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The Female Founders of MicroVentures’ Portfolio

The Female Founders of MicroVentures’ Portfolio

Female founders are growing in numbers in the startup world. The most recent State of Business report by American Express in 2019 found that there are nearly 13 million women-owned businesses, about 42% of all companies in the U.S.[1]. Many entrepreneurial women are paving paths to start their own business in a male-dominated world.

At MicroVentures, we have seen many women-led companies become some of our many portfolio companies. In this blog, we will take a closer look at a few of these strong female entrepreneurs.

Khatija Ali

Company: BioSapien

Founded: 2018

Role: Founder and CEO


Khatija Ali is the founder and CEO of BioSapien, a venture capital-backed, pre-clinical biotech startup seeking to bring drug delivery solutions to cancer. Her desire to find new cancer solutions began suddenly when her father was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2008. After his passing, Ali applied to medical school. She spent the clinical years of medical school immersed in research – publishing over five peer-reviewed research papers on various subjects in medicine, including an oncology case study, drug delivery systems, and surgery. Since graduating from medical school, she has published numerous publications in the field of medicine. Ali also has one year of wet lab experience, including working with stem cells, and over three years of 3D printing experience. In total, she has over 15 years of professional work experience. She has founded two Canadian businesses, one in the consumer industry (2015) and one in the finance industry (2011). She holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy from McMaster University, Ontario, and an MD from Windsor School of Medicine.


Tiffany Taylor

Company: Blendtopia

Founded: 2015

Role: Founder and CEO


Tiffany is the product developer and brand visionary of Blendtopia. A certified Raw Food Nutritionist and Holistic Health Coach, Tiffany has over 16 years of advertising and marketing experience. She has previously held management positions at advertising firms in San Francisco and London. Tiffany is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, majoring in Communication, Marketing, and Advertising.


Shara Ticku

Company: C16 Biosciences

Founded: 2017

Role: Co-founder and CEO


Shara Ticku is CEO and co-founder of C16 Biosciences, a New York-based start-up solving the palm oil problem. C16 Biosciences uses microbiology to produce sustainable, bio-based edible oils that look and function just like palm oil. Prior to founding C16 Bio, Shara worked at Goldman Sachs, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and the United Nations. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA/BBA from the University of Texas at Austin.


Stacey Hronowski

Company: Canix

Founded: 2019

Role: Co-founder


Stacey Hronowski is the CEO and co-founder of Canix, Forbes 30 Under 30 Honoree, and 2020 Winner of TechCrunch Disrupt. Prior to founding Canix, Hronowski co-founded TDS Realty, an investment fund. Prior, she was on the investment team at H.I.G. Capital and the technology investment banking team at Cowen and Company.


Nirali Zaveri

Company: Friz

Founded: 2020

Role: Co-founder and CEO


Nirali is the CEO and co-founder of Friz, a venture backed company that went through the W21 batch of Y Combinator. At Friz, Nirali and her co-founder Ash are building the first of its kind neobank for freelancers in south east Asia and changing the way project based flexible workers are able to access financial services. Nirali got the inspiration to build Friz during her time at Mastercard where she worked in product management and business development roles.


Neng Bing Doh

Company: Healthcrowd

Founded: 2013

Role: Founder, CEO, and President


Neng Bing Doh (Bing) is CEO and Founder of HealthCrowd. Bing is a pioneer in mobile messaging for healthcare, with a special interest in underserved populations. She founded HealthCrowd to reinvent healthcare communication by applying behavioral change techniques and consumer analytics mastered from her experience in the online advertising industry, to healthcare. Today, HealthCrowd is used by health plans and numerous other healthcare companies to power multimodal member communications at scale in a risk-managed way, and has emerged as a thought leader in this area. Prior to HealthCrowd, Bing was a senior executive in both business development and product functions within the digital advertising network space, responsible for leading the creation of hundreds of compelling consumer experiences. Bing started her career as a software engineer at Hewlett Packard, holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and earned an MBA from Cornell, where she was a SC Johnson Merit Scholar.


Benjamina Bollag

Company: HigherSteaks

Founded: 2017

Role: Founder and CEO


Benjamina is a serial entrepreneur who has always been passionate about impacting people’s health and the environment. A passion that was amplified during the completion of her master’s in chemical engineering from Imperial College London, which is in the top ten global universities for engineering in the world and top three in the U.K. A life-long passion for commercial enterprise, coupled with a new-found understanding of the world’s food supply problem, led her to develop Higher Steaks. She started her career gaining valuable marketing experience at PepsiCo. She later went on to become a co-founder of two startups, My Modulit and Zestful, and was the lead developer at UniBuddy, a venture backed startup. Benjamina believes her experiences as a chemical engineer designing a peptide plant, developing new molecules for flavoring with Firmenich, and being part of a team solving a solidification problem within Stratasys’ additive manufacturing materials led her to start Higher Steaks.


Dr. Ke Cheng

Company: HistoWiz

Founded: 2013

Role: Founder and CEO


Ke has more than 10 years of experience in mouse histopathology and cancer research. She finished her PhD in Cancer Biology from Pier Paolo Pandolfi’s lab at Harvard and led a team of investigators to publish papers in journals such as Nature and Blood. Prior to founding HistoWiz, she worked at a cancer diagnostics company, Cancer Genetics Inc (NASDAQ: CGIX), and completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Douglas Hanahan at the Swiss Institute of Experimental Cancer Research. Ke is actively involved in the NYC bioscience community and plays water polo in her free time.


Dr. Elizabeth Clarke

Company: iMicrobes

Founded: 2014

Role: Founder and CTO


Dr. Elizabeth Clarke is the head of the Research and Development (R&D) at iMicrobes. She achieved and is responsible for the technical breakthroughs that form the company’s core technology and intellectual property. She is also the technical lead on all joint development agreement (JDA) projects. Dr. Clarke has dozens of years’ experience engineering enzyme catalysts for the production of specialty chemicals. Her expertise includes engineering large enzyme complexes and accelerating the rate of enzyme and strain evolution. Previously, Dr. Clarke managed a team of scientists responsible for a successful commercial joint development between LS9 and Procter & Gamble. Dr. Clarke has a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, and a PhD from the University of California, San Francisco, from the lab of Professor Chris Voigt (now at MIT).


Felicity Chen

Company: Potli

Founded: 2017

Role: Co-founder and CEO


Felicity is a third generation sauces and spice maker and launched Potli as a way to promote healthy living. Potli expands upon Felicity’s heritage and passion for functional ingredients by creating high-quality, craftsman kitchen staples for everyday use. Felicity is born and raised in the Bay Area and is committed to sourcing delicious ingredients from her home state. As the CEO, Felicity oversees Potli’s revenue and operations, ensuring the quality of ingredients – the primary reason customers choose Potli – is at the highest levels. Prior to Potli, Felicity worked in the food tech space at companies like UberEats and Gilt.com where she constantly thought about new ways to bring food to consumers.


Christie Lagally

Company: Rebellyous Foods

Founded: 2017

Role: Founder and CEO


Christie Lagally is the Founder and CEO of Rebellyous Foods. Christie is a mechanical engineer with 15 years of engineering experience. She spent much of her career in the aerospace industry working on commercial airplanes and spacecraft in testing, design, and manufacturing, and has previously served as the project manager for the R&D effort for the 777X wing manufacturing unit at Boeing. Christie served as a Senior Scientist for the Good Food Institute uncovering the technical barriers in the development of plant-based meat and clean (i.e. cultured) meat. She holds bachelor’s degrees in Organizational Psychology from Sonoma State University and Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She also holds a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of British Columbia.


Adina Mangubat

Company: Spiral Genetics

Founded: 2018

Role: Co-founder and CEO


Adina serves as CEO at Spiral Genetics, where she leads complex sales to highly technical individuals. Adina also drives business development and product vision and has built a diverse team of highly talented technical and scientific individuals to develop the world’s most advanced bioinformatics technology. A graduate of the University of Washington, Adina holds a B.S. in Psychology with a focus on Entrepreneurship and was recognized by the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association as one of the 2013 Women to Watch in Life Science. Additionally, she was featured in Forbes’ 30 under 30 in 2013 for Science and Healthcare. In 2017, Forbes named her as one of the All Star Alumni for the 30 under 30 in Science and Healthcare.


Deb Noller

Company: Switch Automation

Founded: 2012

Role: Co-founder and CEO


Deb brings more than 20 years of experience in technology, sustainability, and commercial real estate to her role as CEO of the Switch Automation team. As CEO, her biggest passion is helping large industries use technology to run more efficient business operations. Previously, Deb worked with Co-founder John Darlington in a number of technology businesses involved in mining and logistics. She holds a Bachelor’s of Commerce in Computer Science from James Cook University in Australia.


Nadja Mannowetz

Company: YourChoice Therapeutics

Founded: 2018

Role: Co-founder and CSO


Nadja is an expert in reproductive biology and fertilization, with over ten years of research experience and publications in top journals. She started her career in Germany focusing on studying sperm cell motility. In 2012, she joined Polina Lishko’s lab to become an expert in sperm ion channels and their implications in fertilization. She is a critical thinker and creative problem solver.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the strong women entrepreneurs that their companies have become part of MicroVentures’ portfolio. Could you be the next female founder of MicroVentures’ Portfolio? You can submit your company for consideration at https://microventures.com/startups


The information presented here is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be, nor should it be construed or used as, comprehensive offering documentation for any security, investment, tax or legal advice, a recommendation, or an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, an interest, directly or indirectly, in any company. Investing in both early-stage and later-stage companies carries a high degree of risk. A loss of an investor’s entire investment is possible, and no profit may be realized. Investors should be aware that these types of investments are illiquid and should anticipate holding until an exit occurs.


[1] https://s1.q4cdn.com/692158879/files/doc_library/file/2019-state-of-women-owned-businesses-report.pdf