International Women’s Day has been on the calendar every year since the early 20th century, a day to celebrate the movement for women’s rights and reflect on the ongoing push for gender equality around the world. It happens every year on March 8.
Per the organizers: “Collective action and shared ownership for driving gender parity is what makes International Women’s Day successful. Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained: ‘The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.’ So make International Women’s Day your day and do what you can to truly make a positive difference for women.”
This is an important day at iSelect as well, because of the work so many women are doing (and have done) to forward entrepreneurship and innovation in a wide variety of industries. In fact, women are leaders at approximately 20% of our portfolio companies. They’ve come up through the ranks in their careers, identified market needs, and stepped up to create new solutions.
Here are just a few of the women in iSelect’s orbit that we are celebrating today.
Allison Kopf, CEO. Agrilyst
Agrilyst, Inc. is a SaaS platform that tracks and analyzes farm data, helping indoor farms optimize plant performance and reduce operating expenses. From 2016 to 2023, the global indoor farming market is projected to grow at a 24% CAGR, reaching $6.4 billion in size by 2023. Agrilyst’s SaaS system allows indoor farmers of all sizes to focus on the linkage all the way from sales forecasting to production planning, enabling them to reduce costs and increase profitability. Allison was recently awarded Forbes 30 under 30 award for 2019.
Jill Davies, CEO. Gene Matters
GeneMatters is a SaaS and telehealth platform that makes the genetic counseling process 4-5 times more efficient than it is today. Genetic testing is exploding with almost 70,000 genetic tests available today, and approximately 10 new tests added daily. There is currently a major shortage of genetic counselors. Demand for counselors is expected to exceed supply for the next 10-15 years. GeneMatters telehealth offering connects patients requiring counseling with an on-demand supply of genetic counselors. Jill is a Canadian board-certified genetic counselor with 15+ years of experience developing and delivering leading-edge clinical genomics services.
Melissa Brandao, CEO. HerdDogg
HerdDogg is a data collection and analysis company that improves profitability by enabling ranchers to better monitor and manage the health of their herd. Its patented animal wearable technologies provide animal tracking and aid in the identification of missed heats, illness, and dystocia (difficult births) for the 2.5 billion herd animals worldwide. For the past decade, Melissa has been a pioneer in the Internet of Things, for the farm. Recognized as a rural innovator at the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian, she advocates for entrepreneurship and jobs as a path towards economic recovery for small-town America.
Kellee James, CEO. Mercaris
Mercaris is a market data service and trading platform for organic, non-GMO, and other Identity Preserved (IP) agricultural commodities. IP commodity markets (e.g. organic/non-GMO corn, wheat, and soy; organic coffee, grass fed milk, etc.) are currently worth over $100 billion and are growing rapidly as consumer preferences change. However, unlike conventional commodity markets, IP commodity markets are highly inefficient and lack transparency, price discovery, risk management, and an established trading platform. In 2009, Kellee was appointed by President Barack Obama as a White House Fellow where she advised members of the administration on environmental markets, and was named by both Black Enterprise Magazine and Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine as a ’40 under 40′ rising leader. She is currently a non-resident senior fellow at the Joint Center for Political & Economic Studies, a think tank in Washington, DC.
Meridith Unger, CEO. Nix
Nix is developing a wearable, single-use patch that monitors hydration in real-time, without the need for a power-source or companion device/app. Using a proprietary hydrogel developed at Harvard University, Nix”s biosensor detects changes in an individual”s sweat as he or she dehydrates and rehydrates, including the level of electrolyte losses, indicating when to drink, what to drink, and how much to drink. Before founding Nix, Meridith helped launch six life science startups with several venture capital and venture creation firms. She is a Kauffman Fellow as well as a Harvard Business School Blavatnik Fellow. Meridith is a college basketball player-turned-runner and has run 9 marathons, including all 6 World Majors.
Sharon Berberich, CEO. Plastomics
Plastomics is a biotechnology startup using chloroplast genetic engineering to develop the next generation of high performing crops. Its platform technology provides solutions for the many current industry challenges: highly efficient trait stacking, decreased time and cost to market, more effective trait dose, simplified breeding, and elimination of outcrossing to weeds or neighboring fields. The solutions Plastomics’ technology brings results in higher yielding crops to meet the needs of the growing planet. Sharon has more than 25 years in agriculture biotechnology and crop protection, previously leading product/business development, licensing and venture investment at Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto. She also served as Director for International Programs at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, VP Business Development at Chlorogen Inc., and CEO/COO at Kaiima Bio Agritech Inc.
Erika Klotz, CEO. PopBookings
Based in Kansas City, MO, PopBookings is a software development company that is dedicated to streamlining the event staffing process with a mobile-first platform that brings agencies, clients, and talent together. The app allows users to share job opportunities, place clients, manage appearances, pay talent, track activities, and more, and is currently available to users in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Erika is responsible for bottom-line factors including devising sales strategy, cultivating client relationships, and overseeing software development. Prior to co-founding PopBookings, Erika was the co-founder of We Are Fine Line, a Kansas City based staffing agency, from 2012-2014.
Jeanette Mucha, CEO. Scibac
SciBac is a biotechnology company developing a platform for live biotherapeutics that treat and prevent antibiotic resistant disease while fortifying the human microbiome. SciBac seeks to improve beneficial microorganisms through their novel platform technology called DRIVE (Directed Recombination by In-Vitro Evolution). With this technology, SciBac will seek to quickly, naturally, and safely transfer desired genetic traits into microorganisms, with a current focus on creating solutions for antibiotic resistant disease. Jeanette is a microbiologist and immunologist with over 14 years experience. She is a prolific inventor who holds patents in the areas of microbial strain selection and immunology, as well as numerous provisional patents and trade secrets. Jeanette is also a 18-time Ironman distance triathlon finisher, including the 2009 World Championship.