‘Women have to harness their power. It’s just learning not to take the first no. And if you can’t go straight ahead, you go around the corner.’ These wise words from singer Cher have perhaps never been more relevant when it comes to women in the tech business. While Silicon Valley still struggles with gender diversity and battles with a male dominated image problem, some dynamic women have side stepped San Francisco and created start-ups in the most unexpected of places.
Expert Market has looked at female run startups from around the world and worked out which cities outside of Silicon Valley are flying the flag for female entrepreneurship – most of them will come as a surprise! These are some of the top 7 cities and some of the women who are putting them on the map
1. Paris – Pauline Laigneau
Truly shaking up the fashion industry in Paris is Gemmyo, a jewellery store that is only available online. Precious jewels are big-ticket purchases, meaning the world-wide web is not the traditional sales and marketing channel, but Gemmyo is far from traditional in its approach, or its products. Boasting 15 different precious stones and 300 designs, Pauline Laigneau has brought luxury online, with the most expensive item retailing at just over $28,000, Gemmyo will deliver a stunning custom design within 2-3 weeks.
2. Los Angeles – Tracy DiNunzio
Also capitalising on the sharing economy concept is new app Tradesy, founded by Tracy DiNunzio. DiNunzio’s first project was Recycled Bride, an online marketplace where women could re-sell used wedding dresses, but the idea has since morphed into a luxury forum where users can ‘turn your closet into cash’. The average Tradesy seller can earn up to $1000 annually, but in an interview with USA Today earlier this year, DiNunzio revealed that one top rated semi-professional seller is fast approaching the $1 million mark. A firm advocate of gender diversity in business, DiNunzio prides Tradesy on challenging the Silicon Valley tech status quo by having a 50:50 employee gender split.
3. Toronto – Pam Nicholson & Tara Nicholson
From Toronto there is a double woman entrepreneur whammy with the Itty Bitty Pie Company. Launched by mother and daughter duo Pam and Tara Nicholson, Itty Bitty Pie Company has been creating edible pieces of pie art since 2011 and touring Toronto in their pie truck to raise their profile. The Itty Bitty Pie Company make both sweet and savoury delectable pie delights to suit every palate and any occasion. There are pies in a cup, pies on a stick, frozen pies to enjoy at a later date – you can even make your own custom pie. Tara and Pam are celebrating a big business milestone this year as The Itty Bitty Pie Company opens its first permanent retail premises in St. Catharines, Ontario.
4. Tel Aviv – Naama Alon
Israel has one of the most thriving startup ecosystems globally and has witnessed one of the biggest surges in female founders. Naama Alon and her husband sought to transform the wedding industry through the creation of HoneyBook, a sophisticated technology platform which collates all aspects of the event planning process and is accessible from any web-enabled device. Alon has an impressive CV having graduated at Shenkar, Israel’s leading design and engineering institution majoring in UX and product design. HoneyBook’s development team continues to operate in Tel Aviv but has moved headquarters to San Francisco as part of its aggressive US expansion plan.
5. Montreal – Catarina Rizzi
Joining the current wave of sharing economy startups is Catarina Rizzi, co-founder of Breather – an Airbnb-like online platform where businesses can rent empty commercial space for anywhere between 30 minutes to an entire day. The Breather team even go into the office and design the space beautifully to ensure meetings are conducted in the ideal environment. Catarina is head of design and creates spaces that each have a unique style and feel. Breather has secured spaces in Montreal, New York, San Francisco and Ottowa with imminent plans to expand to Washington and Chicago. Last year, Rizzi was also named as the Creative Director of The SWAP team, an US charity initiative that organizes large-scale clothing swaps.
6. Boston – Sheila Lirio Marcelo
Unlike the fast pace of typical startup stories, Sheila Lirio Marcelo did not put her business into action until 5 years after she first had the idea, waiting until she had obtained a degree in law and business from the prestigious Harvard University, Launched in 2007, Care.com helps people find professional care services in their local vicinity. Care.com boast an impressive client list having partnered with some of America’s leading firms including Google and Hallmark. Last year, the caregiving site floated on the New York Stock Exchange for the first time and raised a staggering $91million.
7. Kuala Lumpar – Sylvia Yin
Sylvia Yin is one of South East Asia’s most acclaimed young female entrepreneurs and co-founded popular app Shoppr. Shoppr, which is known as a Tinder-like shopping app, allows users to window shop from their phones. Frustrated with the hundreds of different shopping apps, and the amount of memory required to download them all, Yin and her college friends decided to launch a platform that enabled fun, interactive browsing for multiple brands at any one time. Much like the dating app, users can swipe left if they like the recommendation or right if it’s not to their taste. The technology behind Shoppr logs how users interact with suggested products and optimizes future recommendations based on previous preferences. Yin has high hopes for Shoppr to expand out of Malaysia in the near future.
These success stories prove that entrepreneurialism knows no geographical boundary and with the right attitude and ideas, businesses can thrive in any part of the world. Instead of waiting for a superior to give a promotion or exciting opportunity, these women have gone outside of the system and created their own opportunities – and completely disrupted their industries while doing it. In the words of Roseanne Barr: “Nobody gives you power, you just take it.”