She's making healthy food as easy to find as the local convenience store.
Lisa Sedlar was living in Boulder, Colorado, in the mid-aughts when she’d see fit college students returning from mountain bike rides grabbing Big Gulps and Snickers at the mini-mart. This disconnect inspired an idea: Why not launch a healthy corner store, where kale and farro salads and fresh pressed juices were on offer instead of junky snacks? The idea percolated during her seven-year stint as CEO of New Seasons, a naturalish grocery store chain in Portland, Oregon, and in 2012, she left to launch Green Zebra Grocery. The company--named after an heirloom tomato--was built to make healthy food accessible and convenient for everybody. There are three Green Zebras in Portland--a fourth opens this fall--and Sedlar is about to close a $10 million Series B funding round as she explores potential locations in Seattle, L.A., and the Bay Area. --Hannah Wallace
In 2018, her kombucha became the fastest-growing refrigerated beverage in the U.S.
In 2012, Daina Trout was working for a big corporation and feeling like a number. With her boyfriend and best friend, she set out to found a company--and settled on what was already brewing on her kitchen table: kombucha. An avid fermenter who’d studied nutrition, she found a niche almost immediately: high-quality fermented tea infused with herbs, cold-pressed organic juice, and spices. Breaking into the refrigerated-beverage case was no simple task, but in 2018, Health-Ade became the fastest-growing refrigerated beverage brand in the U.S. It’s in 26,000 stores and has 220 employees, mostly in and around Los Angeles, where the company brews the tea in 2.5-gallon glass jugs, all in its own facility. --Christine Lagorio-Chafkin
She is helping people without bank accounts enter the financial system—and go cashless.
Sheena Allen grew up in a one-bank town in rural Mississippi, watching friends and relatives rely on expensive check cashers and payday lenders. Now she’s running a fintech company aiming to help her community--and some of the 32.6 million other underbanked American households--enter the financial mainstream. In 2016, Allen founded app-maker CapWay as part educator, part bank account. It sells financial education materials to colleges and lets individual users check their account balances and receive transaction alerts. Next up is a debit card, which Allen says has generated a waiting list of 10,000 people. Once launched this fall, the card could help CapWay work with a big new potential source of business: digital subscription services and big online sellers--enterprises that take only electronic payments and that want to bring more potential customers into the cashless economy. Allen says she’s currently talking to several “well-known” retailers and online service providers about how CapWay can help them better identify and work with low- and middle-income communities. “They’re either going cashless,” she says, “or they’re realizing that to continue scaling, they’re going to need an audience that has not always had access to plastic.” --Maria Aspan
Her software helps businesses shave time from accounting tasks.
Three years ago, shortly after launching accounting automation startup Roger, Cathrine Andersen and co-founder Christian Rasmussen were pitching a bank on why it should recommend Roger to its small-business customers. The bankers laughed, saying it was “cute” that two 20-somethings thought they could change the way banks work. A year later, the bank reached out to the co-founders, saying many of their clients had linked their bank accounts to Roger’s tool. “They came crawling back,” Andersen says. “We’re getting them a lot of new business.” (The company doesn’t reveal revenue, but Andersen says it is growing by more than 30 percent a month.) Roger works on top of accounting software like Quickbooks and Xero, automatically pushing data through the system to save businesses time on tasks like paying bills, scanning receipts, and bookkeeping. One area in which she hopes to make more progress is encouraging other women to go into fintech. “There are too few,” she says. Andersen and Rasmussen previously co-founded cloud-based collaboration software company Assemblage, moving to the United States from Denmark after Cisco acquired the company in 2014. “We thought, if we can do that together for three years,” says Andersen, “why not start another thing?" --Graham Winfrey
Her company's loans for professional and vocational training don’t leave students drowning in debt.
Americans are drowning in student debt--$1.5 trillion of it, or an average of around $34,000 per borrower. But student lender Climb Credit, which specializes in financing vocational and professional education programs, tries to keep its borrowers’ costs down and their payoff high. The typical Climb loan is just $10,000, and is paid back over an average of three years after graduation—and the startup claims that its borrowers, who might use the money for a computer coding or trucker training program, see a 67 percent increase in their salaries. “I’d never before worked at a company that was impact-oriented, where the problem we were solving was one that was really causing people to suffer ... and [where the product can] quickly take somebody from one earning bracket to another,” says CEO Angela Ceresnie, who earned her credit chops at American Express and Citigroup before co-founding fintech startup Orchard Platform. She joined Climb in 2016, two years after its launch, and became CEO in 2018. This year, she has raised $9.8 million in Series A venture capital, signed up more school partners, and started work on some new products. The most intriguing? An income-share agreement that would forgive the debt of any student who doesn’t get a job after graduation. Ceresnie says: “Every dollar that we lend out is a dollar going to someone who’s looking to better their life.” --Maria Aspan