Founder Profile

Julie Wainwright

TheRealReal

The IPO of her luxury resale site proves that even high-end shoppers like a second-hand bargain.

Julie Wainwright Courtesy company

That vintage Dior saddlebag you’ve coveted? Julie Wainwright bet big that you’d sidestep eBay to buy it on her site, the RealReal. During a period of eight years, the former CEO of Pets.com raised a stunning $358 million to hire more than 100 gemologists, horologists, and other experts to build the leading authenticated luxury retail site. Along the way, she formed a partnership with Stella McCartney and received honors from Parson’s School of Design for her commitment to innovation and sustainability. Like many direct-to-consumer efforts, the RealReal has also opened physical stores where shoppers can ogle almost-affordable (at least to some) fashion and accessories in person. She took her company public in June. --Kimberly Weisul

Industry
Retail
Year Founded
2011
Location
San Francisco, California
Industry
Fashion Forward
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

That vintage Dior saddlebag you’ve coveted? Julie Wainwright bet big that you’d sidestep eBay to buy it on her site, the RealReal. During a period of eight years, the former CEO of Pets.com raised a stunning $358 million to hire more than 100 gemologists, horologists, and other experts to build the leading authenticated luxury retail site. Along the way, she formed a partnership with Stella McCartney and received honors from Parson’s School of Design for her commitment to innovation and sustainability. Like many direct-to-consumer efforts, the RealReal has also opened physical stores where shoppers can ogle almost-affordable (at least to some) fashion and accessories in person. She took her company public in June. --Kimberly Weisul

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Alli Webb

Squeeze

She's bringing her successful Drybar model of providing expensive beauty treatments at a reduced cost to the massage industry.

Alli Webb. Courtesy subject

In March 2019, Alli Webb and her team opened Squeeze, a massage shop that lets patrons book and pay by way of an app, giving them a seamless experience when they arrive for their rubdown at spaces designed by the architect behind Drybar, her runaway-success hair care chain. Webb says she plans to build Squeeze, where massages cost $39 to $129, on a franchise model, "because it's really gratifying to be able to give [entrepreneurs] the keys to the kingdom.” Webb isn’t a college graduate, and that untraditional path is something she hopes will inspire other entrepreneurial women. “There are a lot of different pathways to success,” she says. On the Drybar side, Webb has been focusing on building the product line, adding a mini-brush hair straightener and a quick-dry blowout serum, among other items. Drybar products will be in more than 2,700 retail doors by 2020, including 128 Drybar shops. The company will add some 25 locations by the end of 2019. --Anna Meyer

Industry
Consumer Services
Year Founded
2019
Location
Studio City, California
Industry
Fitness Nation
Co-founders
Brittany Driscoll, Michael Landau, Cameron Webb, Sarah Landau
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

In March 2019, Alli Webb and her team opened Squeeze, a massage shop that lets patrons book and pay by way of an app, giving them a seamless experience when they arrive for their rubdown at spaces designed by the architect behind Drybar, her runaway-success hair care chain. Webb says she plans to build Squeeze, where massages cost $39 to $129, on a franchise model, "because it's really gratifying to be able to give [entrepreneurs] the keys to the kingdom.” Webb isn’t a college graduate, and that untraditional path is something she hopes will inspire other entrepreneurial women. “There are a lot of different pathways to success,” she says. On the Drybar side, Webb has been focusing on building the product line, adding a mini-brush hair straightener and a quick-dry blowout serum, among other items. Drybar products will be in more than 2,700 retail doors by 2020, including 128 Drybar shops. The company will add some 25 locations by the end of 2019. --Anna Meyer

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Holly Whitaker

Tempest

She's brought a new inclusivity--and a raw candor--to addiction treatment.

Holly Whitaker. Courtesy subject

Holly Whitaker doesn’t pull punches, especially when discussing her struggles with addiction. “Most people carry these shameful secrets,” says the recovered bulimic, pot smoker, and alcohol abuser. “I think that part of my healing was almost embracing those parts.” Admitting you have a problem is one thing. Telling the suits who are wondering about cutting a check for your startup is another. But that’s what makes Whitaker’s rehab program, Tempest, revolutionary. Rather than treating those with addiction like they’re “sick and a liability,” or imposing a toxic framework “built for upper-class white men,” she combines elements that anyone can pick up and use. For some, that might look like Kundalini yoga and breathwork; for others, it could be tapping a cognitive behavioral therapist. “There are hundreds of things we provide people,” says Whitaker, who has helped 4,000 individuals since launching her eight-week program in 2015. “It’s really a symphony.” --Jill Krasny

Industry
Consumer Services
Year Founded
2014
Location
New York, New York
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

Holly Whitaker doesn’t pull punches, especially when discussing her struggles with addiction. “Most people carry these shameful secrets,” says the recovered bulimic, pot smoker, and alcohol abuser. “I think that part of my healing was almost embracing those parts.” Admitting you have a problem is one thing. Telling the suits who are wondering about cutting a check for your startup is another. But that’s what makes Whitaker’s rehab program, Tempest, revolutionary. Rather than treating those with addiction like they’re “sick and a liability,” or imposing a toxic framework “built for upper-class white men,” she combines elements that anyone can pick up and use. For some, that might look like Kundalini yoga and breathwork; for others, it could be tapping a cognitive behavioral therapist. “There are hundreds of things we provide people,” says Whitaker, who has helped 4,000 individuals since launching her eight-week program in 2015. “It’s really a symphony.” --Jill Krasny

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Sevetri Wilson

Resilia

She's bringing automated consulting services to U.S. non-profits

Sevetri Wilson’s first company, a consulting agency for nonprofits, faced a serious challenge: Plenty of nonprofits needed help, but not many could afford it. Her second company, New Orleans-based Resilia, is an attempt to solve that problem. It’s a software management platform that attempts to make nonprofit consulting faster, cheaper, and more reliable by automating it. Originally, Resilia focused largely on filing for incorporation and tax-exempt status: fill out the forms and Resilia would spit out the documents you needed, ready to file. In February, the company expanded to help existing nonprofits, private foundations, and city governments with services like budget tracking, training new hires, and grant management. Wilson estimates that the move will triple the company’s growth by the end of 2019, which will let her end the year with $5 million to $7 million in revenue. Resilia is also expanding geographically, opening a New York City office in October. And you might recognize the name of its biggest client, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. “We’re still here,” says Wilson, a solo founder operating outside of America’s startup hotspots. “So we must be doing something right.” --Cameron Albert-Deitch

Industry
Software
Year Founded
2015
Location
New Orleans, Louisiana
Industry
The Platform Economy
Twitter
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

Sevetri Wilson’s first company, a consulting agency for nonprofits, faced a serious challenge: Plenty of nonprofits needed help, but not many could afford it. Her second company, New Orleans-based Resilia, is an attempt to solve that problem. It’s a software management platform that attempts to make nonprofit consulting faster, cheaper, and more reliable by automating it. Originally, Resilia focused largely on filing for incorporation and tax-exempt status: fill out the forms and Resilia would spit out the documents you needed, ready to file. In February, the company expanded to help existing nonprofits, private foundations, and city governments with services like budget tracking, training new hires, and grant management. Wilson estimates that the move will triple the company’s growth by the end of 2019, which will let her end the year with $5 million to $7 million in revenue. Resilia is also expanding geographically, opening a New York City office in October. And you might recognize the name of its biggest client, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. “We’re still here,” says Wilson, a solo founder operating outside of America’s startup hotspots. “So we must be doing something right.” --Cameron Albert-Deitch

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Serena Williams

S by Serena

The spoils of her $225 million tennis empire fund female CEOs.

Serena Williams. Getty Images

With 23 Grand Slam titles and an estimated $225 million fortune, Serena Williams has dominated the tennis world for some time. Lately, she’s been working on ways to parlay her brand--and her 30-odd million social media followers--into new wins. In 2018, she launched fashion line S by Serena and patented cosmetics brand Aneres. Perhaps most impressively, the sports icon has quietly scattered an estimated $6 million in investments across more than 30 startups over the past five years. Five of her investments are reportedly up at least five-fold, and the value of her portfolio has reportedly doubled to more than $10 million. In April, Williams and former JPMorgan asset manager Alison Rapaport announced the launch of her eponymous fund, Serena Ventures. The vision: to support (and generate returns from) startups run by women and people of color. Its portfolio includes women’s co-working space the Wing, sculptwear startup Honeylove, and kids clothing site Rockets of Awesome. --Zoë Henry

Industry
DEI Advocacy
Year Founded
2014
Industry
Fashion Forward
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

With 23 Grand Slam titles and an estimated $225 million fortune, Serena Williams has dominated the tennis world for some time. Lately, she’s been working on ways to parlay her brand--and her 30-odd million social media followers--into new wins. In 2018, she launched fashion line S by Serena and patented cosmetics brand Aneres. Perhaps most impressively, the sports icon has quietly scattered an estimated $6 million in investments across more than 30 startups over the past five years. Five of her investments are reportedly up at least five-fold, and the value of her portfolio has reportedly doubled to more than $10 million. In April, Williams and former JPMorgan asset manager Alison Rapaport announced the launch of her eponymous fund, Serena Ventures. The vision: to support (and generate returns from) startups run by women and people of color. Its portfolio includes women’s co-working space the Wing, sculptwear startup Honeylove, and kids clothing site Rockets of Awesome. --Zoë Henry

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