From corporate boardrooms to launching new businesses, in addition to being the most educated group in America, women are making history 52 weeks, 365 days a year. So each March, the least we can do is highlight those doing it their way during Women’s History Month.
With women facing additional hurdles in the venture capital world, Amazon Alexa Startups and the Alexa Fund, which provides up to $200 million in venture capital funding to fuel Artificial Intelligence (AI) and voice technology innovation, kicked off dedicated efforts to address such inequalities through capital and non-capital support for women entrepreneurs.
In this spirit, in 2020, Alexa Startups and the Alexa Fund collaborated with All Raise — a nonprofit organization that works to empower women entrepreneurs and venture capital investors – to create an innovative pitch competition called Women Founders Represent (WFR).
In celebration of Women’s History Month, meet five women who made their voices heard at WFR, and learn how they’re boldly pushing doors open in the business and the venture capital world.
Pree Walia, Founder & CEO
Earning an Alexa Fund investment from the event, Pree Walia is the founder and CEO of the Silicon Valley-based technology startup called Preemadonna, an interactive hardware and software company focused on Gen Z-aged women.
For Walia, success has been hard-fought. After initially starting her career as a progressive political fundraiser and community organizer, passionate about solving problems for women, Walia founded Preemadonna, a company that brings both joy and utilitarian value to women.
Its initial product, Nailbot, brings the creator economy into an innovative system for personalizing nails. Customers can search for nail art, get fitted, and have the nail art applied. Or, as TechCrunch explains, “Preemadonna turns your smartphone into a nail salon.”
Doll Avant, Founder & CEO
A WFR cash prize recipient, Doll Avant is the Founder & CEO of Aquagenuity, an innovative startup that has made its mark by offering real-time water quality monitoring capabilities. Aquagenuity makes it easy for consumers, corporations, and cities to understand water quality, so they can make better decisions, protect their health, and extend the life of the planet.
Through Aquagenuity, Avant has invented the AquaScore, a proprietary algorithm, and the award-winning Aquagenuity data analytics platform that helps users track local water quality in real time and monitor water’s impact on health and sustainability, an innovation for which Avant was crowned as one of Google’s “Women of Water.”
Hailing from a family that holds nine U.S. patents, Avant is also an accomplished singer and songwriter. The Harvard graduate is on the leadership board for the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the founder of Guardians of H2O.
Through Aquagenuity, Avant has ensured that her legacy will live on by making it simple for consumers, corporations and cities to answer the question: “What’s in your water?”
Mouna Elkhatib, Co-Founder, CEO & CTO
Mouna Elkhatib is the CEO, CTO, and Co-Founder of AONDevices, Inc., a fabless semiconductor company specializing in application-specific edge AI processors with high accuracy at ultra-low power. The first release of the AONVoice™ Edge AI processor unleashes the power of smartphones and other battery-powered consumer devices to address the growing demand for more convenient and safer always-on touchless user interface.
Elkhatib has over 19 years of experience in the semiconductor business with a successful track record in engineering, engineering management, and cross-functional team leadership. Prior to AONDevices, she was the system lead and principal chip architect at Qualcomm. Before that, she was the Director of VLSI at Conexant, leading audio System-on-Chip (SOC) architecture and design. She is one of the key developers of Conexant’s PC-HD audio codecs, USB audio codecs/DSP, and Voice input processor SOCs for smart speakers.
Elkhatib also serves on the Global Semiconductor Alliance Women’s Leadership Council and runs the WLI Entrepreneurial Committee. Elkhatib holds an engineering degree from Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Electricité et de Mécanique (ENSEM), eleven US patents and eleven pending patents.
Daniela Izquierdo, Co-Founder
Technology has become a game-changer, shifting the way we do things everywhere, from remote work to communication. Seeing an opportunity to create a change of her own, former McKinsey & Company Consultant, Daniela Izquierdo helped co-found Foodology Inc., a rising startup creating digital brands that offer delivery-only dining options.
A fellow WFR finalist and cash prize recipient, so far the Colombia-based startup has proudly provided 350,000 orders at eight restaurants in six cities – all coordinated through 18 cloud-based kitchens.
A Harvard Business School alumni, Izquierdo has helped lead the way as Foodology continues to rise as a new player in Latin America’s growing restaurant industry.
Gabriella Silva, Co-Founder & CPO
Rounding out the group is Gabriella Silva, co-founder and CPO at Esportudo, one of the top-grossing sports apps in Latin America. After building a career that included experience in e-commerce product management and marketing and building teams, Silva helped co-found the growing startup in 2015.
Since then, Esportudo has exploded by listening to user needs and creating a service that has become a favorite for international football, NBA, and NFL fans, reaching over 40 million sports fans each month.
Silva has helped grow Esportudo by creating a unique solution to a notorious problem for international sports fans: creating access to a variety of sports across multiple devices and channels in different countries.
Offering custom content that caters exclusively to Latin sports, Silva has helped bring something fresh to the sports and gaming industry, earning Esportudo a spot as a WFR finalist.
Proving that history can be made in more than way, these five women have proven there’s room for everyone to win in business and venture capitalism. Stay tuned for Women Founders Represent 2021 (dates to be announced soon).
This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Amazon Alexa.