8 Female-Founded Firms That Experienced Successful Exits

By Amod Dandge

Venture capital investments in startups with at least one female founder more than doubled between 2017 and 2018, according to the latest PitchBook report – and that’s not the only takeaway from the data. Firms with women on their founding teams are likely to exit “one year faster than the rest of the market,” the report notes.

While the data demonstrate positive trends in terms of gender equality in the startup world, this can be illustrated even more deeply by profiling a few female-founded startups that have enjoyed successful exits.

Tatcha

Victoria Tsai started skin-care firm Tatcha in 2009 to help alleviate the dermatitis that she had on her face, and it worked so well that she sold her belongings to create the company so she could sell the products to others. Earlier this year, she sold the business to CPG firm Unilever. Tatcha is said to have brought in $70 million in revenue during 2018 and Tsai says she hopes the Unilever acquisition will help the firm continue to scale.

Travel Noire

Travel and discovery platform Travel Noire was acquired by Blavity two years ago. Founded by Zim Ugochukwu, Travel Noire offers travel information for black millennials, sharing insights from like-minded travelers. Ugochukwu is the US-raised child of Nigerian immigrants, and her startup had been named among Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies.

Cloudflare

In September, cloud-based network service provider Cloudflare launched its IPO, and co-founder Michelle Zatlyn said the company is working to invest in its R&D and products, as well as reviewing potential acquisitions. The company had revenue of $193 million in 2018 and raised $565 million during September 2019, when its IPO took place.

Mariana Tek

Earlier this month, business management software firm Mariana Tek was acquired by Advent International. Mariana, which makes software for the boutique fitness industry, was founded by Stacey Selden. Selden is a serial entrepreneur, having sold control of the business management platform Flywheel Sports five years ago.

Stitch Fix

Two years ago, web-based personal shopping firm Stitch Fix launched its IPO, raising $120 million during the event. The company, founded by Katrina Lake, uses data science and human stylists to choose clothing for customers. Lake remains the CEO of the company and is also on the board of female-founded beauty firm Glossier.

Eventbrite

Public ticketing firm Eventbrite launched its IPO last year, releasing 10 million shares priced at $23 each. Cofounder Julia Hartz told CNBC that the firm was working to use the funds to continue its growth trajectory, which could mean expanding into new categories or countries. Event creators can use the site to sell tickets to their functions, she noted.

Schmidt’s Naturals

Jaime Schmidt founded natural deodorant firm Schmidt’s Naturals out of her kitchen in 2010, and by 2017 she sold it to Unilever. She continues to work on the business, but also launched an investment fund to support other founders. “Our products were in every type of retailer, to reach as many people as possible,” she said. “We sold mass, of course. But you would also find us in mom-and-pops, luxury spas, co-ops, and natural food stores. We didn't say no to any distribution channel.”

SheWorx

A firm that helps female entrepreneurs network, SheWorx was acquired by equity crowdfunding platform Republic earlier this year. Founder Lisa Wang built the company for four years prior to the acquisition, bringing it to a membership of almost 20,000 women who worked together to scale their firms. “If you’re going to create any significant change, you can’t keep going down the same old path you’ve always been on,” she said.

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