She’s making robots to tackle the tedious warehouse jobs that humans don’t want to do.
From manufacturing to delivering a product to a shopper’s doorstep, the race for ever more efficiency is fierce. Melonee Wise’s autonomous, mobile robots make it easier to find, track, and move items in warehouses and factories. When they’re hauling things, the robots also gather useful data about everything around them. “We use that data to tell people about the inside of their facilities,” Wise explains. Understanding where there’s congestion, for instance, is powerful information for a warehouse manager. A mechanical-engineering PhD and founder of a previous robotics company, Wise has led San Jose, California-based Fetch Robotics since shortly after its founding in 2014. In July, Fetch raised $46 million in venture capital, bringing its total funding to $94 million. This year, it also landed a major new client, Universal Logistics, which uses Fetch-designed robots and cloud-based software to move car parts around the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, the largest auto factory in North America. Fetch has several hundred robots deployed in 11 countries, and Wise says she's looking to expand in Europe. --Brit Morse
She saw the need for an intimate club custom-made for people of color. It opens this year in Brooklyn.
Naj Austin had tried out many different co-working spaces and private clubs--and found them all the same. “At the end of the day, it’s people working--on couches that are different colors,” Austin says. She kept waiting for a space to open for people of color, like herself—and nothing did. She launched an Instagram page to gauge interest for what she dubbed Ethel’s Club in January of this year and within months, she had a 4,000-person waitlist for membership. She located a space in Brooklyn and decked it out with furniture suited to different body types and art that she thinks will speak to people of color. The soon-to-launch community will have a tiered-fee annual membership based on financial need. --Christine Lagorio-Chafkin
Her global community for C-suite women means it’s no longer lonely at the top.
As Carolyn Childers was climbing the ranks of her career, she realized how few mentorship and growth opportunities there were for those at the top. "I felt like women in the C-suite were spending all of our time mentoring other people and didn't really have a community for ourselves," she says. A former SVP at housecleaning-app maker Handy, she and co-founder Lindsay Kaplan launched Chief, a private network for women executives, in January. It costs up to $7,800 per year, and there are now more than 1,100 members representing more than 700 companies, including Apple, Nike, WeWork, Lyft, Amazon, Instagram, and Walmart. (There are another 7,000 would-be members on a waitlist.) Membership includes mentorship-pairing across industries, as well as access to a clubhouse, a networking app, and monthly events and workshops. --Brit Morse
She created the leading co-working and community space for women—and inspired others to follow suit.
Women today don’t just need a room of their own--they need a whole wing. That was the thinking when Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan named their concept for a women-focused networking and co-working space back in 2016. Since then, they’ve grown the Wing to eight locations, with three more opening before the end of year. That’ll put its membership roll at 15,000. The Wing expects to nearly double its locations in 2020 and create a digital membership for women everywhere. The company has raised $117.5 million in venture capital, mostly from women investors, and spends that money hiring other businesses founded and run by women as contractors and suppliers. --Christine Lagorio-Chafkin
After experiencing workplace bias, she created a software solution for reporting incidents and spotting patterns.
“If we can send a Tesla Roadster into outer space,” says Lisa Gelobter, co-founder of TEQuitable, “maybe we can use those same skills right here, on our own planet, to help the underserved, underrepresented, and underestimated.” Gelobter has worked as an executive at BET and as chief digital officer for the Department of Education in the Obama administration. But as a black woman in computer science--who has been mistaken more than once for the receptionist--she wanted to be doing more. Her creation, TEQuitable, is a digital platform that offers resources to employees for dealing with workplace bias, while serving up reports to management and using data to identify systemic problems. The company has raised $2 million in venture capital, making Gelobter one of only 40 black women to raise more than $1 million to date--a number so paltry, she says, “it makes me cry.” --Zoë Henry