How Women-Led Startups Become Billion Dollar Companies

This Voices submission comes from Connecticut Entrepreneur-in-Residence Janis Collins. Through the Stamford Innovation Center and the B:Hive in Bridgeport, Janis mentors entrepreneurs and connects them to needed resources. She is also co-founder of The Refinery, an accelerator program designed to assist women-led ventures by engaging local intellectual and financial capital, and started and leads Founder’s Connect, a women’s entrepreneur forum. 

Read more about Janis below and follow her at: @janiscollins

—-

Whoever would have thought a woman could start a billion dollar company out of her Connecticut home? Martha Stewart did. And there other women in our state primed to follow in her footsteps.

Stewart’s ethics aside, she is a stunning example of how women take on entrepreneurship. She used initiative, determination, marketing, resourcefulness, and just plain hard work to build a global media company starting out of a kitchen in Westport.

For me, this proves the point that women tend to start companies on a shoestring, work like a dog to build it, use less capital to grow, and perform at par or greater than male-led companies.

Continuing in this trend of starting big businesses in the home, women led ventures seem to be bubbling up everywhere in Connecticut. In 2012, there were 98,000 women-owned businesses in our state.

Who knows which one will be the next billion dollar company?

As an Executive in Residence for CT Next and through my own passion to mentor entrepreneurs, I have met with over 200 Connecticut startups in the past year, of which around 25% were led by women. All of the women-led startups are still going, and many of the others not.

One startup I like, and think has the chances of making it big, is TurqSport, founded by CEO Susan White in her Greenwich, Connecticut home.

Screen shot from Turq's website, promoting fun in the sun for men, without chafing cramping their style.

Screen shot from Turq’s website, promoting fun in the sun for men, without chafing cramping their style.

Susan addressed a market need with a cool product. TurqSport swim briefs make it easy for men and boys to get in and out of the surf without chafing.

Test launched in 2012, she sold out in one week. Now in 40 stores and sold online, she is about to hit her stride in her second full season.

Already designing the next phase for women and other activities, Susan has that “women-led” thing going for her:  an appetite for hard work, willingness to operate on a shoestring, incredible resourcefulness, and brilliant vision.

Significant sales and the need to hire more employees is pushing Susan to move out of her home office. If I had to bet, and who knows, maybe one more billion dollar company will have started in Connecticut.

About Janis Collins

Janis Collins
Janis Collins is a Connecticut Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Stamford Innovation Center and the B:Hive in Bridgeport where she mentors entrepreneurs and connects them to needed resources. She is the co-founder of The Refinery (www.refineryct.com), an accelerator program designed to assist women-led ventures by engaging local intellectual and financial capital. She started and leads a women’s entrepreneur forum, Founder’s Connect, to help provide women entrepreneurs of Fairfield County more access to capital, networks and knowledge. A committed and passionate advisor to startups, she recently created Juice, an event to connect food innovators, mentors and investors. Janis coaches dozens of regional startups, using her proven methodology to help them develop their pitch and go-forward plans. Follow Janis at: @janiscollins