Women Entrepreneurs

16 Businesswomen Who Can Be Counted on to Provide Their Own Seat at the Table

Only 25 percent of the women in S&P 500 companies hold senior-level positions; they hold just 6 percent of the CEO posts. But plenty of candidates are out there.
16 Businesswomen Who Can Be Counted on to Provide Their Own Seat at the Table
Image credit: Courtesy of Kassandra Rose
Kassandra Rose, real estate entrepreneur.
VIP Contributor
Co-founder of Hostt
9 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The concept of women in power is not new, yet it’s still often presented as a rarity. There are women all over the world making strides in their respective fields, and it’s time to give credit where credit is due.

While the gender pay war wages on, the gap between men and women holding high-level positions continues to grow. According to the Center for American Progress, only 25 percent of the women in S&P 500 companies hold senior-level positions. And, when you look at women in CEO roles, the number drops dramatically, to just 6 percent.

Related: 50 Ways Women Entrepreneurs Can Fund Their Businesses

Think about what women have added to the world when they have had a seat at the table: Lucille Ball brought us comedy; Oprah Winfrey, perspective; and J.K. Rowling, magic -- to name just three household names. In the entrepreneurial world, too, there are plenty of women who not only deserve a chair, but can be counted on to provide their own seat at the table:

1. Kassandra Rose, real estate entrepreneur

When real estate entrepreneur Kassandra Rose saw an untapped rental niche following the 2008 housing crisis, she quickly sought to fill it. Enter Rent My Way, her business, which serves as a LinkedIn of sorts for renters and property managers. Based in Seattle, Rose also owns RentLucky Property Management and is the owner-broker for My Way Real Estate Services.

Despite naysayers who have questioned her financial savvy and knowledge of real estate, Rose has persevered and created three successful businesses in a difficult industry, showing true grit in the face of adversity.

2. Erin Berman, founder, Blackbeard Studios

From startups to corporations, Erin Berman, founder of Blackbeard Studios, a digitally driven marketing agency, is here to tell those companies' stories. Employing a brand’s story, she and her team create engaging, strategic and targeted content to drive results. Millennials will soon wield the most buying power, and as 43 percent of a group of them indicated in a Forbes/Elite Daily survey, they value authenticity over content itself.

Berman has a passion for storytelling, having served as a mentor and advisor for startups and larger organizations, both in the Bay Area and across the world. She has created her own strategy to cut through the noise and develop channels to get her clients heard.

3. Lee Rhodes, philanthropist and founder, Glassybaby

Philanthropy as a business model is a concept often viewed as being more admirable than potentially profitable. But Lee Rhodes, founder of Glassybaby, which creates handmade glass votives -- then donates the proceeds to fighting cancer -- has managed to achieve on both fronts. Her business, which gives away 10 percent of its revenue to charitable organizations, has partnered with hundreds of charities to promote healing, wellness and hope through Glassybaby’s White Light Fund.

Her aesthetic, along with her altruism, has caught the eye of many, including Martha Stewart and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Related: 20 Wonder Woman Traits of Female Entrepreneurs

4. Robin Smith, co-founder and CEO, WeGoLook

The gig economy opened up a whole new way of looking at many traditional business models, and one of these was field service. Robin Smith is co- founder and CEO of WeGoLook. The company has experienced incredible growth and was recently acquired by a national company, Crawford & Company, allowing it to expand more rapidly to provide more talented freelancers for assignments around the world. In eight years, the company has added 20,000 experts providing assistance in industries like insurance, financial services, and fleet management.

Recently, the company’s “Lookers” provided much-needed support to areas devastated by the recent hurricanes, helping insurance companies get claims filed and assistance sent more quickly to customers.

5. Hope Horner, CEO, Lemonlight Media

As the internet has quickly become a visual playground, a game has arisen as to who can stay ahead of the curve, employing video. Hope Horner, founder and CEO of Lemonlight Media, recognized this trend and started a business to help companies create and distribute high-quality video content at a fraction of the traditional cost. Lemonlight’s portfolio is expansive, ranging from education to retail to entertainment. Some of her clients include Fila, Villanova University and BlueCart.

6. Stacy Durand, founder, Media Design Group

Television has been a home staple since its advent, and Media Design Group CEO Stacy Durand has developed a company that helps brands connect with the most concentrated audiences. Her list of clients includes MetLife, Grubhub and the NFL -- an impressive feat for a company still in its early years.

Durand classifies herself as a cheerleader for her media buying agency. By helping her clients utilize the wealth of new technologies available for navigating the increasingly varied and complicated media landscape, she has helped countless partners show themselves off to the world.

7. Lora Kellogg, president and CEO, Curious Jane

Lora Kellogg, Curious Jane’s president and CEO, takes the idea of franchise marketing one step further. By working on both localized and brandwide messaging, Curious Jane helps its clients attain regional and national reach. One of Kellogg’s clients, Plato’s Closet, has experienced both large growth and high sales since beginning its work with Curious Jane more than a decade ago. Another client, Once Upon A Child, has doubled its locations, going from 214 in 2006 to 468 in 2016.

8. Tara Gentile, marketer and podcaster

Tara Gentile is a marketing expert who analyzes thousands of companies in order to find the best strategies for small business owners. To date, Gentile has helped more than 14,000 businesses accelerate their growth through her speaking engagements and CreativeLive workshops. She is also the creator of the Quiet Power Strategy and the host of the Profit. Power. Pursuit podcast.

9. Kathleen Croddick Molyneaux, founder, Suite-K

Kathleen Croddick Molyneaux is the founder of Suite-K, one of the country's top beauty product manufacturers. Her three New Jersey factories aid clients in every step of the product-development process, from ideation to fulfillment. Having founded her company less than 10 years ago, Molyneaux has developed an organization that puts quality at the forefront of all its operations. Her list of clients includes Kate Spade, European Wax Center and Oscar de la Renta, and the list only continues to grow.

10. Lani Hay, founder, LMT

Based strategically right outside Washington, D.C., Lani Hay’s company, LMT, assists both the government and commercial sectors with IT and administrative support. The company aims to provide innovative national security solutions. And Hay has established it as a leader in its field, with many federal government entities -- including the Department of State and the IRS -- falling under her care.

11. Jess Lee, CEO Polycore

Jess Lee proves that if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself. After trying out the site Polyvore, the popular interactive social commerce site, she contacted the founders to give both praise and suggestions. It was that move that led to her being  invited to join the team; she was appointed CEO in 2012. Since her promotion, Lee has focused on creating the ultimate user experience, a task that has achieved major results -- the average shopping cart on her site is worth $200, according to SEMrush.

12. Ranjini Poddar, co-founder and CEO, Artech Information Systems

It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in the tech world. Ranjini Poddar, co-founder and CEO of Artech Information Systems LLC, sought to change that. Artech is the largest woman-owned IT staffing organization in the country. Through it, Ranjini seeks to empower those in tech by mentoring both small minority-owned businesses and women-owned companies and giving lectures on business success.

13. Shazi Visram: Founder, Happy Family

If the brand Happy Family sounds familiar, it’s probably because you can find the brand at nearly every grocery store chain across the country. Founded by Shazi Visram on Mother’s Day 2006, Happy Family seeks to provide organic meals and snacks to moms and their kids. Visram has been recognized for her major contributions to the health of the new generation and was even named a “Rockstar of the New Economy” by Fast Company.

14. Gillian Morris, entrepreneur-in-residence, Techstars

When Gillian Morris had a platform idea for travel lovers, she jumped on it. Enter Hitlist, a wish list for travelers the world over that comes with a bonus: The app alerts users when trips to their dream destinations are at their cheapest. Morris also contributes to the Oxford Review and serves as an entrepreneur-in-residence through Techstars.

15. Tanya Menendez, creator, Maker's Row

Thousands of company leaders want to launch a new product but don’t know exactly where to start. Tanya Menendez recognized this and created her own version of LinkedIn, Maker’s Row, specifically for manufacturers.

Featuring manufacturers exclusively based in the United States, the company enables business owners to connect with the more than 10,000 other producers in the Maker’s Row database. Through her business pursuits, Menendez has made a name for herself, including being named to Forbes’s 30 Under 30 list and getting Maker’s Row listed on Time’s “10 NYC Startups to Watch,” in 2014.

16. Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, creators, "TheSkimm"

In less than five years, Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg have created a media outlet with more than 5 million readers, 45 employees and a value of $55 million, as reported by Recode. The secret? They created what every young female professional needed: theSkimm.

With a newsletter sent directly to their email inboxes, readers receive daily news that’s consumable in less than five minutes. Zakin and Weisberg have honed theSkimm through the skills they gained at their previous roles at NBC to great success -- TheSkimm debuted at No. 1 on Apple’s App Store news category and ninth in the store overall.

Related: 8 Women Leaders Who Are Disrupting Entrepreneurship

While women’s achievements don’t always earn the airtime they deserve, there are women making an impact on diverse industries every day. They’re taking advantage of opportunities and creating plenty of their own, serving as role models for younger women with ambition, and helping to change the world.

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