Founder Profile

Julia Niiro

MilkRun

Her startup brings fresh, local food to the doorsteps of consumers and high-end restaurants.

Julia Niiro. Courtesy subject

Julia Niiro’s two-year MilkRun harnesses an old-fashioned idea--the milkman--to solve two key problems of the local food movement: distribution and low pay. MilkRun brings all the food groups--dairy, produce, bread, and meat, and even locally produced pet food--to the doorsteps of customers and high-end restaurants in Portland, Oregon. Niiro hires farmers and ranchers to make deliveries themselves; cutting out the middleman allows Niiro to increase their take to 70 percent of each dollar spent on food. (In a traditional supply chain, producers receive only 10 percent.) “I want to make it as easy to buy from local farmers as it is to book a stay in someone’s house or call a ride,” Niiro said in a recent TEDx Talk. “If it was easier to buy better tasting, fresher food directly from your local farmers than it was to go to a local supermarket after a long day, wouldn’t you?” --Hannah Wallace

Industry
Food & Beverage
Year Founded
2017
Location
Portland, Oregon
Industry
Food Revolutionaries
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

Julia Niiro’s two-year MilkRun harnesses an old-fashioned idea--the milkman--to solve two key problems of the local food movement: distribution and low pay. MilkRun brings all the food groups--dairy, produce, bread, and meat, and even locally produced pet food--to the doorsteps of customers and high-end restaurants in Portland, Oregon. Niiro hires farmers and ranchers to make deliveries themselves; cutting out the middleman allows Niiro to increase their take to 70 percent of each dollar spent on food. (In a traditional supply chain, producers receive only 10 percent.) “I want to make it as easy to buy from local farmers as it is to book a stay in someone’s house or call a ride,” Niiro said in a recent TEDx Talk. “If it was easier to buy better tasting, fresher food directly from your local farmers than it was to go to a local supermarket after a long day, wouldn’t you?” --Hannah Wallace

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Daniela Perdomo

goTenna

She’s upending telecom infrastructure by allowing devices to connect without a cell network or Internet connection.

Daniela Perdomo. Courtesy subject

Daniela Perdomo was struck with the idea that would lead to goTenna in 2012, when she saw New York City residents struggle with poor mobile connectivity during Hurricane Sandy. She teamed up with her brother, Jorge, to create a small cellphone accessory--essentially an antenna--and a messaging app that together allow users to connect without a cell network or internet connection. While goTenna didn’t invent so-called mesh networking, it was the first to offer a viable commercial application of the technology. After several years of selling a consumer version, in 2018 goTenna launched a more advanced version for first responders, the military, and other professional users. The company, which has raised some $40 million in venture capital, doesn’t aim to replace existing communications networks but rather connect the so-called “last mile”--people who are left out because of their location, their economic status, or circumstances such as natural disasters. --Tom Foster

Industry
Telecommunications
Year Founded
2012
Location
Brooklyn, New York
Industry
Science Pioneers
Co-founder
Jorge Perdomo
Twitter
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

Daniela Perdomo was struck with the idea that would lead to goTenna in 2012, when she saw New York City residents struggle with poor mobile connectivity during Hurricane Sandy. She teamed up with her brother, Jorge, to create a small cellphone accessory--essentially an antenna--and a messaging app that together allow users to connect without a cell network or internet connection. While goTenna didn’t invent so-called mesh networking, it was the first to offer a viable commercial application of the technology. After several years of selling a consumer version, in 2018 goTenna launched a more advanced version for first responders, the military, and other professional users. The company, which has raised some $40 million in venture capital, doesn’t aim to replace existing communications networks but rather connect the so-called “last mile”--people who are left out because of their location, their economic status, or circumstances such as natural disasters. --Tom Foster

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Leanne Pittsford

Lesbians Who Tech

She started the most diverse networking community in tech—and built a tool to help companies hire from that network.

Leanne Pittsford. Courtesy subject

“The tech industry doesn’t have a pipeline problem--it has an access problem,” says Leanne Pittsford, the founder of Lesbians Who Tech, a community of 40,000 mostly LGBTQ techies with a mission to promote diversity in hiring. Her seven-year-old organization runs an annual tech conference (past speakers include Hillary Clinton, Stacey Abrams, and Laurene Powell Jobs), and this year it has branched out into building a digital recruiting and mentoring service, Include.io, that companies can use to find diverse talent from its network and track their diversity-and-inclusion efforts. Currently in beta, the product is being tested by 100 companies. “We have to shift the white-male-centric culture that Silicon Valley has built,” Pittsford says. --Christine Lagorio-Chafkin

Industry
DEI Advocacy
Year Founded
2012
Location
San Francisco, California
Industry
The New Girls' Networks
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

“The tech industry doesn’t have a pipeline problem--it has an access problem,” says Leanne Pittsford, the founder of Lesbians Who Tech, a community of 40,000 mostly LGBTQ techies with a mission to promote diversity in hiring. Her seven-year-old organization runs an annual tech conference (past speakers include Hillary Clinton, Stacey Abrams, and Laurene Powell Jobs), and this year it has branched out into building a digital recruiting and mentoring service, Include.io, that companies can use to find diverse talent from its network and track their diversity-and-inclusion efforts. Currently in beta, the product is being tested by 100 companies. “We have to shift the white-male-centric culture that Silicon Valley has built,” Pittsford says. --Christine Lagorio-Chafkin

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Brynn Putnam

Mirror

For understanding how we really want to work out

It’s safe to say that Brynn Putnam, a former professional ballerina and the founder of Refine, a group of three fitness clubs in New York City, knows a thing or two about exercise. But, after having a baby, she found herself in an unthinkable position: she was a gym owner with no time to go to the gym. Putnam also noticed her Refine members loved it when she installed more mirrors, something Putnam had been used to as a ballerina. Putnam hooked up a Raspberry Pi computer to a mirror to create a hacked-together mirror-slash-fitness instructor. Many iterations later, that product became Mirror, which streams fitness classes and is second only to Peloton as the breakout fitness product of the pandemic. Retailing at $1,495 plus subscription fees of $39 a month for on-demand classes, Mirror is not for everyone. In July, though, Lululemon decided it definitely was for them, and purchased the company for $500 million. –Gabrielle Bienasz

Industry
Consumer Products
Year Founded
2016
Location
New York, New York
Industry
Health
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2020, 2019

It’s safe to say that Brynn Putnam, a former professional ballerina and the founder of Refine, a group of three fitness clubs in New York City, knows a thing or two about exercise. But, after having a baby, she found herself in an unthinkable position: she was a gym owner with no time to go to the gym. Putnam also noticed her Refine members loved it when she installed more mirrors, something Putnam had been used to as a ballerina. Putnam hooked up a Raspberry Pi computer to a mirror to create a hacked-together mirror-slash-fitness instructor. Many iterations later, that product became Mirror, which streams fitness classes and is second only to Peloton as the breakout fitness product of the pandemic. Retailing at $1,495 plus subscription fees of $39 a month for on-demand classes, Mirror is not for everyone. In July, though, Lululemon decided it definitely was for them, and purchased the company for $500 million. –Gabrielle Bienasz

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Olivia Ramos

Deepblocks

Her A.I. software promises to take some of the cost out of real-estate development.

Olivia Ramos earned master's degrees in architecture from Columbia University and in real estate development at the University of Miami. But it wasn’t until she was working as a construction project manager in Miami that she saw a need for software that would merge demographic, zoning, financial, and legal data all in one place. “There was a glitch in the system,” says Ramos. She founded Deepblocks at Singularity University in Mountain View, California, in 2016 and launched her program this past May. Deepblocks’ A.I. software accesses and integrates construction costs, income, and other market data that is publicly available but often difficult to track down, saving developers, investment brokers, and architects huge amounts of time. Even a developer who knows a market well might need six hours to come up with a feasibility analysis for a given parcel of land. “But with our software, they can do the same amount of work in 20 minutes,” says Ramos. Real estate pros in 1,100 U.S. cities are already using the software, which the company is also testing in the United Kingdom, Panama, and Nigeria. Ideally, the cost savings will flow through to property renters and buyers too. If it does, says Ramos, “perhaps we can lower the cost of living.” --Hannah Wallace

Industry
Software
Year Founded
2016
Location
Miami, Florida
Industry
Money Movers
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

Olivia Ramos earned master's degrees in architecture from Columbia University and in real estate development at the University of Miami. But it wasn’t until she was working as a construction project manager in Miami that she saw a need for software that would merge demographic, zoning, financial, and legal data all in one place. “There was a glitch in the system,” says Ramos. She founded Deepblocks at Singularity University in Mountain View, California, in 2016 and launched her program this past May. Deepblocks’ A.I. software accesses and integrates construction costs, income, and other market data that is publicly available but often difficult to track down, saving developers, investment brokers, and architects huge amounts of time. Even a developer who knows a market well might need six hours to come up with a feasibility analysis for a given parcel of land. “But with our software, they can do the same amount of work in 20 minutes,” says Ramos. Real estate pros in 1,100 U.S. cities are already using the software, which the company is also testing in the United Kingdom, Panama, and Nigeria. Ideally, the cost savings will flow through to property renters and buyers too. If it does, says Ramos, “perhaps we can lower the cost of living.” --Hannah Wallace

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