In honor of Women’s History Month, New York City Wired celebrates 10 New York City female tech founders. The women selected have created successful companies with AI-powered tools, virtual reality technology, and apps that make finding a fitness class easy.
Reham Fagiri, Co-Founder and CEO of AptDeco
Reham Fagiri co-founded the peer-to-peer marketplace for pre-owned furniture, AptDeco, in 2012 with co-founder Kalam Dennis. Fagiri is from Khartoum, Sudan. She came to the U.S. to pursue an undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland. After graduating, she got a job at Goldman Sachs in NYC. She later went to the Wharton School, where she received her MBA. Fagiri and her co-founder, Dennis, met through mutual friends. They shared the frustration of how difficult it was to sell furniture when moving and decided to do something about it. They attended Y Combinator, a startup school and program that invests in companies.
Jade Huang, Co-Founder and CEO of Style Sage
Jade Huang went from inspiring fashion designer to co-founder of Style Sage, which offers AI-powered tools for retailers to compete with price optimization and trend forecasting. She met her co-founder, Robert Figiel when they were both getting their MBAs at INSEAD in France. While building the company, Huang went through the startup accelerator SAP.iO Foundry in New York and is also part of the Columbia Venture Community, an entrepreneurial network for alumni, students, and staff. She received her MPA in International Economics from Columbia University. Huang was also a 2016 NYC Venture Fellow.
Jennifer Hyman, Co-Founder and CEO, and Jennifer Fleiss, Co-Founder and Board Member of Rent the Runway
Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss met while they were both receiving their MBAs at Harvard University. They got together a lot to speak about entrepreneurial ideas. The one that stuck was a solution to having a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. They founded Rent the Runway in 2008 with no technology or fashion experience. The company allows its members to rent designer-brand clothes and accessories and swap them for something else. As of 2019, the company had 11 million members. Fleiss stepped down from her executive role in 2017 to pursue other opportunities. In 2021, she joined Boston-based growth equity firm Volition Capital as a venture partner. Hyman has received numerous honors since founding the company including, “TIME 100″ most influential people in the world, Forbes “12 Most Disruptive Names in Business,” and Fortune’s “Most Powerful Female Entrepreneurs.” The company has also raised over $540 million to date.
Payal Kadakia, Co-Founder and CEO of ClassPass
The subscription app that helps you find a fitness class, ClassPass, was born because Payal Kadakia had difficulty finding a fitness class in New York City, so she set out to make it easy for everyone and launched her company in 2013. Her parents immigrated to the U.S. from India, and she grew up in New Jersey. She graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005. In 2020, when the company finished a round of $285 million Series E funding, it brought the company’s valuation to $1 billion. This made ClassPass the first unicorn company of the decade. As of 2020, ClassPass had an assortment of five million fitness and wellness classes: yoga, pilates, Zumba, indoor cycling, gym time, massages, and meditation.
Amanda Moskowitz, Founder and CEO of Stacklist
Serial entrepreneur Amanda Moskowitz had issues every time she launched a company with finding the right enterprise software tools, so she decided to fix that problem for all founders. Stacklist was founded in 2015 to help business owners choose the proper payroll and human resources tools for their companies. Moskowitz started her career at ABC in audience analysis before moving on to mobile SaaS companies. She also launched the e-commerce beauty brand Nine Naturals in 2013.
Elizabeth Reede, Co-Founder and CEO of BLVRD (formerly Woofbert VR)
Elizabeth Reede started her career in banking before spending more than a decade in the art world, much of that time as a curator for The Museum of Modern Art. She met BLVRD’s co-founder, Robert A. Hamwee, through mutual connections. They spent 2014 reaching out to museums and virtual reality development specialists. They discovered many museums wanted to make their collections virtual but didn’t have the operating budget. They created the technology and partnered with museums to make culture from museums virtual for everyone to experience and enjoy.
Kate Ryder, Founder and CEO of Maven
Kate Ryder started her career as a journalist working for The New Yorker and The Economist. While she was working at Index Ventures, she was brainstorming ideas for her own company. Ryder has a passion for helping women and underserved communities. She was thinking about how women make most household health decisions, but most digital healthcare startups are founded and run by men. That led to her launching Maven in 2014. It’s a digital healthcare website that helps women with fertility, maternity and pediatrics. As of 2020, the company had raised more than $87 million. It’s attracted investors like Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman and Mindy Kaling. In 2019, Ryder was named one of Crain’s New York Business 40 under 40.
Gabby Slome, Co-Founder and CXO of Ollie
Gabby Slome is a former equestrian who competed while studying at Columbia University, where she got her undergrad and MBA. Slome went to India with her husband after finishing school, where she met her dog, Poncho. During the trip, they fed him human food, and when they got home, the dog food started causing him allergies. The dog food had become toxic to him. That led her to research the dog food industry and found that most of the big brand names were using low-quality ingredients, so she launched Ollie in 2016. A digital company using an algorithm to create a meal plan for individual dogs and send the food to your door. Ben Sun of Primary Venture Partners was one of Ollie’s first investors. The company has currently raised over $46 million.
Heather Marie Udo, Founder and CEO of Shoppable
Heather Marie Udo was on the founding team of Affinity Labs, which creates online professional communities. Udo launched Shoppable in 2011 because she was tired of discovering items on blogs that she loved and searching for hours to find where she could buy them. Shoppable enables customers to purchase something they see on a blog without being redirected to another website. Udo has been named one of the ten “Most Powerful Millennials in Manhattan” by Gotham Magazine, and she was given the 2013 Women in Digital Award from L’Oréal. Shoppable has also won awards, including the 2014 Webby Award Honoree for “Online Shopping” and the 2016 Webby Honoree for “Technical Achievement.”