Female Founders 100: Next Wave These entrepreneurs are pushing boundaries in their products and in their business models. While it's still early days, they might just become the next generation of groundbreaking entrepreneurs.
Alicia Chong Rodriguez
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide--yet only one in three participants in cardiovascular research trials is a woman. As a result, Chong Rodriguez says, "the symptoms women experience"--shortness of breath and jaw pain--"typically aren't the ones people watch for." That's why the Costa Rican entrepreneur designed a bra with built-in sensors that collect data from the heart, analyze it for irregularities, and funnel vital information to a doctor. Chong Rodriguez, who's getting her master's at MIT, is currently beta testing the device, hoping to get it to market next year. "We want to give women peace of mind and help them live longer, healthier lives," she says. --Kevin J. Ryan
A member of the National Guard, Snabes wanted to be an astronaut, but a stint at NASA introduced her to Engineers Without Borders, inspiring her to bring sustainable technology to the developing world. Now, her company makes the Gigabot, a large-format 3-D printer that costs less than $10,000. Based in Houston, Austin, and Puerto Rico, with customers in 53 countries, Re:3D has created a printer that can produce anything from battery-pack cases for electric motorcycles to replicas of dinosaur bones. Snabes's next goal: printing from trash--specifically, the ground-up plastic water bottles that pollute so many shorelines. And she's still looking skyward: "I applied to be an astronaut in the last round," she says. "With 18,000 other people." --Kimberly Weisul
When Oxford computational social science PhD Richman went to Sand Hill Road to raise money for her company aiming to make gut tests as simple as swab-and-mail DNA tests, one investor insisted: "The microbiome is a fad." Microbiomes--the rich ecosystems of bacteria in and on our bodies--weren't going anywhere. Now armed with $105 million, uBiome has 300 employees and offers genomic tests of individuals' microbiomes so a person can get never-before accessible information about their trillions of bacteria and gain insight into everything from digestion issues to diseases like Crohn's. --Christine Lagorio-Chafkin
Jessica O. Matthews
Matthews is accustomed to making a splash. At 22, she founded the New York City-based Uncharted Play (now Uncharted Power) to develop energy-producing technology and then embed it in common items like a jump rope or child's stroller. One Harvard Business School degree later, Matthews raised a $7 million Series A round--thought to be the largest ever by a black female founder, and, depressingly, very close to the average early-stage financing won by white male founders. Matthews's most recent effort allows her customers to draw energy from technology embedded in buildings and roads and activated by vehicular and pedestrian traffic. --K.W.
Tomkins went through three miscarriages and six cycles of in vitro fertilization before finally getting pregnant with her now 3-old-daughter. The entire fertility process--from the emotional rollercoaster to the $20,000 cost per treatment--felt broken. "It was way too expensive and difficult to navigate solo," says Tomkins, who had been working in the solar industry. So in 2016, she left her marketing job to start Future Family, a $250-per-month subscription fertility plan that bundles testing, digital consultations, clinic costs, genetic testing, and even travel. The San Francisco-based startup currently has tens of thousands of users, and earlier this year launched Touchpoint, a platform that offers Future Family services in 250 clinics nationwide. "Every time I get an email from someone who we were able to help start their family, it's the biggest high," she says. --Brittany Morse
Antony was working for the National Economic Council in Washington, D.C., when she came across some alarming stats: Nearly half of all employees quit or are fired within 18 months, and replacing a full-time worker can cost up to twice his or her annual salary. That insight led to Scoutible, which measures job candidates' abilities using an unconventional source: a video game. While users spend 20 minutes steering a character through an unfamiliar landscape, the San Francisco-based startup's artificial intelligence software studies their behavior and assesses them on traits like risk aversion, mental toughness, and coachability. It then compares the results with those of the company's best workers. Enterprise clients include the Dallas Mavericks, which used it to assess prospects ahead of the 2018 NBA Draft (Mark Cuban is also an investor). "Employers usually have no idea why certain people outperform," Antony says. "That information hasn't been easily accessible. Until now." --K.J.R.
Dickson is dragging vending machines into the modern retail age. In 2011, the shoe entrepreneur wanted to sell her company's portable roll-up shoes via vending machine at places like airports and concert venues, but the flats wouldn't fit, so she decided to launch a second company and build her own. Dickson's Ohio-based startup now makes the PopShop, a smart vending machine outfitted with touchscreens and cameras, and, more important, wired with data and analytics software to capture customer information like age, gender, and conversion rates. Dickson took PopCom through the Techstars accelerator program in 2017, eventually raising $900,000 from various investors. According to Dickson, Popcom has about 20 customers, including a paid pilot program with Procter & Gamble. But where there's huge potential, she points out: age-restricted or regulated products, like cannabis and pharmaceutical medications. "We are ahead of our time, but we want to sell any and every product without a human in an automated fashion," says Dickson. --Will Yakowicz
After Tellerman's first technology company, Sim Ops Studios, was acquired by Autodesk, she landed at Google Ventures, investing in startups such as Jet.com and Le Tote. But it wouldn't be long until she'd hatch her next company. In 2013, after moving into a new house, she became frustrated by the lack of options when it came to visualizing how furniture would fit in the new space. So she dreamed up only something a grad of Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center would: software that creates virtual 3-D renderings using images of customers' rooms, working with virtual interior designers, with the bonus of shoppable products. GV incubated the now three-year-old company, which has had 500 percent customer growth over the past 12 months. The company is 67 percent female, and Tellerman has devised a tiered compensation structure that eliminates salary negotiations, and instead prioritizes goal-setting, performance, and on-the-job learning. "Fair compensation was really important to me as a female founder," Tellerman says. "I want to be the best of what a Silicon Valley tech company can be." --C.L.C.
Live Alkaline Water
When Live Alkaline Water convinced three Jacksonville-area Walmarts to carry its product this past March, it was a huge moment for every employee--all two of them. Only later, when approached on social media and by a local reporter, did COO Creer and founder Robert McRae realize they'd made history as the first black-owned alkaline water company to land in Walmart. McRae started the business in 2013 after deciding the water from the spring on his family's North Carolina property tasted good enough to sell. It didn't go anywhere until late 2016, when he met Creer through a mutual acquaintance. They work remotely: McRae runs operations in North Carolina while Creer manages the books, researches the value of untreated water, and conducts business outreach from her Jacksonville home. She doubles as a physical therapist, often working 100-hour weeks to perform both jobs. While the business is still tiny, Creer's ambition is large. "No people in this country have a story like African-Americans," she says. "It makes a big difference for black people and others from all walks of life to see us on that type of level. Because you don't see it often." --Cameron Albert-Deitch
Amplifications: This article has been updated to reflect uBiome's latest funding and employee numbers.