Home Linda Baker's Blog Women help power startup scene

Women help power startup scene

| Print |  Email
Linda Baker
Thursday, January 12, 2012

Last fall I wrote a cover story for Oregon Business about the dearth of women serving on the boards of public companies. To compile the data, I printed out a list of Oregon’s 46 public companies, then counted the number of female directors on each company’s board. The tallying went something like this: “zero, zero, zero, one, zero, zero, two, zero, zero…”

The final count showed women fill only 39 of the 340 board seats on Oregon’s 46 publicly traded companies. Almost half of the companies had no women on their boards at all.

I thought about that story—and the sameness and sparseness of the numbers — while chatting the other day with Linda Weston, executive director of the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network.  As Weston described the region’s increasingly vibrant startup scene, I was struck by what seemed to be a significant number of women serving on the frontlines of the city and state's entrepreneurial surge.

Oregon has a long history of women starting small businesses. But those enterprises have typically stayed small and revolved around retail—aka the “pink ghetto.” What’s new is women are forming “highly scalable businesses” and that a growing number are in the tech sectors, Weston says. “It’s a dramatic change."

A burgeoning population of women engineers and MBAs is helping diversify the entrepreneurial ecosystem.  Perhaps OEN can also take some of the credit. In 2002, the nonprofit started the Women’s Investment Network, a program aimed at educating women about angel investing. That group, whose first investment was Portland Monthly Magazine, became so successful that it folded in 2010 and became part of the Portland Angel Network, a group of men and women who hear presentations from early-stage entrepreneurial companies.

A pioneering female entrepreneur herself, Weston — who was recruited in 1996 to start the now-defunct Portland Power women's basketball team — also noted that women who become active angel investors often become board members on those companies as well.  It's a virtuous cycle.  As I wrote in my women and corporate boards story, companies with a critical mass of female board members tend to hire more female corporate officers than companies with few or no women directors.

This is not to overstate the number of women in Oregon's startup sector, which is still very much male-dominated. And even as local business incubators and accelerators proliferate, we've yet to birth anything like Women Innovate Mobile,  a New York-based startup accelerator and mentorship-driven program designed for women-founded companies in mobile technology. That program is currently accepting its first round of applications, with interest coming from dozens of states and several foreign countries, including China, says co-founder Deborah Jackson.

Back in Oregon, I have decided to inject what is so far an anecdotal project with a bit of scientific credibility — and  have thus embarked on another data gathering exercise, this time compiling a list of female entrepreneurs and investors who are pushing the start-up scene forward.  The following is by no means definitive, so please pass on names of other notable women driving 21st century entrepreneurship.

Oregon's startup women:

 

  1. Amber Case, co-founder Geoloqi: real-time mobile and web platform for securely sharing location data.
  2. Jenn Dederich, co-owner, Portland Pedal Power, delivery and marketing by bicycle.
  3. Sheetal Dube, Founder of Audioname, a web application that lets people record their own name, then attach an audio clip to emails, blogs and social network pages.
  4. Monica Enand, CEO and founder of Zapproved: compliance platform making it easier and more economical for businesses facing increasing rules and regulations.
  5. Diane Fraiman,  Partner, Voyager Capital, focuses on software and digital media investments.
  6. Julie Gulla, Sr. vice president and Wealth Manager, Morgan Stanley, active angel investor.
  7. Shelly Gunton, co-chair, Angel Oregon, OEN’s annual investment conference.
  8. Fay Horak, Chief Scientific Officer for ADPM-Inc., provides technologies and services for automation, data management, and instrumentation in clinical trials.
  9. Angela Jackson: Manager of the Portland Seed Fund, a public and private fund that invests in early stage companies.
  10. Vanessa Keitges, CEO of Columbia Green Technologies, developer of green roof technologies.
  11. Lynnor Stevenson, Chief Executive Officer of DesignMedix, a drug discovery company.
  12. Laura Weiss, founder GoBox, recyclable food cart containers.
  13. Linda Weston, executive director of the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network.

UPDATE, 11:44 a.m. on 1/12: I am starting another list of women identified after the blog published.

1. Teena Jan, co-founder Gamma Point LLC,  a mobile app development company specializing in creating navigation apps.

2. Kristina Gorriaran, president SprigHealth, an online marketplace where consumers can find and book appointments with healthcare providers.

3. James Keller, co-founder, Small Society, develops mobile apps for large brands. Acquired in early January by Walmart Labs.

4. Kristine Akins,  CEO BikeTrak, GPS powered security for bicycles.

5. Cindy Cooper, Founder Social Innovation Incubator,  Co-founder and Managing Director, Impact Entrepreneurs, Portland State University School of Business.

6.  Melissa Appleyard, oversees, Lab2Market, a PSU workshop providing startup training from venture capital firm, DFJ Frontier.

Linda Baker is the managing editor of Oregon Business.

 

Comments   

 
Kelly Meeker
0 #1 You forgot James Keller!Kelly Meeker 2012-01-12 14:17:04
While James has a dude's name, she's very much a lady - and the co-founder of Small Society, which was acquired last week by Walmart Labs. Huge acquisition, huge success story for PDX.

James on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/semaphoria

TechCrunch story on the Small Society acquisition: http://techcrunch.com/2012/01/04/walmartlabs-acquires-mobile-agency-small-society/
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Rick Turoczy
0 #2 Don't forget the newer startupsRick Turoczy 2012-01-19 20:50:18
Alexis Peterka is the CEO of Stayhound and Lauren Wolff is the CEO of Spotsi. Both startups just graduated from PIE (Portland Incubator Experiment).

PS Don't forget Danielle Forsyth, CEO, of Thetus. Not a new startup by any means, but someone who doesn't get the credit she deserves.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Wheel man

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Les Schwab has put a premium on customer service since 1952, when legendary namesake Les Schwab founded the company with one store in Prineville. (Schwab died in 2007.) But if the corporate principles remain essentially the same, the world around this iconic Oregon business has changed dramatically.


Read more...

Airbnb laws will hurt Portland’s newest company

News
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
airbnb-logoBY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Proposed regulations protect Portland’s strict zoning codes and hotel operators, but they may have an adverse effect on Airbnb’s business.


Read more...

Video: Kickstarting Oregon business

News
Thursday, March 27, 2014
02.04.14 Thumbnail VideoBY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR

Watch this OB Original Video about three Oregon companies and how crowd-funding "kickstarted" their business ideas.


Read more...

Green eyeshades in the ivory tower

News
Friday, April 04, 2014
EducationCosts BlogBY ERIC FRUITS

The rapidly rising cost of higher education has left even the smartest researchers and the wonkiest of wonks wondering what’s happening and where’s all that money going. More and more, prospective students—and their families—are asking: Is college worth the cost?


Read more...

Rapid ascent

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
IMG 4255-2BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Kelly Dachtler, president of The Clymb, redefines outdoor retail.


Read more...

Barrister bands

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
IMG 4691BY LINDA BAKER

An intellectual property attorney by day, 48-year-old Stoll Berne attorney Tim DeJong is a singer and guitarist by night.


Read more...

Branching out

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
DSC04185BY LINDA BAKER

A blueberry bush is a blueberry bush — except when it’s a blueberry tree.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS