Founder Profile

Daphne Koller

Insitro

Cutting-edge genome editing and machine learning help her develop drug therapies.

Daphne Koller. Courtesy subject

Bay Area-based Insitro is combining several cutting-edge areas of science to develop new drug therapies. Daphne Koller--Stanford’s first-ever professor of machine learning and formerly co-CEO of Coursera--founded the company in spring 2018 and soon secured $100 million in funding from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Jeff Bezos, and GV. Insitro uses Crispr genome editing to create unhealthy human cells in test tubes, and then applies hundreds of different interventions on the cells and tracks their effects. Based on the data collected, along with publicly available data sets, the startup develops treatments using machine learning. In April, Insitro announced a partnership with pharma giant Gilead Sciences to aid in the development of new therapies for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a liver disease that affects 16 million Americans. Insitro received $15 million up front and will earn royalties on any drug that its technology helps develop. --Kevin J. Ryan

Industry
Biotech
Year Founded
2018
Location
South San Francisco, California
Industry
Science Pioneers
Twitter
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

Bay Area-based Insitro is combining several cutting-edge areas of science to develop new drug therapies. Daphne Koller--Stanford’s first-ever professor of machine learning and formerly co-CEO of Coursera--founded the company in spring 2018 and soon secured $100 million in funding from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Jeff Bezos, and GV. Insitro uses Crispr genome editing to create unhealthy human cells in test tubes, and then applies hundreds of different interventions on the cells and tracks their effects. Based on the data collected, along with publicly available data sets, the startup develops treatments using machine learning. In April, Insitro announced a partnership with pharma giant Gilead Sciences to aid in the development of new therapies for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a liver disease that affects 16 million Americans. Insitro received $15 million up front and will earn royalties on any drug that its technology helps develop. --Kevin J. Ryan

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Sallie Krawcheck

Ellevest

Uniquely accessible to newcomers, her investing platform is one women actually want to use.

Sallie Krawcheck launched Ellevest, an investing platform for women, the day before the 2016 presidential election, because, she says, “we were going to have a female president.” But on the desire of women to find a different way to invest, Krawcheck, the former CEO of Citigroup’s Smith Barney unit, has been a bit more prescient. Of the many attempts to serve this market, Ellevest has arguably gained the most traction, with about 400,000 registered users, more than 50,000 clients, and around $365 million in assets under management. A big factor in Ellevest’s success is that Krawcheck designed it to be uniquely accessible to newcomers. “You can invest a penny, but I can’t get you a diversified portfolio for that,” she says. “For a dollar, I can.” This year Ellevest also introduced high-net-worth investment services. The company’s zeitgeist-y message of financial empowerment has resonated in this #MeToo era, and Krawcheck has appeared on Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show and BuzzFeed’s Ladylike. And even though Ellevest has been spending more on marketing and recently completed a $34.5 million financing, its cost of acquiring a customer has fallen from a few hundred dollars at launch to a figure, says Krawcheck, “in the tens.” --Kimberly Weisul

Industry
Financial Services
Year Founded
2016
Location
New York, New York
Industry
Money Movers
Co-founder
Charlie Kroll
Twitter
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

Sallie Krawcheck launched Ellevest, an investing platform for women, the day before the 2016 presidential election, because, she says, “we were going to have a female president.” But on the desire of women to find a different way to invest, Krawcheck, the former CEO of Citigroup’s Smith Barney unit, has been a bit more prescient. Of the many attempts to serve this market, Ellevest has arguably gained the most traction, with about 400,000 registered users, more than 50,000 clients, and around $365 million in assets under management. A big factor in Ellevest’s success is that Krawcheck designed it to be uniquely accessible to newcomers. “You can invest a penny, but I can’t get you a diversified portfolio for that,” she says. “For a dollar, I can.” This year Ellevest also introduced high-net-worth investment services. The company’s zeitgeist-y message of financial empowerment has resonated in this #MeToo era, and Krawcheck has appeared on Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show and BuzzFeed’s Ladylike. And even though Ellevest has been spending more on marketing and recently completed a $34.5 million financing, its cost of acquiring a customer has fallen from a few hundred dollars at launch to a figure, says Krawcheck, “in the tens.” --Kimberly Weisul

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Rebecca Lacouture

Evolved by Nature

Chanel backed her silkworm-sourced healthier fabric care.

When 38-year old Rebecca “Beck” Lacouture underwent three grueling months of chemotherapy a decade ago, her skin became painfully tender. So, an oncologist advised her to avoid a list of harmful chemicals commonly found in skin care products. A researcher with a PhD in biomedical engineering, Lacouture turned this advice into Evolved by Nature--a startup that uses proteins found in silkworm cocoons to manufacture a "liquid silk" alternative to damaging ingredients in skin care, consumer goods, and textiles. The company, which launched in 2013, recently won the backing of luxury fashion and beauty label Chanel, bringing its fundraising totals to $51 million. It also doubled revenue this year. “In the last year or so, we’ve realized that what we’re really creating is a chemistry company,” says Lacouture, who is now cancer-free. “Our silk can potentially be used anywhere." --Zoë Henry

Industry
Biotech
Year Founded
2013
Location
Medford, Massachusetts
Industry
Fashion Forward
Co-founder
Gregory Altman
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

When 38-year old Rebecca “Beck” Lacouture underwent three grueling months of chemotherapy a decade ago, her skin became painfully tender. So, an oncologist advised her to avoid a list of harmful chemicals commonly found in skin care products. A researcher with a PhD in biomedical engineering, Lacouture turned this advice into Evolved by Nature--a startup that uses proteins found in silkworm cocoons to manufacture a "liquid silk" alternative to damaging ingredients in skin care, consumer goods, and textiles. The company, which launched in 2013, recently won the backing of luxury fashion and beauty label Chanel, bringing its fundraising totals to $51 million. It also doubled revenue this year. “In the last year or so, we’ve realized that what we’re really creating is a chemistry company,” says Lacouture, who is now cancer-free. “Our silk can potentially be used anywhere." --Zoë Henry

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Sarah LaFleur

M.M.LaFleur

Women spend over $70 million a year on her chic, personalized workwear.

Women’s workwear brand M.M.LaFleur first gained a following by curating “Bento Boxes” of coordinating looks—think tailored suits and sharp dresses—that busy women could try on at home. The strategy helped M.M.LaFleur hit more than $70 million in revenue in 2017—but it won’t keep the brand growing. More women are dressing casually for work, and an increasing number still want the in-store experience. LaFleur has responded to these trends by leaning hard into seven brick-and-mortar retail showrooms, where same-store revenue is up 13 percent from 2018. The company is also designing more lines for the formal and casual ends of their 25-55-year-old customer base—launching a high-end suiting collection this fall and designing a machine-washable, wrinkle-resistant travel line. “Releasing these two collections allows us to target both the C-suite exec and the younger, more casual woman on the go,” says co-founder and CEO Sarah LaFleur. --Lindsay Blakely

Industry
Retail
Year Founded
2013
Location
New York, New York
Industry
Fashion Forward
Co-founders
Miyako Nakamura, Narie Foster
Twitter
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

Women’s workwear brand M.M.LaFleur first gained a following by curating “Bento Boxes” of coordinating looks—think tailored suits and sharp dresses—that busy women could try on at home. The strategy helped M.M.LaFleur hit more than $70 million in revenue in 2017—but it won’t keep the brand growing. More women are dressing casually for work, and an increasing number still want the in-store experience. LaFleur has responded to these trends by leaning hard into seven brick-and-mortar retail showrooms, where same-store revenue is up 13 percent from 2018. The company is also designing more lines for the formal and casual ends of their 25-55-year-old customer base—launching a high-end suiting collection this fall and designing a machine-washable, wrinkle-resistant travel line. “Releasing these two collections allows us to target both the C-suite exec and the younger, more casual woman on the go,” says co-founder and CEO Sarah LaFleur. --Lindsay Blakely

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Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins

Promise

Non-violent offenders under community supervision can use her app to keep track of court dates and stay out of jail.

After a career in startups and the music industry—one job was helping Prince secure his digital rights—Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins saw a loved one go through a complex and harrowing experience after missing a court date. He had bounty-hunters after him mainly because he didn’t know who to call to reschedule his appearance. Ellis-Lamkins teamed up with longtime lawyer Diana Frappier to remedy a flawed system that saw nonviolent offenders pay fines and await trial behind bars because they couldn’t afford bail or a lawyer. They called it Promise; its pitch was to take over parts of the local criminal-justice apparatus and provide individuals with an app and automated check-in process that keeps track of court dates and paperwork. Before even graduating from startup incubator Y Combinator in 2018, this audacious little company had raised $3 million in funding from the likes of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and First Round Capital. Recently it has been working with Alameda County in California, as well as localities in Kentucky and North Dakota, and appearance rates--essentially, showing up when you’re supposed to in court--have increased by nearly 25 percent. “The system is fundamentally broken based on race and class,” Ellis-Lamkins says. She’s aiming to even the field, and help fix a system that penalizes those without means. --Christine Lagorio-Chafkin

Industry
IT Services
Year Founded
2018
Location
Oakland, California
Industry
The Platform Economy
Co-founder
Diana Frappier
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

After a career in startups and the music industry—one job was helping Prince secure his digital rights—Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins saw a loved one go through a complex and harrowing experience after missing a court date. He had bounty-hunters after him mainly because he didn’t know who to call to reschedule his appearance. Ellis-Lamkins teamed up with longtime lawyer Diana Frappier to remedy a flawed system that saw nonviolent offenders pay fines and await trial behind bars because they couldn’t afford bail or a lawyer. They called it Promise; its pitch was to take over parts of the local criminal-justice apparatus and provide individuals with an app and automated check-in process that keeps track of court dates and paperwork. Before even graduating from startup incubator Y Combinator in 2018, this audacious little company had raised $3 million in funding from the likes of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and First Round Capital. Recently it has been working with Alameda County in California, as well as localities in Kentucky and North Dakota, and appearance rates--essentially, showing up when you’re supposed to in court--have increased by nearly 25 percent. “The system is fundamentally broken based on race and class,” Ellis-Lamkins says. She’s aiming to even the field, and help fix a system that penalizes those without means. --Christine Lagorio-Chafkin

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