Women's History Month: Business badassery

Women's History Month: Business badassery

Women's History Month began in 1981 with federal legislation for a "Women's History Week" starting March 7th, 1982. It wasn't until 1987 that Congress passed annual resolutions authorizing the President to proclaim March as Women's History Month. Women have been kicking butt and changing the world since the dawn of time, and it's alarming to think that barely 30 years ago their contributions began to be recognized at a national level.

Maggie Lena Walker, via NPS

Maggie Lena Walker, via NPS

The National Women's History Project is a nonprofit which celebrates women's accomplishments throughout history. This year, their theme is "Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business" -- a theme we can totally get behind. Some of the honorees include Maggie Lena Walker, the first African American woman to charter a bank, and Norma Yaeger, the first woman stockbroker allowed on the stock exchange floor, among others.

Contemporary women entrepreneurs are doing pretty amazing things, too. Cher Wang, chairwoman at HTC, is considered to have one of the most influential effects on global finance and business. She boasts an impressive résumé in technology and entrepreneurship. Arianna Huffington is the well known co-founder of the Huffington Post. She made a name for herself in the male-dominated technology and startup space and uses her voice as a columnist and author to advocate for women's rights.

Working directly with entrepreneurs, we have met some pretty incredible women ourselves. Our portfolio of startups has several woman-owned businesses, one of which is Toymail. Co-founded by Gauri Nanda in 2013, Toymail has made quite a splash with its kid-friendly communicators. Her product is a blend of voicemail and plushie positioned as a screen-free messenger for kids. Based in New York City, Toymail began on Kickstarter with an $80,000 jump start. Soon after, Amazon's Alexa Fund, Verizon, Y Combinator, and other angel investors jumped on the Toymail train to the tune of $1.7 million in seed funding.

Toymail on Shark Tank

Toymail on Shark Tank

gauri nanda.jpg
The best pitches are really just personal stories.
— Gauri Nanda

Gauri and Toymail went through the Orange Fab program in 2015. We are delighted by her success, and were particularly proud when she landed a pitch on Shark Tank a few weeks ago. Toymail's $2.5 million in projected sales impressed the sharks, because she reeled in $600,000 from both Chris Sacca and Lori Greiner.

She wrote about her experience in the tank on Toymail's blog prior to the episode air date. We've got our eyes on you, Gauri! We're so excited to watch Toymail continue to grow and develop. We salute all women entrepreneurs worldwide. Happy Women's History Month! Keep on keepin' on.

 

If you know a women-led startup that's a fit for our program, send her our way to apply now!

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