10 Women to Watch in Tech in 2013
Amy Sheng, co-founder, CellScopeMichal Tsur, co-founder & president, Kaltura Poornima Vijayashanker, founder & CEO, BizeebeeStephanie Horbaczewski, founder & CEO, StyleHaul Susan Feldman & Alison Pincus, co-founders, One Kings LaneJennifer Lum, co-founder & president, Adelphic MobileAlexa von Tobel, founder & CEO, LearnVest.comStina Ehrensvärd, founder & CEO, YubicoPrita Uppal, founder & CEO, HookedDr. Vivienne Ming, founder & CEO, Socos
These start-up founders are busy making their mark on everything from ingenious devices and artificial intelligence to the tricky thing almost every company is trying to do--truly targeted mobile advertising. If the traction they're getting now is any indication, 2103 is going to be an incredible year for these women.
Think someone else should have made the list? Let me know @salubriousdish—Christina DesMarais
Sometime soon you may be able to use your iPhone to take a picture of your crying child’s eardrum and zap it to your doctor for a remote diagnosis. But that’s only the beginning, according to Sheng. The mechanical engineer and her team at CellScope are working on a suite of low-cost iPhone accessories to do such things. Not only will the technology be convenient, but it also gives doctors the ability to capture a patient’s visual history over time, she says. In 2013, Sheng says the company will bring its Smart Otoscope and accompanying app to market—currently it’s being used in hospital trials. Ultimately, CellScope aims to build a digital first aid kit for the home.
Under Tsur’s leadership Kaltura had a big year: Its open-source video player and platform surpassed the 300,000 customer mark, which includes Groupon, Zappos, and Best Buy; it opened new offices in Asia and Europe; and it secured $25 million in a Series D funding in November. Tsur, who has a PhD in game theory, has overseen the marketing, growth, and all those client acquisitions. In 2013 she says she’s most excited about new client Wikipedia. “I want to see how the largest video-based encyclopedia will be created alongside the text-based Wikipedia."
At one time Vijayashanker was the second employee and only female engineer at Mint.com. Now that her three-year-old start-up, Bizeebee, is self-sustaining—the platform tracks attendance and revenue and handles marketing services and payments for more than 500 yoga and fitness studios—she’s shifting gears.
Her new project is Femgineer, a campaign to encourage and empower more women to go into tech and science. It started as a blog, but now Vijayashanker teaches workshops at San Francisco tech hubs such as General Assembly, Parisoma, and HackBright. This year she says she’ll expand to other cities and license the curriculum so others can teach it, as well as sell video courses.
This fashionista went from working in a clothing store while getting her JD/MBA to regional director of marketing for Saks Fifth Avenue before launching the first online video network for fashion, shopping, and beauty on YouTube last year. Instead of going solo and trying to gain traction on a brand new platform, she was far more strategic: Horbaczewski partnered with the founders of online gaming entertainment network Machinima, which already had cemented itself in the YouTube ecosystem. StyleHaul’s 1,270 channels now attract 48 million unique viewers a month and after successfully raising $4.4 million in 2012, StyleHaul is close to closing its second round of funding. In 2013 she plans to expand globally--and beyond YouTube--as well as make the company’s first moves in commerce and product.
These two design enthusiasts used their savings to launch a home and lifestyle flash sale site in 2009. Today, One Kings Lane has grown to more than 6 million registered users with 25 percent of its monthly revenue coming from mobile purchases. The company recently closed a $50 million round of Series D funding, has a staff of 350 employees, and made $200 million in revenue in 2012--twice what it pulled in the year prior. Feldman, a former fashion sales executive, spearheads merchandising for the company and travels the world with famous interior designers to source items for One Kings Lane. Pincus, with a background blogging about design and working for large media companies, is in charge of strategy and focused on scouting new initiatives and partnerships.
Lum already has plenty of tech start-up street cred: Adelphic Mobile is her fourth start-up; her previous three all sold to Fortune 500 companies, one of which was Apple. Now she’s trying to solve the thorny problem of how best to advertise to mobile consumers at the right time and place. Aldephic’s answer is a combination of innovative targeting technology and predictive analytics. The company has raised $12 million from Matrix Partners and Google Ventures and is processing more than 20 billion ad requests per month. In addition to leading Adelphic, she’s an entrepreneur-in-residence at MIT, a mentor at 500 Start-ups and TechStars Boston, as well as an angel investor in 12 companies.
After entering Harvard Business School in 2008 von Tobel won a business plan contest. Her big idea: affordable financial advice for young women wanting to take control of their personal assets. She ditched her gig at Morgan Stanley and invested $75,000 of her savings to start LearnVest. Since then LearnVest has morphed into a financial planning company that connects both women and men with an in-house team of Certified Financial Planners (CFPs). The service starts at $19 a month (after an initial set-up fee ranging from $69 to $399) as opposed to the $250 to $350 an hour the average CFP might charge, and offers unlimited email and phone support. Von Tobel has raised nearly $25 million in funding. She also occasionally offers business advice on Inc.com.
While it looks like a USB stick, this little thing—created by Ehrensvärd and her engineering team—is actually a key that generates a secure one-time password login for secure access into email, VPN, Windows, and websites. The YubiKey is crush-proof, waterproof, battery-free, and requires no client software. It has more than one million users in 100 countries and is currently being used in a Google pilot. This year Ehrensvärd, who’s won several industry awards for IT innovation, aims to enable one YubiKey to work instantly with any number of applications, securing the digital identities for the mass consumer mobile market.
Google’s on a path to reach the 1 million mark in its app store, which means it’s simply not possible to find all the gems buried in that massive pile. Until Hooked, that is. The game recommendation platform, created by Uppal, uses algorithms and a prediction engine to analyze the games you've already installed to rate other games you might like. Hooked has been downloaded 4.5 million times and users install an average of 12 games a week. In 2013 Hooked will be expanding to more platforms, including iOS. A big consumer of mobile apps herself, Uppal took an interest in the intersection of gaming and mobile as a business while earning her Harvard MBA.
Full plate, anyone? Not only does Dr. Ming run the education tech and data mining company Socos, she’s also a theoretical neuroscientist at the Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at UC Berkeley as well as chief scientist at Gild, a talent acquisition tech company. Founded in 2011, Socos takes data from what students already do in their classes, and builds a model of their conceptual knowledge that lets teachers adapt instruction in real time, whether to address common misconceptions or expand on unusual insights. The company has consulted with the Gates Foundation, the Bertelsmann Foundation, and the White House Office of Science and Technology on how to fundamentally change education. In 2013 Ming plans to continue to work on replacing standardized testing with artificial intelligence and transition Socos from a consulting company into a direct technology provider.