An Exciting Look At Women-Founded Startups and Apps
Isadora Teich wrote this article
Even though diverse women have historically contributed a lot to the science and technology fields, there are still lingering, discouraging stereotypes about who exactly belongs in these arenas.
For example, did you know that the labor of mapping the entire night sky for the first time was done manually by a group of women about a century ago?
While many people still believe that math and computers are “unfeminine” things, the world’s first computer programmer might have something to say about that. Many consider the world’s first computer programmer to be mathemetician Ada Lovelace.
She wrote the world’s first computer algorithm, even though she died a century before the first commercial computer was even available.
To this day, women around the world are doing a lot of awesome work in these fields, especially in startups. In fact, the world’s youngest self-made billionaire is a woman in tech.
In this post, we will take a look at a few interesting women who are doing crucial work to push society forward with smart business ideas and smarter technology.
Cassie Choi was a working nurse in California, who got tired of bureaucracy and mismanagement coming between her and delivering quality care to patients. Choi says:
“I didn’t want to be a cog in the wheel. So I decided to move to startups as a way to make the impact that I felt was necessary.”
As a result, she co-founded the startup Pair Team with Neil Batlivala, after working to launch another health startup in 2016. Pair Team provides technology and remote care to patients in underserved communities. Pair Team currently serves 5,000 patients in southern California and plans to expand to 30,000 more patients this year.
Choi said that Batlivala’s experiences seeing societal inequality growing up in India and hers as an inner-city critical care nurse in the US inspired them both to create a humane and realistic system for delivering care to people who really need it.
“Pair Team is on a mission to bring technology innovations to clinicians that serve those patient populations in rural areas across America.”
How Does Pair Team Do It?
Essentially, they look at the barriers that prevent people from attaining and accessing healthcare and try to remove those by offering help to people where states have expanded Medicaid. They work alongside Medicaid to fill in gaps by helping people navigate the healthcare system and access what they need. This includes even preventative appointments and tests. When necessary, they can help patients schedule and get to appointments.
Pair Team is growing quickly, and raised over 2 million in funding last year.
Choi’s experiences working as a nurse across the US helped her see where people are slipping through the cracks in US healthcare. For over five years, she has been working to fix this.
Nykaa is the top e-commerce site for beauty products in India. The brainchild of founder Falguni Nayar, it is on its way to an IPO, and it is estimated it will be valued at more than $4 billion.
Nykaa worked its way to a cult following in India with powerful branding. She wanted to help women in India look at beauty products as empowering, rather than something they had to use to adhere to societal standards. Nayar told Al Jazeera:
“Our message to women has been that the spotlight of her life should be on herself. You are important in your story and should feel no guilt at being center stage.”
Founded in 2012, Nykaa now sells more than 2,500 brands online and in more than 50 stores in India. If the Nykaa IPO goes as planned, the company will be India’s first-ever woman-led unicorn to go public.
American Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd may be one of the most wealthy and successful people that you have never heard of. At only 31 years old, she is a tech billionaire. She also happens to be the youngest self-made billionaire on the planet.
Her story is particularly interesting. As a teenager, she suffered horribly from an abusive relationship. She was later a Tinder founder who left the company due to team tensions. After she quit, she launched a sexual harassment case against them.
Match Group, Tinder’s parent company, denied the claim, but paid Herd $1 million to settle the dispute. As a result of this case, she was harassed and threatened so violently on Twitter that she deleted her account.
All of this inspired her to create Bumble, a dating app that puts women in control of their dating experience. After a lifetime of experiencing issues with harassment and abuse, she came up with Bumble, an app where women message men first. She says that one of her main goals is to make the internet a “kinder place.”
Jo Aggarwal is the founder and CEO of Boston-based Wysa, an AI-powered mental health app. It can offer words of affirmation and even guide users through more than 100 therapeutic techniques.
While some are skeptical of an AI approach to therapy, Aggarwal believes that people may feel more comfortable confiding in and being honest with an AI therapist, rather than a real person who has natural biases.
She actually developed Wysa after her first attempt at a failed company drove her into depression, and emphasizes the limits of this technology. It is not meant to diagnose people. It is an easy and accessible tool to help people cope with stress, vent, or make improvements in their relationships and daily life. According to Aggarwal:
“Out of the 3 million people that use Wysa, we find that only about 10% actually need a medical diagnosis.”
If users score high on anxiety and depression tests, the app will actually recommend that they seek out in-person help.
So far this year, Wysa has raised over $5 million. It is used in more than 2 dozen countries as well.
A Hard Road For Women In Tech
It is important to go beyond stereotypes and assumptions and look at what is really going on.
While, especially in the US, there is a definite stereotype that all the people working in tech look like Mark Zuckerberg and live in Silicon Valley, there is a whole world of innovation out there. People in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas are doing all kinds of important work in diverse areas. These women are amazing examples of this.
If women have been at the forefront of innovation and discovery for centuries, the idea that they don’t belong in the fields they helped pioneer is interesting, to say the least. These stereotypes fall especially hard on non-white women, despite data showing that women are amongst the most efficient and innovative in business.
As of 2015 data, only 25% of computing roles in US tech are held by women. Of those women, only 5% are Asian, 3% are Black, and 1% are Hispanic.
Here we see an interesting gap. While women are operating unicorn startups in India and becoming billionaires in tech by 30 in the US, most American women are shut out of tech. While some imply that this is simply because women aren’t suited to that kind of work, the history of tech reveals otherwise.
Others pin this on the industry’s well-documented history of abusing and belittling women. Even the founder of Bumble, the youngest self-made billionaire in the world, comes from a past of gender-based abuse privately, publically, and professionally.
Women are doing amazing things to revolutionize industries around the world. Despite stereotypes, societal biases, and even harassment, they have created apps and companies to help people around the world with a wide variety of issues.
We are likely to only see more and more of these impressive successes in the future
About ChopDawg.com: Since 2009, we have helped create 350+ next-generation apps for startups, Fortune 500s, growing businesses, and non-profits from around the globe. Think Partner, Not Agency.
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