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The Women I've Backed

The Women I've Backed

December 16, 2013
Mike Hirshland

The tech world surely has a ways to go to achieve gender equality, but I’m here to tell you there are some awesome founders out there right now who happen to be women. Hopefully, the abundance of high caliber women founders will lead to more gender-neutrality in VC investing. It has for me. Without any agenda to back women, during the first two years of my current fund I’ve had the privilege of backing 11 women founders, and I’d stack this group of entrepreneurs up against just about any in the business. Here is who they are:Without any agenda to back women, during the first two years of my current fund I’ve had the privilege of backing 11 women founders, and I’d stack this group of entrepreneurs up against just about any in the business. Here is who they are:

  • Adora Cheung is the co-founder and CEO of Homejoy, which aims to make a clean home simple and affordable for all. Since launching last year Homejoy has expanded to 30+ markets, seen their user base and revenue explode, and raised $40 million in venture capital from the likes of Andreesen Horowitz, First Round Capital, Google Ventures, Max Levchin and Redpoint (and, of course, Resolute).
  • Nataly Kogan is the co-founder and CEO of Happier. Her mission? To make the world a happier place. Nataly not only has the gumption pursue such a goal; she also has the chops to pull it off. Amongst Happier’s users are many who declare the app has changed their life. Check out Nataly’s Ted Talk on the Happier story.
  • Jocelyn Leavitt and Samantha John are the dynamic duo behind Hopscotch, aiming to teach kids to code through an iPad app. Using Hopscotch, kids can build programs without typing a single line (it’s all visual). Although entirely unknown first time founders, Jocelyn and Sam managed to launch Hopscotch onstage at the AllThingsD Conference and go on to get the attention of teachers, parents, publishers and kids brands worldwide, not to mention the good folks at Apple.
  • Katie Mitic is still in stealth mode, but the combination of a winning personality and winning track record in and of itself was enough to get a bunch of high-powered Silicon Valley types eager for a chance to back her. Katie most recently led platform marketing at Facebook; earlier she led the development of RocketMail, which became Yahoo Mail, and was SVP Marketing at Palm; she also serves on the board of Restoration Hardware and a Pez-dispensing startup called eBay.
  • Vamsee Nalamothu is co-founder and CEO of TidePool. Previously a rock star at eBay and Zynga, Vamsee is taking her game design and development chops to a higher level at TidePool, which is transforming personal improvement by building mobile apps around productivity, mindfulness and resilience. Launched this fall, Vamsee and TidePool will be announcing big news early in the New Year.
  • Jennifer Reuting started her first company before she was 20, had started her second company and authored Limited Liability Companies for Dummies (Wiley Publishing, 2007) by the time she was 25, and now is the Founder and CEO of DocRun, a software company that aims to replace lawyers with web services. Like many startups these days, DocRun needed some more fuel to get to a Series A; unlike most founders, Jen just decided to self-fund the business to profitability.
  • Jaclyn Shanfeld is the founder and CEO of Shop-Hers. On a budget that even a seed investor like me would consider a shoestring, she and her team of two co-founders have launched a site that already is generating millions of dollars in closet-swapping transactions. Who says there is a Series A crunch? Jaclyn just announced raising a $3.5 million Series A with Floodgate and Bono.
  • Carly Strife is the co-founder of Bark & Co, which is building the leading brand for dog parents worldwide. In just two years Bark has surged from zero to a $25 million run rate. Carly is about the grittiest founder I have worked with. Previously manager of operations at Uber, Carly built and now runs the BarkBox operation that enables 100,000 happy dogs to be delighted every month.
  • Jamie Wong is the founder and CEO of Vayable. Jamie's awesome background spans from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to YCombinator and the launch of Vayable, which is allowing travelers to experience places with locals as their guides. In its very short life, Vayable has already planned thousands of tours, trips and vacations.
  • Yifan Zhang is co-founder and CEO of GymPact, an app that gives you cash rewards for living healthy - paid by the members who don't. A first time founder just out of college, Yifan has quickly become one of the stronger mobile founders in my portfolio. Pact's unique incentives have motivated over 5 million workouts while generating significant revenue. The company is launching into healthy eating, and announcing several exciting deals, in January. And, in the meantime, just announced an additional funding round with Keith Rabois at Khosla Ventures and Max Levchin.
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