You might not have heard of their companies just yet, but the 10 women profiled in Fortune magazine's 2013 Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs list have created innovative brands that are rapidly gaining attention and customers. With innovations ranging from sippy-cup leashes to energy-efficient construction to an electric voting platform, these businesswomen are worth watching.
Company: Project Frog
Hand left her post as senior vice president of global brand, marketing and innovation at British Petroleum (NYSE:BP) to pioneer Project Frog, which builds simple, energy-efficient spaces in days rather than months, as is typical in the construction industry. Project Frog’s buildings for sectors like education and health care consume about 50 percent less energy than traditional buildings. The company’s revenue is expected to more than double this year.
Hartz started Eventbrite, an online ticketing service, with her now-husband Kevin in 2006. The site allows event organizers to plan, sell tickets and promote events of any size across Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Since its founding, the company has raised $140 million, and it reached $2 billion in gross ticket sales this September.
Company: The Grommet
While working for large consumer-product companies like Ked and Stride Rite, Pieri saw a need for struggling innovators with good ideas to connect with customers and launch their products. So in 2008, Pieri launched The Grommet, an online platform that connects customers with inventors’ stories and their products. The Grommet introduced the products SodaStream and FitBit. HP CEO Meg Whitmann mentors Pieri, who also is an entrepreneur in residence at Harvard Business School.
Working as a consultant, Janah talked to a call center worker from South Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi, India. The worker told her there were millions of unemployed villagers as talented as he was, and Janah wondered if outsourcing could lift those people out of poverty. She founded Samasource, a non-profit tech platform that connects impoverished women and youth with large corporations like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) and Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) to complete digital projects. Samasource has since helped 16,000 people rise above the poverty line, and it recently launched a domestic program for low-income students in San Francisco.
In 2005, Stone and co-founders Elisa Camahort Page and Jory Des Jardins hosted a grassroots conference, sponsored by Google, Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) and others for women bloggers. It quickly sold out, and they launched BlogHer.com, a publishing platform, to turn blogging into a lucrative business for women. Between 2009 and 2012, BlogHer paid $25 million to 5,000 of its bloggers and now reaches an audience of 92 million.
Company: Everyone Counts
Steele started Everyone Counts, an electric voting platform, after the California gubernatorial election recall 10 years ago. She was speaking as an investment advisor at a United Nations conference on technology for government and couldn’t believe such important races would hiccup so severely. To date, 169 countries have used Everyone Counts, as well as the Academy Awards committee.
Company: Nation Waste Inc.
Rios moved to the U.S. from El Salvador when she was a child, graduated at the top of her high school class and started a family while supporting herself through college. Months after graduating from the University of Houston at age 22, Rios took out loans, purchased two trucks and jumped into the male-dominated waste-removal industry. Today her company has 24 full-time employees.
Company: Binary Group
Wang studied computer programming while growing up in China, hoping after college to move to the U.S. She was one of the million pro-democracy students who protested in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Wang graduated with a master’s in computer science from the University of Houston, then worked at several Silicon Valley startups, including her own, iBizWomen.com, until Sept. 11, 2001. The attack inspired her to create Binary Group, a technology consulting company that works with the federal government.
Company: Wonderbag Natural Balance
Collins' childhood in rural, apartheid-era South Africa in the 1970s inspired her to create The Wonderbag, a cushion that uses heat-retention technology to cook food for 8-12 hours without the need for additional fuel. For every bag sold, another is donated to a household in Africa, and the bags save African women the time they would spend collecting firewood. The product launched in the U.S. on Amazon and will sell via other retailers by 2014.
Davidson created the SippiGrip, a leash-like contraption for a sippy cup, out of the frustration that came from constantly picking up sippy cups her 1-year-old son would toss to the ground. Two years after dreaming it up, she launched her invention at a 2007 national trade show. Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) invited her into its 2008 Parent Invented Products Program, and today, her BooginHead line is sold by major retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT), Babies “R” Us and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).