Successful Startups by Women

Success Stories Of World’s Winning Startups Led By Women

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Like it or not, there’s no denying the fact that a working woman simply has it harder than her male counterparts. The salary gap is still very much in place, along with several kinds of glass ceilings that women must break before they achieve success.

While there’s much more work to be done in the workplace for absolute gender equality, female-founded startups have been making the headlines more often. While such startups have remained notoriously underfunded, women have been performing brilliantly in this area. They’ve even managed to outperform their male counterparts in many places where startups are concerned.

Below are just a few instances where women entrepreneurs have defied all odds to give us the most inspiring success stories. They’re created businesses, broke barriers, and gone beyond their revenue goals. Read on for a taste of what can be done when women decide to take over:

1. Away

Image Source: Twitter/Away

The cofounders of the startup Away are two women named Steph Kory and Jen Rubio. These have managed to make something like luggage actually exciting by using their previous market knowledge. Kory was formerly a consultant for Casper, the popular mattress company that also began as a startup. Both women were also Warby Parker heads in the past. When they put their heads together, they wanted to get the same creativity, usefulness and success in the luggage market.

Since both females had an interest in e-commerce and travel, they sought to put these concepts together. After interviewing many travelers about the reasons and methods of their journeys, the result was a line of lightweight, durable luggage pieces. These have proven to be a more affordable and viable option than even the most high-end brands.

This startup may have had humble beginnings and be just around two years old, but it’s already found a place in the celebrity world. Partnerships with huge brands such as West Elm are also underway.

2. Alex And Ani

Alex And Ani
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Hailing from Rhode Island, the CEO of the popular brand Alex and Ani is actually one woman named Carolyn Rafaelian. She’s the founder and chief creative officer of this venture as well. Her whole family was actively engaged in the manufacturing and sale of jewelry for some time since Rhode Island itself was once renowned for being the world’s costume jewelry capital.

Alex and Ani is not just famed for selling costume jewelry, though. Under Rafaelian’s guidance, it has grown into a company which provides the positivity and confidence that people need. Along with this, it gives them the accessories they want to express themselves.

Nowadays, large stores like Harvey Nichols and even Saks Fifth Avenue are carrying bangles made by Alex and Ani. National sororities, the US military, the NFL, and Walt Disney are among other companies involved in dealing with this female-founded startup.  It’s hence no surprise that its founder has a net worth of over $1 billion and has a steady spot on Forbes’ America’s Richest Self-Made Women list.

Explore: Successful Graphic Design Agencies Owned By Women

3. Eloquii

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Many women have had issues with designer wear and most styles of clothing being made only for thin and straight body shapes. However, the plus-size clothing and fashion world is now growing at an increasingly rapid rate, being worth several billion dollars as of this moment. Still, there’s a limited range of choices when it comes to women who wear a size 14 or more. Brands like Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, and H&M have been criticized for providing very little in this area, if at all.

In order to fill this hap, Eloquii has come onto the scene. Led by its CEO Mariah Chase, this is a startup founded mainly by women. Its main goal is to provide plus sizes in trendy, edgy, and funky styles. It’s no surprise that its Series B round ended with a $15 million revenue. They’ve also managed to raise millions of dollars in order to further fund their growth.

In addition to being a success in itself, Eloquii has also managed to inspire other brands into existence. Just a few examples include the plus-size line Seven& by Melissa McCarthy and the Ava & Viv label by Target. Needless to say, this is an overall win-win for the customers, the brands, and the economy in general.

4. Blendoor

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Female engineer Stephanie Lankin has managed to get a start on the bias entrenched in the world of tech hiring. In fact, her startup is a step in the right direction for removing bias in any kind of hiring, period.

After graduating from Stanford and receiving an MBA from MIT, Lankin was still an engineer that found unreasonable rejection in Silicon Valley. While she eventually landed a position at Microsoft, she knew that her young age, African-American ethnicity, and sex had played a role in her rejections.

Instead of sitting back and enjoying her eventual success, Lankin has stayed active in trying to remove obstacles that almost cost her a career. To this end, she’s come up with the Blendoor app, which lets people update resumes without their pictures, ages, or even names.

Since we’ve seen women get rejected for having names that are too ‘ghetto’, this is a brilliant move. This way, even if the bias is not conscious on the part of the employer, it would be successfully removed.

Blendoor eventually went live on the SXSW platform, where around 19 high-end tech firms bought into it. These included names like Apple, Facebook, Google, and Intel. All in all, this is a successful startup that’s doing its part in breaking glass ceilings instead of simply reporting them.

5. Birchbox

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If you’re a makeup enthusiast, you would definitely have heard of Birchbox at some point. This startup was launched by in 2010 by Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna, both graduates of Harvard Business School. The two classmates had a goal to make shopping for beauty products much easier on women.

The reasoning behind this status is that beauty products are expensive.  Most also last a long time, so women have to make sure they’re worth the investment. It’s not just about quality, but about a product actually suiting the skin and undertones of the wearer. Hence, Birchbox works on a monthly subscription basis to send boxes of samples for makeup lovers.

If a product suits a subscriber, they always have the option to buy its full-sized version. This also gives them the opportunity to test out a product and fall in love with it before the actual purchase.  This may seem like a brilliant idea now, but Birchbox started off with cold emails and was met with initial resistance. Now, however, it has more than a million subscribers and provides around 8000 brands in its boxes.


The success stories outlined above are by no means the only examples. There are many more female entrepreneurs taking over the world’s markets every year. Since our working world is not really friendly to working women, such startups are all the most awe-inspiring.

What’s more, startups that are founded by women are much more likely to aim at something different that the mainstream market wouldn’t usually offer. Women are more attuned to what’s missing and what’s needed, especially when it comes to the needs of their own gender. We would all gain from more funds for such ventures as well as more support for them. They not only serve to diversify the market but fill its gaps in a creative and useful manner.

Market research nerd with a penchant for graphic design and branding. A digital marketer by profession; a creature of the web by compulsion.

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