For bringing sunlight to the deskbound
Amber Leong says the key to creating a great product is its simplicity, which certainly applies to her device: you wake up, and you turn it on for 15 to 60 minutes. Sluggish from her poorly lit corporate job at Jack Link’s Beef Jerky during a Minnesota winter and frustrated by the clunky sun lamp she thought would help, she invented her own sleek, stylish version. Leong garnered a $750,000 investment from Lori Greiner and Mark Cuban on season 11 of Shark Tank. On the show, Leong said Circadian Optics had sold $5 million in product since 2016, and the company has seen as much as 10 to 20 percent bump in sales since March. Turns out, we all need a little sun right now. – Gabrielle Bienasz
Because your data belongs to you
So much of our personal data is bought and sold behind our backs, and almost none of that activity would strike most consumers as ethical. Two years ago, serial entrepreneur and investor Angela Benton launched data-science firm Streamlytics to bring transparency to the sale of personal data.
In January 2020, after more than a year of research and development, the company released GetMyData, a tool for people to request their personal data from companies such as Google, Netflix, and Instagram. Three months later, another product followed: Clture, which targets Black consumers, pays users for access to their media streaming habits. Streamlytics anonymizes the information--more than 30 million data points so far--analyzes it, and sells the insights to media organizations, marketers, and other interested brands.
Benton initially bootstrapped the Los Angeles-based company before raising an undisclosed amount of seed and angel funding last year, including money from actor, writer, and producer Issa Rae. “If you choose to go the investment route, make sure you really understand the power dynamic: You’re trying to get money from someone, and you’re selling equity,” Benton says. “That doesn’t mean you don’t have any power. You need to ask: Are they a good fit for what you’re building? And if they aren’t, you should feel OK and empowered to say, ‘Thanks for considering us. I don’t think it’s a good fit.’” – Cameron Albert-Deitch
For showing that an online fashion show can be just as captivating as an in-person one
For using a one-of-a-kind approach to make one-of-a-kind art
Women Investing in Women Digital
For championing women entrepreneurs
Anu Bhardwaj is a serial entrepreneur, media expert, and blockchain influencer who got her MBA in from the Stockholm School of Economics and was a Fulbright scholar. Now, she’s using that extensive network to build Women Investing in Women Digital, which is a media platform focusing on global women’s issues, investment, and entrepreneurship. She says the key to all her ventures, including a radio network focusing on issues relevant to women, is hiring a strong team. “When people see that you’re after excellence, that’s when they want to follow, ultimately. It’s not about what you say, it’s about what you do.” –Gabrielle Bienasz