For bringing banking--and cryptocurrency--to the unbanked.
Flori Marquez credits her relatives in Argentina for the idea behind cryptocurrency startup BlockFi. She wanted them, and other communities traditionally excluded from the financial system, to have an accessible path to banking. The company offers no-minimum, mobile banking accounts to individuals regardless of geographic location or credit worthiness.
“The plan is to bridge the worlds of traditional finance and blockchain and enable financial empowerment for clients on a global scale,” says Marquez.
BlockFi launched in 2018, and in its first year raised its Series A, B, and C financing rounds. It drew more than $500 million in VC backing from investors including Valar Ventures, Morgan Creek, Fidelity, and Susquehanna. Last year, the company launched the world’s first bitcoin rewards credit card in partnership with Visa. The U.S.-based waitlist for new clients had over 400,000 people.
As a Hispanic woman who is a leader in the world of finance, Marquez has made it her mission to support the financial health of women and other groups who historically haven’t had access to generational wealth. “For some reason, crypto is hugely male-dominated, and that segment of the world shouldn’t be the only ones to experience this new technology and its upside,” says Marquez. --Amrita Khalid
For giving women of color their own supplement line.
As a Black woman, Samia Gore felt the health and wellness industry didn’t create products with women like her in mind. Which is why she launched Body Complete Rx, a company that makes supplements and nutritional powders, in 2017. Turns out, millions of women of color were on board. The brand has so far grossed more than $10 million in sales. Last year, BCRX partnered with the Vitamin Shoppe, making it the first Black female-owned brand ever sold in the chain’s retail locations.
Gore, who launched Body Complete as a result of her own weight-loss journey, created the brand’s first product, TRIM, to help women with similar goals. The company offers a variety of supplements intended to boost metabolism and support weight loss. Now Body Complete has expanded well beyond weight management into fully integrated nutrition, launching a line of multivitamins for men and women and capsules to boost immunity and mood. Also new to the lineup are protein powders and a pre-workout powder. “Our supplements, our formulas, were created for everyone, so they are for everyone, but with women of color in mind,” Gore says.--Amrita Khalid
For making sustainable sofas that won't end up in landfills.
When Phantila Phataraprasit graduated from college, she was disappointed by the lack of options for buying sustainable furniture on a budget. So, in 2019, she co-founded DTC furniture company Sabai Design to do something about it. One year in, Sabai launched two initiatives: the Closed Loop Program and Repair Don't Replace. The first is a national program where Sabai buys back a couch at up to 20 percent of the secondhand price in credit or 15 percent in cash. Sofas in good condition sell at a discount in Sabai’s pre-owned line, and any that are not resold after three months are donated. With Repair Don't Replace, the company sells individual sofa parts so customers can fix what they need instead of buying an entirely new product. "Our generation really cares about transparency when it comes to sustainability,” Phataraprasit says. “And so our focus is to look at sustainability with respect to our products and company holistically."--Anna Meyer
For not taking 'no' for an answer.
Three years ago, serial entrepreneur Shai Eisenman fell in love with the beauty space and saw an opportunity for her next venture when she realized teenagers were buying the same drugstore skin care brands that their mothers were. She started by conducting research for nine months to figure out what would make for the perfect product and branding for Gen-Z. Eisenman launched Bubble at the end of 2020, and even amid the chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic she worked a deal with Walmart to put Bubble products in the aisles of more than 4,000 locations nationwide.
But that deal never would've happened if Eisenman had fallen victim to early insecurities. “When I got my first ‘noes,’ it was devastating," she says. "But then you get to a certain place where you understand and move on. A ‘no’ doesn’t mean a thing about me or the company. It just means that that’s not the right fit. Move on to the next thing and learn from the experience and don’t get into this emotional cycle of overthinking it.”--Anna Meyer
Katie Beal Brown
Lone River Beverage Co.
For building a brand to sell.
When the New York City ad agency where Katie Beal Brown worked hosted an incubator program, Brown submitted an idea for a spiked seltzer with the branding of her ranch life back home in Texas. The idea took off, and Brown quit her job in January 2020 to pursue her new company Lone River Beverage Co., which sells her Ranch Water seltzers in flavors including jalapeño and grapefruit juice.
When Midland, Texas-based Lone River hit shelves near the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020, every part of the new company's supply chain was disrupted. A spike in demand for alcohol led to a whole different set of supply challenges as well--specifically, a global aluminum shortage. "We basically were talking to every aluminum can supplier in the country, just to get whatever we could take because we knew how critical the growth was for us in the first year," Brown says. The team’s efforts paid off when international alcohol giant Diageo acquired the brand within one year of its launch.--Anna Meyer