Money, tech and food: 10 coolest companies in Inc.'s Female Founders 100 list

These CEOs make protein from air, use blockchain to streamline real estate development and crunch satellite data in real time.

Money, tech, and food: 10 coolest companies in Inc.'s Female Founders 100 list

Inc. Magazine broke some news recently: CEOs can be pregnant and run a company at the same time. Audrey Gelman, founder of the co-working space The Wing, was the first obviously pregnant woman to be on its magazine cover.


Audrey Gelman is the founder of The Wing and one of the CEOs featured in Inc.'s Female Founders 100 list.

Image: Inc. Magazine

Gelman is in the New Girls' Network category in Inc.'s Female Founders 100 list. There are seven other categories: Science Pioneers, Food Revolutionaries, Money Movers, Fashion Forward, The Platform Economy, All Things Consumer, and Fitness Nation.

These founders  technology to do everything from create protein from air to read satellite images in real-time to automate accounting tasks. Check out the 10 most interesting tech companies from Inc.'s list to see if you want to work for any of these women.

Money Movers

CapWay - Sheena Allen

Based on data from 2017, there are about 8.4 million households in America who do not have a bank account--they are unbanked. About 24.2 million more households were underbanked, meaning that these families may have a checking account but also use payday lenders and check cashing services. These same consumers often can't get loans or build a credit history. And, with no credit card, they can't use any services or digital subscriptions that take only electronic payments, like Venmo and Netflix. 

In 2016, Sheena Allen founded CapWay to provide financial services and education to people who are not served by the current financial system. CapWay offers online banking via an app and a debit card. Allen also works with retailers to help them reach customers in low- and middle-income communities.

SEE: Digital transformation road map (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Roger - Cathrine Andersen

Roger is an accounting automation startup. The company's software works on top of accounting programs like Quickbooks and Xero to save time on tasks like paying bills, scanning receipts, and bookkeeping.

Co-founder Cathrine Rasmussen previously co-founded the cloud-based collaboration software company Assemblage. She moved to the United States from Denmark after Cisco acquired the company in 2014.


Jennifer Fitzgerald, founder of PolicyGenius

Image: PolicyGenius

PolicyGenius - Jennifer Fitzgerald

The mission of PolicyGenius is not one you hear every day: To get people the insurance coverage they need and make them feel good about it. Founder Jennifer Fitzgerald is a former McKinsey consultant who got a firsthand view of how bad the insurance buying process is for consumers. 

PolicyGenius makes it easy to comparison shop for insurance including life, home, and auto insurance as well as renters insurance, disability coverage, and even pet insurance. The company provides online price quotes, without requiring any contact information from users.

PolicyGenius gets paid a commission by the life insurance company when a customer finds a life insurance policy, submits an application, and gets approved. 

Deepblocks - Olivia Ramos

Olivia Ramos started her career in architecture and real estate development. When she was managing a construction project, she saw the need to simplify the data gathering process for real estate developers evaluating a new project and created Deepblocks, which puts demographic, zoning, financial, and legal data all in one place. 


Deepblocks makes it easy real estate developers to assemble a feasibility study for a construction project.

Deepblocks' software finds and combines construction costs, income, and other market data for developers, investment brokers, and architects to create a feasibility analysis.  
Ramos founded Deepblocks at Singularity University in Mountain View in 2016 and launched her program in May 2018. Deepblocks has customers in 1,100 US cities, and the company is also testing in the United Kingdom and Panama.

Oasis Labs - Dawn Song

Oasis Labs is developing a cloud-computing network that uses blockchain and encryption technologies to improve data privacy and security. Computer science professor and MacArthur fellow Dawn Song launched the company to give consumers and patients control over their information while letting analysts run computations with high-quality data. 

Oasis has several products, including a developer dashboard that provides a single place to view, configure, and deploy smart contracts.

Song is also working with Stanford Medical School to test Kara, a platform that lets patients share personal health data for research purposes while still preserving individual privacy.

Science pioneers

Node - Falon Fatemi

Falon Fatemi is using automated machine learning and "artificial intuition" to match job candidates, business partners, or sales prospects with companies looking for the right person. Node's platform supports sales and marketing automation, customer engagement, applicant tracking and event management. Use cases include churn/renewal predictions, personalized content recommendations, and personalized lead routing for sales reps. 

Fatemi has raised $36 million, including $16 million in venture funding this year. Before launching Node, she joined Google at age 19 and worked in the company's FireSpotter Labs.

Slingshot Aerospace - Melanie Stricklan

Weather related disasters have been happening more frequently over the last decade. Slingshot Aerospace wants to help countries and cities improve their disaster preparation and response by providing accurate and timely information. Melanie Stricklan's company provides real-time geospatial analysis to inform time-sensitive decision making. Slingshot uses artificial intelligence to analyze data from multiple sources such as drone footage to satellite images. This analysis can identify evacuation routes as well as places more likely to flood. 


Image: Slingshot Aerospace

Slingshot has several products, including Earth Portal, a geospatial visualization tool, and N2X, an AI-embedded framework co-located with the sensor onboard energy-constrained devices that allows real-time identification and tracking. The company is working with military and commercial customers.

Stricklan spent more than 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, including working as a technician on surveillance aircraft that collected reams of data.

Food revolutionaries

Planet Forward - Julia Collins

Julia Collins started with Zume Pizza--a company that uses robots to make pizza. The company was valued at $2.2 billion at the end of 2018. Forbes reported that her company's funding round was bigger than all the money invested in food robotics since 2013. 

Now she has turned her focus on regenerative agriculture as a way to stop climate change. Regenerative agriculture uses farming and grazing practices, which rebuild soil organic matter and restore soil biodiversity. These practices are usually more labor intensive but better for the health of the planet. Her start-up Planet FWD wants to support these farming techniques. Although details are sparse, the company is developing food products based on ingredients produced with these practices.

Mercaris -  Kellee James

Kellee James is taking on the market side of the organic produce challenge. Even when there is consumer demand for organic fruits and vegetables, there is not always the market infrastructure in place to fill that demand easily and consistently, or a way to compare prices of organic food vs. traditionally grown crops. Mercaris' Organic vs. Conventional report does that.

Mercaris provides information on market prices, current supply, and projected demand for organic and non-GMO commodities. The company's trading platform allows buyers and sellers to meet online and trade physical commodities. This information is useful to everyone in the food supply chain from farmers to consumer food companies. Mercaris offers a tiered subscription service for farmers, mills, and researchers starting at $36/month and going up to $404/month.

Air Protein - Lisa Dyson


Lisa Dyson, PhD, is the CEO of Air Protein.

Image: Air Protein

Now that Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have proved that there is a market for fake meat, get ready for Air Protein. Lisa Dyson's company uses a process similar to fermentation to transform elements found in air into protein that is similar to animal protein. 

The technology is based on work NASA did in the '60s to create life-support systems for astronauts. The key to the "food from air" idea is hydrogenotrophs. This microbe can convert carbon dioxide into food, just like plants do.

Air Protein claims its process requires 10,000 times less land and 2,000 times less water than soy bean production. An engineered food supply isn't influenced by weather or seasons--another potential advantage. The meat industry accounts for about 20% of greenhouse gases and uses about a third of all the land in the world. Replacing even part of that system with more advanced agricultural practices would be a significant advance.

Air Protein is part of Kiverdi, a company that addresses supply chain challenges such as price volatility, land and water usage, and efficiency while creating new ways of making products that are less extractive and have a smaller carbon footprint. Kiverdi has more than 46 patents granted or pending for carbon transformation technology that can be applied to a range of industries.

New Girls' Network

Lesbian Who Tech - Leanne Pittsford

The motto is "Queer, Inclusive, Badass." The goals are to increase visibility, to get more women and lesbians in technology, and to connect lesbians in the tech world to groups working to improve the rights of queer people.

Founder Leanne Pittsford told Inc. that the tech industry doesn't have a pipeline problem it has an access problem. The Lesbians Who Tech community has about 40,000 members and hosts an annual event and Bring a Lesbian to Work Day.

Do you have to be a lesbian to join this club? According to the website, "If you work to move this mission forward, we want you on our team. Nobody 'has to be' a lesbian to be in this community. We use the term to honor those who crossed a firewall with it."  

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