Founder Profile

Jennifer Ernst

Tivic Health

For devising a better solution to common health problem.

"Jennifer Ernst founded Tivic Health in 2016, with the bioelectronic health company’s first product, ClearUP: a sinus pain and congestion treatment that took three years to develop. The Food and Drug Administration-approved device uses microcurrent therapy to relieve sinus pain. Working to solve a health problem that has had very little innovation for almost a century, Ernst says she felt a responsibility to put the product on the market. “There are just too many people who can benefit from this; it is too big of a problem,” says Ernst, who notes that 20,000 people have already used the treatment.
 
She owes a lot of that early success to Covid-19. Despite Tivic Health's struggle to navigate the global chip shortage and electronic supply parts scarcity, people’s newly realized need for at-home medical solutions has been a boon for the company. “I have been really pleased about being there for people needing to figure out their own health solutions,” says Ernst.--Alicia Doniger"

Company Information
Location
Menlo Park, California
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Natlyn Jones

SheWarrior

For making tough workout wear that's easier on the planet.

Through the course of training, managing professional fighters, and her own workouts, Natlyn Jones, a boxer, had a thought: “Wouldn’t it be great to actually wear a brand in the gym that implemented and represented the fighting spirit, especially for women?” It would also have to be sustainably made--a must for Jones, who was appalled by the negative impact clothing has on the environment. So, in 2019, SheWarrior was born.

The activewear brand has since found ample support among a growing customer base—save for several months during the pandemic. SheWarrior apparel is made to order, which Jones says is great for the environment, but it was crushing when her manufacturer shut down for six months and she had no inventory to sell. “It definitely slowed everything down,” Jones says. “I couldn’t fill any orders.”

Today, after much of that backlog has cleared, she remains adamant, she says, about building a company with values and that’s sustainable. “It is great to have a brand that I can put on and be proud of, and actually have it resonate with women in the name,” says Jones.--Alicia Doniger

Company Information
Location
Newburg, New York
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Noura Sakkijha

Mejuri

For redesigning the jewelry business with women in mind.

It makes sense that jewelry companies have traditionally marketed their products to men: They were the ones with the money, after all. While that is clearly no longer the case, jewelry companies have been slow to reorient their messaging. At jewelry maker Mejuri, founder Noura Sakkijha says: “Buy yourself the damn diamond.” Thanks in part to this message of women’s empowerment, which is built into the very structure of the company as women make up the majority of the ranks, Sakkijha says 70 percent of Mejuri’s clients buy jewelry for themselves.

Its empowered message has also struck a chord with investors. Sakkijha raised $23 million in funding when she was seven months pregnant with twin girls. She says investors questioned her ability at first, but she never lost her confidence. The effort, she says, gave her the fire, passion, and resilience for what could have been a difficult deal to seal. Today, the six-year-old company operates physical stores in select cities across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.--Alicia Doniger

Company Information
Location
Toronto, Ontario
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Natalie Gordon

Babylist

For giving expectant parents ways to celebrate remotely.

While Covid-19 ended in-person baby showers, Natalie Gordon of Babylist helped ensure expecting parents could still celebrate their little bundles of joy. The gift registry founder says the pandemic forced her to reimagine the baby shower experience, which, one, ensured parents could still celebrate with friends and family, and, two, solidified her company’s survival. “My fear was that in a world with Covid-19, [baby showers] would be one of the things that are hardest hit, and [change] the celebration and your village supporting you,” says Gordon.

Gordon created “how-to” guides for her customers to follow to revive the joyous occasion, virtually. She developed different Zoom backgrounds for virtual baby showers, and she crafted virtual baby shower etiquette tips, among other useful content. To her delight, parents bought in and so did everyone else, she says. “Because of Covid, [friends and family] wanted to be more helpful,” and that ensured the company’s bottom line wouldn’t fall off a cliff, Gordon says. The company actually grew its sales over 150 percent in 2020, and has doubled its revenue every year for the past three years, she says. “I am more excited about the next decade than I am about the past decade,” she adds. “We are a beloved and trusted brand for families going through this stage of life that extends in a lot of ways that we’re really excited about.”--Alicia Doniger

Company Information
Location
Oakland, California
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Samantha Long

Eli Directional Drilling, Inc.

For laying the groundwork that helped people stay connected through Covid.

When the economy tanks, small firms are usually the first to suffer. During the early, uncertain days of the pandemic, Samantha Long knew that ELI Directional Drilling, the small utility construction firm she co-founded with her husband, would likely be outbid by larger companies with the resources to weather the storm.

But the nationwide 5G rollout kept rolling, and there were still plenty of new projects under way. So in February 2020, Long and her team sprung into action, revamping their bidding strategy to lower prices. She credits her employees’ willingness to “listen and take realistic action” as vital to the company’s survival over the past 18 months. The work ended up paying off. ELI Directional Drilling finished 2020 with $5.1 million in revenue.

“We beat out some really big regional competitors on a few substantial projects,” Long says. “Ultimately, the successful completion of that work has translated into stronger customer relationships and has solidified us as a reliable partner in our region.”

Long and her husband, David Long, launched ELI in 2016, with a two-man crew and a single drill. One of their first projects was helping VA hospitals build out infrastructure to transition to solar energy. Since then, the St. Louis-based company has served dozens of clients in the utilities, telecom, and energy sectors across the Midwest and Southwest.

As the company hits the five-year mark, Long credits the company’s solid financials and strong client relationships as key to its growth. These days, ELI is able to successfully bid, finance, and complete much larger construction projects than it did in the past.--Amrita Khalid

Company Information
Location
Eureka, Missouri
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021