Women-led startups are on the rise. Here are 5 from Austin we’re keeping an eye on.

by Kelly O'Halloran
January 30, 2019
women in tech
photo via shuttertock

Every year it seems a new truth bomb about women-led companies surfaces.

Last year, the Kauffman Foundation said venture-backed, women-led startups outperform men-led startups by 12 percent when it comes to ROI. Over the summer, BCG and MassChallenge reported that women-founded startups are superior financial investments for VCs, generating 78 cents for every dollar raised, compared to 31 cents per dollar from men-led companies.

BCG also said early last year that companies with above-average diversity in management yielded stronger innovation revenue.

Women-led startups outperform men-led startups by 12 percent.


This is all great news for women in tech, especially those looking to launch their own ventures — a number that, by the way, is also on the rise. Just before fall, The 2018 State of Women-Owned Business Report, by American Express, said women were launching new businesses at a rate of 1,800 per day in the U.S., versus about 950 a day between the years of 2012 and 2017.

Hopefully, following 2019, the dialogue won’t focus on how shocking these statistics are, and instead focus on the major shift investors have made in pumping funding toward women-led businesses. In the meantime, we will continue to highlight new startups with women at the helm that continue to make big impacts across industries. Like these.


athena security
photo via shutterstock

Co-founded by Lisa Falzone and Chris Ciabarra, Athena Security launched in 2018 to prevent potential shootings before they occur. When its technology detects threatening behavior via security cameras, the system sends a real-time video feed to building security while simultaneously alerting the criminal that they’ve been identified and that the police have been called.

Athena Security marks Falzone’s and Ciabarra’s second venture together, following the successful exit of their first company, Revel Systems. Throughout her career, Falzone has earned herself a spot on multiple renowned lists including Forbes “30 Under 30,” Business Insider’s “30 Most Important Women in Tech,” and TechCrunch’s “40 Female Founders Who Crushed it in 2016.”


photo via shutterstock

Launched by CEO and founder Noa Ruschin-Rimin in 2013, Grid4C develops AI-based predictive solutions for the energy industry. Its machine learning platform interprets data from billions of meter reads from all over the world and makes 500 million utility predictions a day.

That’s a lot of data. Fortunately, Ruschin-Rimin is an expert in just that. Ruschin-Rimin earned her Ph.D. in machine learning and data science from Tel Aviv University in 2012. Before spending time as a Ph.D. researcher at Tel Aviv University, and founding Grid4C, she served as the head of Oracle’s sales engineers department and as IBM’s solutions sales manager. Grid4C recently raised $5 million in funding to enhance its AI capabilities and expand its product portfolio.


diligent robotics
photo provided by diligent robotics

Diligent Robotics co-founders and robotics experts Andrea Thomaz and Vivian Chu, plus a growing team of researchers and psychologists that includes Head of Product Agata Rozga, recently introduced the world to their healthcare service robot, Moxi. The robot acts as an assistant to medical care providers and completes tasks like fetching fresh linens or medical equipment that a nurse left behind. Ten years in the making, Moxi is now ready for trial use and can currently be seen at the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Jennie Sealy Hospital in Galveston.  

Thomaz, who leads as CEO, earned her Ph.D. in media arts and sciences from MIT. In addition to Diligent Robotics, she leads a robotics lab at the University of Texas, where she earned her bachelor’s of science in electrical and computer engineering. The company raised $2.1 million in January 2018, in a round led by Silicon Valley-based True Ventures.


photo via shutterstock

After watching her best friend go through the egg-freezing procedure, Wei Escala wanted to bring transparency and community to an industry that doesn’t provide a ton of either to its donors. Last year, she began development on her startup Eggschain, a blockchain-based community for donor education and support. It also acts as a secure storage location for sensitive documents surrounding frozen eggs and embryos.

Before founding Eggschain, Escala led Powerista.com as CEO. She also held director of marketing roles at Valvoline, Evenflo and Frito Lay. She’s a University of Texas alumna, with a bachelors of arts degree in computer science. This March, Eggschain will compete at SXSW’s annual Pitch event.


photo via shutterstock

Monica Landers began developing StoryFit in 2015 to help book, movie and TV publishers and storytellers reach larger and more targeted audiences. Basically, it’s using proprietary algorithms to determine if your next book or film is going to be a hit or not by plugging in publishing data, running an elemental story analysis and tying in market research.

StoryFit launched out of Landers’s first company AUTHORS.me, which connects authors with agents and publishers to find the best fit for publication. The company has gained a substantial amount of attention and has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, Wired, Engadget and Sundance Institute.


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