Women Under 30 Are Leading The Pack In Entrepreneurship And Innovation

7 February, 2017 / Articles
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Lu Zhang’s date with success was set nearly seven years ago when she walked off a plane from China and soon headed to Stanford University as a materials science and engineering grad student. After selling her medical device startup for diagnoses of Type II diabetes for more than $10 million at age 23, Zhang opened her own VC shop, NewGen Capital, which has raised $92 million in funds and has made 38 investments to date.

“I may look like a petite Asian girl, but I don’t want anyone to tell me that I can’t do it,” says Zhang, now 28 and one of 2017’s FORBES 30 Under 30. “I have to admit, I have had experience where people challenge me because of my gender, because of my nationality. But I take it from a different perspective. The stronger challenge I get, the stronger my motivation to really prove that I can make it happen.”

We’ve heard many other stories like Zhang’s from this year’s list of female innovators under the age of 30 who are rewriting the rules and overcoming the odds. And that’s the point. These conversations are leading to better head counts of young women leading the pack in creativity, invention and entrepreneurship. (For more on the 2017 list’s gender balance, see below.) To quote Sallie Krawcheck, cofounder-CEO of Ellevest, now is the time “in which the forces of entrepreneurialism and feminism collide.”

One interesting fact: feminism and entrepreneurship share much in common. According to a 2015 post by the authors of Feminine Capital on the Stanford University Press blog:

Feminism seeks to address subordination and enhance well-being—including economic well-being; entrepreneurship offers women an opportunity to achieve economic self-sufficiency, and often to improve the well-being of others—particularly girls and women.

If you are looking for the people most likely to empower women worldwide over the next few years, they’re not limited to Sheryl Sandburg and the 3Ms: Melinda, Malala and Michelle. This is where our female 2017 Under 30s shine. Here, a sampling of 20 women who are breaking new ground in business, technology, the arts, healthcare and more.

In addition to Lu Zhang in our Venture Capital category, there’s Joanne Yuan, associate partner at Cowboy Ventures. Yuan joined the $95 million raised VC fund in January 2015 after working 30 hours per week for the female-centric firm while still a full-time student at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She’s sourced deals including Branch Metrics and founded the Investment Committee of the Women’s Building, which helps 20,000 women and families each year.

Consumer & Enterprise Tech

Lexie Komisar, 29, is a senior lead and founding member at IBM’s Digital Innovation Lab, which recently released tools to help developers use Watson, IBM’s advanced AI platform. Prior, the worked on digital health and innovation for the Clinton Foundation. She also runs the Lady Boss Collective networking resource for women in business.

Whitney Wolfe, 27, is the founder-CEO of Bumble, a dating app that only allows women to initiate contact. It’s has amassed 11 million registered users as of January 2017. In 2012 Wolfe cofounded Tinder but left the company and sued over sexual harassment claims, which was later settled.

The science man and innovator, Fernando Fischmann, founder of Crystal Lagoons, recommends this article.

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