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12 Businesses You Didn't Know Were Started By Women

By Chad Brooks, Business News Daily Senior Writer

More and more female entrepreneurs are taking the world by storm now, launching innovative companies and changing the business landscape.

According to Fox Business, as of 2013 there were more than 9.1 million female-owned businesses in the United States, and the number of female-owned businesses has grown 67 percent since 1997. But even with statistics like that, you may not realize that many of the biggest companies around today were founded by women.

Here are 12 successful companies started by inspiring female entrepreneurs

1. Eventbrite — Co-founded by Julia Hartz

Back in 2006, Julia Hartz along with her husband, Kevin, and the company's CTO, Renaud Visage, launched their startup, Eventbrite, a global live-event marketplace. The platform allows people to organize events and sell and purchase tickets. In a 2011 interview, Hartz told Mashable that she and her husband were inspired to start their company by their frustration with online ticketing. They wanted to give people the power to sell tickets to their events, no matter what their events were for, on an easy-to-use platform.

Before co-founding Eventbrite, Hartz worked as a TV executive in Los Angeles. In 2014, Hartz had the honor of making Inc.'s "35 under 35" list in 2014, as well as Fortune's "Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs" list in 2013.

Eventbrite, headquartered in San Francisco, has more than 500 employees, and the platform is available in 190 countries.

2.SlideShare — Co-founded by Rashmi Sinha
Rashmi Sinha is the female mastermind behind the popular presentation-sharing platform, SlideShare. Sinha co-founded the company with CTO Jonathan Boutelle in 2006, a year after launching another project called MindCanvas. Before launching SlideShare, Sinha was doing lab work after earning a Ph.D. in cognitive neurospychology, when she realized her passion for web technology and co-founded another company called Uzanto.

SlideShare was acquired by professional social networking giant LinkedIn in May 2013 for a reported $118.75 million and now has more than 16 million registered users.

3. Birchbox — Co-founded by Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna

Birchbox, one of the top monthly box-subscription services available today, was co-founded by two entrepreneurial women: Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna. The duo met at Harvard Business School and created their company in 2010 with the goal of improving the beauty product industry and making it friendlier to customers less familiar with beauty products. In 2012, Barna made Forbes' "30 under 30" list of marketing and advertising influencers.

Initially, Birchbox was a subscription service for women looking to try new beauty product samples, but the company expanded in 2012 with the addition of Birchbox Man. As of 2014, Birchbox had more than 800,000 subscribers and was bringing in approximately $96 million a year in sales.

4.Cisco — Co-founded by Sandra Lerner

Sandra Lerner founded what would become technology giant Cisco alongside then-husband Len Bosack, after the pair was unable to email each other from offices in different buildings while working together at Stanford University. Lerner's desire to connect with her husband led to them designing the multi-protocol router — the platform that launched Cisco in 1984.

While she was eventually ousted from the company in 1990, Lerner reportedly walked away with $170 million from the sale of stock options. She went on to start Urban Decay, a cosmetics company, and today she's running a certified organic and humane farm in Virginia.

5.Flickr — Co-founded by Caterina Fake

At age 35, Caterina Fake, who had worked as the art director for, founded the popular photo-sharing website Flickr in 2002. The site was actually an offshoot of a game Fake was developing with Stewart Butterfield, her husband at the time. While the game quickly went bust, the photo-sharing technology they designed was a hit.

In 2005, Fake and Butterfield sold Flickr to Yahoo for a reported $35 million in cash and stock options. Fake has since co-founded the website Hunch, a site that makes recommendations based on detailed user preferences, and been named to the board of directors of the handmade online marketplace Etsy.

6.Liquid Paper — Founded by Bette Nesmith Graham

Liquid Paper was the brainchild of executive secretary Bette Nesmith Graham, who in the 1950s began using white, water-based tempera paint and a thin paintbrush to cover her typing errors. She sold her first bottle, originally called Mistake Out, in 1956. Graham later patented the must-have office product and renamed it Liquid Paper.

After starting with just 100 bottles a month in sales, Liquid Paper was selling 25 million bottles a year when Graham sold it for a reported $47.5 million in 1979. She passed away six months later at age 56. (And, yes, the rumors are true, she was the mother of Mike Nesmith of The Monkees).

7. The Body Shop — Founded by Anita Roddick

After trying her hand at running a hotel and a restaurant, Anita Roddick started The Body Shop in 1976 in England to create a livelihood for herself and her two daughters while her husband was traveling the globe. The bath-and-body-product concept caught on, and she opened a second shop within six months. She soon launched the The Body Shop's franchise program, which has opened stores all across the world.

The company went public in 1984 and in 2006, 30 years after its founding, Roddick sold The Body Shop to L'Oréal for a reported $1.4 billion. Today, there are more than 2,500 stores in 61 different countries.

8. Ruth's Chris Steak House — Founded by Ruth Fertel

Following a career that included teaching and horse training, Ruth Fertel mortgaged her house in 1965 to buy a little restaurant, Chris Steak House, on the corner of Broad and Ursuline in New Orleans. A fire ravaged the restaurant in 1976, forcing her to open in a new location under a new name, Ruth's Chris Steak House.

That same year, Fertel agreed to let Tom Moran, a regular customer, open the first Ruth's Chris franchise location. Today, there are more than 130 company and franchise-owned locations around the globe.

Fertel, who passed away in 2002 at age 75, sold her majority interest in the chain to private equity firm Madison Dearborn in 1999 for an undisclosed amount.

9. PC Connection — Co-founded by Patricia Gallup

Seeing a significant business opportunity in the emerging personal computer industry, Patricia Gallup and co-founder David Hall established PC Connection in 1982. Using their personal savings, the duo purchased $8,000 of inventory for their direct computer supply business and placed a small ad in Byte Magazine. The ad worked, sparking a company that would grow to more than $1 billion in sales by 1999.

The company went public in 1998 and trades today on the Nasdaq Exchange. Gallup, who remains the chairman of PC Connection, has appeared on Fortune Magazine's list of top young entrepreneurs and for three years has been named to Working Woman's list of the top 50 female business owners in the United States.

10. Build-A-Bear Workshop — Founded by Maxine Clark

Maxine Clark came up with the idea for Build-A-Bear Workshop after shopping with a 10-year-old who questioned why she couldn't just make her own stuffed toy when she couldn't find one she liked. Clark turned the idea into a business when she opened the first Build-A-Bear Workshop in St. Louis in 1997.

Today, more than 400 stores worldwide have churned out more than 100 million furry friends. Clark, who remains the company's "Chief Executive Bear," was inducted into the Junior Achievement National Business Hall of Fame in 2006 and named one of the 25 Most Influential People in Retailing by Chain Store Age in 2008.

11. Proactiv — Co-founded by Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields

Classmates studying dermatology together at Stanford University, Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields felt strongly about finding a better treatment for acne because both of them had lived with it at some time in their lives. After starting separate practices, the pair noticed the problems acne posed for people of all ages. The realization led them to start working on a new way to treat facial blemishes. Over a five-year period, Rodan and Fields developed a comprehensive acne skin care system, Proactiv Solution, which combines acne medicine with soothing botanicals to create an acne-fighting system designed to leave skin smooth, clean and clear.

The product, which has found success via 30-minute television infomercials, has become one of the top-selling acne medications in the U.S.

12. Discovery Toys — Founded by Lane Nemeth

Former preschool teacher Lane Nemeth founded Discovery Toys in 1978 after becoming frustrated by not being able to purchase the same educational toys that day care centers had access to. Using a $5,000 loan from her grandmother, Nemeth purchased her first batch of toys to start the direct sales company.

Over 22 years, Nemeth grew Discovery Toys into a company with $100 million a year in sales and 40,000 sales representatives. She sold the toy company to Avon in 1997 for an undisclosed sum. Nemeth went on to start another direct sales company, Petlane, which offered products for all kinds of pets, including rabbits, birds and ferrets, with an emphasis on natural ingredients, but the company went out of business in 2011.

This story was originally published in 2012. It was most recently updated on July 20, 2015. Business News Daily Staff Writer Brittney Helmrich also contributed to this story.

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