Maven Clinic founder and CEO Kate Ryder, the first unicorn woman in health care, is valued at $ 1 billion.

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Undoubtedly, the pandemic was particularly difficult for the founding women. In 2021, the founding women received only $ 2% of venture capital, according to PitchBook, for the second year in a row the percentage of funding provided by the founding women has dropped, and this is the lowest share since 2016. But on the CNBC Disruptor 50 list, the founding women continue to make a profit.

This year’s Disruptor 50 includes eight companies with a female CEO and nine companies with a female co-founder out of four in 2021 and six in 2020 (2018 was a record for a list of nine). This is happening as the racial diversity on the list increases: this year there are four companies with a black CEO and three with a Latinx CEO.

This year’s list also shows that companies headed by women are rising higher on the list – this is the first time that two women CEOs have entered the top five, and the ratings of their companies are very high.

Melanie Perkins, CEO of Canva’s design platform, took 4th place; The company from Sydney, Australia, raised $ 560 million with an estimate of $ 40 billion. The 5th-ranked Guild Education, co-founded by Rachel Romer Carlson and Brittany Stitch, raised $ 378.5 million with an estimated $ 3.7 billion.

These estimates are particularly notable because not only do female founders generally raise less money than male founders, but they are also less likely to collect “mega-rounds” or rounds worth $ 100 million and above – companies in which only men work. According to Crunchbase, the founders secured 85% of the mega-rounds between 2019 and 2021.

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It is also noteworthy that a number of companies on the list, led by the founding women, are focused on solving social and environmental problems. In fact, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, women are 20% more likely than men to set up companies for social or environmental purposes.

The Guild’s education, led by CEO Rachel Carlson and its co-founder Brittany Stitch, vice president of on-the-job training, makes higher education more widely available through employers.

At Cityblock Health, which ranked 48th this year, CEO Toyin Ajay is working to serve those most in need, treat them in their communities and solve their major problems, rather than continuing the cycle of expensive trips to emergencies and outings. room.

Tala Shivani Siroi, who took 22nd place in the ranking, offers low-cost microloans to people without credit scores in emerging markets.

Zoom Rita Narayana, ranked 45th in the rankings, wants to improve school transportation for school districts, students, families and the environment.

Medable, the 15th ranked CEO and led by CEO Michelle Longmeier, wants to bring justice to clinical trials by extending them to different populations.

Marianne Matus’ Biobot Analytics, ranked 32nd, uses artificial intelligence to analyze wastewater and predict coronavirus outbreaks.

Maven Clinic, which ranks 19th in the ranking, raised $ 202 million with an estimate of $ 1 billion. Managed by CEO Kate Ryder, Maven is the largest virtual clinic focused on women’s and family health, and is the first women’s healthcare company to target more than $ 1 billion. Sequoia Capital partner Jess Lee, who led the firm’s investment in the Maven Clinic and sits on its board, says she sees Ryder creating huge financial opportunities at the same time as she addresses huge social needs.

“Half of the consumers are women, but we don’t have enough service,” Lee said, referring to the fact that women control 80% of the purchasing power of households. “I think in health care, we actually make 70% of the decisions because women often become guardians, like the head doctor at home,” added Lee, who began looking for opportunities to invest in women’s health. sector when it started as an investment partner in Sequoia in 2016.

“I was aware that motherhood and the path to fatherhood is a really special time when a health care client suddenly becomes very proactive and needs a lot of health, needs different types of practitioners, from lactation consultant to obstetrician and nurses. daula to mental health, and it’s really hard to get through the current health care system, but having this virtual clinic in your pocket is really powerful, ”she said.

Lee was clear that Ryder was the best founder she had met in this space, had the right strategy, understood the client, “and had so much spirit from being denied so many times.”

Ryder was told that women’s health was a “really small market,” Lee recalled, an insulting attitude she understood because she herself founded the company Polyvore, which she sold to Yahoo.

“Maybe I’ll be able to understand the pain point a little better,” Lee said. “I could be the only person in the room by the venture table who would say, ‘Yeah, I felt it.’ A lot of investment goes into making supposedly opposite bets, and it’s crazy that women are going to make opposite bets, but because of the demographic bias in the company, I think that’s the case. ”

Does it make sense that founders will have an advantage if they work on a company with an additional purpose other than making a profit. Sequoia has also invested in Zum.

“Being a founder is essentially tense, and the odds are so much against you. Trying to be a founder is almost like an irrational attempt. The chances for women are even worse, so you have to be even more irrational. I think one way to overcome the fear of continuing in the face difficulties are a sense of purpose and mission that you do it for something bigger than yourself, ”Lee said. “It’s also very useful in recruiting – the hardest thing about being a founder is to convince a brilliant team to follow you.”

Now the founding women on the Disruptor 50 list and growing up elsewhere can encourage others to follow. “As more and more founders decorate the covers of magazines, go public, all these examples show that it is possible,” she said. Sometimes Lee was substituted by young Asian founding women who told her they had read about her, and it made them think that success was possible. “I think every generation sees more and more opportunities,” she said.

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