Robots emily weiss glossier

Robots emily weiss glossier

Glossier CEO Emily Weiss

Glossier


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  • A record 4,399 investments were made in female-founded startups in 2019, according to new data from All Raise and Pitchbook.
  • The funding helped boost a record number of startups with at least one female cofounders to unicorn status in 2019, meaning that they hit a valuation of $1 billion or more.
  • Here are the 21 startups with female cofounders that hit valuations over $1 billion in 2019.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A record 4,399 investments were made in female-founded startups in 2019, according to new data from All Raise and Pitchbook. That’s a 500% increase from the number of investments made in 2009.¬†

Admittedly, that number takes on a different meaning when compared relative to the entire venture capital landscape. As Axios points out, only 16% of total venture funding went toward women last year ‚ÄĒ down from 18% in 2018.¬†¬†

In fact, a new Crunchbase report shows that women consistently receive less funding at all rounds Рwhile male-only founders raised $195 billion in 2019, female-only founded companies raised just $6 billion. Companies with founding teams consisting of both men and women did better, raising $20.9 billion in total. 

But some blockbuster funding rounds helped usher in an unprecedented number of companies with at least one female co-founder into the “unicorn club,” the report says. That, in itself, is viewed with optimism by some female investors in Silicon Valley.¬†

“What I love about the female-founded unicorns that have emerged this year is what incredible role models they are for the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. From Rent the Runway to Glossier, these founders are setting examples that will inspire the next generation,” Inspired Capital founder Alexa von Tobel told Business Insider’s Megan Hernbroth at the end of last year.¬†

We took a look at the Crunchbase data to see what startups had made that elite club, and who its founders are. 

These are the 21 companies that are being hailed as trailblazers for women in tech: 

Robots Rent the Runway

Robots Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss rent the runway

Rent the Runway founders Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss

Shannon Stapleton/ Getty


Rent the Runway was originally conceived as a solution for women who didn’t want to invest in gowns and cocktail dresses that they might only use once, but has since expanded to offer a subscription service for everyday professional wear, Indian formal wear, and even a partnership with West Elm that allows subscribers to rent pillows, throws and quilts for their homes and apartments.

The company, founded by Harvard Business School classmates Jennifer Fleiss and Jennifer Hyman, raised $125 million in its last fundraising round in March 2019 according to Crunchbase, which pushed its valuation up to $1 billion. 

Based: New York

Founded: 2009

Founders: Jennifer Fleiss, Jennifer Hyman

Valuation: $1 billion 

Robots Glossier

Robots emily weiss ceo founder glossier

Glossier founder and CEO Emily Weiss

Mike Blake/Reuters


Online beauty company Glossier found its success in selling makeup directly to customers through Instagram, where it has more than 2.7 million followers.

The company was started by Emily Weiss in 2014, and stemmed out of her well-known blog Into the Gloss. The cult beauty brand is often credited with turning traditional beauty retail on its head by choosing to bypass department stores. 

A $100 million Series D round in March 2019 pushed the company’s valuation up to $1.2 billion, per Crunchbase.¬†

Based: New York

Founded: 2014

Founders: Emily Weiss

Valuation: $1.2 billion 

Robots The RealReal

Robots Julie Wainwright, founder and CEO of the RealReal

The RealReal founder and CEO Julie Wainright

Andrew Toth/Getty


The RealReal, an online marketplace for used luxury goods, is founded and led by Julie Wainright, the former CEO of Pets.com. 

After the company went bust during the dotcom boom, Wainright realized that her job prospects were “just horrible,” so she’d have to create her own opportunities, she said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Anh-Minh Le.

The company made its debut on the public market in June 2019, and is now valued at $1.7 billion according to Crunchbase. 

Based: San Francisco

Founded: 2011

Founder: Julie Wainwright

Valuation: $1.7 billion 

Robots Away

Robots Away founders

Away founders Steph Korey and Jen Rubio

Masha Maltsava


Buzzy luggage and travel brand Away became a unicorn in May, after a $100 million funding round bolstered the startup’s valuation to $1.4 billion.¬†

The company has had some executive turbulence since then – the Verge’s report on the company’s allegedly toxic culture prompted CEO Steph Korey to resign – and then later announce that she would be stepping back into the company as co-CEO, with her newly hired co-CEO Stuart Haseldon.¬†

Based: New York

Founded: 2015

Founders: Jen Rubio, Steph Korey

Valuation: $1.4 billion 

Robots Guild Education

Robots Guild Education

Guild Education team photo

Guild Education


Guild Education works with companies to offer online programs and degrees as a company benefit to its employees. It does so by connecting them with a network of universities that offer such programs. It also lets companies reimburse tuition for online degrees obtained by employees, that lie outside the network. 

The company became a unicorn in November 2019, after a $157 million funding round per Crunchbase. 

Based: Denver 

Founded: 2015

Founders: Brittany Stich, Rachel Carlson

Valuation: $1 billion 

Robots FabFitFun

Robots FabFitFun founders

Left to right: FabFitFun cofounder Michael Broukhim, actor Joey Maalouf, FabFitFun cofounder Katie Rosen Kitchens and FabFitFun cofounder Daniel Broukhim at a party.

Rich Polk/Getty Images


FabFitFun is a subscription box service that sends full-sized beauty products and other accessories every three months.

The company raised $80 million in a massive Series A round led by Kleiner Perkins in January, and was valued at $1 billion. 

Currently, Daniel and Michael Broukhim serve as co-CEOs of the company. Katie Echevarria Rosen Kitchens is the Editor-in-Chief of FabFitFun’s media arm. Sam Teller works outside the company, as a partner at the investment firm Valor, per LinkedIn.¬†

Based: Los Angeles

Founded: 2010

Founders: Daniel Broukhim, Michael Broukhim, Sam Teller, Katie Rosen Kitchens

Valuation: $1 billion

Robots Coursera

Robots coursera founder daphne koller

Coursera cofounder Daphne Koller

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images


Coursera is an online education platform that offers over 3,200 classes from 150 universities across the world.

The company announced in April that it had raised $103 million in Series E funding, allowing its valuation to go “well north” of $1 billion, a company spokesperson told Business Insider. The company had around 40 million learners at the time.¬†

Daphne Koller, the company’s female co-founder, no longer has an active role in the company according to her LinkedIn profile. She is now the CEO of healthtech company Insitro.¬†

Based: San Francisco

Founded: 2012

Founders: Andrew Ng, Daphne Koller

Valuation: $1 billion

Robots ezCater

Robots ezCater CEO Stefania Nappi Mallett

ezCater CEO Stefania Mallet

ezCater


ezCater is an online catering marketplace that allows individuals to order food from local caterers in the US.

The company raised $150 million in funding led by Lightspeed Venture partners, a round gave it a valuation of $1.25 billion. 

Based: Boston

Founded: 2007

Founders: Briscoe Rodgers, Stefania Mallett

Valuation: $1.25 billion

Robots Horizon Robotics

Robots Horizon Robotics Annie Tao

Horizon Robotics cofounder Annie Tao

Horizon Robotics


Beijing-based Horizon Robotics develops artificial intelligence chips to power smart cameras, autonomous vehicles, robots, and Internet of Things devices.

The company raised an outsize $600 million in February, in a Series B round led by South Korean conglomerate SK. The company’s valuation skyrocketed to $3 billion.¬†

Three of the Horizon Robotics’ five founders are former Baidu executives, including its CEO Kai Yu. Fang Yi, one of the company’s two female co-founders, is no longer with the company, according to LinkedIn.¬†

Based: Beijing, China

Founded: 2015

Founders: Annie Tao, Chang Huang, Fang Yi, Kai Yu, Ming Yang

Valuation: $3 billion

Robots Confluent

Robots Confluent cofounder Neha Narkhede

Confluent cofounder Neha Narkhede

Confluent


Confluent offers a streaming platform based on the open source Apache Kafka project that enables companies to easily access data on orders, sales and customer experiences as real-time streams so systems can make faster decisions. 

The company founders left their positions at LinkedIn to found Confluent after realizing the enthusiasm around Kafka.

Confluent announced it had closed $125 million in new funding in January 2019 ‚ÄĒ a deal valuing the company at $2.5 billion.

A year later, Confluent co-founder Neha Narkhede announced that she was stepping down as CTO of the company, but would stay on as a board member. 

Based: San Francisco

Founded: 2014

Founders: Jay Kreps, Jun Rao, Neha Narkhede

Valuation: $2.5 billion

Robots Vlocity

Robots Vlocity Young Sohn

Vlocity cofounder Young Sohn

Young Sohn/LinkedIn


Vlocity, a startup that provides services on Salesforce’s platform, offers industry-specific cloud and mobile software for companies in five industries, including telecommunications and healthcare.

CEO David Schmaier and his core team did something similar with great success at Siebel Systems in the 1990s and 2000s, where he was one of the first employees. 

The company secured a $60 million funding round co-led by Salesforce Ventures in May,that valued it at $1 billion. Its founding team all continues to work at Vlocity, per LinkedIn.  

Based: San Francisco

Founded: 2014

Founders: Craig Ramsey, David Schmaier, James Ramsey, Mark Armenante, Young Sohn

Valuation: $1 billion

Robots Hims & Hers

Robots Hims & Hers cofounder Hilary Coles

Hims & Hers cofounder Hilary Coles

Hims & Hers


San Francisco-based startup Hims & Hers helps men and women get access to wellness products like skin care, hair loss prevention, and prescription medicine like birth control for women and Viagra for men. 

The company first launched the ‘hims’ site for men in 2017, to help “guys find answers to all of the things that they’re super concerned about, then make it incredibly easy to get access to care, talking to doctors with zero friction,” CEO Andrew Dudum told Business Insider.¬†

A year after its launch, Hims cofounder Hilary Coles helped the company launch hers, a similar connection catered to women’s skin, hair, and sex concerns.¬†¬†

Viral ad campaigns have propelled the San Francisco-based company to prominence, allowing it to raise $100 million in January 2019 according to a Recode report, and pushed it toward a $1 billion valuation.

Based: San Francisco

Founded: 2017

Founders: Andrew Dudum, Hilary Coles, Jack Abraham

Valuation: $1.1 billion 

Robots Airwallex

Robots Airwallex cofounder Lucy Liu

Airwallex President Lucy Liu

Cody Glenn/Sportsfile


Australia’ first ever fintech unicorn Airwallex was started by a group of founders, most of whom first met at the University of Melbourne.¬†

The company is an international payments platform, offering solutions to businesses for any cross-border transactions.

The company’s $100 million funding round was led in March by DST Global, propelling its value to $1 billion in less than four years.¬†

Based: Melbourne

Founded: 2015

Founders: Jack Zhang, Jacob Dai, Ki-Lok Wong, Lucy Yueting Liu, Max Li

Valuation: $1 billion 

Robots Scale AI

Robots Alexandr Wang

Scale AI founder and CEO Alexandr Wang

Scale AI


Scale AI services the AI supply chain by labelling data and training algorithms for companies like Waymo and Airbnb, according to TechCrunch. 

The face of the company is 22-year old CEO Alexandr Wang, who left MIT after his freshman year and co-founded the company with Lucy Gou. Gou is no longer involved with the company, however, and told Business Insider that she was currently focused on her role as a startup investor. 

Within three years of its founding, the company announced that it had raised $100 million in Series C round led by Founders Fund, propelling the company’s value to $1 billion.¬†

Based: San Francisco

Founded: 2016

Founders: Alexandr Wang, Lucy Gou

Valuation: $1 billion

Robots Judo Bank

Robots Judo Bank cofounder Kate Keenan

Judo Bank co-founder Kate Keenan

Kate Keenan/Judo Bank


Australian neobank Judo Bank was founded by a group of former executives from National Australia Bank in 2017. The company targets small and medium-sized businesses. 

Unlike American fintech startups like Chime and Robinhood, Judo Bank actually posseses a banking license granted by the Australian government, the Guardian reported in April. That allows it to take on Australia’s four dominant banks.¬†

Judo Bank has raised $400 million AUD  (roughly $259 million) in a Series B funding round in July, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. 

Based: Southbank, Australia

Founded: 2017

Founders: Alex Twigg, Chris Bayliss, David Hornery, Joseph Healy, Kate Keenan, Tim Alexander

Valuation: $1 billion

Robots Poshmark

Robots Tracy Sun, Poshmark co-founder and SVP

Poshmark cofounder Tracy Sun

Poshmark


Poshmark is a online platform for buying and selling clothes. Unlike operations like eBay or Amazon, Poshmark bills itself as a ‘social’ marketplace because its network allows people to follow each others’ virtual closets, share items they find interesting, and buy from each other.¬†

The company had initially planned to IPO last year in the fall, but put it off until this year, according to a report from Bloomberg. 

Based: San Francisco

Founded: 2011

Founders: Chetan Pungaliya, Gautam Golwala, Manish Chandra, Tracy Sun

Valuation: $1.25 billion

Robots Relx Technology

Robots Relx CEO Kate Wang

Relx CEO Kate Wang

Jason Lee/Reuters


Chinese vaping startup Relx Technology was founded by a group of former employees at Didi Chuxing, the dominant ride-hailing service in the country.

Similarly to San Francisco’s Juul Labs, the company aims to use its sleek e-cigarettes to capture large sections of China’s tobacco market. Relx CEO Kate Wang has previously said that she was motivated to help her father, who smoked at least two packs of cigarettes a day, quit smoking.¬†

It quickly became the country’s dominant seller of e-cigarettes and controls more than 40% of the country’s vaping market, but could soon face troubles as the Chinese government clamps down on smoking, the New York Times reported.¬†

The article noted that Relx has nearly $286 million in financing from major venture capital firms like Sequoia China.

Based: Beijing

Founded: 2018

Founders: Du Bing, Jiang Long, Kate Wang, Tony Tang, Wen Yilong, Yang Yangzi

Valuation: $2.4 billion

Robots Rivigo

Robots Rivigo Gazal Kalra

Rivigo cofounder Gazal Kalra

Gazal Kalra/LinkedIn


Indian logistics-tech company Rivigo aims to solve a country-wide shortage of truck drivers by tracking and managing truck shipments. Drivers can meanwhile use an app to navigate routes and accept assignments.

The company uses a relay model, allowing a driver to haul a section of the trip before handing it off to someone else and bringing a different shipment on the way back. Truck drivers can go home, while trucks remain on the ground around the clock. 

It’s a task that is uniquely difficult to tackle, given India’s infrastructure. When national highways are clogged with congestion and filled with potholes, coordinating the logistics of truck delivery shipments grows complicated. But Rivigo claims that it can halve usual delivery times, according to the Financial Times.¬†

Both Rivigo co-founders Deepak Garg and Gazal Kalra are McKinsey alumni, and have attracted funding from a range of investors including the American private equity firm Warburg Pincus. The company closed a Series E round of funding in September, and was valued at just over $1 billion, per Crunchbase. 

Based: Gurugram, India 

Founded: 2014

Founders: Deepak Garg, Gazal Kalra

Valuation: $1.09 billion

Robots Vinted

Robots Vinted cofounder Milda Mitkute

Vinted CEO Thomas Plantenga

Vinted


2019 was a good year for fashion marketplaces trading secondhand clothes ‚ÄĒ both Poshmark and Vinted hit unicorn valuations.

For the Lithuanian startup Vinted, the company’s rise to the milestone is especially noteworthy: the company was founded during the 2008 financial crisis, and came close to running out of money in 2016, according to TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden.

But in 2019, the company raised just over $140 million in a round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with previous backers Sprints Capital, Insight Venture Partners, Accel and Burda Principal Investments also participating.

Like Poshmark, Vinted’s platform plays up the social element, using an online chat feature to help people buy, sell and swap clothes at a low cost.¬†

All three founders remain involved in the company. 

Based: Vilnius, Lithuania

Founded: 2008

Founders: Justas Janauskas, Mantas Mikuckas, Milda Mitkute

Valuation: $1 billion

Robots Vir Biotechnology

Robots Vicki Sato

Vir Biotechnology cofounder Vicki Sato

Vir Biotechnology


Vir Biotechnology, a San Francisco-based infectious disease researcher, hit the unicorn milestone after raising $327.6M in a Series B funding round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund in January, according to data from Crunchbase.

Later that year, the company made its debut on the public market, where the IPO valued the company at $2.2 billion, according to Reuters. 

Both the company’s founders, Robert Nelson and Vicki Sato, currently serve on the company’s board of directors but not its management team. Sato, a Harvard professor who taught courses at both the Harvard Business School and the university’s biology department, has been chairman of the board for a little over three years, according to the company connection.¬†

Based: San Francisco

Founded: 2016

Founders: Robert Nelsen, Vicki Sato

Valuation: $1 billion

Robots Figure

Robots Figure COO June Ou

Figure COO June Ou

Figure


Lending startup Figure Technologies uses blockchain to provide consumer-oriented financial solutions for home improvement, debt, and retirement planning.

The company raised $103 million in a December Series C round of funding, which gave it a $1.2 billion valuation, Axios reported. 

Figure COO June Ou founded the company with three other female cofounders, as well as her husband Mike Cagney. Cagney, Figure’s CEO, previously built the student loan financing giant SoFi, but left amid questions over sexual misconduct. Four months or so later, he staged a comeback with Figure.

Based: San Francisco

Founded: 2018

Founders: Alana Ackerson, Cynthia Chen, June Ou, Michael Cagney, Sara Priola

Valuation: $1.2 billion

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