Founder Profile

Zawadi Bryant

NightLight Pediatrics

Because kids have a knack for getting sick just when you can't reach the doctor

Company Information
Industry
Health Services
Year Founded
2007
Location
Sugar Land, Texas
Industry
Health
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2020

Melissa Butler

The Lip Bar

Because make-up is supposed to be fun

Working on Wall Street was a lot of things to Melissa Butler, but she felt it wasn't inclusive, fun, or true to who she was. She started beauty company the Lip Bar in her Brooklyn kitchen in 2012, and then moved back to her hometown of Detroit and bootstrapped it for six years before raising $2 million. Butler now has 18 employees--and a deep appreciation for mentorship. "Mentorship is really about uncovering the truth," she says. "Sometimes as a founder, you don't see the full picture. Talking with a mentor is like seeing things from a helicopter." She adds that "the reality is, you can't do it alone if you want longevity."

During the pandemic she says she relied on her team, advisors, and mentors more than ever. "The Lip Bar didn't become a real business until I started being vulnerable and sharing my wins and shortcomings with people who could help guide me. Mentorship can be powerful, as it can help shape and give structure to your vision." --Brit Morse

Company Information
Industry
Manufacturing
Year Founded
2012
Location
Detroit, Michigan
Industry
Consumer Products & Services
Co-founder
TK Co-Founder Name
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2020

Working on Wall Street was a lot of things to Melissa Butler, but she felt it wasn't inclusive, fun, or true to who she was. She started beauty company the Lip Bar in her Brooklyn kitchen in 2012, and then moved back to her hometown of Detroit and bootstrapped it for six years before raising $2 million. Butler now has 18 employees--and a deep appreciation for mentorship. "Mentorship is really about uncovering the truth," she says. "Sometimes as a founder, you don't see the full picture. Talking with a mentor is like seeing things from a helicopter." She adds that "the reality is, you can't do it alone if you want longevity."

During the pandemic she says she relied on her team, advisors, and mentors more than ever. "The Lip Bar didn't become a real business until I started being vulnerable and sharing my wins and shortcomings with people who could help guide me. Mentorship can be powerful, as it can help shape and give structure to your vision." --Brit Morse

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Karen Cahn

IFundWomen

For taking on one of female founders' biggest hurdles: access to capital

Company Information
Industry
Financial Services
Year Founded
2016
Location
New York, New York
Industry
Financial Services
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2020

Jennifer Case

New Leaf Biofuel

For getting used cooking oil out of restaurants and into your gas tank

When you think of energy sources, perhaps used French fry oil from a nearby restaurant isn't top of mind. But it is for Jennifer Case, co-founder and CEO of San Diego-based company New Leaf Biofuel, an energy manufacturer that takes used cooking oil from hotels, casinos, restaurants and more and cleans it before turning it into biodiesel fuel. Founded in 2006, Case helped her budding energy company weather the 2008 financial crisis and has over the years stayed resilient in the face of fossil fuel providers and varying political parties influencing alternative energy production opportunities. In the tremulous year of 2020, when shipping equipment from China earlier in the year was made difficult and French fry oil wasn't being produced among restaurant closures, Case's company is using this time to expand their small plant that produces 5 million gallons of oil per year to a plant that makes 12 million gallons per year, and Case says the company is now expanding into producing other types of renewable fuel. Amid all the pivots and scrappy thinking over the years, Case says she's learned to find balance in her leadership. "Communicate early, often and with honestly and intelligence," she says. "You want to communicate, but not vent. You want to be vulnerable, but not terrifying. You want to inspire trust, not have people jump ship." –Anna Meyer

Company Information
Industry
Energy
Year Founded
2006
Location
San Diego, California
Industry
Energy
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2020

When you think of energy sources, perhaps used French fry oil from a nearby restaurant isn't top of mind. But it is for Jennifer Case, co-founder and CEO of San Diego-based company New Leaf Biofuel, an energy manufacturer that takes used cooking oil from hotels, casinos, restaurants and more and cleans it before turning it into biodiesel fuel. Founded in 2006, Case helped her budding energy company weather the 2008 financial crisis and has over the years stayed resilient in the face of fossil fuel providers and varying political parties influencing alternative energy production opportunities. In the tremulous year of 2020, when shipping equipment from China earlier in the year was made difficult and French fry oil wasn't being produced among restaurant closures, Case's company is using this time to expand their small plant that produces 5 million gallons of oil per year to a plant that makes 12 million gallons per year, and Case says the company is now expanding into producing other types of renewable fuel. Amid all the pivots and scrappy thinking over the years, Case says she's learned to find balance in her leadership. "Communicate early, often and with honestly and intelligence," she says. "You want to communicate, but not vent. You want to be vulnerable, but not terrifying. You want to inspire trust, not have people jump ship." –Anna Meyer

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Kimberlie Cerrone

Tiatros

Because therapy should be available to everyone

Kimberlie Cerrone—a longtime silicon valley IP lawyer and startup strategist—started Tiatros in 2010 to make therapy more accessible. Her company provides employees, through their companies, online mental health programs that consist of 90 minutes of videos and activities, completed online every week while in digital conversation with peers, supervised by a Tiatros facilitator.

This isn’t meant to be deep Freudian analysis -- the programs are based on methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy. Cerrone likens it to going to the gym for your emotional wellness. She isn’t speaking hyperbolically when she says she wants Tiatros “to have essentially infinite scale and reach.

Cerrone was inspired to start Tiatros in the early 2000s when both her sons, who enlisted after 9/11, came home to San Francisco with PTSD. Despite advantages such as affluence and familial support, they struggled to get mental-health care for two years, Cerrone says. “It’s a trillion dollar, worldwide problem,” she notes. In the pandemic, with spiking rates of reported anxiety and depression, the access issue has only become more acute. Her mantra: “People are way more important than ideas, and ideas don’t mean anything until they turn into plans.” –Gabrielle Bienasz

Company Information
Industry
Health Services
Year Founded
2010
Location
San Francisco, California
Industry
Human Resources
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2020

Kimberlie Cerrone—a longtime silicon valley IP lawyer and startup strategist—started Tiatros in 2010 to make therapy more accessible. Her company provides employees, through their companies, online mental health programs that consist of 90 minutes of videos and activities, completed online every week while in digital conversation with peers, supervised by a Tiatros facilitator.

This isn’t meant to be deep Freudian analysis -- the programs are based on methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy. Cerrone likens it to going to the gym for your emotional wellness. She isn’t speaking hyperbolically when she says she wants Tiatros “to have essentially infinite scale and reach.

Cerrone was inspired to start Tiatros in the early 2000s when both her sons, who enlisted after 9/11, came home to San Francisco with PTSD. Despite advantages such as affluence and familial support, they struggled to get mental-health care for two years, Cerrone says. “It’s a trillion dollar, worldwide problem,” she notes. In the pandemic, with spiking rates of reported anxiety and depression, the access issue has only become more acute. Her mantra: “People are way more important than ideas, and ideas don’t mean anything until they turn into plans.” –Gabrielle Bienasz

Read More