Founder Profile

Kristin Karst

AmaWaterways

Because cruise ships don't have to be impersonal

Kristin Karst was raised to bootstrap. Her parents took the family on vacations around the world, but required their kids to contribute to the expense, which Karst and her brother earned by recycling paper products or selling vegetables from their garden to the neighbors. Raised in Dresden, Germany, the executive vice president and co-founder of AmaWaterways speaks English, German, Russian and French, and helps lead a company that, pre-pandemic, supplied consumers with 25 ships sailing rivers throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The draw of the Ama experience, which Karst founded with Rudi Schreiner and Jimmy Murphy in 2002, is a high-quality luxury river cruise with healthy food, panoramic river views, and morning yoga lessons on the deck. Ama had to shut operations entirely from March until July. The fleet remains moored until November 30, with the exception of a five-night cruise of the Rhine for locals.

Karst is committed to living up to the optimistic ethos embedded in the name of the company – Ama meaning “love” in Latin—during the pandemic. “It’s our choice to get up in the morning to try and keep it positive--whatever we do today for our customers, they will never forget.” –Gabrielle Bienasz

Company Information
Industry
Travel & Hospitality
Year Founded
2002
Location
Calabasas, California
Industry
Travel & Hospitality
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2020

Kristin Karst was raised to bootstrap. Her parents took the family on vacations around the world, but required their kids to contribute to the expense, which Karst and her brother earned by recycling paper products or selling vegetables from their garden to the neighbors. Raised in Dresden, Germany, the executive vice president and co-founder of AmaWaterways speaks English, German, Russian and French, and helps lead a company that, pre-pandemic, supplied consumers with 25 ships sailing rivers throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The draw of the Ama experience, which Karst founded with Rudi Schreiner and Jimmy Murphy in 2002, is a high-quality luxury river cruise with healthy food, panoramic river views, and morning yoga lessons on the deck. Ama had to shut operations entirely from March until July. The fleet remains moored until November 30, with the exception of a five-night cruise of the Rhine for locals.

Karst is committed to living up to the optimistic ethos embedded in the name of the company – Ama meaning “love” in Latin—during the pandemic. “It’s our choice to get up in the morning to try and keep it positive--whatever we do today for our customers, they will never forget.” –Gabrielle Bienasz

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Ariel Kaye

Parachute

For demonstrating that ecofriendly, affordability, and luxury can all co-exist, beautifully

With so many Americans isolated in their homes this year, more and more people are investing into making their homes a luxury stay-cation. This has especially benefited brands with a strong online presence, like home goods startup Parachute. With a background in marketing and a personal affliction for home design, Ariel Kaye launched the Venice, California-based company in 2014 as an online, direct-to-consumer brand that sold high-end bedsheets and towels.

The company has since grown to have brick-and-mortar stores around the country, and has leaned into the “stay at home” luxury experience, selling products as varied as dog beds to table linens. Most recently, Parachute broke into apparel, launching a line of premium $100 bath robes and loungewear. As a first time founder, Kaye says that her success as a leader is largely rooted in the entrepreneurial community around her. “Being a leader can be a lonely, isolating experience and it's easy to get caught up in what you're doing,” she says. “Community and connection with other founders is essential to surviving the highs and lows and it's such a reciprocal experience to give your time and step out of your world to see what's going on in others.”

Company Information
Industry
Retail
Year Founded
2014
Location
Los Angeles, California
Industry
Consumer Products & Services
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2020

With so many Americans isolated in their homes this year, more and more people are investing into making their homes a luxury stay-cation. This has especially benefited brands with a strong online presence, like home goods startup Parachute. With a background in marketing and a personal affliction for home design, Ariel Kaye launched the Venice, California-based company in 2014 as an online, direct-to-consumer brand that sold high-end bedsheets and towels.

The company has since grown to have brick-and-mortar stores around the country, and has leaned into the “stay at home” luxury experience, selling products as varied as dog beds to table linens. Most recently, Parachute broke into apparel, launching a line of premium $100 bath robes and loungewear. As a first time founder, Kaye says that her success as a leader is largely rooted in the entrepreneurial community around her. “Being a leader can be a lonely, isolating experience and it's easy to get caught up in what you're doing,” she says. “Community and connection with other founders is essential to surviving the highs and lows and it's such a reciprocal experience to give your time and step out of your world to see what's going on in others.”

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Jane Fisher and Jenna Kerner

Harper Wilde

Because bra shopping doesn't need to be difficult -- or expensive

Company Information
Industry
Retail
Year Founded
2018
Location
Los Angeles, California
Industry
Consumer Products & Services
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2020

Amany Killawi

LaunchGood

For helping build social enterprises from the global Muslim community

"Ask yourself: What's the cheapest and fastest way you can get your idea up and running?" says Amany Killawi, the co-founder of LaunchGood, a crowdfunding site for social enterprises from the global Muslim community. Killawi, a former social worker and youth organizer, was determined not to be bound by her college major: "Just because you've studied math or social work, that doesn't mean that's all you can do," she says. Her insistence on cheap and fast powered her through two fundraising trips, netting a total of $10,000. That let her build "a really crappy, bad first version of our platform," says Killawi. Since 2013, LaunchGood has connected one million users to 17,000 campaigns, raising $155.6 million for everything from modest women's wear brands to Eid toy drives to Muslim mental health programs. Says Killawi: "Sometimes, that first run at building something feels really awkward. You have to let yourself sit in the awkwardness." --Kate Rockwood

Company Information
Industry
Consumer Services
Year Founded
2013
Location
Detroit, Michigan
Industry
Financial Services
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2020

"Ask yourself: What's the cheapest and fastest way you can get your idea up and running?" says Amany Killawi, the co-founder of LaunchGood, a crowdfunding site for social enterprises from the global Muslim community. Killawi, a former social worker and youth organizer, was determined not to be bound by her college major: "Just because you've studied math or social work, that doesn't mean that's all you can do," she says. Her insistence on cheap and fast powered her through two fundraising trips, netting a total of $10,000. That let her build "a really crappy, bad first version of our platform," says Killawi. Since 2013, LaunchGood has connected one million users to 17,000 campaigns, raising $155.6 million for everything from modest women's wear brands to Eid toy drives to Muslim mental health programs. Says Killawi: "Sometimes, that first run at building something feels really awkward. You have to let yourself sit in the awkwardness." --Kate Rockwood

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Kristy Kim

TomoCredit

For making it easier for Millennials to build a credit history

Company Information
Industry
Financial Services
Year Founded
2019
Location
San Francisco, California
Industry
Financial Services
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2020