Recent trends have seen a dramatic rise in the number of female led businesses, both in the U.S. and abroad. Today we will take a closer look at few outstanding examples.
Alexa Von Tobel
Alexa Von Tobel is the founder and CEO of the personal finance site, LearnVest.com. After attending Harvard Business School, Von Tobel went on to work as a proprietary trader at Morgan Stanley. Soon however, she left Morgan Stanley to become a founding team member at Drop I.O, the online file sharing service which was eventually sold to Facebook. In 2009, Von Tobel raised $4.5 million in series A funding to launch LearnVest.com. The company is designed to provide financial planning services to those who would traditionally not be able to afford them. LearnVest went on to raise an additional $72 million in outside equity before being sold to NorthWestern Mutual in 2015 for an undisclosed amount. In 2014, Alexa was named a member of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship program by Barrack Obama.
After graduating from Bangalore University with a degree in zoology in 1973, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw intended to following her father into the brewery business, but was unable to find work because brewing in India was views as a ‘man’s work’. Soon she met Leslie Auchincloss, the founder of an Irish biochemical company called Biocon. Auchincloss wanted to get the company into the Indian market, so he allowed Shaw to start a branch out of her garage. Indian law only allowed outside investors to own 30% of a company, so Shaw owned the rest. Shaw shrewdly developed new ways to extract plant enzymes for use in food, textiles, and pharmaceuticals. These products were then exported to the US and the UK. Eventually, Shaw built the company into a position to buy out Auchincloss, and reinvested much of the profits into the development of biopharmaceuticals. Today, Biocon is India’s largest biopharmaceutical company with 2016 revenues of over $550 million. For her part, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is said to be worth an estimated $2.1 billion. Much of this personal wealth she uses for philanthropic endeavors.
In less than ten years, Tory Burch has gone from founding her brand, to building it into a multi-billion dollar business. Before designing clothes, Tory Burch made her living as a copy writer. In 2005, Burch started selling her own clothing line online. Later that year, Oprah called Tory Burch ‘the next big thing in fashion’. The next day Tory’s website received over 8 million hits. The following year, Burch introduced her ‘Riva’ flat which became a runaway success. From there, Burch continued to introduce fashion accessories. Her line is now sold in over 1,000 department stores and 49 free-standing Tory Burch stores and the company is now estimated to be worth over $3.5 billion. Tory Burch herself is said to be worth an estimated $1 billion.
In the early 90’s, the Cambridge educated Arianna Huffington emerged as an exciting new conservative voice in global politics. Through the decade, she continued to grow in prominence appearing as a TV regular on The Daily Show, in radio on NPR, and even the Comedy Central’s series Politically Incorrect. Toward the end of the 90’s, after becoming disenfranchised with the hard right turn she saw taking place in the GOP, Huffington became a Liberal, and in 2003 ran against Arnold Schwarzenegger for the governorship of the state of California. Two years later, Huffington launched The Huffington Post where she served as Editor-In-Chief until she sold the company to AOL in 2011 for $300 million. The next year HuffPost was the first commercially run US digital media platform to win the Pulitzer Prize. Today Arianna Huffington remains a celebrated author and powerful voice in the world of global politics.
Cher Wang is the Taiwanese born co-founder and chair of HTC Corporation, which currently manufactures one in every six smart phones sold in the U.S. Along with co-founding and running HTC, Wang is also co-founder and chair of VIA Technologies, the Taiwanese based motherboard chipsets, CPU, and memory manufacturer. Over the years, Wang has fostered an excellent relationship between HTC and Microsoft. Currently, the two companies are marketing their new VR system, HTC Vive. As of last week, it was also reported Wang conducted a $1.1 billion sale of a portion of HTC to Google.