Founder Profile

Stefania Mallett

ezCater

Because ordering food for a meeting should be easy

Company Information
Year Founded
2007
Location
Boston, Massachusetts
Industry
Software
Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020
Company Description

Stefania Mallett thinks like an engineer--a legacy of her computer science graduate degree from MIT--so it's no surprise that when founding ezCater in 2007, she created "a system for everything." Customers visit the website and order a tasty spread from one of 80,000 restaurants and caterers, and ezCater coordinates fulfillment for any event in which a group of people want to nosh while they work.

Mallett credits her success to creating clever systems to entice the right talent to join her, and then nourishing their hearts and minds. "My purpose is to create jobs that people want to have," says Mallett. Job candidates complete mock exercises to get a feel for the work they'll be doing. One example: translating a printed menu into an appealing digital layout. "After an hour," Mallett says, "either they say, 'I hate this!' or 'This is kind of fun.' "

Her management mantras are "Respect the heck out of your employees" and "Give them so much authority they gasp"--two things that inspire her team to bring their full passion and creativity to work. That's doubly important as she pivots in the era of Covid. "I deeply believe," she says, "that if you can just give people the biggest opportunity, the most freedom to be their best selves, you will get that." –Burt Helm

Stephanie Benedetto

Queen of Raw

For keeping millions of yards of fabric out of landfills

Company Information
Year Founded
2018
Location
New York, New York
Industry
IT Services
Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020

Tata Harper

Tata Harper

Because you get something different when an industrial engineer tackles the high-end natural beauty industry

Company Information
Year Founded
2010
Location
Shoreham, Vermont
Industry
Consumer Products & Services
Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020

Terri-Nichelle Bradley

Brown Toy Box

Because toys are inspiration

Company Information
Year Founded
2016
Location
Atlanta, Georgia
Industry
Consumer Products & Services
Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020
Company Description

Terri-Nichelle Bradley started the Brown Toy Box to give Black children the ability to see their worlds differently. Brown Toy Box produces children's products and experiences that are designed to encourage and prepare Black children to pursue STEAM interests and careers. The company's curated STEAM-themed activities and programs help Black children widen their ideas of what's possible for their futures and inspire them to believe they can succeed in pursuing these careers as adults.

While Covid-19 has seen many businesses close, Bradley has noticed a massive shift in her company. She not only seen the direct-to-consumer part of the business thrive, but she has also seen an uptick in the B2B side, which works with schools and youth-serving organizations that are primarily Title I schools in high poverty, 85 percent Black communities. "What I knew for certain when school was interrupted so abruptly was that a lot of those kids were never going to get online. Even if they were given a laptop and hotspot, they still weren't going to get online because whose second grader is getting on a class Zoom at 10 o'clock if the mama is still at work as an essential employee?"

Tiffany Pham

Mogul

Because diverse talent is no longer a nice-to-have

Company Information
Year Founded
2014
Location
New York, New York
Industry
Human Resources
Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020
Company Description

So-called network businesses, such as Airbnb and Uber, face an early conundrum: Which part of the network do they focus on first? A slim startup can’t do everything, so is it better to make the buyers happy or the sellers? Airbnb famously decided on the sellers, and academic research suggests that’s the best approach.

Don’t tell that to Tiffany Pham, the founder of Mogul, an ecosystem and job-search site for diverse talent. She started by building a platform that would appeal to individuals, and then let the corporate clients come in later. “Once you have the users you can grow with them,” says Pham. Mogul began adding services for corporate clients looking for diverse talent by observing the interactions of their users with large companies, talking to those companies, getting an understanding of their needs.

Pham began working on Mogul back in 2014, doing business as a one-person shop (her brother was a co-founder for a while) that relied on contractors. By 2016 she had a platform for individuals, and in 2017 launched talent solutions, including search services, for corporate clients. A premium membership for individuals is $59 a year, and corporate clients pay a search fee of 25-30% of first-year base salary. Mogul works with 480 of the Fortune 5000, and boasts a 95% renewal rate.

And while Covid certainly slowed her business for a few months this spring, other factors have been driving growth. The diversity conversation at big companies, she says, used to be all about women, but companies have more recently been understanding the importance of racial diversity. And heads of diversity within corporations are now more likely to have their own budgets, and can make more decisions without having to consult as many people internally. “Obviously, there’s been a lot of terrible news,” says Pham. “But we’ve recently had some of the best months in our history.”