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Young Entrepreneurs Advocate Cross-Collaboration within Industries

These prominent and promising women, paired by industry, explain how innovation and collaboration are the seeds of success. And the only way to change business as usual and save the world

Published: Jun 26, 2013 06:32:24 AM IST
Updated: Jun 26, 2013 12:56:45 PM IST
Young Entrepreneurs Advocate Cross-Collaboration within Industries
Image: by Tim Pannell for Forbes; Makeup by Piret Aava; Hair by Kati Vaikre
(Left)Susan Wojcicki and Leila Janah

Susan Wojcicki, 44, senior VP, advertising, Google. Responsible for 87 percent of the company’s $50 billion in revenue in 2012, making her the lead of a $43.5 billion ad business.

Leila Janah, 30, founder, Samasource, a nonprofit social business that gives digital work to impoverished people
around the world.


TECH
Wojcicki: My role is to invent the future. We have a vision, work at it, and the fun is when people actually start using it. It’s amazing to see real businesses built with our products.

Janah: We’re doing just that with microwork for women and young people in poverty, splitting big digital projects into smaller units of work. We have women in rural Uganda doing data entry who can now support their families. There’s a Hindi word, jugaad, which is part of our values and essentially means: “Do more with less”.

Young Entrepreneurs Advocate Cross-Collaboration within Industries
Image: by Tim Pannell for Forbes; Makeup by Piret Aava; Hair by Kati Vaikre
(Left)AlexAndra wilkis wilson Hayley Barna (Centre) And Kaia Beauchamp

AlexAndrA wilkis wilson, 36, co-founder, Gilt Groupe. The members-only flash-sale site most recently valued at $1 billion is one-stop shopping for luxury products from Birkin bags to Jaguar cars.


Hayley Barna (Centre) And Kaia Beauchamp, 29, 30, co-founders, Birchbox. Started the
“in a box” business mo-del. Their subscription service offers monthly care packages of beauty and personal-care pro-duct samples and also sells full-size versions of the products.


ECOMMERCE
Barna: We wanted to start a business, and we saw the trend
of disruption and realised that no one was doing anything around beauty, which is a huge, multi-billion-dollar industry.

Wilson: Women are shopping online, and especially women in the workforce. I saw it as an opportunity to create and sell something beautiful.

Beauchamp: We’ve moved so far from the search-box database experience of Amazon or eBay. Shopping should be personalised. If you have blonde hair, you should be reading articles about people who look like you.

Young Entrepreneurs Advocate Cross-Collaboration within Industries
Image: by Tim Pannell for Forbes; Makeup by Piret Aava; Hair by Kati Vaikre
(Left)Mary Callahan Erdoes and Alexa Von Tobel

Mary Callahan Erdoes, 45, CEO, Asset Management, JPMorgan Chase, and one of the most powerful women on Wall Street. Her division has $1.5 trillion assets under management.

Alexa Von Tobel, 29, founder, LearnVest, a personal finance site designed especially for women that offers personalised advice and tools; it recently became a registered investment advisor with the SEC.


FINANCE
Von Tobel: A lot of people ask me, “Do you have any issues being a woman in this industry?” Well, I’ve never felt like I was a woman—I’m just really focussed on building my business. I don’t know if that would have happened at any other time. I’m grateful for the great work of the generation of women before me.

Erdoes: The balance of males and females is definitely changing, and it’s the digital world that’s made that possible. The levelling power of the internet has made so many things that used to be barriers—like where you work, at what hours—irrelevant.

Young Entrepreneurs Advocate Cross-Collaboration within Industries
Image: by Tim Pannell for Forbes; Makeup by Piret Aava; Hair by Kati Vaikre
(Left)Gayle King and Kathryn Minshew, 27

 

Gayle King, 58, co-anchor, CBS This Morning, and editor-at-large for O: The Oprah Magazine. Oh, and O’s bestie.

Kathryn Minshew, 27, co-founder of The Muse, a career-development platform used by over 3 million professionals.

MEDIA
King: People ask me all the time if I will be their mentor, and the answer most of the time is no.
A mentor implies a personal connection, and that’s hard to have with somebody you hardly know. Role models are different: You can look at somebody and think, “Boy, I’d like to do that, too.”

Minshew: I have conversations with investors, and they explicitly reference the founders of Birchbox or Rent the Runway. These women have established a model for successful entrepreneurs who look like me. Even though we love the story of the entrepreneur who has no resources and still makes something great, most had other people who were willing to bet on them. Right now people are more willing to bet on male than female entrepreneurs. I think that’s changing but not fast enough.

Young Entrepreneurs Advocate Cross-Collaboration within Industries
Image: by Tim Pannell for Forbes; Makeup by Piret Aava; Hair by Kati Vaikre
(Left)Tamara Mellon, and Sally Lapointe

Tamara Mellon, 45, co-founder, Jimmy Choo. Continues to be a force in the fashion industry after selling her stake in Choo in 2011. She’s launching her own label later this year and penning a memoir,
In My Shoes, due out in October.


Sally Lapointe, 28, founder, Sally LaPointe. Lady Gaga and Julianne Hough are fans of this fashion designer, who has five collections of sharply tailored yet flowing and feminine women’s clothing under her belt.


FASHION
Mellon: Starting a business is the most creative thing I’ve done. You need so many skill sets for a startup that have nothing to do with design: Hiring, management, money.

Lapointe: You have to be innovative about things you never thought you would…

Mellon: Like cash flows?

Lapointe:  Yes, and even what it means to be a success. Quick success is obviously good, but you need to keep it slow, cultivate your brand and be really careful about moving too fast. Otherwise you might become a flash in the pan.

Young Entrepreneurs Advocate Cross-Collaboration within Industries
Image: by Tim Pannell for Forbes; Makeup by Piret Aava; Hair by Kati Vaikre
(Left) DebOrah Dugan and Lauren Bush Lauren

Deborah Dugan, 55, CEO, (RED), co-founded by Bono. The brand connects businesses and consumers to fight AIDS in Africa.

Lauren Bush Lauren, 28, co-founder, FEED Projects, a social venture that sells bags and accessories and has turned that money into 60 million meals for schools through a partnership with the UN’s World Food Programme


SOCIAL  ENTREPRENEURS
Dugan: Cause marketing is the future. Companies must do good because we demand it. Now you have a consumer, a private and a public sector all at one time focussed on changing the world. It is strange bedfellows that are going to make it happen.

Bush Lauren: There is so much opportunity for growth now that real business skills are valued at nonprofits and in the social business sector. The challenge is to get people to participate in very big, overwhelming world issues like hunger but do it in a way that’s fun, creative and accessible. We’re not asking people to dedicate their lives to the issue but letting them know it’s easy to do and they are going to make a difference.

(This story appears in the 28 June, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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