Founder Profile

Laura Behrens Wu

Shippo

For helping e-commerce companies ship their stuff faster.

Shippo founder and CEO Laura Behrens Wu set out to make shipping easier for independent e-commerce merchants. The pandemic has caused business to skyrocket at the eight-year-old shipping platform in a way that Wu had never experienced. The company has doubled head count year over year and is on track to do so again in the next 12 months. “Every day I am running the largest company that I have ever worked at,” says Wu.

Shippo raised over $50 million in funding back in June, which put it over the $1 billion valuation mark. It is now working with more than 100,000 e-commerce merchants, and is available in countries around the world, including the U.S, Canada, Mexico, the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Russia, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Hong Kong.

Wu describes Shippo as an “API-first” company in an industry dominated by traditional global shipping giants, and says its focus on technology helps distinguish it from competitors.

“E-commerce has evolved so fast, and shipping expectations today are vastly different from what they were even five to 10 years ago,” Wu says. “In our industry, we are going up against incumbents. Our API-first approach and a focus on reliability and scalability make us a great choice for fast scaling e-commerce companies.”--Amrita Khalid

Company Information
Year Founded
2014
Location
San Francisco, California
Industry
The Platform Economy
Co-founder
Simon Kreuz
Twitter
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021
2019

When Laura Behrens Wu, now 28, was launching an online handbag store in 2013, she discovered that although technologies like Shopify or Stripe made e-commerce, sales, and billing easier, the one function that was still inefficient was shipping. “You either had to walk to the post office and do it yourself, or deal with outdated shipping providers,” says Behrens Wu. She and co-founder Simon Kreuz began building a platform that aggregates shipping options on an easy-to-use dashboard, letting customers select the best carrier for each package and fulfill their orders in the same place. Five years after launch, more than 35,000 companies use the site—including larger operators like Me Undies and Tuft & Needle, but also small and midsize businesses for which shipping is often a huge drag on time. Plus, Shippo’s scale lets it negotiate far better shipping rates than its smaller customers could ever get on their own. So far, the company has raised $29 million, and it is now handling upwards of $5 billion in merchandise a year. --Hannah Wallace

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Mary Ray

MyHealthTeams

For connecting patients and fighting healthcare misinformation.

Mary Ray, one of the co-founders of chronic care health social network MyHealthTeams, never expected to need the service herself. But in January 2020, Ray was diagnosed with breast cancer. The next several months involved intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and gave her a lens into how millions of MyHealthTeams members used the company’s support networks.

MyHealthTeams ramped up its editorial and medical content, hosting live Q&As with doctors and Covid-19 vaccine outreach. From January 2020 to July 2021, its user base grew by 20 percent; it now has 2.75 million registered members. Engagement also went up by 30 percent during that period. The company launched four new social networks: MyAsthmaTeam, MyOvarianCancerTeam, MyLungCancerTeam, and MyAmyloidosisTeam, bringing the total to 48 patient networks.

But bringing patients together is only a part of MyHealthTeams’ job, as far as Ray is concerned. Delivering accurate, factual information and combating misinformation is another task the company takes very seriously. “It’s not just about the social connections, which really are critical and getting a lot of all of us through this pandemic. But reliable, trustworthy, authoritative information is key,” says Ray.--Amrita Khalid

Company Information
Location
San Francisco, California
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Kelly Ann Collins

Vult Lab

For promoting Covid testing in vulnerable rural and minority communities.

In the midst of a pandemic, Vult Lab founder and CEO Kelly Ann Collins relocated to her grandparents’ farm in West Virginia. The digital agency focused on humanitarian causes, which Collins founded in 2013, was already losing clients. Collins’s hometown of Morgantown had become a hot spot for Covid in the state, and many of her family members had come down with the virus.

One of Vult Lab’s operating principles is to use social media for good. Through social media, the business began spreading the word about Covid-19 tests. This drew the attention of the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF), which asked Vult Lab to create a coalition to help advance coronavirus testing in rural and minority communities.

The company recruited the National Rural Health Association, Quest Diagnostics, and a host of other organizations on initiatives to fight the pandemic. It is now working on a five-year public health outreach project with the CDC and the NMQF’s Center for Sustainable Health Care Quality and Equity. Vult Lab also partnered with Twitter for Good, the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, and NMQF to create a “Covid Diaries” series that documents how the pandemic is playing out in vulnerable communities. Through the online fan convention HomeCon, the company has been holding live events on Twitch to spread vaccine awareness.--Amrita Khalid

Company Information
Location
Washington, District of Columbia
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Alexandra Fennell

Attn: Grace

For designing a better way to age gracefully.

Alexandra Fennell and Mia Abbruzzese, the two co-founders of Attn: Grace, are not only just running a business together. The married couple launched the company last year while raising their four young children in the middle of a pandemic. Attn: Grace sells a line of incontinence care products for women over 50, a demographic constantly overlooked by industries ranging from fashion to beauty to health care. The company launched in June 2020, and offers pads, wipes, briefs, and liners. Fennell says it plans on launching an anti-rash skin cream in the near future.

In customer testimonials, Fennell says she noticed many older women had become so used to limited and drab options for personal hygiene products that they simply didn’t expect anything better to come along. Which is why there’s a bigger mission behind Attn: Grace: The company hopes to show that getting older should be a cause for celebration. “I'd like to think that we're going to help start a movement to really shift how we perceive the latter stages of life,” says Fennell.--Amrita Khalid

Company Information
Location
Boston, Massachusetts
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Flori Marquez

BlockFi

For bringing banking--and cryptocurrency--to the unbanked.

Flori Marquez credits her relatives in Argentina for the idea behind cryptocurrency startup BlockFi. She wanted them, and other communities traditionally excluded from the financial system, to have an accessible path to banking. The company offers no-minimum, mobile banking accounts to individuals regardless of geographic location or credit worthiness.

“The plan is to bridge the worlds of traditional finance and blockchain and enable financial empowerment for clients on a global scale,” says Marquez.

BlockFi launched in 2018, and in its first year raised its Series A, B, and C financing rounds. It drew more than $500 million in VC backing from investors including Valar Ventures, Morgan Creek, Fidelity, and Susquehanna. Last year, the company launched the world’s first bitcoin rewards credit card in partnership with Visa. The U.S.-based waitlist for new clients had over 400,000 people.

As a Hispanic woman who is a leader in the world of finance, Marquez has made it her mission to support the financial health of women and other groups who historically haven’t had access to generational wealth. “For some reason, crypto is hugely male-dominated, and that segment of the world shouldn’t be the only ones to experience this new technology and its upside,” says Marquez. --Amrita Khalid

Company Information
Location
Jersey City, New Jersey
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021