According to a study by researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Business School, women-run startups only receive 5 to 10 percent of venture capital and are underinvested in by Silicon Valley’s angels and institutions. Further, the study discovered investors actually prefer entrepreneurial ventures that are pitched by attractive men. The trend also held up when women investors were the ones deciding whether or not to invest.
It’s no secret men dominate Silicon Valley, but there are women making incredible strides by founding and leading tech companies. Perry Piscione, serial entrepreneur and author of “Secrets of Silicon Valley,” writes that the industry’s female leaders are authentic, highly committed to their businesses and willing to speak their mind. Piscione also describes the women as owning their success without apologizing for it and driving forward with passion and innovation. Take a look at three women in technology who are innovating their industries and taking the helm as revolutionary leaders at their companies.
Elizabeth Holmes was still in college when she founded Theranos. The health care company works to make blood testing more efficient and cost-effective. Holmes has been vocal about blood tests taking too long, being too expensive and nearly barbaric at forcing needle-phobic patients to submit to tests. The technology enables testing through a finger prick and is sold in common drug stores like Walgreens for just a few dollars. The in-store clinics send off the tests to a nearby laboratory, and results are sent back within a few days.
Holmes is known for being soft-spoken, but uses her intellect and thorough knowledge of her industry to win over investors, board members and staff. She dropped out of college to build Theranos and earned respect by meticulously building a 700-person company and well-respected board members. Holmes also has a net worth of $4.6 billion and claimed the title of the world’s youngest female billionaire.
Jody Vandergriff co-founded WebDAM in 2005 and earned the 2014 Women of Influence Award from the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Despite having a background in bioinformatics and molecular genetics, she left the field to launch her software-as-a-service company. WebDAM serves enterprise marketing and creative teams to centralize their digital asset management across images, stock photos and creative files with easy management control functions. In 2014, stock image and video company Shutterstock acquired WebDAM.
Vandergriff focuses on customer satisfaction as her role as CEO, as well as paving the way for more women to enter the science and technology fields. WebDam’s staff is roughly 50 percent female and Vandergriff launched Women of WebDAM to create technology based networking opportunities for women. She also focuses on encouraging gender equality across the various positions and roles at her company.
The leading cause of maternal death around the world is postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), and it’s estimated that one woman dies from this tragedy every four minutes. InPress CEO and co-founder Jessie Becker met two biomedical engineers at California Polytechnic State University who came up with a concept for a new technology to help stop PPH from happening in the first place. The device helps stimulate uterine contraction to help prevent uterine atony that can lead to bleeding. InPress’s technology will help save lives, as well as reduce healthcare costs related to childbirth.
Before helping to found InPress and take the helm as CEO, Becker was an Innovation Coordinator at Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It was there she helped design program that helped support entrepreneurship and gave her an in-depth look at different roles and challenges in the field. Her exposure to a wide range of personalities, ideas and businesses helped shape her role as a relationship builder with InPress stakeholders.