotype: Women founders have one great idea in them at most. The reality: see below. 

Alex Vikati
Cast TV

Age: 35

Title: CEO

The big idea: online library that helps users find on- demand video, news clips, and TV shows.

In the beginning: Vikati was working in malaysia and couldn’t keep up with news content or her favorite american programs. Initial funding: $3.1m

Investors: ron conway; Draper Fisher jurvetson

Measure of success: Built a prototype and landed TV Guide as her first customer even before looking for funding.

Other ventures: FileFish, sold to Oracle in 2003

The woman thing: “I’m a mother, which is even more unusual [in this field] than being a woman. It brings a unique perspective in terms of the balance.”

 

Alicia Morga
Refleta

Age: 39

Title: CEO

The big idea: An application that lets users input data to determine the causes behind weight gain and loss.

In the beginning: Morga wanted a way to help people find meaning in the numerical data they produce, which right now are used mostly by marketers to target consumers.

Initial funding: Won’t reveal

Investors: Using her own funds at the moment

Measures of success: too soon to say.

Other ventures: Consorte Media (acquired by Audiencescience); GottaFeeling (mobile app)

The woman thing: “[many women] are intimidated because they don’t come from an engineering or computer science background. But steve jobs came from a design perspective, and he did just fine.”

 

Erin Turner
Crave

Age: 35

Title: CEO

The big idea: A social marketplace where collectors can buy and sell every conceivable kind of collectible (GI Joe, Transformers, Star Wars...).

In the beginning: Working at electronic arts, turner became interested in how gaming mechanics, like the point system, could be applied to the consumer experience.

Cofounder: Kabriel Robichaux Initial funding: $1m seed

Investors: Max Levchin (ex-Paypal); Elad Gil (Mixer Labs); Jeff Clavier (Softtech); Evan Williams (Twitter); Chamath Palihapitiya (Facebook)

Measures of success: more than 100,000 visits and 1 million page views per month in the first three collectible categories; plans to expand to 1,000 categories

Other ventures: Gigabeat (acquired by Napster in 2001)

The woman thing: “Where i’ve seen a difference is the way women go about forming networks, which are crucial to getting someone to take a chance on you before you have a working business.”

 

Gina Bianchini
Mightybell

Age: 39

Title: Founder

The big idea: Help people get more out of their life goals— from learning about home remedies to starting a business— by providing them with a step-by-step guide to achieving their aims and sharing that experience with others.

In the beginning: Bianchini stumbled onto the idea because she wondered how much impact social media have on someone’s potential to “become increasingly awesome.”

Initial funding: $2.1m seed

Investors: First round capital; Floodgate Fund

Measure of success: At press time, the site had been live for only six weeks

Other ventures: Ning (acquired by Glam Media)

The woman thing: “Join a startup that is super-small, with somebody who has done it before—it’s what i did. You will see the good, the bad, and the ugly— that’s when you learn the most.”

 

Caterina Fake
2BKCO

Age: 43

Title: CEO

The big idea: A user-generated social media company.

In the beginning: Fake left her last startup (hunch, which helps people make all kinds of consumer choices based on recommendations) to found her latest company.

Initial funding: $2m

Investors: True Ventures; Founder collective (her own angel fund)

Measure of success: “I’m not a big believer in vanity metrics.”

Other ventures: Flickr (acquired by yahoo! in 2005); Hunch

The woman thing: “People tend to invest in people who are like them. there’s always support [for women] in tech—I’m wondering if there shouldn’t be more support for women in venture.”

 

Jessica Herrin
Stella & Dot

Age: 38

Title: CEO

The big idea: A modern-day avon that gives women a work- from-home, flexible business platform for selling designer jewelry via in-home trunk shows.

In the beginning: Basing the company out of her living room, herrin made the jewelry herself and held test trunk shows to prove the concept.

Initial funding: $350k seed

Investors: Sequoia Capital; Radar Partners

Measures of success: 10,000 active sellers in North America; more than $100m in revenue

Other ventures: Weddingchannel .com (acquired by The Knot in 2006)

The woman thing: “Most people don’t care if you are male, female, red, white, or green as long as you are smart, hardworking, kind, fun, and able to get the job done.”

 

Victoria Ransom

Wildfire Interactive

Age: 35

Title: CEO

The big idea: Platform to help small businesses create interactive ad campaigns (such as contests) using social media networks.

In the beginning: Ransom came up with the idea for Wildfire when she tried to create a sweepstakes app on Facebook, for a free trip to promote an adventure travel company she had cofounded.

Cofounder: Alain Chuard

Initial funding: $250k seed; $4m series a

Investors: fbFund; Summit Partners; Jeff Clavier; Aydin Senkut; Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine Library TV); Dave McClure

Measure of success: Revenues already in the tens of millions of dollars.

Other ventures: Access adventure travel

The woman thing: “I know of specific examples of women who said [they were] really inspired to join a company because it was led by a woman.”

 

Promise Phelon

Upmo

Age: 35

Title: CEO

The big idea: Serves as a Linkedin for enterprises, where employees can better plan their long-term careers by connecting with peers and employers for job opportunities.

In the beginning: At Bea Systems, Phelon met a number of advisers who helped her maintain control over her career.  She wanted to ensure that other employees had the same experience.

Initial funding: $3.5m seed

Investors: Pat Sueltz (Salesforce); Dan Warmenhoven (Netapp); Brian Nesmith (Blue Coat Systems)

Measures of success: $2m annual run rate; used by several enterprises (Phelon declines to name names).

Other ventures: The Phelon Group

The woman thing: “I’m assuming that there are more women starting their own companies, because i meet a lot more woman entrepreneurs. but the question is, are they being funded? That’s a whole other issue.”

 

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