10 Household-Name Businesses
That Were Founded By Women
At Connex Intl, we’re proud to be a Certified Woman-Owned Business. And, while March is Women’s History Month, we’re firm believers that there’s never a bad time to shine a light on the contributions of the numerous powerful women in history.
In fact, while it’s not tough to think of famous businessmen or male entrepreneurs, it was actually women that were behind-the-scenes of some of the most influential companies that have become household-names today.
Which ones? We’re highlighting 10 big-name companies that were spearheaded by women.
Chances are, you’ve stumbled upon SlideShare—a platform for sharing presentations—a time or two. Founded in 2006, the platform was eventually purchased by LinkedIn in 2012 (for $119 million, no less).
But, what you might not know is that it was actually co-founded by a woman, Rashmi Sinha and her husband, Jonathan Boutelle.
Upon its founding, Sinha served as CEO of SlideShare, while her husband worked as CTO. In fact, Sinha filled the shoes as head of SlideShare until recently, in 2014.
The next time you need to undo an error on a printed sheet of paper, you can offer a brief thank you to Bette Nesmith Graham, who founded Liquid Paper after she innovatively used a tiny paint brush and water-based paint to cover up a mistake when she was working as a typist in 1951.
Originally named Mistake Out, Graham made the switch to Liquid Paper in 1956. A couple of decades later, Liquid Paper was sold to Gillette for $47.5 million.
If Ruth’s Chris Steak House has always seemed like an odd name to you, it’ll make a whole lot more sense after you hear the story of the restaurant’s founding.
In 1965, Ruth Fertel, a struggling single mother, mortgaged her home in order to buy a modest 60-seat restaurant. The restaurant, located in New Orleans, Louisiana, was originally named Chris Steak House.
But, shortly after, a fire forced her to move and open an entirely new restaurant—which she renamed Ruth’s Chris Steak House (makes sense, right?). In 1977, Fertel granted her first franchise, which was located just outside of Baton Rouge. And, of course, things only took off from there.
You already know about The American Red Cross. But, despite being one of the most important women in history, you’re probably less familiar with Clarissa Harlowe Barton (better known as Clara Barton).
During the Civil War, Barton risked her own life to bring supplies, care, and comfort to soldiers on the battlefield—eventually earning the nickname “Angel of the Battlefield.”
Following the war, she traveled to Europe and was familiarized with the Red Cross based in Geneva, Switzerland. Feeling strongly that the United States should join the Red Cross network, Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881.
Even more amazing? She served as president of the American Red Cross until 1904—when she resigned at the age of 83.
You’ve seen Pepperidge Farm products filling the aisles of your local grocery store. But, have you ever stopped to consider the history of the brand?
Pepperidge Farm was founded in 1937 by Margaret Rudkin, who named the company after her family’s property in Connecticut.
The inspiration behind the company had some homegrown roots as well. Rudkin had grown frustrated with the lack of solutions for her son, who was allergic to commercially-produced bread. So, she began baking it herself.
From there, demand increased and Rudkin began supplying her baked goods to local grocers. Eventually, Pepperidge Farm was sold to the Campbell Soup Company in 1961.
The start of Kikkoman dates pretty far back. But, the story goes that it was started by a woman named Shige Maki in the 1600s.
After her husband died in battle, Maki and her son left their home to settle in the village of Noda. Once there, they spent 15 years cultivating rice and learning how to make shoyu (what we know as soy sauce).
As you can probably guess, that’s when Kikkoman began. Maki ironed out the kinks in her production process and began selling the product to locals—paving the way for the soy sauce we all know and love today.
Sara Kauss is the woman behind the adorably patterned stainless steel water bottles you’ve likely seen all over town.
After realizing that her own water bottle couldn’t keep up with her busy daily life, Kauss set out to create her own in 2010—using $30,000 from her own savings account.
Needless to say, popularity grew and there has been plenty of investor interest over the years. But, Kauss? She’s turned down those offers and still retains 100% ownership of the company she grew from the ground up.
The photo-sharing site, Flickr, was launched by Caterina Fake and her husband, Stewart Butterfield, in February of 2004.
Their company, which was originally started in order to build a game, eventually made the transition to starting Flickr—which became an incredibly popular site and community platform.
So popular, in fact, that the site was acquired by Yahoo shortly after in 2005 for somewhere between $22 and $25 million.
The favorite burger of the entire west coast got its start with husband and wife team, Harry and Esther Snyder.
The first In-n-Out opened up in Baldwin Park, California in 1948 serving a menu of burgers, fries, shakes, and soft drinks.
The Snyders obviously hit on a winning recipe. Today, In-n-Out has over 300 stores in five different states, which is good for an estimated $550 million each and every year.
Thirsty for some delicious pomegranate juice? If you grab a bottle of Pom Wonderful, you owe it all to Lynda Resnick—who started the company in 2002 after discovering that the pistachio farm she had purchased also had pomegranate trees.
But, Resnick’s success as an entrepreneur extends far past pomegranates. She’s also the brains behind brands like Wonderful Pistachios, FIJI Water, and Teleflora—contributing to her whopping net worth of nearly $3.5 billion.
There you have it—10 impressive companies who all had women at their helm. Needless to say, as a woman-owned business ourselves, we’re in some pretty good company.