PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Recently, three business founders from the Portland area received a big honor among some big names.
From making sure shelves are stocked to being invited to speak at TEDxPortland and even appearing in national publications about products and a new investment company, these women from the Portland area are breaking barriers with their businesses.
Their efforts landed them on Inc.’s Female Founders 100 List for making strides even when getting funding can be a challenge.
“Stunned silence,” Lisa Sedlar of Green Zebra Grocery said. “And of course you’re honored to see the other women on the list.”
They are among the likes of Rihanna and Serena Williams.
Sedlar founded Green Zebra Grocery in 2013. It’s like a mashup between Whole Foods and 7-Eleven. She said getting investors to buy in was and continues to be … interesting.
“We spend a lot more time raising money, unfortunately, and the questions we get are much more risk-related questions,” she said. “Where it seems like the guys get questions about growth, and we get managing risk.”
Julia Niiro is the CEO and founder of Milk Run, a home delivery service for all locally grown and made goods.
They’re looking to expand beyond the Portland Metro Area but Niiro echos Sedlar’s comments about raising venture capital.
“If you didn’t go to these huge Ivy League colleges or you weren’t in the fraternity circle or golf club, you’re in a different circle,” Niiro said. “Gaining that trust and building relationships is a little more challenging.”
Jamie Schmidt is the founder of Schmidt’s Naturals and after being acquired by Unilever, she was able to start up two other companies. Supermaker is a media company that helps start-ups get exposure and Color is an investment fund for those who are typically underrepresented, like women and people of color.
“The amount of women starting businesses is so high, but the amount of women getting funding is so incredibly low,” Schmidt said.
Last year, only around 2% of venture capital went to women founders.
As these three women make waves with their own businesses, they’re working to get that number a lot higher.