Women To Watch
These ladies are making waves in the tech industry, introducing innovative programs and lauching online businesses that are changing the world.
VP of Global Advertising Sales - Amazon.com
This Microsoft veteran moved to Amazon.com in 2008, tasked with beefing up the online retailer’s practically non-existent advertising efforts. Since then she has worked to implement innovative strategies to expand that side of the business, making the company a power player in the online advertising arena with over $1 billion in ad revenue. Clearly this woman gets results! They could even be gearing up to take on Google with their Amazon Affiliate Program. Utzschneider will be speaking at today’s Ad Tech conference, where she is expected to share some details about their innovative display advertising programs and related projects currently in development.
Co-Founder of Flickr and Hunch.com
Caterina Fake is one of social media’s pioneers, co-founding Flickr, the site that revolutionized photo sharing. After leaving the company she started after its acquisition by Yahoo, Fake created a new site, Hunch.com, which aimed to curate the tastes and preferences of internet users worldwide. But Fake didn’t slow down, even after successfully selling that company to Ebay for a cool $80 million. She recently launched Pinwheel, a new service that “finds and leave notes around the world.” Though still in private Beta, the community seems to love the innovative service, which some are comparing to Flickr for places. Keep your eyes on this one, its sure to explode soon.
Co-Founder, the Honest Company
The Golden Globe nominated actress embarked on a new path, founding Honest.com in January. Her inspiration? The lack of safe, non-toxic, eco-friendly and affordable products on the markets for families. The new mom spent countless hours researching product lines that would be safe to use on her child. When she couldn’t find anything suitable, she went ahead and started The Honest Company with a dynamic team that includes environmentalist Christopher Gavigan and e-commerce veterans Brian Lee and Sean Kane. The company deliveries bundles of beautifully packaged, non-toxic, eco-friendly products to consumers each month, and a percentage of each sale is donated to Baby2Baby.org. Look out for some rapid expansion and new product development in the upcoming months – the company just landed $27 million in Series A financing.
Jamila Abbas and Susan Oguya
Founders of M-Farm
M-Farm is an innovative service that connects farmers to the global market prices of their crops, letting them buy and sell at the most favorable prices. Jamila Abbas and Susan Oguya (not pictured), two IT professionals launched their company after hearing stories of exploitation of small farmers in their native Kenya. The SMS based service helps farmers easily inquire about prices, in demand crops, and connect with suppliers or vendors of goods. Just 2 years after its launch, M-Farm has empowered 2,000 farmers in Kenya, many of them female, and has expanded their services to offer order management support, as well as group buying and selling tools to encourage collaboration among the smallest businesses. The next steps the company is embarking on include strategic partnerships with 5 NGO’s that currently work with farmers at a grassroots level, with the goal of impacting 10,000 additional farmers in 2012.
Founder of Six Apart
Imagine a world in which every would-be blogger first had to learn to code by hand. Mena Trott is the woman who kept that from becoming a reality. Her and her husband created Moveable Type blogging software in 2001, just to make their own hobby easier, but after seeing how instantly popular it became, they dove in full-time. This innovation opened the doors for the blogging revolution, helping create a platform that would enable people to freely share their thoughts, opinions, ideas, and passions. Their company Six Apart, grew rapidly after securing VC funding and acquired several other blogging platforms, including Danga Interactive (the parent company of LiveJournal). In 2010 Six Apart merged with Video Egg, an online advertising network, and is currently a part of Infocom, a Japanese information technology firm. Mena’s passion drove her to create this business, and she continues to engage in her passion daily as a frequent blogger on several sites.
Founder of jiayuan.com
In 2003, then 27 year old Hai-Yan Gong founded a love21cn.com (which she later changed to jiayuan.com) after growing frustrated with the emerging crop of Chinese dating websites, all of which she deemed inefficient. This strong-willed woman had no knowledge of servers or web design and programming, but knew she could build a website better than any of the others on the market. In less than 3 weeks she designed the front pages after a self-taught course, nabbed a programmer and launched the first profile. Gong’s strong entrepreneurial spirit kept her from closing shop, even after receiving job offers from various firms, and an early offer for a 5 million RMB (about $790,000) buyout. Fast forward 8 years later, Jiayuan.com International went public, leaving its founder and current CEO with a net worth of about $70 million. Jiayuan.com is still the biggest Chinese dating site in terms of both active members and revenue, and Gong shows no sign of losing momentum. She recently invested 20 million RMB in Xique.com, a site focusing on wedding planning services for engaged couples.