Top 25 Hottest Women-Led Global Start-Ups

To identify the most promising women-led global tech companies Informilo asked investors and industry veterans in London, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Geneva, Beijing, Auckland , New York and Silicon Valley to nominate and vote on companies outside of their own portfolios. Some are well known, others are below the radar but unlikely to stay there for long. A significant number are helping to shape the future of e-commerce, leading the transition from utilitarian transactions to one governed by emotional engagement with brands and social sharing.  Read on to find our picks for the top 25.

 

E-COMMERCE/FASHION

One Kings Lane (Alison Pincus & Susan Feldman, founders)

(www.onekingslane.com/)

San Francisco, CA, USA

What it does:

Fast-growing homeware flash-sale business with $200 million+ in revenue; one of the first to implement a curated commerce strategy.

Why it’s hot:

More than four million users, triple-digit sales growth, an experienced senior management team mean the company should have little problem fending off the growing competition.

 

Gilt Groupe (Alexandra Wilson & Alexis Maybank, founders)

(www.gilt.com)

New York, USA

What it does:

Leading luxury flash-sale business and “darling of luxury-obsessed bargain hunters.”

Why it’s hot:

Despite laying off 10% of staff in January, Gilt, which last year added home decor to its portfolio with the acquisition of Decorati, is said to be worth $1 billion, and is likely to go public in early 2013.

 

Trendyol (Demet Suzan Mutlu, founder and CEO)

(www.trendyol.com)

Istanbul, Turkey

What it does:

Leading Turkish flash sale e-commerce site.

Why it’s hot:

Established a leading position in the Turkish e-commerce market just 18 months after launch in 2010; has more than 4 million users. Turkey is rapidly becoming one of the most connected countries on the planet, offering plenty of room for growth.

 

ModCloth (Susan Gregg Koger, co-founder)

(www.modcloth.com)

Pttsburgh, PA, USA

What it does:

Fun and engaging e-commerce site focused on independent and vintage-inspired fashion and household goods.

Why it’s hot:

Enables its community to directly collaborate on the production of unique and inspiring merchandise. This “Be the Buyer™ program” recently passed 12 million votes. Raised an additional £25 million funding in May.

 

Rent the Runway (Jenn Hyman & Jenny Fleiss, founders)

(www.renttherunway.com)

New York, USA

What it does:

Designer apparel rental business launched in 2009 by two Harvard Business School friends.

Why it’s hot:

The site has 2 million+ members, presence on 150+ major campuses across the US, and more than 25,000 dresses for rent. Received $30 million in funding so far; currently valued at more than $100 million.

 

AHALife.com (Shauna Mei, founder and CEO)

(www.ahalife.com)

New York, USA

What it does:

Discovery shopping destination for luxury lifestyle products curated by influential tastemakers.

Why it’s hot:

Launched in 2010, AHALife has raised $20.9 million to date. The site features celebrity curators, including Wendy Murdoch, Donna Karan, and Tina Brown. Named a Top five Luxury Retailer by Fashion’s Collective.

 

Birchbox (Hayley Barna & Katia Beauchamp, co-founders)

(www.birchbox.com)

New York, USA

What it does:

Discovery-driven e-commerce platform; offers consumers a personalized way to discover, sample and shop for beauty products; delivers monthly sample boxes for $10/month.

Why it’s hot:

Launched in 2010, while its founders were still at Harvard Business School, Birchbox has more than 100,000 subscribers. It is inspiring other businesses to try its innovative approach to getting products into the hands of new users.

 

Notonthehighstreet (Holly Tucker & Sophie Cornish,founders)

(www.notonthehighstreet.com)

Richmond, England

What it does:

Online marketplace that supports 3,000+ of UK’s best small creative brands.

Why it’s hot:

Raised another £10 million in May, which values the company at £100 million. Recently launched a multi-currency capability to help global growth.

 

Ozon ( Maelle Gavat, CEO)

(www.ozon.ru)

Moscow, Russia

What it does:

Internet shop selling Russianlanguage goods – books, movies, music, and software.

Why it’s hot:

Russia’s e-commerce leader, claiming 5.6 million registered users last year. Raised $100 million in funding in 2011 — one of the largest rounds ever raised by a Russian company. Given the headroom for growth in online shopping in Russia, Ozon should be able to build on its already strong position.

 

Oktogo (Marina Kolesnik, founder and CEO)

(www.oktogo.ru)

Moscow and St Petersburg, Russia

What it does:

Online travel agency serving Russian travelers.

Why it’s hot:

Oktogo’s founders were also the founding team members of Russia’s leading online property, Mail.ru. With that kind of clout, and $15 million in venture capital, Oktogo should do well; online bookings are predicted to grow to $3 billion in Russia by 2015.

 

ADVERTISING, WEB PERFORMANCE AND ANALYTICS

Cloudflare ( Michelle Zatlyn, co-founder)

(www.cloudflare.com)

San Francisco, CA, USA

What it does:

Web performance and security company;sites powered by CloudFlare are protected from a number of online threats, including comment spam, cross-site scripting, email harvesting and denial of service attacks. The most basic protection services can be downloaded for free, while more advanced features are available starting at $20 per month.

Why it’s hot:

In June, CloudFlare hit more than 100 million daily users and more than 50 billion monthly page views. The company adds more than 1,500 customers per day. Traffic and page views continue to grow at more than 20% month over month. Recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Technology Pioneer.

 

Unruly Media (Sarah Wood, co-founder)

(www.unrulymedia.com)

London, England

What it does:

Award-winning global platform for social video advertising. It distributes video across platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, premium publisher sites, influential blogs and mobile applications.

Why it’s hot:

Has delivered, tracked and audited 1.65 billion video views, across 2,000+ successful social video campaigns, for more than 400 brands since 2007. In January 2012, received a $25 million Series A investment — the largest ever for a private company in the social video space.

 

Improve Digital  (Joelle Frijters and Janneke Niessen, founders)

(www.improvedigital.com)

Amsterdam, Netherlands

What it does:

Real-time advertising technology for owners of premium digital media.

Why it’s hot:

Winner of the Deloitte Rising Star Award 2011, the company is growing rapidly and expanding across Europe.

 

Hearsay Social (Clara Shih, co-founder)

(www.hearsaysocial.com)

San Francisco, CA, USA

What it does:

Help big brands and their representatives build relationships using social media.

Why it’s hot:

Recent ROI results show 50 % to 500% increases in customer fan bases; some have seen growth in revenue and sales conversions. Well-positioned as social becomes a more important part of companies’ advertising mix.

 

EDITD (Julia Fowler, co-founder)

(www.editd.com)

London, England

What it does:

Provides an automated retail monitoring and analytics platform for the fashion industry.

Why it’s hot:

Revolutionizing analytics and big data in the fashion sector. Growing fast among luxury and high-street brands and retailers. Measures more than 2,000,000 products and 300,000 new opinions every day.

 

Skimlinks (Alicia Navarro, co-founder and CEO)

(www.skimlinks.com)

London, England

What it does:

Leading content monetization platform that rewards publishers for the role their content plays in creating purchase intent.

Why it’s hot:

Processes 110 million clicks a month on more than 700,000 sites around the web. As of December 2011, drove almost $30 million in consumer sales from over 18,000 merchants across 27 affiliate networks. Potentially revolutionizing affiliate marketing.

 

PapayaMobile (Si Shen, co-founder and CEO)

(www.papayamobile.com)

Beijing, China

What it does:

An open mobile social network for Android focused on casual gaming and virtual currency.

Why it’s hot:

Offers developers a fast and easy way to reach an estimated 50 million users across the globe and improve their return on investment for Android and now iOS game development. Growth in users has been more than 900% since 2010.

 

INNOVATIVE SERVICES

TaskRabbit (Leah Busque, founder and CEO)

(www.taskrabbit.com)

San Francisco, CA, USA

What it does:

The web and mobile marketplace for outsourcing small jobs and errands.

Why it’s hot:

Since closing Series A funding in May 2011, TaskRabbit has tripled its monthly task volume and net revenue  and increased its customer base seven-fold. Recently received a $17.8 million investment that includes former Disney CEO Michael Eisner providing TaskRabbit with strategic advice. Founder Busque stepped back into the CEO role in June, and announced a “deliver now” courier service.

 

QAPA (Stéphanie Delestre, co-founder and CEO)

(www.qapa.com)

Paris, France

What it does:

Next-generation job board.

Why it’s hot:

Received some $2.4 million in funding in 2011. At launch, said it aimed to decrease unemployment in France by 10% within a year. Could radically alter the online recruitment market.

Care.com (Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder and CEO)

(www.care.com)

Waltham, MA, USA

What it does:

Largest online marketplace in the US where families and care providers can connect, share care giving experiences, and get advice.

Why it’s hot:

Raised $61 million to date; has more than one million US caregivers registered on its site and receives six million visits per month. Growing rapidly, and rolling out now to a further 10 countries.

Kalidea (Sandra Legrand, founder and CEO)

(www.kalidea.com)

Boulogne-Billancourt, France

What it does:

Employee benefit platform; the first company to offer a platform for culture, leisure & everyday shopping discounts throughout France.

Why it’s hot:

Founded in 2000, Kalidea (formerly CanalCE) is profitable and revenue, estimated at €70 million, is growing at about 35% per year. It serves more than 7,000 companies and 6 million employees.

 

Songkick (Michelle You, co-founder)

(www.songkick.com)

London, England

What it does:

Provides a single place for users to track their favorite bands, share photos and set lists, and talk to others who were at concerts.

Why it’s hot:

Attracts more than five million unique users per month. Recently raised a $10 million funding round. Claims to be the second-biggest live-music site after Ticketmaster.

Eventbrite (Julia Hartz, co-founder and president)

(www.eventbrite.com)

San Francisco, CA, USA

What it does:

Largest online organizer for events of all kinds.

Why it’s hot:

Just hit 50 million tickets issued and a weekly run rate of $500 million in gross sales. Now looking to snatch ticket sales for large concerts and events away from industry giants like Ticketmaster.

 

INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS

Rex Bionics (Helen Robinson, CEO)

(www.rexbionics.com)

North Harbour, New Zealand

What it does:

Designed and delivered the only hands-free biped robotic exoskeleton (the “Rex”), which gives wheelchair users the ability to stand up and walk independently.

Why it’s hot:

Now closing a series B round with a major US VC firm and moving its headquarters to Texas, where it has MOUs with major hospitals. It is partnering with the University of Houston to build a brain-machine interface to the device.

 

Makie Labs (Alice Taylor, founder and CEO)

(www.makielab.com)

London, England

What it does:

Creates customizable, 3D-printed, and game-enabled toys/dolls.

Why it’s hot:

Digital avatars can be made into action dolls, which can also work with Arduino sets. Dolls are just the start: Makie is creating the ability to turn a polygonal computer model into a 3D-printable model. Just raised $1.4 million in seed funding from investors that include gaming and anime veterans.

 

 

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