The Top Women Innovators of All Time!

By Ignite Innovation Forum Guest, Author Scott Berkun
SEATTLE, March 8, 2013 –  Innovation

In honor of International Women’s day here’s a list of my favorite female innovators of all time.

Historical note: what’s most disturbing in the history of all innovation is how unfair history has been to women. It’s hard to identify a singular cause but there’s evidence the shift to monotheism changed what had been a more balanced view of power, when there was still respect for male and female powers, into masculine centric cultures (See The Alphabet vs. The Goddess). Even by the time of the Western Enlightenment, women were still given few opportunities to study, work in pioneering fields or to receive acclaim for their work. It’d be wrong to blame monotheism alone, but its negative influence on opportunities for women is clear.

The ancient Greeks, who were progressive on many fronts, had few female philosophers and scholars, although there were some. Among the better known is Continue reading The Top Women Innovators of All Time!

WOMEN THE MAJORITY IN RUNNING CONSCIOUS COMPANIES

Women in (Conscious) Entrepreneurship

By Guest Blogger:  Michael “Luni” Libes of The Fledge

SEATTLE, Thursday, March 7, 2013 — Business has long been a world dominated by men.  A world often focused solely on profits.  Meanwhile, a change is underfoot.  Companies are starting to consider their impact beyond their fiscal bottom line.  These new, impactful companies are considering the needs of all their “stakeholders”, from customers to employees to their local communities, and often, the needs of the whole planets.

After spending twenty years of entrepreneurship, building (tech) companies comprised almost completely of men, it is nice to find that is not the case in the new wave of sustainable, conscious companies.  In these companies, it appears that women-run companies are not just common, but may be the majority.

The numbers of such companies are still small, but clearly growing.  Business incubators like Fledge (Seattle, WA), The Unreasonable Institute (Boulder, CO), and Village Capital (Atlanta, GA) are helping dozens of these companies annually, and unlike the tech-focused incubators, the norm is for at least half of the companies to be led by women.

At the first two cohorts at Fledge, the numbers are even more dramatic.  Six of the eight startups in the Winter 2013 program are run by women:

  • AlchemList is an online wish list for non-profits, Freecycle meets philanthropy.
  • Brown Box is cleaning up India, turning the waste stream of human cesspit effluent into a profit stream via power, biogas, and other products of value.
  • MyVoice uses crowdsourcing to match the use of philanthropic funds with the desires of the stakeholders.
  • Seattle Good Business Network is bringing a multi-store, local shopping loyalty card to Seattle.
  • Shift Labs  creates simple, inexpensive, human-centered medical devices for global markets.
  • Snohomish Soap produces organic, homemade soap, via a distributed, local, women-powered manufacturing network.

This in addition to Trash Backwards, TayaSola, and Community Sourced Capital from the Summer 2012 program.

And this is not a bias in the Fledge application process.  More than half of the applicants were startups with women founders.  Plus in the last two years of entrepreneurial startups coming out the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, all four are headed by, or run completely by women: Community Sourced Capital, Slice Finance, Stockbox Neighborhood Grocery, and TayaSola.

What is it about “conscious” companies that attracts so many women?

According to Carrie Ferrence, co-founder and CEO of Stockbox Neighborhood Grocery , “The traditional start-up model has been long dominated by men, but the shift toward conscious companies has created space for women to take a more prominent leadership role, designing business to be responsive to more stakeholder groups (community, family, environment, etc) and, hopefully, due to that inclusivity, more sustainable over the long term.”

Cindy Todd, founder of Snohomish Soap, thinks the difference is deeper, that many women “view things holistically.” For example, “our kids, our work, our passion…they aren’t separate, they are all part of a greater whole.” Like our everyday lives, and our companies can just as holistic, while making a profit.

Rachel Maxwell, co-founder and CEO of Community Sourced Capital  sees the chance the change the status quo.  “I believe women are willing to step into the space of business for good because they aren’t as invested in competing in the world as it, they are willing to take the risks required to make the world as they
would like it to become.”

Whatever the reason, it’s nice to see an industry that doesn’t begin with the old gender biases seen elsewhere.

About Michael “Luni” Libes  http://about.me/luni
Luni is a 20+ year serial entrepreneur, founder/co-founder of five companies.  His latest startup is Fledge, the “conscious company” incubator.  In addition, Luni is Entrepreneur in Residence and Entrepreneurship Instructor at Bainbridge Graduate Institute, and an Entrepreneur in Residence Emeritus at the University of Washington’s Center for Commercialization.  Luni is author of The Next Step: Guiding you from idea to startup and The Next Step: A guide to pitching your idea.

 

INNOVATION TAKES COLLABORATION

IT IS TRUE: WE CANNOT DO IT ALONE

By Kristiina Hiukka, Founder of Women in Innovation

SEATTLE, Wednesday, March 6, 2013 — We all need a little help. Whether I’m a woman with an idea, in a start up phase or running a micro or a small business, for profit or non profit, the answer is the same: we all need help.

I’ve been curious what kind of help women in business need and this is what I hear from them: “support and advice.” They readily admit: “I cannot do this by myself.”

I’ve met with several women entrepreneurs in the last couple of weeks and asking them about their most urgent needs. Their dimmed eyes reveal a lack of sleep and overwhelm. There are not enough hours to do it all. They are at their capacity yet they are doing their best to keep up with the demands of ever quickening pace of business. They all feel like they are falling behind, not matter which industry they are in.

But: they do love their missions. Their hearts are burning with the desire to make an impact. Whether creating great social ventures from renewable energy sources or income generating work for at home moms or renting work spaces for professionals. Or anything in between.

What do YOU need?

I’m passionate about making women in business feel resourceful and  “resourced”.  It is frustrating when women whose work could transform the world are held hostage to lack of not only funding but also lack of “resourcing” with trusted advice.

Where do YOU go for advice?

On Valentine’s Day I attended Women 2.0 conference in San Francisco and witnessed the electrifying energy of women who are creating businesses in all fields of life.  Several speakers (entrepreneurs) repeated the same message: “your passion for your product or service is not enough. You have to go after a BIG market in order to show your capacity to scale and therefore get financing.” 

How BIG can your market be? 

Is your innovation and your business going to reach more than 100 million people?  Women 2.0 conference wasn’t for lifestyle microbusinesses. It was catered mostly for Silicon Valley techies who are going to disrupt the market place like Bia Sport (angel.co/bia) in personal health or solar powered energy or in factory sourcing for apparel designers and manufacturers (MakersRow.com) or apps for various purposes like Greengar Studio’s Whiteboard for iphones.

What are you developing that can reach millions of people?

Just last week the Puget Sound Business Journal reported that Seattle is ranked number 2 of the Top Ten Cities for Women Entrepreneurs in the Nerdwallet study after San Francisco.  Among other things, they looked at how much support there is for women entrepreneurs, and how “friendly” the city is towards female business owners.

Where do you find the best support for your growth as a business woman? What supports you the most?

I’ve researched some hundred organizations geared toward helping women in business to network, become educated and mentor each other. Even though San Fran and Seattle are mentioned as the most women friendly business cities, most of the so called “women’s organizations” – member organizations with a mission to help women entrepreneurs – are headquartered in the East Coast.

Do you find so called “women’s organizations” helpful in reaching your goals? Why? How?

I’m curious: what would the perfect support look like for a woman with an idea that has a potential for a true innovation. What do you think? What’s your experience?

Email us, comment here or join the conversation in the WOMEN IN INNOVATION LinkedIn Group or on our Facebook page