The technology sector is, by a wide margin, a male dominated industry. This fact has been well reported on and noted by countless news publications and journalists. It’s a stark reality and a predominant element that anyone within the space has witnessed.
A number of initiatives, companies and programs are diligently working to close this gap. And progress is certainly being made, though many would argue not quickly enough. For the industry to radically transform, it must also be influenced by the rise of successful women-led startups augmented by an influx of investment towards their companies. Having more female tech executives will affect the pace of change.
Between 2009 and 2014, CrunchBase data shows that 14,341 U.S.-based startups received funding but just 15.5 percent (2,226) had at least one female founder. Without diving into the private equity side of this conversation too deeply, the data also shows a positive sign: the number of women-led startups is increasing parallel to the percentage of investment in those companies.
In terms of the local, D.C. area startup and larger tech scene, it’s been a story that is fairly more balanced in comparison to the national landscape. For example, a recent report authored by personal finance software maker and website SmartAsset showed that,“the nation’s capital is the best city for women in tech, and by a fairly large margin.” The report specifically focused on income per tech position occupied by individuals.
With that being said, the region still has work to do if it wants to foster a level field. To gauge the strength of the area’s women-led startup movement we have spotted 15 companies to watch. These companies offer examples of promising and talented local female entrepreneurs in the positions of founder and/or CEO.
Here’s 15 DMV women-led startup we’re keep an eye on:
Senseware (Washington, D.C.-based)
Leader: co-founder and CEO Serene Almomen
Technology: Internet of Things sensors and software
Summary: Founded in 2012, Senseware is developing Internet-connected sensors and cloud-based software that can measure conditions in a physical environment. And the company has been quickly expanding its reach. Senseware’s technology can collect and aggregate data that’s related to things like changing temperature, power usage and humidity in realtime—thereby adding an extra and detailed layer to energy management. The company’s sensors and software are easy to install, with the software being all cloud-based.
Create.io (Washington, D.C.-based)
Leader: Founder and CTO Laura (Allender) Ferguson
Technology: visualized 3D real estate data
Summary: Create.io is a 3D data aggregation and visualization platform. At the moment, it is only available for use in D.C., though the company has plans to expand to other metropolitan areas as it looks to secure a round of private investment. Data like building schematics, zoning codes and physical building appearance can all be seen in a convenient and interactive cloud-based software product.
EmeSec (Reston, Va.)
Leader: founder and CEO Maria Horton
Technology: cloud data cybersecurity architecture and consultancy
Summary: EmeSec offers advisory and implementation services connected to the architecture, design, certification and implementation of cloud data systems. About 80 percent of the company’s customers are in the federal space. Importantly, EmeSec is one of only roughly 30 companies to hold the FedRAMP 3PAO accreditation. Horton is a 20 year military veteran, where she served for many years as an ICU nurse at Walter Reed hospital.
Framebridge (Lanham, Md.)
Leader: CEO and founder Susan Tynan
Technology: a web-based service for on-demand picture framing services
Summary: Framebridge is an e-commerce startup that serves as a marketplace for framing services and products.
Photox (Alexandria, Va.)
Leader: Founder and CEO Louisa Imperiale
Technology: on-demand photo editing services
Summary: By downloading the Photox app, available for both iOS and Android devices, users can input photos that they want edited. Users choose from a range of editing options—pricing is based on the scale of the edit—and it is then sent to professional photo editing teams that are located outside the country. The turnaround for a finished product is typically less than 24-hours.
Pop Wed Co (Washington, D.C.)
Leader: co-founder Maggie Gaudaen
Technology: website for fast wedding planning
Summary: Pop Wed Co does weddings with a fast turnaround for a relatively cheap price. The ceremony and photoshoot can cost as little as $2,500 and be held in all sorts of places from breweries to museums to parks.
Pelonkey (Washington, D.C.)
Leaders: Nicole and Ciera Gallub
Technology: Platform for connecting entertainers and event planners
Summary: Pelonkey offers a platform for entertainers and event planners to find each other. It helps ground entertainment in the business world by holding each side accountable, solving a frequent problem in the industry
ClickMedix (Washington, D.C.)
Leader: CEO and founder Ting Shih
Technology: mobile-health (mhealth), telemedicine services for healthcare providers
Summary: The company’s technology is used to help healthcare providers and organizations reach more patients through mobile phone and tablet devices (i.e. via telemedicine). ClickMedix offers an iOS and Android app for its users (both clients and end users.) The idea/goal of the company is to reduce wait times and increase access for patients in underserved areas while also helping these healthcare providers save money.
Veterati (Washington, D.C.)
Leaders: co-CEOs/founders Leah Wald and Diana Tsai
Technology: Platform for connecting returning veterans with mentors to find jobs
Summary: Veterati helps veterans returning to civilian life find fulfilling careers by connecting them with mentors who can help guide them through the process of finding and pursuing jobs and the training they need to get them.
Havenly (D.C./Potomac, Md.)
Leaders: Founders Emily Motayed and Lee Mayer
Technology: Online platform for interior design services
Summary: Havenly’s platform offers straightforward online professional interior design help at a flat, $185 fee per room. Users also get access to deals that lower the usual cost of trying to furnish a room with designer companies.
College Abacus (Washington, D.C.)
Leaders: CEO/co-founder Abigail Seldin
Technology: Kayak.com of college financial aid
Summary: Platform to compare school financial aid options. College Abacus simplifies the process of picking schools and applying for scholarships and loans. The company was acquired by ECMC Group in June 2014, and the managing team still maintains CollegeAbacus.org while develops new consumer-facing products for ECMC.
GoodWorld (Washington, D.C.)
Leader: founder and CEO Dale Pfeifer
Technology: a mobile, social media-centric donation tool
Summary: Non-profit organizations can signup to use GoodWorld, which enables social media users to donate to these organizations by simply writing the phrase “#Donate” via their social media account pages. In terms of a revenue model, the company collects a small convenience fee on all donations collected in this manner.
Mission: Launch (Washington, D.C.)
Leaders: co-founders Teresa Hodge and Laurin Hodge
Technology: a web-based service and accelerator
Summary: a business accelerator for former prisoners seeking to become entrepreneurs. Mission: Launch recently secured a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to start the company. They are based out of Impact Hub DC, a co-working space made specifically for social entrepreneurship, and they are actively seeking angel investment.
Handpressions (Washington, D.C.)
Leader: Founder and marketing director Carla Valdes
Technology: DIY Crafts
Summary: Handpressions will ship carefully crafted do-it-yourself kits full of art projects that parents can compete with their young children.
Upace (Washington, D.C)
Leader: founder Rachel Koretsky
Technology: mobile and web app for gym activity scheduling and organization
Summary: Upace has created an interactive management, monitoring and scheduling software product, aimed at university campuses, so that students can know peak gym times and when their fitness center is less crowded.