Female tech entrepreneurs who play by their own rules

Uncharted Play founder and CEO Jessica Matthews shows her company’s invention, Soccket, a soccer ball that generates electricity for an attachable reading lamp, at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia, 2014. (Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Female entrepreneurs are an impressive bunch, yet data has found that only 10% of investor funding in the EU goes to female-funded start-ups. How depressing.

The UK Government commissioned The Rose Review to help harness female power into UK business and create 65,000 new female-led businesses by 2025. The conclusion? If women start scaling up at the same rate as men, it will mean a £250 billion boost to the UK economy over the next decade.

Female tech entrepreneurs have launched some of the most dynamic and exciting businesses, from disrupting education to changing our grooming habits. Here are some of our favourite female tech entrepreneurs you need to know.

Georgina Gooley wants to ‘axe the pink tax’. (Photo: Billie)

Georgina Gooley, Billie 

It’s unfortunate that women are forced to pay a “pink tax” in countries like the US and UK – for example, women in the US typically spend $1,351 extra per year on products.

Georgina Gooley’s response to this sexist tax was to create Billie, minimalist razors created with NY-based industrial designers, as well as a range of shaving products. She’s also challenging how women view body hair, launching Project Body Hair to acknowledge that A) women do have body hair (and razor brands should show them shaving their actual hair, rather than smooth skin) and B) that “what you do with yours is up to you – grow it, get rid of it, or comb it. It’s your hair, after all.”

 

Katherine Ryder, Maven founder and CEO, is redefining what women’s healthcare looks like. (Photo: CNBC)

Katherine Ryder, Maven

Ryder is the brains behind Maven, a digital healthcare clinic for women which provides on-demand access to over 1,000 women’s and family health providers via video, text or in real life. This female tech founder was growing increasingly frustrated at the gender imbalance affecting women’s healthcare, and the hassle involved for women trying to get postpartum care or even treat a simple UTI. So far, Maven has helped over 150,000 people in 166 countries get better access to care and is redefining what women’s healthcare, especially fertility and postpartum care, looks like.

Karma founders Elsa Bernadotte, Mattis Larsson, Ludvig Berling, and Hjalmar Ståhlberg Nordegren. (Photo: Karma)

Elsa Bernadotte, Karma 

Terrifyingly, a third of all food produced is wasted, according to data from the UN – and food waste costs UK businesses around £20bn a year – but Swede Elsa Bernadotte and her co-founders are doing something about it. The Karma app connects people with delicious food that would otherwise be chucked from restaurants, cafes and grocery stores, for half the price (the 500,000+ users just pick up their food as a takeaway). Bernadotte firmly believes food waste will replace single-use plastic as the moral crisis of 2019 – and is vocal about getting people to change their ways. We’re sold.

READ MORE: These young female activists are changing the world

(Photo: littlebits)

Ayah Bdeir, littleBits

Ayah Bdeir is an engineer and female tech founder who wants to make sure STEM is a part of every girl’s future with her company littleBits: interchangeable toy blocks that allow kids to build and learn about programming at once. Canadian-born Bdeir, whose family is of Syrian origin and lived in Lebanon and Jordan, isn’t just about empowering girls: she wants to empower everyone. Her company famously displayed a message on a Times Square billboard after Donald Trump’s 2017 travel ban, stating: “We Invent the World We Want to Live In,” in English and Arabic.

Uncharted Play founder and CEO Jessica Matthews shows her company’s invention, Soccket, a soccer ball that generates electricity for an attachable reading lamp, at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia, 2014. (Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Jessica O. Matthews, Uncharted Power

“I used to tell people I’m the perfect mashup between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Beyoncé,” is how Uncharted Power founder Jessica O. Matthews introduced herself to the crowd at Disney’s Demo Day in 2018. She co-created the Soccket, a soccer ball that transforms kinetic energy into renewable energy, while at university, with the aim of bringing electricity to impoverished children via the ball. Although there were some teething issues with the initial product, instead of giving up, Matthews changed course and her company, Uncharted Power, is all about coming up with infrastructural solutions to developing-world energy issues (notably, this female tech founder raised the largest-ever Series A funding by a black female: $7 million).

“It’s dangerous when founders, especially female founders, second guess ourselves and rely on outside experts and tell them ‘I don’t know anything about this field, you take care of it.’ Meanwhile, male counterparts never admit they lack knowledge or expertise in something, that’s how mansplaining became a word,” she told Forbes.

READ MORE: Amazing female astronauts to know about

Sofia Fenichell, CEO and Founder of Mrs Wordsmith, giving a seminar about early childhood books during day one of the London Book Fair at Kensington Olympia, London, in 2019. (Photo: Sam Mellish / In Pictures via Getty Images)

Sofia Fenichell, Mrs. Wordsmith

Female edtech founder Sofia Fenichell launched Mrs. Wordsmith with the aim of enriching every child’s vocabulary and teaching them the 10,000 words they need to know by age 18, through funny and fabulously illustrated books (the illustrators are the award-winning artists behind films like Madagascar and Hotel Transylvania) and Word a Day flipbooks. Since children are visual learners, this approach allows them to expand their vocabulary in a cram-free, relaxed way and – dare we say – enjoyable way.

“The world of content is upside down. U.S. families collectively spend $30 billion on gaming content, $20 billion on home entertainment, $10 billion on cinema, but only $6 billion on education products – and schools spend only $3 billion. We are going to invert this,” she says.

Gamee CEO, Bozena Rezab (Photo: Gamee)

Bozena Rezab, Gamee

This Czech female founder ditched her job at Google to launch Gamee, a social, casual-gaming network that allows friends to compete against each other in games and tournaments. It’s disrupting the gaming industry with easily embeddable, shareable games and has partnered with NASA, Coca-Cola and Manchester City FC – unlike most gaming apps, Gamee doesn’t believe in the efficacy of in-game advertisements, opting for native advertising instead.