The Top 50 Female Founders in NYC

Written by Taylor Majewski
Published on Mar. 24, 2016
The Top 50 Female Founders in NYC

According to a national study released earlier this month that examined the country-wide impact of women-led businesses, the number of women-owned companies grew four times as fast as male-owned businesses over the past five years.

The study also revealed that the number of women-owned companies in New York rose by a massive 65 percent between 2002 and 2012. That’s 45 new businesses every day.

New York’s startup scene is brimming with opportunity, and the city’s rising population of female entrepreneurs are taking note. Exponential increases in invested capital and jobs coupled with New York’s longstanding influence in the media, fashion, retail and beauty industries has created a perfect storm for women entrepreneurs on a local level. As veteran leaders in these fields, and in other industries such as health tech, hospitality tech, fintech and edtech, women are pushing the envelope in New York, and adding new entrepreneurs to the scene at a rapid pace.

New York’s female entrepreneur population is also surpassing the nation’s other leading tech centers, including Boston and Silicon Valley. While only about 16 percent of San Francisco’s startups are led by women, 21 percent of New York’s startups have at least one female founder, according to CrunchBase.

Similarly, New York City stands out among other large tech hubs in the amount of venture capital dollars that support women-led startups. The study stated that in the third quarter of 2015, 16.9 percent of NYC companies receiving venture funding had a woman founder, compared to 14.8 percent in Boston and 12.1 percent in San Francisco.

But who are the trailblazers at the forefront of this dramatic surge in women-led companies? Here are the top 50 female founders leading the charge in New York City tech.


Jennifer Fleiss and Jennifer Hyman
Cofounders • Rent the Runway

Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss met at Harvard Business School and launched Rent the Runway in 2009. The company now offers over 50,000 dresses and 10,000 accessories from over 200 designers. 


Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg
Cofounders • theSkimm

Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg launched theSkimm, the email newsletter that floods millennial womens’ inboxes each morning, back in 2012. Previously, the pair worked as NBC producers and founded the company to engage more millennials with the news. To date, theSkimm has over 1.5 million subscribers.


Jennifer Fitzgerald | Cofounder, PolicyGenius

A former McKinsey consultant, Jennifer Fitzgerald cofounded PolicyGenius to fill a gap in the insurance industry. PolicyGenius provides a modern form of consumer insurance with instant, accurate online quoting and digital advice tools. In January, the company nabbed a $15 million Series B.


Payal Kadakia
Cofounder and CEO • ClassPass

Payal Kadakia began her career working as a consultant at Bain & Company. She then went on to work at Warner Music Group and later created Sa Dance Company. One day, she spent over an hour searching for an open ballet class online and decided to create a search engine for fitness classes. This realization eventually transformed into Classivity, which was then rebranded as ClassPass. Now, the companis is wildly popular, and has New Yorkers traversing all over the city to work out using its monthly subscription service.


Marcela Sapone and Jessica Beck
Cofounders • Alfred

Marcela Sapone and Jessica Beck both worked in consulting prior to founding Alfred, an on-demand errand service. The founders both graduated from Harvard Business School and launched Alfred in 2013 with the mission to help people get their to-do list done. To date, the company has raised $12.5 million over 3 rounds of funding.


Christina Sass
COO and Cofounder • Andela

Andela gives companies, ranging from startups to Fortune 500 organizations, access to the top 1% of global tech talent in Africa. Andela helps shape these high-potential developers into technical leaders, and pairs them with companies accordingly. Christina Sass began building educational programs in Georgia (where she’s originally from) and has since started schools and youth programs in the U.S., China, The Palestinian Territories, Kenya, and Nigeria.


Alexa Van Tobel
Founder and CEO • LearnVest

Alexa Van Tobel launched LearnVest in 2009 with the mission of making financial planning affordable and accessible. Since launching LearnVest, Alexa has been widely regarded as a personal finance expert and entrepreneur in top tier business and consumer outlets. She is a columnist for Cosmopolitan and Inc. Magazine and hosts a weekly radio show on SiriusXM, “Financially Fearless with Alexa von Tobel.” Alexa serves as an inaugural member of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE), and she was selected as a 2011 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, named to the Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Winning Women Class of 2011, honored as a 2012 Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneur, and named a Scholar at the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival.


Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp
Cofounders • Birchbox

Hayla Barna and Katia Beauchamp met while attending Harvard Business School and created Birchbox to help consumers easily find products that work for them. Since the company got off the ground in 2010, it has raised $71.9 million in funding. In February, Barna went on to join First Round Capital as a Venture Partner.


Reshma Saujani
Founder • Girls Who Code

Since Reshma Saujani founded Girls Who Code in 2012, the program has grown from one class of 20 girls to a national movement. The company has established strong partnerships throughout the tech industry in order to introduce young girls to computer science. The company recently announced that it will provide $1 million in scholarships so girls can attend the seven-week program and forego the cost of a summer job.


Shan-Lyn Ma
Founder and CEO • Zola

Before starting Zola, the digital wedding registry service, Shan-Lyn Ma held leadership positions at Chloe + Isabel and Gilt Taste, the food and wine arm of Gilt. She has a degree from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia and an MBA from Stanford University. Zola has raised $15.85 million over 3 Rounds and is shaking up how couples and guests share, buy, and ship wedding gifts.



Olga Vidisheva | Founder and CEO, Shoptiques

Shoptiques is an online marketplace that offers inventory from boutiques around the world. The company’s founder, Olga Vidisheva, is a fierce leader who received her B.A. from Wellesley College, had a stint at Goldman Sachs and then earned her MBA from Harvard University. In 2015, Shoptiques made Forbes’ annual list of America’s most promising companies. The company is backed with investments from top firms including Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, Benchmark, SV Angle, William Morris Endeavor Agency and Y Combinator.



Kellee Khalil | Founder,

Kellee Khalil moved to New York shortly after she graduated from USC with an entrepreneurial studies degree. She quickly realized the inefficiencies of the wedding industry, so she invested her post-grad savings and launched in 2012. The company has raised $6.97 million to date.


Sarah Adler and Mackenzie Barth | Cofounders, Spoon University 

Sarah Adler wanted to work at the intersection between food and technology, so she taught herself how to code and built Spoon University’s platform.

Mackenzie Barth had no idea how to cook coming out of college, and she cofounded Spoon University in order to provide a resource to learn cooking skills. Together, the pair created a leading food media brand that’s teaching millennials how to cook.


Lindsey Andrews and Lara Crystal, Cofounders, Minibar

Lara Crystal and Lindsey Andrews met at Wharton Business School and then pursued separate careers at different startups. Andrews worked as Director of Marketing at and Crystal worked as VP of Marketing at Rent the Runway.

Determined to create a business together, the pair would consistently brainstorm ideas over takeout and a bottle of wine. Soon, Minibar, an alcohol delivery app, was appropriately born.


Erin Bagwell and Komal Minhas, Cofounders, Dream, Girl 

Erin Bagwell, founder of Feminist Wednesday, launched a Kickstarter campaign back in 2014 to fund her vision for a documentary film. Over 30 days, Bagwell’s campaign almost doubled its financial goals and raised over $100,000 to produce "Dream, Girl," documentary that will tell the untold stories of women entrepreneurs. 


Shortly after launching the Kickstarter campaign, Bagwell joined forces with Komal Minhas, a producer, writer and investor who started her first company, KoMedia, when she was 23. The film will premier in New York City on June 9.


Dawn Barber, Founder, NY Tech Meetup 

Dawn Barber founded NY Tech Meetup with founder, Scott Heiferman, in 2004. NY Tech Meetup is now one of the largest meetup groups in the world, and hosts monthly events where tech professionals across all backgrounds network with other like-minded people.



Nancy Kruger Cohen | Cofounder and Chief Creative Officer, Mouth Foods

Nancy Kruger Cohen is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Mouth Foods, an e-commerce food market. On October 20, Mouth Foods raised a $5.5 million Series A round.






Chelsa Crowley and Julie Fredrickson | Cofounders, Stowaway Cosmetics 

Chelsa Crowley and Julie Fredrickson founded Stowaway Cosmetics upon realizing they couldn’t find premium beauty products in smaller sizes that adhered to their usage patterns. The company focuses on creating essential and “right sized” makeup products that finish before they expire.




Christina d'Avignon | Founder, Ringly

In 2013, Christina d’Avignon founded smart jewelry startup, Ringly, and created a line of rings that connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The wearables are both fashionable and practical—you can then receive customized text, email, phone call, calendar and social media notifications through vibrations and subtle lights on the side of the ring.




Soraya Darabi and Maxine Bédat | Cofounders, Zady

Zady is a content and commerce brand that creates and sells stylish, timeless, and sustainably produced apparel. Soraya Darabi and Maxine Bedat founded Zady with a mission to help people understand the origins of the consumer goods they purchased, down to an item’s raw materials.

Previously, Darabi worked as the Manager of Digital Partnerships and Social Media at The New York Times, as a Product Lead for, and founded the app, Foodspotting. Bedat’s background is in international diplomacy—she previously worked as a lawyer and founded The Bootstrap Project.




Anu Duggal | Founding Partner, Female Founders Fund

Anu Duggal is the Founding Partner of Female Founders Fund (F Cubed), an early-stage investment fund focused on female-founded tech companies. Prior to launching the Female Founders Fund, Duggal was CEO of Doonya, a Bollywood dance and fitness company. A serial entrepreneur at heart, Duggal also founded Exclusively.In, a private sale e-commerce site, and The Tasting Room, India’s first luxury wine bar.




Reham Fagiri | Founder, AptDeco

Reham Fagiri’s startup, AptDeco, got off the ground as part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2014 cohort. AptDeco is a peer-to-peer marketplace for buying and selling quality pre-owned furniture. The company manages this entire process, including logistics, deliveries, payments, and product verifications. Fagiri was born and raised in Sudan and came to the U.S. to pursue her undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland. After college, she worked for Goldman Sachs and later earned her MBA from Wharton Business School.




Elizabeth Green | Cofounder and Editor-in-Chief, Chalkbeat

With a passion for journalism and educational  equity, Elizabeth Green founded Chalkbeat, a digital news startup that  provides news and analysis on educational change efforts. Chalkbeat’s mission comes from Green’s belief that a more informed education conversation will spark tangible improvements in public schools.





Alanna Gregory | Founder and CEO, Vive

Alanna Gregory started Vive with her long-time stylist and friend, Cristin Armstrong. As a client, she found it challenging to schedule beauty appointments when she wanted and who she wanted them with. Vive, which offers blowout subscriptions for last-minute appointments at top salons, aims to solve this problem.




Audry Hill and Gauri Nanda | Cofounders, Tymail

Toymail is pioneering the IoT for toys as a connected platform that entertains and educates children without putting them behind a screen. Gauri Nanda cofounded  Toymail with her best friend, Audry Hill, when she  wanted to stay connected to Audry’s kids.





Arianna Huffington | Founder and Editor-In-Chief, The Huffington Post 

Arianna Huffington is known for creating the popular blog and news aggregator, The Huffington Post, and has subsequently become one of the most influential people in media. In 2011, AOL acquired The Huffington Post for $315 million.






Alexandra Keating | Cofounder and CEO, DWNLD

Alexandra Keating sold her first technology company at age 19. A decade later, she founded DWNLD, a platform that makes apps on demand for anyone who wants them. The company raised a $12 million Series A last September, led by Greylock Partners.




Kass Lazerow | Cofounder and Chief Operating Officer, Salesforce Buddy Media

In 2007, Kass Lazerow founded Buddy Media, a social media marketing platform that helps companies build connections and maintain relationships with customers, with her husband, Mike Lazerow, Aryeh Goldsmithand Jeff Ragovin. In 2012, the company was acquired by Salesforce. Prior to creating Buddy Media, Lazerow founded, which was sold to Time Inc. in 2006.In her current role as cofounder and COO of Buddy Media, Lazerow’ responsibilities include managing the day-to-day operations of the business.



Jocelyn Leavitt and Samantha John | Cofounders, Hopscotch

Jocelyn Leavitt and Samantha John are the cofounders of Hopscotch, a mobile-first platform that  makes computer programming fun and accessible to children. Prior to founding Hopscotch, Leavitt worked as an educator and business owner, and now wants to empower students through experiential learning.


John taught herself programming after graduating from Columbia with a degree in applied mathematics. She then worked as an engineer at Pivotal Labs, where she taught multiple programming classes to beginners.






Anastasia Leng | Founder and CEO, Hatch

Hatch is a marketplace for unique made-to-order products created by a community of professional designers and makers. Anastasia Leng founded the company with Ryan Howard back in 2012. Prior to starting the company, Anastasia graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a triple major in Psychology, Sociology, and French and spent five years at Google.




Heather Marie | Founder and CEO, Shoppable

Heather Marie is the founder and CEO of Shoppable (formerly known as 72Lux). The company enables digital content distributors to integrate shoppable products into their platforms. Previously, Marie was a part of the founding team at Affinity Labs.





Kathryn Minshew and Alex Cavoulacos | Cofounders, The Muse

Before founding The Muse, Kathryn Minshew worked on vaccines in Rwanda and Malawi with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and was previously at McKinsey. Cavoulacos also worked at McKinsey prior to starting The Muse and is an alumna of Y Combinator. 





Amanda Moskowitz | Founder and CEO, Stacklist

Stacklist founder, Amanda Moskowitz, has been a part of the New York tech scene for almost a decade, and made a name for herself in mobile message SaaS companies. In 2013, she helped launch Nine Naturals, a beauty company for expectant mothers. More recently, Moskowitz founded Stacklist, an online resource of business tools for entrepreneurs looking to get their businesses off the ground. The platform synthesizes and curates information from interviews with successful founders in order to provide recommendations to entrepreneurs based on startup size, stage, experience, industry and other relevant factors.




Daniela Perdomo | Cofounder and CEO, goTenna

Daniela Perdomo runs GoTenna, which she founded with her brother, Jorge Perdomo, in 2012. The company helps you stay connected with others while off the grid using a cognitive digital radio that pairs with your smartphone. The company launched a preorder campaign midway through 2014, and raised a $7.5 million Series A earlier this month.




Tiffany Pham | Founder and CEO, Mogul, Inc. 

In 2014, Tiffany Pham founded Mogul to connect women everywhere to knowledge, opinions, and opportunities around the world. She even designed and coded the first version of Mogul herself. Before founding Mogul, Pham graduated from Harvard Business School, was the Director of partnerships and strategic initiatives at CBS and wrote a book on business strategy and information technology.




Elizabeth Reede | Cofounder and CEO, Woofbert VR

Before starting Woofbert VR, the virtual reality company that’s disrupting the art world, Elizabeth Reede developed an extensive background in art history. She previously founded reede/arts project llc, an arts consulting business. Before forming that company, she worked in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at New York’s Museum of Modern Art as an Assistant Curator. Woofbert VR has partnered with the world’s leading museums to share their collections through virtual reality as an emerging technology platform.




Kate Ryder | Founder and CEO, Maven

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Kate Ryder hustled as a journalist, and wrote about business for publications such as The New Yorker and The Economist. In making the transition from journalism to tech, she worked at London-based VC firm, Index Ventures, where she stayed for two years. In 2014, Ryder founded Maven, a digital health clinic for women. The company was one of the first portfolio companies of Female Founders Fund.


Lindsay Stewart | CEO and Cofounder, Stringr

Stringr launched in 2013 as an online marketplace for video news footage, permitting media outlets to buy videos from both professional and amateur videographers. Lindsay Stewart, a former TV news producer for Fox News, ABC and Bloomberg, founded the company with the mission to dial-in on breaking news and source video footage in real time. Back in December, Stringr raised a $1.5 million seed round.



Liz Wessel | Cofounder and CEO, WayUp

While earning her undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania, Liz Wessel started two businesses, catching the entrepreneurship bug at an early age. After graduating in 2012 and working for Google for two years, Wessel went on to create WayUp, a platform that helps college students recent grads find jobs and helps companies find young talent.



Joanne Wilson | Founder, Womens Entrepreneur Festival and Gotham Gal Ventures 

Joanne Wilson founded Women Entrepreneur Festival, which is an annual event in NYC that celebrates and connects women entrepreneurs. Wilson also leads Gotham Gal Ventures, which includes companies such as Spoon University, hullabalu, Justworks, Architizer, LittleBits and Nestio in its portfolio.

*This list features 52 founders, because narrowing it down to 50 was just too difficult. 

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