2017 was a good — no, great — year to be a female entrepreneur. Earlier in 2017, the Women Presidents’ Organization and American Express paid recognition in their 10th annual award ceremony to 50 of the fastest-growing women-owned/led companies. From fitness to finance, honorees making up this year’s class came from a wide variety of industries and 92% plan to keep growing their companies. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, it’s this kind of continued growth that allows female entrepreneurs to join the club of more than 9.4 million firms owned by women in the United States.
Out of those millions of businesses, which female ‘treps inspired me the most this year? I rounded up eight women making headlines and successful strides forward that could inspire any entrepreneur to take on the world.
1. Jill Nelson | Founder and CEO | Ruby Receptionists
Need a remote receptionist service dedicated to building connections with customers and anticipating their needs before they realize they have them? Call Ruby — Ruby Receptionists, that is! Founded by Jill Nelson in 2003, this telephone answering service made waves in 2017 as one of Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces for 2017 thanks to their deep employee engagement, benefits, and thriving culture. Oh, and Nelson sold a majority interest of the $11 million company for $38.8 million, proving that answering the phone is big business.
2. Vicki Sanders | Founder | SheEO
Despite the amount of women-owned/led companies in business, many struggle (or have previously struggled) to find financial support. Created by Vicki Sanders, SheEO is a non-profit group investing platform that works to get women entrepreneurs the funding they need by financially backing five female-led startups each year. Their ultimate goal? Building a $1 billion fund for women ‘treps backed by 1 million investors.
3. Alli Webb | Founder | Drybar
Alli Webb has been credited with filling a void in the beauty industry by creating a new category with her blow-drying business Drybar. The company has spent much of 2017 opening up new locations in cities across the United States (there are nearly 90 blowout bars altogether!) proving that blowouts truly do bring happiness.
4. Akinah Rahmaan | Founder | Banana Skirt Productions
“Okay ladies, now let’s get in formation!” Founder by Akinah Rahmaan, Banana Skirt Productions offers cardio classes that transform workouts into dance parties by teaching students how to nail the choreographed moves that accompany their favorite hip hop songs. One of the company’s most famous classes to date? An hour-long “Formation” class created in anticipation for Beyoncé’s 2016 tour.
5. Karlie Kloss | Founder | Kode With Klossy
When she’s not walking the runway or landing a Vogue cover, supermodel Karlie Kloss can be found building code with the students in her 501(c)(3) coding organization Kode with Klossy. Kloss has spent much of 2017 focused on her nonprofit and its role in empowering girls of all ages with the tools and experience they need to learn how to code. She even launched a two-week summer camp for teen girls to bring them into the space and take on the career opportunities that coding presents.
6. & 7. Jamie Grobecker and Chelsea Shukov | Co-Founders | Sugar Paper
Friends Jamie Grobecker and Chelsea Shukov shared a love for letterpress printing that became a bonafide business in 2003 after they founded Sugar Paper. If you haven’t been to one of the stationer storefronts yet, never fear. Sugar Paper has collaborated with Target on a collection that is perfectly color-coordinated and Instagrammable for the 2017 holiday season.
8. Whitney Wolfe Herd | Founder | Bumble
Chances are you’re probably pretty familiar with Whitney Wolfe Herd’s dating app Bumble. But how about Bumble Bizz, the in-app for networking with like-minded professionals? Bizz launched in 2017 to the delight of professionals looking to swipe right on a new network and has already expanded to a global audience ready to make a real-life connection.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.