Top seven female founders of high growth businesses

Here, we take a look at the top female founders making a success in their respective categories.

New research shows that male and female founders differ greatly on major business issues.

The report called 100 Stories of Growth: Capital at Work by Intelligent Partnership, which surveyed 150 founders from the UKs leading growth businesses found that women founders’ valued skills over networking.

86 per cent of women found getting skills in their business to be the most important factor, compared to 59 per cent of male founders. The report said that the findings suggested that women may be better suited to leadership than men.

Here are seven female founders who run successful businesses.

Raishma Islam – Founder of Raishma

In 1998 Raishma Islam launched the eponymous fashion brand Raishma, moving on from her previous job as assistant designer to Princess Diana’s wedding dress designer. Since launch the company has created over 2,000 couture and bridal gowns and is sold in department stores such as Debenhams in the Middle-east.

After years of building up a loyal client base Raishma partnered SEIS investments with Jenson Funding Partners to move into a wholesale, ready-to-wear direction in 2013. Today the brand has turnover of £1 million and the brand also won Retail Business of the Year at the British Small Business Awards in 2017.

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Virginie Charlès-Dear – Co-founder & CEO of ToucanBox

The former Yahoo! executive and investment banker has gone from selling toys online funded by her own savings to the UK’s fastest growing educational technology. The mother of three created a colourful kit of games puzzles and stories to help spark the creativity of her three-year-old child and ended up making it into a business that has raised £6.2 million in capital, including £2.7 million from the Business Growth Fund and has a staff of 35 in just its fifth year of operation. Sales hit £2 million in 2015.

Priya Lakhani – Founder & CEO of Century Tech

Growth-focused Century Tech’s founder and CEO Priya Lakhani is using ethical, technology and human capital to raise student education standards in the UK. Building off her first successful business venture Masala Masala, an ethnic sauce brand, Lakhani has already begun to disrupt the education industry. Century Tech was a finalist of the acclaimed Techcrunch Awards in 2016, has a staff of 37 and has raised £4.3 million in capital.

Rachel Carrell – Founder & CEO of Koru Kids

Koru Kids is quickly making a claim to being London’s fastest growing childcare company. Offering parents affordable childcare options in the form of ‘nanny-sharing’, the company is being heralded as the Airbnb of childcare. Koru Kids, which raised £600,000 from Gumtree founder Michael Pennington, is now able to offer 15,000 hours of childcare a month thanks in part to the £4.1 million in capital the company has raised.

Celia Francis – CEO of Rated People

Tech company, Rated People, bill themselves as digital disruptors of the trades world since its founding in 2005. CEO Celia Francis emphasises the value of finding trustworthy trades workers and has helped built a network of over 22,000 vetted tradespeople with 1 million jobs posted annually.

With a staff of 130 the company has a built up an annual gross merchandise volume of £2 billion.

Julia Elliot Brown – Co-Founder & CEO of Enter the Arena

CEO and co-founder Julia Elliott Brown sold her fashion tech company in 2005 after an ‘unforeseen funding crunch’ put a halt to its six-year scale-up journey. Using her experience with her company she has been able to advise women entrepreneurs who want to raise equity financing for their high growth businesses with consultancy firm Enter the Arena.

Kate Lester – Founder of Diamond Logistics

Diamond Logistics was already turning over around £1 million annual revenue during its first 20 years, but founder Kate Lester had a ‘Kodak moment’ five years ago to scale up her business.

Collapses in the same-day courier market made her realise her business would ‘become extinct’. Since then, the business has grown tenfold and Lester is focused on scaling the business up to the £100 million revenue mark.

Michael Somerville

Uriel Beer

Michael was senior reporter for from 2018 to 2019.

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