In the startup world, female founders and CEOs are typically even harder to find than female leaders in the larger tech community, with only around 16% of US tech startups having female founders, according to CrunchBase.
It's a disappointing statistic, especially when you consider the multiple studies that suggest female-led startups have a higher likelihood of success despite the challenges they may face getting funding, but it's also one that appears to be on the upswing as more women are taking the plunge, launching companies with innovative ideas and not taking no for an answer.
That's why as part of our inaugural Women in Comms Leading Lights awards, we wanted to identify exciting female-led startups that the industry should keep an eye on this year and into the future. We were looking for startups that have "considerable potential to disrupt the industry, advance technology and have a lasting impact," and we were pleased to get several worthy nominees. (See Women in Comms Leading Lights: The Finalists.)
Here are our three finalists, presented in alphabetical order. The winner will be announced at the Leading Lights awards dinner, which will be held during the evening of Monday, May 23, at the Hotel Ella in Austin, Texas, following WiC's one-day conference and job fair ahead of the Big Communications Event.
Axonista Axonista is ushering in a new era of TV watching -- one that mainly takes place on devices other than the TV. The startup merges the world of TV and mobile for companies like QVC, Viacom and AOL using interactive video applications. Its technology, Ediflo, is the first to be built for Object Based Broadcasting, a platform that creates video apps that are tappable, interactive and tailored to any smart device screen. Through its software-as-a-service (SaaS) offer, broadcasters can integrate its APIs in their existing linear backend infrastructure and implement apps that augment, rather than disrupt, the mobile viewing experience.
Since Claire McHugh co-founded the Dublin-based startup with CTO Daragh Ward in 2010, they have doubled the profitable company's revenue every year, taken in $500,000 in seed funding and grown its employee base to 15. The company is planning to focus on growing the SaaS part of its business in the coming year and plans to accelerate its growth in international markets.
- Axonista Introduces Object-Based Broadcasting Platform
- Do not adjust your TV sets, Axonista has just fixed mobile for broadcasters
- Leaders’ Insights: Claire McHugh, Axonista
Grid4C Using patented machine learning algorithms and data analytics, Grid4C is able to analyze the massive amount of data that is collected daily from smart meters, alongside customer data, pricing information and more, and use it to maximize the efficiency of energy operations and increase customer engagement. It's solving critical pain points for utilities and energy companies like Direct Energy by helping them predict future outages, supply and demand and more, rather than just understanding past usage.
CEO Noa Ruschin Rimini, Ph.D, founded the company in 2013 and developed the technology that analyzes the literally billions of meter reads it takes in from three different continents, producing more than 10 million predictions for utilities and translating them into easy to understand, actionable reports. The company raised $1.5 million in venture funding from Israel Cleantech Ventures (ICV) at the end of 2014.
- GTM Research Ranks Grid4C as the #1 Vendor for Predictive Analytics & Load Forecasting 2016
- Smart grid solutions co Grid4C raises $1.5m
- Why should utilities care about machine learning?
Nixie Nixie is right at the intersection of three huge trends -- wearables, selfies and drones. The startup created a prototype camera that is worn as a watch -- that is, until you want it to capture a picture. Then it turns into a small quadcopter connected camera, flying away to take a photo without the need for a remote control.
COO Jelena Jovanovic, formerly of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), co-founded the company in 2014 and took home the grand prize in Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)'s Make it Wearable competition later that year. The startup raised a $5 million seed round led by Android creator Andy Rubin's Playground Global tech incubator, money Nixie is using to refine its prototype device and functionality towards a commercial launch.
- Introducing Nixie: the first wearable camera that can fly
- Nixie Wearable Drone Flies Off Wrists to Snap Selfies
- Nixie wearable camera drone wins Intel's $500,000 tech challenge
— Sarah Thomas, , Director, Women in Comms