Celebrating our Female Founder Friends on International Women’s Day

Posted on March 8, 2022

By Georgia Kulesa

Throughout my time working in tech PR, I’ve had the opportunity to meet dozens of brilliant startup founders. But, as anyone who works for or with startups could guess, the vast majority of those founders have been men. 

Generally speaking, women are greatly underrepresented in tech. And this is especially true when it comes to founders: a new report found that less than 2% of US-based software startups are founded by women. 

Despite this, Offleash is fortunate enough to work with some seriously awesome female founders who are turning the tide. Here’s what they have to say about their experiences.

Idit Levine, founder & CEO of Solo.io
When it comes to being a woman in the enterprise software industry, Idit Levine said, “of course it’s hurt me.” In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Levine shared that one of her biggest challenges involved securing funding. In fact, during the six months she spent seeking initial funding, she felt that male founders could form bonds with other male investors that “obviously [she] could not as a woman.” 

But despite any gender-based discrimination Levine dealt with along the way, in October 2021, her company announced it raised $135 million in Series C funding at a $1 billion valuation. 

Garima Kapoor, co-founder and COO of MinIO
Garima Kapoor was recently named a Woman of Influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal. In her interview, she spoke about how discrimination can take many forms. “Gender, race, nationality. Every factor or a combination of factors puts you further behind the line,” she said. “To be recognized, you have to do extraordinary things more consistently than your male counterparts.”

Having a diverse C-suite is one way MinIO embraces diversity. In an interview with Authority Magazine, Kapoor said, “At MinIO, I feel that my role as co-founder helped attract other women to come and work for us early on. My presence makes them feel welcomed and comfortable.” And while not every company has female representation at the C-level, “there needs to be a systematic effort towards making sure we present women with more opportunities, especially in tech.”

Shanea Leven, founder and CEO of Codesee
According to a new study, “Women and Girls of Color in Computing,” less than 0.5% percent of Silicon Valley tech leadership positions are held by Black women. Shanea Leven wrote in an article for Inc. that this is due to the fact that “at every turn, most Black women are resource-constrained, running out of time, and underfunded.” She also explained that “the effort that most Black women must exert—their hunger to make a difference—is often clouded by long-standing stereotypes.”

Despite being up against what Leven describes as “a barrage of potentially defeating sociocultural challenges,” she went on to found a successful company that values diversity and inclusion. “One of the things that I absolutely get to do is build the kind of culture that I’ve always wanted to have, that I imagined I would be working in. If I couldn’t find that at someone else’s company—and I’ve tried really hard—I’ll create my own,” Leven said in an interview with Forbes.

A few words that come to mind when I read these founders’ stories are tenacity, persistence, and grit. As a woman myself, it’s an honor to get to work alongside other women—including women of color—who have overcome the odds and are creating an environment in which others can do the same. This is something to celebrate today and every day.