24 phenomenal founders crashing the tech party

4 Mar 2016

The tech scene is the place to be in business these days, and these female founders refuse to be left out in the cold.

Celebrating 100 women in tech

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According to CrunchBase’s data, the number of women founding start-ups is on the up, but the numbers are still weighted heavily in favour of their male counterparts. As we urge the trend towards greater balance, it’s as good a time as ever to celebrate the pioneering entrepreneurs pushing in and leaving the door open for others to enter the industry.

1. Jamila Abass, M-Farm

Jamila Abass

Jamila Abass, CEO and co-founder, M-Farm. Photo via Pop Tech/Flickr

From an agricultural background in north-east Kenya, Jamila Abass is the founder of M-Farm, a mobile platform which links farmers to markets and creates an ecosystem for opportunity-spotting that shifts users into productive commercial farming. Despite her young age, Abass has already been involved with many Nairobi tech forums and accelerators and comes to Dublin this year to speak at Inspirefest 2016.

2. Sophia Amoruso, Nasty Gal

Sophia Amoruso

Sophia Amoruso, founder, Nasty Gal. Photo via Brian Ach/TechCrunch/Flickr

Now considered one of the leading figures in e-tail, Sophia Amoruso is self-taught in the world of e-commerce, having set up her first eBay store at the age of 22. After becoming incredibly successful there, she established her own dedicated online clothing store – Nasty Gal – making more than $100m in sales at one point and serving as CEO until January 2015.

3. Anne Boden, Starling Bank

Anne Boden

Anne Boden, founder and CEO, Starling Bank. Photo via Starling Bank

The experienced founder and CEO of Starling Bank, Anne Boden has aims of building a smart, personalised and fully mobile banking experience that suits the modern consumer. The former COO of AIB has big hopes for the challenger bank, with aims of opening up the banking sector using the very latest fintech available now, and in the future.

4. Gaia Dempsey, Daqri

Gaia Dempsey

Gaia Dempsey, co-founder and VP, Daqri International, speaking at Inspirefest 2015. Photo via Conor McCabe Photography

Since moving its European HQ to Dublin last year, Gaia Dempsey has served as the MD of Daqri International, the international wing of the augmented reality tech company. Dempsey was one of the key speakers at Inspirefest 2015, where she spoke about how Daqri’s smart helmet will play into a future heavily reliant on the internet of things.

5. Guan Dian, PatSnap

Guan Dian

Guan Dian, VP of APAC, PatSnap. Photo via PatSnap

Since co-founding the IP intelligence provider PatSnap in 2007, Singapore-native Guan Dian has quickly caught the attention of market analysts as VP APAC of a company with more than 1,000 clients in more than 30 countries. Most recently, 29-year-old Dian was named in Forbes’ first Asia 30 Under 30 list for her outstanding achievements on the continent.

6. Cindy Gallop, MakeLoveNotPorn and IfWeRanTheWorld

Cindy Gallop

Cindy Gallop, founder, MakeLoveNotPorn and IfWeRanTheWorld, speaking at Inspirefest 2015. Photo via Conor McCabe photography

MakeLoveNotPorn founder and entrepreneur Cindy Gallop wowed the audience at Inspirefest 2015 with her keynote speech on the tech world’s attitude to sextech, having created an online platform to provide real information on sexuality as an alternative to that provided by hardcore pornography. Gallop is also the founder and CEO of IfWeRanTheWorld, co-action software launched in beta at TED 2010.

7. Dr Nora Khaldi, Nuritas

Nora Khaldi, via Inspirefest

Nora Khaldi, founder and CSO, Nuritas. Photo via Inspirefest

A mathematician with a PhD in molecular evolution and bioinformatics, Nora Khaldi founded Nuritas in 2014 to ‘make the future of food’. Combining AI and DNA sequencing, Khaldi’s pioneering approach to bioinformatics has seen the company revolutionise how we study food. Khaldi will be speaking at Inspirefest this summer.

8. Céline Lazorthes, Leetchi Group

Céline Lazorthes, via Twitter

Céline Lazorthes, founder and CEO, Leetchi. Photo via Céline Lazorthes/Twitter

Back in 2009, Céline Lazorthes founded Leetchi.com, a group money management service. The success of the company saw Lazorthes open up the technology to other websites via MangoPay, which allows you to back-end Leetchi’s tech as you wish. Now both companies reside under the Leetchi Group umbrella and Lazorthes’ leadership. “We can do almost everything on the internet, so collecting money should be simple,” she once said.

9. Jess Lee, Polyvore

Jess Lee, via Fortune Live Media on Flickr

Jess Lee, CEO and co-founder, Polyvore. Photo via Fortune Live Media on Flickr

Jess Lee’s route to Polyvore fame is more organic than you’d expect. She joined the team after falling in love with the start-up fashion site that allows users to create shareable collages of clothing and interior designs. Spotting tweaks that could improve it, she fired off an email with tips and, pretty soon, was in there running the business. She sold it to Yahoo last year.

10. Holly Liu, Kabam

Holly Liu, via LinkedIn

Holly Liu, co-founder and chief development officer, Kabam. Photo via LinkedIn

Holly Liu founded gaming company Kabam 10 years ago, with the start-up reaching unicorn status in 2014. Pinning a lot of her company’s success on “belief in your core values”, Liu ’s attitude to failure is magnificent. “The funny thing about failure,” she says, “is when we look back, the great entrepreneurs will try to extract the full tuition from the failure and figure out how to move to the next step.”

11. Kathryn Minshew, The Muse

Kathryn Minshew, via Wikimedia Commons

Kathryn Minshew, co-founder and CEO, The Muse. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Kathryn Minshew is currently heading up one of the fastest-growing companies in New York, after founding and then becoming CEO of The Muse. Another advocate of values, Minshew recently said you have to live by them, and “it’s about execution”. Picking up awards such as the Vistage Leadership Legacy Award, while being lauded as one of the US’s pioneering female start-up heroes, Minshew’s career-advice site has a base of around 50m users, largely millennials.

12. Hazel Moore, FirstCapital

Hazel Moore, via Inspirefest

Hazel Moore, co-founder and chair, FirstCapital. Photo via Inspirefest

Hazel Moore is co-founder and chair of FirstCapital, an investment bank providing financial advice to tech companies since 1999. In 2015, Moore won the Women in Private Equity Award for Best Corporate Finance Advisor, after being named for two consecutive years as one of 100 Women to Watch in the Female FTSE Board Report. She will speak at Inspirefest this summer.

13. Catheryne Nicholson, BlockCypher


Catheryne Nicholson, CEO and co-founder, BlockCypher. Photo via Catheryne Nicholson/Twitter

BlockCypher co-founder and CEO Catheryne Nicholson is an engineer, entrepreneur and former US Navy officer. With a BS in aerospace engineering, an MS in environmental engineering, a PE in mechanical engineering and a MBA, Nicholson brings a wealth of experience to the company. She continues to drive innovation at BlockCypher, and the company’s blockchain technology is used globally by developers.

14. Olive O’Driscoll, AventaMed

Olive O’Driscoll, CEO and co-founder of AventaMed

Olive O’Driscoll, co-founder and CEO, AventaMed

Olive O’Driscoll is CEO and co-founder of AventaMed, a Cork-based medtech company that strives to make medical procedures simpler, cheaper and safer. O’Driscoll has a strong medtech background, with more than 14 years of medical device experience, from academia to industry. With O’Driscoll at the helm, AventaMed has attracted millions in funding, and has won plaudits for its grommet-placing device.

15. Monica Parker, Hatch

Monica Parker, founder of HATCH

Monica Parker, founder, Hatch. Photo via Hatch

In 2013, Monica Parker founded Hatch, a tool that makes it easier for companies to understand their staff. With a background in homicide investigation, founding a workplace analytics company may not seem an obvious choice, but it’s paid off for Parker, with a number of Fortune and FTSE 100 companies on the books. Parker will be speaking at Inspirefest this summer.

16. Monisha Perkash, Lumo Bodytech

Monisha Perkash, CEO and co-founder of Lumo Bodytech

Monisha Perkash, CEO and co-founder, Lumo Bodytech. Photo via Monisha Perkash/Twitter

Monisha Perkash is co-founder and CEO of Lumo Bodytech, a technology platform that utilises smart sensors and software to optimise the body’s performance in real time. Perkash and her co-founders are at the forefront of tech wearables, and have released a number of fitness products. Lumo Bodytech is not Perkash’s first experience of entrepreneurship. She previously founded – and sold – TuitionCoach.

17. Melanie Perkins, Canva

Melanie Perkins, Canva co-founder

Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO, Canva. Photo via Melanie Perkins/Twitter

Melanie Perkins is co-founder of Canva, a software start-up launched in Australia in 2013 as an alternative to programs like InDesign and Photoshop. Inspired to make design programs simpler, Perkins co-founded Fusion Books – a tool for creating school yearbooks – and then Canva. The tool has more than 10m users, and secured AU$22m in series A funding in 2015.

18. Jemma Redmond, Ourobotics

Jemma Redmond, founder and CEO of Ourobotics

Jemma Redmond, founder and CEO of Ourobotics, pictured after winning SVOD Europe

Founder and CEO of start-up Ourobotics, Jemma Redmond certainly has lofty ambitions for the company: bioprinting body parts. A member of the team behind a 10-material bioprinter, Redmond has enjoyed immense success since launching Ourobotics, taking part in a prestigious accelerator in China and winning the top prize at Silicon Valley Open Doors (SVOD) Europe.

19. Danae Ringelmann, Indiegogo

Danae Ringelmann, Indiegogo

Danae Ringelmann, co-founder and chief development officer, Indiegogo. Photo via Indiegogo

Danae Ringelmann is co-founder and chief development officer of Indiegogo. After years of working on Wall Street, she launched a new funding platform for films at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008. Today, Indiegogo ranks alongside Kickstarter as one of the chief means by which start-ups, activists, artists and non-government bodies attempt to crowdfund projects.

20. Elizabeth Rossiello, BitPesa

Elizabeth Rossiello, BitPesa

Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO and founder, BitPesa

Elizabeth Rossiello is CEO and founder of Nairobi-based BitPesa, a platform to send money to east Africa using bitcoin. Rossiello, who also works as a microfinance rating analyst with Credit Suisse, speaks five languages and is pioneering mobile money in Africa. BitPesa offers instant payments to and from seven different mobile money networks and 60 banks in east Africa.

21. Dr Cristina Soviany, Features Analytics


Dr Cristina Soviany, founder, Features Analytics

Dr Cristina Soviany invented eyeDES predictive analytics technology, which eventually led to her founding Belgium-based Features Analytics in 2010. Dr Soviany leads the company as CEO and board member, putting eyeDES to use as a fraud detection and prevention solution. She continues to lead the research and development of eyeDES technology and the predictive analytics scoring engine.

22. Nina Tandon, EpiBone

Nina Tandon, EpiBone

Nina Tandon, co-founder and CEO, EpiBone

Nina Tandon is the co-founder and CEO of EpiBone, the world’s first company growing living human bones for skeleton reconstruction. Named one of the 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company, she did an executive MBA on healthcare entrepreneurship at Columbia University and is a TED Senior Fellow and MIT and McKinsey alum.

23. Amy Webb, Webbmedia Group

Amy Webb, Webbmedia Group

Amy Webb, founder, Webbmedia Group

Amy Webb is an author, futurist and founder of Webbmedia Group, a leading digital strategy consulting firm that researches near-future trends in digital media and technology. In 2013, she published Data, A Love Story, a bestselling memoir about finding love via algorithms. Co-founder of Spark Camp, she has also created an algorithm for gender and racial diversity.

24. Katharine Zaleski, PowerToFly

Katharine Zaleski, PowerToFly

Katharine Zaleski, co-founder and president, PowerToFly

Katharine Zaleski is a co-founder of PowerToFly, which matches technical women with remote full-time jobs and which has processed more than $1m in pay cheques for women on five continents. After the birth of her first child, Zaleski realised that, earlier in her career, she judged working mothers unfairly and wrote a powerful essay in Fortune that struck a chord.

Women Invent is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Intel, Open Eir (formerly Eircom Wholesale), Fidelity Investments, Accenture and CoderDojo.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Join us again from 30 June to 2 July 2016 for fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity. Get your Early Bird tickets now.

Exploding disco ball image via Shutterstock