Women Who Go Their Own Way

Entrepreneurs who gave up lucrative jobs to launch startups

Total parity in boardrooms and C-suites may still be elusive, but a growing number of women entrepreneurs are striking out on their own and showing that they’ve got the chops to launch some kick-ass companies. Below, 10 emerging female-founded startups you should know.

Hearsay Social

Clara Shih, co-founder and CEO

The social media marketing platform, which launched in early 2011, allows large companies to monitor and ensure their employees engage responsibly with customers on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Already, Hearsay Social powers more than 16,000 social pages and profiles.

Polyvore 

Jess Lee, co-founder and CEO

After four years at Google, Lee joined the Polyvore team and has helped build the style site into a formidable global community with its unique fashion-inspired collages. Boasting over 13 million monthly unique visitors and a recent cash infusion of $14 million, fashion editors and e-commerce vendors are taking note.

The Daily Muse 

Co-founders: Kathryn Minshew, CEO; Alex Cavoulacos, COO; Melissa McCreery, editor in chief

The founders of this new female-centric job search and content site were among just a handful of women invited to join Y Combinator, a prestigious tech incubator, this winter.

PandoDaily

Sarah Lacy, founder and editor in chief

Launched by former TechCrunch editor Lacy in January with $2.5 million in funding, PandoDaily makes no bones about what it aims to be: “the site-of-record for Silicon Valley.”

GoldRun

Vivian Rosenthal, founder and CEO A mobile visionary, Rosenthal founded the augmented reality platform GoldRun in 2010. By melding AR with mobile marketing (think using your phone to locate virtual shoes in a specific real-world location), Rosenthal has partnered with the likes of Nike and Nokia on cool, immersive, highly engaging mobile ad experiences.

Birchbox

Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp, co-founders

The Harvard MBAs started Birchbox in 2010 by shipping a couple hundred subscribers curated samples of luxury beauty products, from Ahava to Stila, for just $10 a month. Last August, the duo raised $10.5 million; the beauty business now boasts a subscriber base of more than 100,000.

Maker Studios

Lisa Donovan, co-founder

Backed by Google’s $100 million fund to boost production on YouTube, digital production company Maker Studios reaches 33 million subscribers through its more than 250 YouTube channels. Known as LisaNova on YouTube, Donovan alone has amassed 689,656 subscribers and over 177 million video views.

Buyosphere

Tara Hunt, co-founder and CEO

As the site says, it’s where people help people shop—as in crowdsourced shopping searches. It relaunched in November as a so-called “Quora for shopping,” and Montreal-based Hunt, a self-proclaimed karaoke addict, recently raised $325,000 in seed funding.

LearnVest

Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO

Von Tobel took a pass on Wall Street and went straight to Main Street, opting to make personal finance info accessible to women by way of online boot camps, personalized plans and useful digital tools. Since launching in 2009, the site has raised $24.5 million and claims to have helped more than a million women more effectively manage their money.

Fab

Deepa Shah, co-founder and vp of user experience

The retail design-focused site features themed verticals from vintage to kids, with a strong editorial voice that curates stylish products. In December, Fab said it raised $40 million in funding from top Silicon Valley VCs, and last month, it announced that its membership had doubled since November to 2 million.