15 Women-led Startups to Watch in 2016

Between 1997 and 2014, the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. rose by 68%, twice the growth rate for men and nearly 1.5 times the rate for all companies, according to a report commissioned by American Express OPEN.

There are 1.5 million businesses owned by Black women. These businesses generate over $44 billion a year in revenue (via The #ProjectDiane Report). Companies with a woman founder performed 63% better than First Round Capital's investments with all-male founding teams (via First Round Capital). And yet, only 7% of women-led startups receive investor money. And digitalundivided found that a mere 0.2% of venture deals from 2012-2014 went to Black women founders.

Photo Credit: #ProjectDiane

In the Valley, funding for women-led startups actually went down last year, even though funding increased in New York and San Francisco, according to a report by the Female Founders Fund.

"If we're going to solve the toughest problems facing our communities nationally and globally, we must foster and invest in a culture of innovation from diverse perspectives. This means helping to fund startups led by diverse founders," explains Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech, who is hosting the national Women Startup Challenge at LinkedIn in SF on June 14th. Folks, I'll be helping to fund a $50K cash prize.

"The Women Startup Challenge has one goal," Kapin said, "to shake up a culture and economy that has made it exceedingly difficult for women entrepreneurs to access capital. Our startup challenges have reached over 1,000 women-led startups from across the country, all of whom are focused on solving problems for people, businesses, and the planet."

Some folks in the Valley, say they want to support women-led startups, but don't know many. Here are 15 women-led startups to watch in 2016, as identified by the Women Startup Challenge:

  1. Babyation has revolutionized the breast pump by making it quiet, comfortable, discreet, and controllable by smartphone. It offers customizable programs and an app for "smart" data logging.

  • Blendoor is a blind recruiting app for job recruiters that hides the candidate's name and photo to circumvent unconscious bias and facilitate diversity.
  • bluDiagnostics is the first app to enable women to understand their body through revolutionary saliva-based measurement technology that gives women immediate, quantitative data about their hormone levels.
  • Cake is the mint.com for end-of-life planning. They provide experts to help create a comprehensive end-of-life plan that's stored securely in the Cloud.
  • ClearVest Advisers is a financial-tech alternative investment platform, providing access to established and emerging managers with lower investment minimums.
  • Design Flux Technologies is revolutionizing the energy storage industry by creating and selling the world's first battery operating system, "Cognicell" via clean energy applications.
  • Embrace Family Health is a mobile-first digital maternal child health platform that empowers women with personalized information for maternity and baby care.
  • Entry Point VR provides cross-platform distribution and analytics for virtual reality content.
  • Mohop uses robotics to digitally fabricate mass-customizable footwear-on-demand.
  • SIRUM (Supporting Initiatives to Redistribute Unused Medicine) is the "match.com" for unused, unexpired medicine, matching it with people in need.
  • Pawprint sources and digitizes official medical records from any vet and sends reminders when your pet is due for vaccines or exams.
  • LittleLane helps families seamlessly discover and book classes, playspaces, museums and more via mobile phone.
  • Freedible is a community marketing platform for the 1 in 3 U.S. households modifying their diet based on food restrictions. They help connect these consumers with one another to "crowd-source" solutions to the daily challenges of maintaining a custom diet.
  • Tactile Finance's technology prevents consumers from being taken advantage of during the mortgage process and helps them get optimal outcomes for purchase and refinance.
  • TARA is an on-demand project team. Whether you're launching a new website, a mobile app, or anything in between, TARA hires and manages a team of pre-screened contractors to take your project from beginning to end--all for one fixed quote.
  • (Please note: if you're still struggling to find startups to fund that are founded by women, Women Who Tech's Women Startup Challenge has worked with over 1000. If you are an investor let them know what type of startups you are looking to help fund).

    On June 14th, you can join Women Who Tech for the third Women Startup Challenge pitch competition. Ten of the 15 startups identified on this list will be pitching to a panel of investors for the chance to win $50K cash, a $10K investment, and $360K in cloud services. The judges are comprised of the following investors and entrepreneurs: Lisa Stone, co-founder of BlogHer, Kathryn Finney, founder of digitalundivided, Nisha Dua, principal at BBG Ventures, and Karan Mehandru, general partner at Trinity Ventures.

    What women-led startups have impressed you this year?