It's the season of giving thanks, so the Young Entrepreneur Council asked 12 successful entrepreneurs to reflect on which young businesswomen made the biggest impression on them in the past year, either personally or from afar--and why. Here are their best answers.
1. Kathryn Minshew of The Muse
In 2012, I have been so impressed with fellow YEC member Kathryn Minshew. She rocked at Y Combinator's Demo Day, grew The Muse to sky heights this year, and even appeared on Bloomberg to talk about her firm. I can't wait to see what she accomplishes in 2013!
-- Doreen Bloch, Poshly
2. Nara Lakhani of PMGOA.com
Nara Lakhani is my fiancee. She's also a Houston-based magazine publisher. On top of that, she owns and operates PMGOA.com, Promotional Manufacturing Group of America, which is one of the largest promotional products supplier today. She is on a mission to bring back manufacturing in the USA. Her revenues are outstanding. 2013 will be even a bigger year.
-- Ak Kurji, Gennex Group
3. Kelsey Meyer of Digital Talent Agents
4. Alexa Hirschfeld of Paperless Post
Alexa Hirschfeld, co-founder of Paperless Post, continued to experience explosive growth in her company in 2012. Her company is changing the way people think about online and offline invitations.
-- Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics
5. Shradha Agarwal of ContextMedia
Shradha Agarwal with Context Media is an up-and-coming leader. Context was chosen as one of the most impactful companies by the White House in 2012. Shradha also dedicated a large sum of money to investing in start-ups along with her time mentoring young entrepreneurs.
-- John Hall, Digital Talent Agents
6. Allison Lami Sawyer of Rebellion Photonics
Allison was named to Inc.'s 30 Under 30 list this year. I had the pleasure of meeting her when she was in NYC to receive her award. Her private, self-effacing manner hides a deep, authentic personality that has helped invent and commercialize a revolutionary imaging technology, and, in turn, build a multi-million dollar company.
-- Matthew Ackerson, Saber Blast
7. Stacey Ferreira of MySocialCloud
What started with a tweet to Richard Branson ended in a million-dollar investment by him and Jerry Murdock in her company. Stacey's site solves one of our biggest problem as online users--having way too many passwords to remember. It also syncs your social shares seamlessly into your profile for others to spread and like.
-- Michael Costigan, Michael Costigan
8. Maren Kate Donovan of Zirtual
Maren Kate Donovan, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based dedicated virtual assistant company Zirtual, continued to make a name for herself as in 2012. Zirtual has become one of the premiere U.S.-based VA companies for entrepreneurs, routinely receiving thousands of applications from prospective VAs while catering to a significantly growing list of raving clients.
-- Dave Ursillo, Unleader Studios
9. Jessica Mah of InDinero.com
Jessica Mah is the co-founder and CEO of InDinero, a one-stop shop for accounting. After raising significant funding a few years ago as a 20-year-old, the company needed to take a drastic shift over the past year to revive a struggling business model. Mah has been able to lead the team through a significant dip, and InDinero is growing rapidly.
-- Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
10. Sara Blakely of Spanx
The CEO of Spanx, Sara Blakely, is very impressive. This year she took on the traditional "competitive male" view of business and shattered it with one quick swoop and really showed the importance of having a small business that balances masculine and feminine qualities. She made the biggest impression on me this year of any entrepreneur.
-- Raoul Davis, Ascendant Group
11. Jess Lee of Polyvore
Jess Lee is a co-founder of Polyvore, a place to shop, discover, and start fashion trends. She took over as CEO of the company in early 2012 while the former CEO moved into a more product and technology focused role. Polyvore is a rare start-up in that it's cash-flow positive with more than 50 employees. Congrats, Jess!
-- Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh Test Prep
12. Gabrielle Bernstein of HerFuture.com
She has been a hero to many young, female entrepreneurs who have been moved by her books, or who would or like to follow in her footsteps. 2012 was a breakout year for her, with YouTube picking her up as a "Next Vlogger" and most recently her appearance on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday.
-- Jennifer Donogh, Ovaleye