Over the years the gender gap has definitely shrunk, however in the startup world there is still a massive imbalance. A vast majority of startups are full of young white guys. I believe awareness is one of the most powerful tools when it comes to driving social change; not just awareness of the problem, but awareness of those people who are part of the solution. This is why I wanted to highlight 3 incredible female founders and entrepreneurs in honor of International Women's Day.
1. Sara Blakely
Sara is everything an entrepreneur should aspire to be. She is a self starter, calculated risk taker and insanely hard working entrepreneur. When she came up with her idea for Spanx she spent 2 years and $5,000 in savings educating herself on patents, materials and everything else involved in executing the idea. Instead of spending the money to hire a patent attorney she went to Barnes & Noble and read as many patent textbooks as she could, so she could file the patents herself.
As we all know, Spanx was and still is a massive success. They did $4M in sales during year 1 and $10M in sales during year 2. Sara is now worth over $1.18B and has used a lot of that wealth for good. The Sara Blakely Foundation helps women through education and entrepreneurial training.
2. Judy Faulkner
If you don't know who Judy Faulkner is you aren't alone. She stays out of the press and her work doesn't draw mass attention. This is amazing considering the fact that she turned $6,000 into $2.6B by building Epic Systems. Epic is a privately owned healthcare software company that incredibly holds 54% of all healthcare records in the US. The company did $1.77B in revenue during 2014 and has over 9,000 employees. Long story short, she is one of the most successful female entrepreneurs in history.
Like Sara, Judy is using her wealth for good. She signed the Giving Pledge and plans to give away nearly all of her wealth during her lifetime.
3. Oprah Winfrey
Selecting Oprah as one of our favorite female founders should be no surprise. Whether you love or hate Oprah there is no denying that she has broken down multiple social barriers throughout her career. For example, she was both the youngest news anchor and the first black female news anchor at Nashville's WLAC-TV.
You could write an entire book about Oprah's accomplishments (plenty of people have). She's published best selling books, acted in movies, motivated millions with her talk show, created a media empire and become one of the world's greatest philanthropists. All of this has helped her amass a net worth of over $3B and inspire tens of millions around the world!
We could have easily published a list of 1,000 incredible female founders and entrepreneurs. However, these 3 are our favorite and we believe they have made the most significant impact when it comes to leaving a mark in the business world. Feel free to share your favorite female founder in the comments below.