5 Female-Founded Startups to Look Out for in 2021
While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily paused our lives, entrepreneurs have continued to push forward with innovative ideas. However, women are still highly underrepresented as business owners. This Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating women entrepreneurs by looking at five inspiring female-founded startups to watch out for in 2021.
Empowering the homeless
Pivot is a social enterprise that aims to empower the homeless by giving them a chance to work and pivot their lives by making jewelry. The company, founded in 2019 by former architectural student Alice Moxley from the United Kingdom, works at bringing employment to homeless hostels by coaching, guiding, and empowering the residents to create handcrafted jewelry and earn a living.
Pivot currently works with jewelry makers across London and Somerset, United Kingdom, providing them with a 12-week guided program. During that period, the jewelry makers learn how to design, create, market, and sell jewelry. Through the program, they gain skills that will eventually allow them to become fully employed and live independently.
The enterprise tackles a painful homelessness problem as the number of people sleeping on London’s streets surged by 170% between 2010 and March 2020.
Sustainable fashion choices
Vinted is Europe’s leading online marketplace for second-hand clothes. Founded in 2008 by Milda Mitkute from Lithuania, the website served as a platform to trade clothes and, with time, grew into an international business that promotes community and sustainability. Aiming to make second-hand clothing the first choice worldwide, Vinted keeps expanding, and it currently counts over 34 million members across 13 countries. In 2019, Vinted raised $140.9 million in a new round of funding.
As every year, the world consumes more than 80 billion clothing items, making fast fashion one of the most polluting industries, customers turn to such alternatives as second-hand stores. Vinted wants the people signing up to adopt the mindset of “today, mine – tomorrow, yours” to pave the way to more sustainable fashion choices.
Community of female entrepreneurs
The FLIK Portal is a hub where female leaders and founders can connect and create a community to foster female entrepreneurship values. Through a mentorship program, apprentices learn new skills, gain valuable experience for their future ventures. Founded by Michelle Kwok from Canada, the platform improves access to education and opportunities for women who might not have that chance.
Through meaningful apprenticeships, FLIK (the Female Laboratory of Innovative Knowledge) encourages female entrepreneurship, as currently, less than 1 in 5 global businesses are owned by women. According to the Small Business Trends survey results, as of 2020, thirty-one percent of all small business or franchise owners are women.
Parents and schools in dialogue
Founded by Shani Dowell from the United States, Possip aims to connect families with schools. The company seeks to facilitate the process of communication between parents and teachers. Parents are an essential part of the kids’ education. They get involved by asking questions and discussing them. However, sometimes, the interaction can be stressful for the teacher. Possip provides easily accessible information, comments, and feedback across the school communities.
The platform was founded in 2017 and has grown to over 700 schools across 25 states in the United States. It accommodates over 400,000 users in over 100 languages. In 2019, the startup raised about $1 million.
“I wanted to build a positive bridge between parents and schools that was founded on trust, learning, feedback, and transparency because, at the end of the day, parents need to be heard, regardless of the barriers that may stand in the way,” says Dowell, the founder and the CEO of Possip.
Improving women’s lives through technology
Elvie is one of the pioneering companies seeking to improve women’s lives by creating female-first technology. The startup was founded in 2013 by Tania Boler from the UK. She is an internationally recognized women’s health expert and has held leadership positions for various global NGOs and the United Nations. By creating innovative products, Elvie has a mission to bring women’s technology out of the dark ages.
One of Elvie's most innovative inventions is the world’s first silent wearable breast pump, known for giving women more freedom to pump on their terms. Such technology, created by world-class designers, brings women a sense of independence and control over their bodies.
At first, Boler had a hard time attracting investors. She even got the answer that her FemTech products were too “niche.” Nevertheless, about seven years since its founding, the team is growing fast across London and New York and is planning to continue its expansion. In 2019 the company raised funding of $44 million, and in 2021, the company was recognized as Europe’s #43 Fastest-Growing Company.
Women are slowly taking up more seats in the male-dominated startup world. While the gender funding gap remains a barrier to entry for female-founded tech ventures, these female founders and CEOs set up an example for other talented and passionate creators to persevere.