6 Innovative Women to Watch in 2015

January 17, 2015 - fall Denim

In fields as sundry as robotics, finance, biomedical engineering and education, these innovators have taken a decidedly humanistic proceed to fulfilment certain change. It’s a good form of caring that is pushing genuine formula while environment a theatre for a subsequent era of socially unwavering entrepreneurs. Keep an eye out for these women and their pioneering work—we have no doubt you’ll be observant some-more of them.

Lauren Bush Lauren

Lauren Bush Lauren’s FEED tackles hunger by commerce 

Lauren Bush Lauren has a unaccompanied focus: feeding desirous people. Her New York-based consumer-goods company, FEED Projects, and a compared nonprofit, FEED Foundation, conclude success in terms of dishes provided—85 million in 7 years, a homogeneous of roughly $11 million.

Bush Lauren, 30, believes amicable entrepreneurship is many effective when a suspicion is pure to a consumer. FEED Projects sends supports from products sold—each hammered with a array indicating how many donated dishes will outcome from a purchase—to a partners on a belligerent fighting hunger: UNICEF, United Nations World Food Programme and Feeding America. As partial of a fundraising initiatives, FEED Foundation creates events that eventually support a same organizations. The dollar homogeneous of any dish is 11 cents in a U.S. and 10 cents internationally.

“FEED connects consumers to a means of hunger,” Bush Lauren explains. “If it is not discerning and easy and simple, we mislay a consumer. FEED is a good approach to offshoot people and make them some-more wakeful of what is function around a world. That’s a purpose we can play.”

FEED’s elementary calculus and youthful, well-designed products such as bags, bracelets, scarves and T-shirts have intent Bush Lauren’s Millennial peers and done a association a indication for other anti-hunger advocates. “It is a unequivocally vast understanding to strech young 

people on hunger,” says Billy Shore, owner and CEO of Share Our Strength, that combined a “No Kid Hungry” campaign. Bush Lauren’s indication of amicable entrepreneurship, he adds, “has taught us a broader lesson: a event for nonprofits to create resources instead of usually redistributing wealth.”

A new understanding with West Elm will capacitate FEED to be even some-more effective during that mission. For a partnership, Bush Lauren worked with a home furnishings association to pattern a 30-item operation of FEED housewares (in West Elm stores now); a open collection and a solid tide of other projects will follow.

“She articulated a enlightenment positively perfectly,” says Jim Brett, who was named West Elm boss in 2010 and has incited a sequence of some-more than 65 stores into Williams-Sonoma Inc.’s fastest-growing brand, in vast partial by partnering with high-profile designers.

Bush Lauren’s reputation came during a immature age. She doubled down on celebrity and happening when she married David Lauren, son of American operative Ralph Lauren, in 2011. But as a granddaughter of one U.S. boss and a niece of another, she already led an well-developed life. She modeled partial time while attending Princeton University. She trafficked around a universe as a tyro envoy for a U.N.’s World Food Programme.

It was while operative with a U.N. in Guatemala in 2003, dishing adult corn and soya porridge for schoolchildren, that she was desirous to make fighting craving her suspicion and refocused her budding pattern career on formulating products that would
engage others in that cause.

With no business experience, she founded FEED in 2007 and grew it solemnly by a array of mostly one-off partnerships done probable by connections. This gained her access to a veteran imagination she lacked, while a partners
assumed many of a risk of building FEED’s products, as good as handling placement and marketing.

“FEED has been built on partnerships,” Bush Lauren says. “FEED offers this nice, easy, pure resolution for a partner companies to rivet with a suspicion of hunger, to concede their consumers to attend with them in giving back.” 

The longest-running partnership has been with skincare hulk Clarins, that has supposing 6 million dishes by a “Gift with Purpose” FEED bag program. Other collaborators have enclosed Whole Foods Market, Godiva, DKNY, Target, Barnes Noble, Gap, Women’s Health magazine, HSN, Lord Taylor, Pottery Barn, Bergdorf Goodman and Harrods. 

Lauren Bush FEED

“To have these amazing, prebuilt machines behind a code and a suspicion unequivocally helped amplify what we are perplexing to do,” Bush Lauren says.

The Whole Foods partnership was a vital breakthrough. “It showed me a bulk of a impact, positioning and branding that we can have with a good partner. That partnership alone fed all of a schoolchildren in Rwanda for a year.
Just offered one bag—the FEED 100 Bag—across a country in their stores.”

A three-month graduation with Target in 2013 placed FEED products in departments via a store. “To have a Target sourcing organisation behind a FEED code was spectacular,” Bush Lauren says. “To go into product categories like apparel, and knowledge and play with things we hadn’t been means to do before—denim shirts, hoodies, tea towels, cake pans and bicycles. It was unequivocally neat to see FEED translated opposite so many categories.”

The tip to a successful corporate partnership, she adds, “is observant no to opportunities that might seem good, yet in a finish concede your code and your vision.”

FEED’s corporate partners seem to conclude that clarity. “[Bush Lauren’s] unequivocally clever will helps keep a FEED brand strong,” says Maria Dempsey, executive clamp president of offered during Clarins. “She will not let another company dictate her brand. She creates certain her partnerships reinforce her values.”

Bush Lauren is observant no some-more mostly these days as she edits a FEED portfolio. She wants fewer yet deeper, more substantive relations with partner companies that will allow FEED to rivet directly with consumers. To this end, in a tumble she launched FEED Supper, a monthlong campaign to enthuse business to horde fundraising cooking parties for the FEED Foundation, that launched around a same time as a West Elm line. It was a absolute combination; with social media interactions rising, a association saw robust sales of a housewares collection and a spike in donations, that enabled FEED to broach 1.8 million meals.

Bush Lauren continues to enhance FEED’s line of exclusive products—a diaper bag is one example—and ramp adult sales on a company’s website. “We are giving a consumers a reason to come behind and emporium FEED time and again,” she says. Going forward, “we wish to offer a consumers a same products on a site that a partners are charity on theirs, something West Elm allows us to do.

“We are building FEED into some-more of a lifestyle code with daily touchpoints for consumers to correlate with us as a code and as a mission,” she adds. “We wish to scale a impact and a business.”

As partial of that, FEED is bringing some-more operations in-house. “We wish to be reduction reliant on others,” Bush Lauren says. “Partnerships continue to be a approach for us to exam subsequent stairs for FEED yet carrying to entirely deposit a staff with a responsibilities, time and resources. But we have good product development, good logistics, good offered in-house now. We are means of doing this on a own.”

Bush Lauren’s directness is her trademark. And she runs her bureau accordingly. “I design everybody to be entrepreneurial and unequivocally collaborative,” she explains. “You have to be. If we aren’t, it immediately shows. That means holding a initiative,
problem-solving, being self-taught, training things we might not have primarily known, holding a class, job friends, reckoning it out, training how we can do things better. Taking on some-more and some-more responsibility.”

As it evolves, FEED maintains a concentration on delivering meals, including a same bare-bones porridge Bush Lauren initial served to students in Guatemala. As a face of a organization, she is wakeful she is offered herself, and that means traffic with a larger-than-life family heritage. But she deliberately stays above a domestic fray; she has not jumped into a congressional discuss over cuts to food stamps or assimilated initial lady Michelle Obama’s electioneer to urge a lunches served in open schools. 

“It is a unwavering choice of how we wish to be perceived,” she says. “You act in a approach we wish to be seen. You accommodate me, we have to get past my name and pierce on to some-more genuine things.”

—Corie Brown


Cynthia Breazeal

Enhancing a tellurian experience through amicable technology

There are always complaints that a latest, biggest technologies are alienating, pulling a user out of a human experience. But what if we could make record that’s humanized, means of bringing people together, fostering tie and empowerment?

That’s a doubt that drives Cynthia Breazeal, a colonize of amicable robotics. The owner and executive of MIT Media Lab’s Personal Robots Group recently took a leave of deficiency to launch Jibo, a initial amicable drudge designed for home use. She’s exploring what it means to pierce high-tech, humanized robotics into a vital rooms.

“It’s not usually about this healthy interface; it’s appreciating that tellurian beings, when we knowledge a universe and make decisions and take action, positively cruise information, yet we cruise all these other factors,” Breazeal says. “It’s social, it’s emotional, it’s also physical. The some-more record can support a holistic tellurian experience, a some-more empowered we are to be some-more successful. A amicable drudge is this record that speaks to tellurian knowledge for a initial time [in] all these measure during once.”

For years Breazeal has explored how anthropomorphized robots instilled with interpersonal skills can promote all from childhood preparation to handling ongoing disease, to comparison caring and even a origination of family memories. For example, a amicable drudge can assistance a grandfather who lives distant from his family see and play a diversion with his granddaughter in genuine time. 

In serve to enhancing interaction, robotics record can be effective during enlivening improved behavior, Breazeal says. Take a drudge that functions as an practice coach. Breazeal has found that a human-like appearance, interface, movements and interactions emanate some-more fascinating and—more important—longer-lasting formula than other forms of technology. 

“If we can emanate record that humanizes and engages people that feels like it’s treating us like another person, people turn some-more empowered, people do better,” she says. 

It’s no Rosie from The Jetsons (though friendlier and arguably some-more helpful), yet Breazeal’s Jibo robot—which she crowdfunded on Indiegogo, lifting $2.3 million on a suspicion of $100,000—acts like an additional family member to capacitate interpersonal interactions. It has all a functions of a smartphone yet also serves as a hands-free reminder, follower (it recognizes any member of a household), storyteller (complete with sound effects, graphics and movements), avatar (a see-and-track camera supports video calls) and assistant. Imagine: At a insistence of a elementary word or motion, Jibo takes cinema of changed family moments yet one chairman carrying to step out and get behind a camera; business travelers can use a robot’s video discuss to be partial of a family cooking or put a kids to bed. Jibo can even sequence takeout.

Breazeal is operative to take such practice even further. “Technology is tremendously lenient and scalable and affordable—and God knows people need some-more support that’s affordable,” she says. “There’s an definite need, yet there’s a lot of room for alleviation for us as technologists, as scientists, as engineers, to emanate record that improved supports a tellurian values.” —Michelle Juergen

Ramona Pierson

A neuroscientist individualizes a trail to learning

Ramona Pierson, CEO of preparation record company Declara, doesn’t trust in a one-size-fits-all world. Rather, she sees a destiny in that training is personalized. 

She launched Palo Alto, Calif.-based Declara in 2012 to develop a record height that creates training practice formed on a person’s user form and interactions with data. Instead of hammering people with too many too quickly, the
system delivers a information and resources users need, precisely when they’re prepared for it.

Declara uses appurtenance learning, algorithms and recommendations to emanate a “learning path” for any particular formed on how they correlate with data, both informational (websites, documents) and amicable (tweets, blog posts).

“Declara is about assisting people be lifelong learners,” Pierson explains. “We unequivocally demeanour during their intentions and interests so we can automate a ontologies of training pathways … and lift in open calm and exclusive calm into training packages and be means to suggest those to them. And subsequent year, we’ll start bringing in biometric information to unequivocally help.”

Before starting Declara, Pierson ran a association that partnered with McGraw-Hill Education to launch a product called a “Power of U” to learn arithmetic to grade-school students. 

“We saw unequivocally fast that we were means to take kids who were lagging behind in math by 3 years and locate them adult to their age peers in 6 weeks by unequivocally changing a modality of training to compare a kids’ preferences and how they indeed learn,” Pierson says. “So we thought, Well, can we emanate a association that can do this during scale?” 

Scale indeed. Declara’s initial customer was Education Services Australia, that brought a association on to assistance deliver teachers to a new curriculum. Declara has given started operative with a teachers’ kinship of Mexico (1.6 million teachers strong)
and in Puerto Rico. To serve a general reach, a association has combined subsidiaries in Mexico and Singapore and is building one in Brazil. 

But educators aren’t a usually learners who can benefit; Declara has also introduced a height for craving learning. The association is in a second year of operative with biotech organisation Genentech. “It unequivocally helps with a onboarding of new employees and relocating people into apropos managers or high-level executives,” Pierson says. 

And come spring, Declara will launch a “prosumer” chronicle for particular use. “Imagine people who might have health issues. We can start to build programmed pathways for people who are perplexing to strike goals of losing weight or attack those metrics to change their lives.” Think of a complement as a some-more targeted Google, one in that usually useful information creates it by to a user’s workspace. 

A neuroscientist and former Marine, Pierson had one knowledge that taught her—the unequivocally hardest way—how formidable training can be. Struck by a dipsomaniac motorist when she was 22, Pierson spent 18 months in a coma and afterwards had to relearn flattering many everything. 

“What would have been extraordinary for me is to have been means to accept curated calm and curated experts to unequivocally help,” she says. “The thing about Declara is we’re not regulating appurtenance training to mislay a human, yet to indeed pierce in a imagination of other people into a training experience.” —Jenna Schnuer

Sangeeta Bhatia

A biotech operative fights illness by innovation

There’s a lot that’s considerable about Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia. The 46-year-old biomedical and automatic engineer, physician, professor, contriver and businessman has been anointed one of a many innovative immature scientists worldwide and one of a 100 many artistic people in business, to name usually dual of her accolades. The co-founder of biotech startups Zymera and Hepregen, she won a 2014 Lemelson-MIT Prize of $500,000 for her groundbreaking inventions in miniaturized biomedical technologies and girl mentorship. 

But a many considerable thing about Bhatia? She’s usually removing started.

“I’ve always been a small bit of an desirous contriver in a clarity that we know there are unequivocally vast problems out there, and we’re usually usually scratching a surface. we always find to pierce over what we’ve found to try to make a biggest impact with whatever we have on hand,” says Bhatia, a connoisseur of MIT and Harvard.

Two of her many lauded inventions so distant are fake biomarkers that detect cancer by a paper urine exam and a tellurian microliver built from blemish to quarrel spreading illness by presaging drug toxicity and interacting with tellurian pathogens. The microlivers yield a basement for an engineered liver that might one day reinstate a need for transplants in patients with liver disease.

Bhatia attributes her success to mentors who “saw some-more for me than we saw for myself” and to diversity—of experience, of interests, of colleagues. Her portfolio of inventions reflects this: In serve to drug toxicity and cancer therapeutics, she has addressed problems in the areas of hankie regeneration, noninvasive diagnostics and spreading disease.

“Innovation happens during a interfaces of opposite disciplines. Because we was an operative and lerned in miniaturization, we confident there was a whole universe of microfabrication, that was invented for creation mechanism chips, and a whole word of nanotechnology, that was a material-science invention. These things have been grown over a march of 50 years by teams of extraordinary people, and they were unequivocally right to be borrowed for medical applications,” she says. “That suspicion that we can mix fields and unequivocally leapfrog in advances has been something we try to repeat over and over again by bringing in opposite teams with opposite perspectives and experiences.”

Though she has perceived many acclaim, Bhatia admits her tour hasn’t always been easy. “One thing we struggled with a lot when we was entrance adult by a tube was looking brazen to observant if there were women who had a life we suspicion we wanted. It didn’t seem like there were a lot of good examples of that,” she recalls. 

So Bhatia is a clever disciple for compelling STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to women, removing some-more women into high-tech entrepreneurship and being a indication for what immature girls can achieve. “I try to be unequivocally pure about a approach I’m vital my life,” she says. “I consider that’s partial of profitable it brazen and gripping a doorway open for women behind you.” —M.J.

Angela Lee

Closing a gender opening in investing

Angela Lee won’t be confident until U.S. startup investment groups exaggerate as many women among their ranks as men. 

Less than 20 percent of accredited angel investors in a U.S. are women, according to a news from a University of New Hampshire’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics. And during try collateral firms, women comment for just 6 percent of all partners, says a investigate by Babson College’s Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship. 

To assistance tighten a gap, Lee founded 37 Angels, an angel investment network formed in New York City. Since 2012, a 50-member organisation has invested $50,000 to $200,000 in 25 startups, both female- and male-led.

While Lee—a sequence entrepreneur, financier and partner vanguard during Columbia Business School, where she teaches caring and plan courses—is ardent about assisting women founders, her tip priority is removing some-more women to invest. “There are a lot of resources right now focused on assisting a womanlike entrepreneur,” Lee says, referring to a new spate of educational, networking and financing groups. “There are unequivocally few folks that assistance a womanlike investor.”

To that end, 37 Angels offers a monthlong, hands-on foot stay for competent womanlike investors who wish to join a network. Attendees—half of whom are entrepreneurs themselves—learn what to demeanour for in a pitch, how gratefulness works and what to do after essay a startup a check. At a finish of a program, angels make a $5,000 investment in one of half a dozen startups presenting during 37 Angels’ representation forums, hold 5 times a year. As an astonishing bonus, several women who’ve left by a foot stay have given taken try collateral jobs, Lee says.

Seeding startups with mentorship is as many a concentration as pity a wealth. At a finish of any representation forum, presenters can ask a angels for help, be it an introduction to a Google exec or a top-notch Ruby on Rails developer. “We try unequivocally tough to teach a use genius with a angels,” Lee says. 

37 Angels takes pitches from both female- and male-run companies. Lee doesn’t wish to shorten women from investing in startups that seductiveness them, regardless of who’s during a helm, and she doesn’t wish investors to feel thankful to account women as some arrange of farrago or amicable shortcoming initiative. 

“For me, it’s unequivocally critical to mislay a asterisks of investing in women,” Lee says. “When a lady gets funded, everybody knows it’s since she’s awesome. It wasn’t since it was ‘the right thing to do.’” Besides, Lee adds, with some-more women investors, “I do consider that some-more women and a some-more opposite form of startup will get funded.” —Michelle Goodman

Danielle Fong

The brightest new force in purify appetite storage

“Confident. Connected. Open to change.” Typically, stereotyping Millennials is a surefire approach to blink them. But a characteristics listed in a 2010 Pew Research Center news on “Generation Next” are spot-on descriptors for Danielle Fong, a 27-year-old co-founder and arch scholarship officer of LightSail Energy. 

A junior-high castaway from Nova Scotia who began college during age 12 and started a Ph.D. module during Princeton’s Plasma Physics Laboratory during 17, Fong left propagandize usually bashful of her 20th birthday to pierce opposite a U.S. to Berkeley, Calif., with a aim of addressing a world’s appetite crisis.

The result, LightSail, is rebellious a troublesome emanate of energy storage, “a problem that’s been around for literally a century,” says co-founder and CEO Steve Crane. There are many methods of stockpiling watts for later, yet nothing are ideal; batteries are costly and gradually degrade, while oil and gas are flighty and theme to geopolitical turmoil. Pointing out that Thomas Edison unsuccessfully “beat his conduct against” a energy-storage issue, Crane says Fong “was means to consider about a problem literally from initial beliefs down to atoms and molecules. we had never listened anybody do that before.”

Fong and Crane met in 2008, when she was holding a year to work peculiar mechanism jobs opposite Silicon Valley—positions she sought deliberately in sequence to grow her personal network. “Starting a association alone was kind of a waste thing,” says Fong, a self-described amicable person. “I wanted a co-founder.” By roving around, assembly people and operative on their projects, she hoped to network and also infer her possess worth. During this time, she crashed on friends’ couches and helped out with their startups.

Meanwhile, Fong continued to labour her appetite plans. “I kept a list of ideas in a spreadsheet with all kinds of opposite details, like what it would cost, how prolonged it would take, what are a risks, who we would sell to,” she says.

The brightest idea—the basis for LightSail—is a means of collecting and releasing appetite on direct by a use of tanks of dense atmosphere injected with a H2O mist. Instead of blazing hoary fuel, a complement uses renewable appetite like solar or breeze appetite to restrict air; when electricity is needed, a atmosphere is stretched to expostulate pistons that work a generator. (It’s mechanically identical to piston engines.) The high-strength, low-cost atmosphere tanks are, Fong believes, a initial that make it viable to use dense atmosphere for electricity storage.

The engine embellishment is appropriate, says Fong, since automotive engines furnish appetite during about 5 cents per watt, compared to solar cells, that run $1 per watt, and appetite plants that assign around $2. “If we calculate it out, we supplement adult all a appetite from all of a automobiles via a world, it’s—order-of-magnitude—100 times that of a electrical power on a grid today,” she explains.

The record grabbed the attention of early-stage investors. Vinod Khosla became Berkeley-based LightSail’s initial outward financier after a company’s initial in 2009. In 2011 Fong and a LightSail organisation were invited to attend a Khosla Ventures CEO Summit and to benefaction to Bill Gates. The Windows creator even sent LightSail’s investigate to Nathan Myhrvold, a physicist and a owner of Microsoft Research, to make certain all a production penciled out. Gates privately invested in LightSail in 2012.

The 55-person association has netted $58 million, even attracting Peter Thiel to a portfolio after a outspoken financier called purify tech a “disaster” usually a year before. “It’s time to find honest companies that can rise technologies that mount on genuine creation instead of a backs of taxpayers,” Thiel pronounced in a matter on subsidy a association in 2012. “LightSail is run by engineers, not salespeople, and it promises to be one of a initial loyal choice appetite storage companies.”

With skeleton to muster a initial storage complement late this year, afterwards 4 some-more in 2016, LightSail’s record will shortly start to change a world—and a trillion-dollar appetite industry. In fact, in one of LightSail’s initial demonstrations ever, Fong’s record will be used to bank appetite for a breeze plantation on a seashore of Nova Scotia, not distant from where she grew up. 

“It’s also a good forgive to come home,” she says. “We don’t have to compensate for hotels.”

—John Patrick Pullen

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