Women ARE Running Startups

1/11/13Follow @sramana

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Office Depot, among others, provide the company with a steady stream of revenue. And in a potential market of $2.2 billion by 2015, Orr continues to increase market penetration and revenue through her website, custom wholesale, OEM channels and licensing.

Erin Lewis: Fashion Forward Maternity

Though an engineer by profession, Erin Lewis found herself fixating on the difficulties that she and other pregnant women faced trying to look the part of the professional while pregnant. She decided to end the pointless struggles involved in spending a fortune on new clothes—or buying and borrowing those that never fit in the first place—by creating a place where any pregnant woman could find exactly what she needed.

Fashion Forward Maternity is an e-commerce maternity clothing rental company, where women can find suitable clothing for any occasion, wear them for up to a month, and return after using. Based largely upon the success of similar operations like Bag Borrow or Steal, Fashion Forward Maternity supplies designer clothing (partners include Maternal America, Olian, and Paige Denim, to name a few) for just $23.50 per month, shipping included. Returned clothing is cleaned by a third-party cleaner using green techniques, to ensure there are no health risks for pregnant or nursing mothers.

Average customers of the Colorado-based company rent 5-6 pieces per month, but while some have requested as many as 30, it is equally as acceptable to stay with one for a special event. The site also offers referral discounts, meaning some shoppers can walk away with an entire month’s order for free.

Lewis and her two business partners have bootstrapped the entirety of their funding to date. After positive revenue generation for the first month of business, Fashion Forward Maternity has continued to grow its customer base on a steady 15 percent each month.

I continue to be bullish on the women entrepreneur issue, and stand firmly against the thesis that women face prejudice in the startup world. On my blog, I have featured case study after case study of successful women entrepreneurs: Victoria Ransom, Julia Hartz, Therese Tucker, Amy Pressman, Judy Estrin, Sara Sutton Fell, Wendy Tan White, and numerous others. Together, these women have been responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

The issue is not that women face prejudice. The issue is that not enough women become entrepreneurs.

For those who do venture into this turbulent world, the rules of the game are the same as it is with men: Entrepreneurship = Customers + Revenues + Profits.

As long as women entrepreneurs remain focused on those fundamentals, we will continue to move forward as a society.

For those who choose to whine about prejudice and obstacles, you are wasting your time.

Sramana Mitra is the founder of One Million by One Million (1M/1M), a global virtual incubator that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant, she writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy, and is author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. From 2008 to 2010, Mitra was a columnist for Forbes. As an entrepreneur CEO, she ran three companies: DAIS, Intarka, and Uuma. Sramana has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Follow @sramana

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