Founder Profile

Julia Collins

Planet FWD

Zume Pizza's co-founder aims to produce snack food using regenerative-farming techniques.

Julia Collins. Courtesy subject

Julia Collins’s understanding of food took a great leap forward in 2009, when she spent six months living on a farm in southern Italy. “I learned the importance of these whole food systems that are integrated and diverse,” she says. “I looked at the people who lived there. There was zero incidence of diabetes and obesity. Well into their 80s, people were eating with joy and pleasure.” In 2015, she co-founded Zume Pizza, which ran an automated food delivery platform and has raised $423 million. Collins’s next venture combines that experience with her agricultural awakening to produce foods using so-called regenerative farming techniques. Her startup, Planet FWD, aims to reverse climate change by using agricultural practices that sequester carbon, de-acidify the ocean, encourage healthy soil biology, use less water, and produce less waste. The company’s first products—healthy snack foods and noodles—will hit the market in early 2020. --Kimberly Weisul

Industry
Software
Year Founded
2018
Location
San Francisco, California
Industry
Food Revolutionaries
Co-founders
Wes Wang
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

Julia Collins’s understanding of food took a great leap forward in 2009, when she spent six months living on a farm in southern Italy. “I learned the importance of these whole food systems that are integrated and diverse,” she says. “I looked at the people who lived there. There was zero incidence of diabetes and obesity. Well into their 80s, people were eating with joy and pleasure.” In 2015, she co-founded Zume Pizza, which ran an automated food delivery platform and has raised $423 million. Collins’s next venture combines that experience with her agricultural awakening to produce foods using so-called regenerative farming techniques. Her startup, Planet FWD, aims to reverse climate change by using agricultural practices that sequester carbon, de-acidify the ocean, encourage healthy soil biology, use less water, and produce less waste. The company’s first products—healthy snack foods and noodles—will hit the market in early 2020. --Kimberly Weisul

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Ariane Daguin

D'Artagnan

Her 35-year-old gourmet meat company anticipated--and shaped--the sustainable, locavore trends today.

Ariane Daguin. Courtesy subject

In 1985, a young Frenchwoman living in New York City cofounded a small operation to sell duck livers and other exotic proteins to gourmet restaurants. Thirty-five years later, Ariane Daguin still entirely owns that business, D’Artagnan, which she has built into a profitable, $132 million organic-meat distributor with a near-national network of small farmers and artisanal suppliers. D’Artagnan was one of the first companies to introduce organic free-range chickens to American chefs and home cooks. It also anticipated, and shaped, the locavore movement now sweeping through our food system. “My animals have one bad day,” is how Daguin, now 61, sums up the philosophy of humane, sustainable farming underlying her business. Along the way, she overcame a wrenching breakup with her co-founder and ongoing regulatory battles over foie gras, the controversial and luxurious duck livers with which she launched her company. But neither challenge has stopped Daguin from building her revenue, which she’s aiming to double in the next five years, or her business operations, which she has expanded to Denver and soon, she hopes, to California. “I’m going into totally unknown territory,” says Daguin of her company’s recent growth. “It’s new, but it’s very exciting.” --Maria Aspan

Industry
Food & Beverage
Year Founded
1985
Location
Union, New Jersey
Industry
Food Revolutionaries
Co-founder
George Faison
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

In 1985, a young Frenchwoman living in New York City cofounded a small operation to sell duck livers and other exotic proteins to gourmet restaurants. Thirty-five years later, Ariane Daguin still entirely owns that business, D’Artagnan, which she has built into a profitable, $132 million organic-meat distributor with a near-national network of small farmers and artisanal suppliers. D’Artagnan was one of the first companies to introduce organic free-range chickens to American chefs and home cooks. It also anticipated, and shaped, the locavore movement now sweeping through our food system. “My animals have one bad day,” is how Daguin, now 61, sums up the philosophy of humane, sustainable farming underlying her business. Along the way, she overcame a wrenching breakup with her co-founder and ongoing regulatory battles over foie gras, the controversial and luxurious duck livers with which she launched her company. But neither challenge has stopped Daguin from building her revenue, which she’s aiming to double in the next five years, or her business operations, which she has expanded to Denver and soon, she hopes, to California. “I’m going into totally unknown territory,” says Daguin of her company’s recent growth. “It’s new, but it’s very exciting.” --Maria Aspan

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Fran Dunaway

TomboyX

She's liberating gender norms, one boxer brief at a time.

Fran Dunaway. Courtesy subject

As adults who identified as tomboys, Fran Dunaway and Naomi Gonzalez craved a fashion brand with androgynous tailoring. So in 2013, the two launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $75,000 in 30 days for their own business, TomboyX. For a year, they hawked button-down shirts, polos, and blazers with mild financial success. The real breakthrough then came when a customer service call keyed them in to the potential market for unisex boxer briefs. The first launch of their signature underwear sold out in two weeks, and company revenue tripled in six months. A two-time Inc. 500 honoree, TomboyX has since grown to more than 35 employees and $10.4 million in annual sales while expanding from underwear into swimwear and bras. The co-founders are now married, and together have raised more than $17 million in venture capital, with more than one million pairs of underwear sold. “Most brands like to tell people how to be cool, but we feel that you’re cool the way you are,” says Dunaway. “We’re not for everybody, but we are for anybody.” --Zoë Henry

Industry
Retail
Year Founded
2013
Location
Seattle, Washington
Industry
Fashion Forward
Co-founder
Naomi Gonzalez
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

As adults who identified as tomboys, Fran Dunaway and Naomi Gonzalez craved a fashion brand with androgynous tailoring. So in 2013, the two launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $75,000 in 30 days for their own business, TomboyX. For a year, they hawked button-down shirts, polos, and blazers with mild financial success. The real breakthrough then came when a customer service call keyed them in to the potential market for unisex boxer briefs. The first launch of their signature underwear sold out in two weeks, and company revenue tripled in six months. A two-time Inc. 500 honoree, TomboyX has since grown to more than 35 employees and $10.4 million in annual sales while expanding from underwear into swimwear and bras. The co-founders are now married, and together have raised more than $17 million in venture capital, with more than one million pairs of underwear sold. “Most brands like to tell people how to be cool, but we feel that you’re cool the way you are,” says Dunaway. “We’re not for everybody, but we are for anybody.” --Zoë Henry

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Sylvana Ward Durrett

Maisonette

With $15 million in capital, she’s curated a one-stop-shopping site for upscale kids clothes.

“Whether you're shopping for yourself, for your groceries, or for your dog, there's some sort of curated, online, one-stop shopping solution,” says Maisonette co-founder and CEO Sylvana Ward Durrett. “We as parents--my co-founder and I--sort of scratched our heads when we realized this didn’t really exist in the kids world.” A former assistant to Anna Wintour and one-time editor at Vogue, Durrett has made it her mission to streamline the process of shopping for children’s luxury clothing. Maisonette was founded in 2017 with kids clothing, accessories, furniture, and toys from a discriminating roster of designers. The company raised $15 million in capital during its Series A in 2018 and is on track to hit 300 percent year-over-year growth later this year. --Tim Crino

Industry
Retail
Year Founded
2017
Location
Brooklyn, New York
Industry
Fashion Forward
Co-founder
Luisana Mendoza Roccia
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

“Whether you're shopping for yourself, for your groceries, or for your dog, there's some sort of curated, online, one-stop shopping solution,” says Maisonette co-founder and CEO Sylvana Ward Durrett. “We as parents--my co-founder and I--sort of scratched our heads when we realized this didn’t really exist in the kids world.” A former assistant to Anna Wintour and one-time editor at Vogue, Durrett has made it her mission to streamline the process of shopping for children’s luxury clothing. Maisonette was founded in 2017 with kids clothing, accessories, furniture, and toys from a discriminating roster of designers. The company raised $15 million in capital during its Series A in 2018 and is on track to hit 300 percent year-over-year growth later this year. --Tim Crino

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Lisa Dyson

Air Protein

One way to feed the world: edible protein made from thin air. Dyson’s other company, Kiverdi, spun off this one.

Lisa Dyson. Courtesy subject

Lisa Dyson and co-founder John Reed were inspired by 40-year-old NASA research when they started looking for ways to recycle carbon dioxide. Through a process Dyson says is similar to making beer or yogurt, their company, Kiverdi, combines air with nutrients, microorganisms, and renewable energy to create an “air protein” flour and a palm oil substitute that can be used to make foods and other materials. This year, Hayward, California-based Kiverdi spun off that business into a separate company, called Air Protein, which Dyson says is following a similar path to that of alternative-meat competitor Impossible Foods. Meanwhile, Kiverdi is focusing on ways to make plastic biodegradable, nutrify soil for agriculture, and create sustainable feed for farmed fish. --Sophie Downes

Industry
Biotech
Year Founded
2019
Location
Hayward, California
Industry
Science Pioneers
Co-founder
John Reed
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

Lisa Dyson and co-founder John Reed were inspired by 40-year-old NASA research when they started looking for ways to recycle carbon dioxide. Through a process Dyson says is similar to making beer or yogurt, their company, Kiverdi, combines air with nutrients, microorganisms, and renewable energy to create an “air protein” flour and a palm oil substitute that can be used to make foods and other materials. This year, Hayward, California-based Kiverdi spun off that business into a separate company, called Air Protein, which Dyson says is following a similar path to that of alternative-meat competitor Impossible Foods. Meanwhile, Kiverdi is focusing on ways to make plastic biodegradable, nutrify soil for agriculture, and create sustainable feed for farmed fish. --Sophie Downes

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