Celebrating WOC In Tech: From The Engineer Championing Female Sexual Pleasure To The CEO Making Calendar Planning More Effective
While the tech world still remains a heavily male-dominated sphere, there are a growing number of female trailblazers paving the way. Here’s a bite-sized introduction to their achievements and stories below.
Anna is a technical co-founder of Lioness, the women-led sexual health startup that built the world’s first and only smart vibrator that improves understanding of sexual pleasure and body through biofeedback data.
Before Lioness, Anna worked at Amazon Lab126’s concept engineer team, and helped launch the Kindle Voyage. She also teaches at Scientific Adventures for Girls, a non-profit that provides hands-on STEM afterschool programs for girls in elementary schools. She was listed as a Forbes 30 under 30 last year.
When asked how she went from being raised in a conservative family to being co-founder of a vibrator company, she told ‘Her Campus’: “I never thought I would be in the sexual wellness industry in any shape or form. I studied at UC Berkeley as a mechanical engineer, and I was very set on fulfilling my parent’s “American Dream.”
“After I graduated, I started working and I realized I wasn’t very happy or passionate about what I was working on [at Amazon]. My Amazon team was amazing, but it was hard to forget the fact that I was one woman in a team of 17 dudes. I had an aha moment when we were building a unisex watch, and I put it against my wrist and it didn’t fit. My coworkers had realized they had not surveyed any women to see if the watch would fit women’s wrists. I realized I had a superpower [in] being a mechanical engineer and knowing I could build things for people like me.
“Being part of this company and co-founding it was a mixture of all the right little pieces. I experienced sexual trauma as a kid, and I didn’t feel like I deserved to love my own body. I think this company has also been a journey of healing and learning how to feel really comfortable and confident of my own body.”
Another trailblazing woman is Toyin Ajayi, who in 2017 co-founded Cityblock Health, which focuses on providing healthcare for marginalized communities.
In September, it announced the closing of a $400 million Series D led by SoftBank, which boosted the company’s valuation to $5.2 billion. In March, it announced the closing of a $192 million Series C extension led by Tiger Global Management. In total, the company has raised almost $900 million in funding.
“We founded Cityblock five years ago to break the cycle of healthcare inequities by proving there is a sustainable business case – and moral responsibility – in delivering the best care to those with the most complex and costly needs in our society,” said Dr. Ajayi.
“We must do this work and do this work now. I’m honored to lead the company through this next chapter as we continue our laser focus on building our talented team and culture, and scaling our innovative technology to drive meaningful impact for our members, payer partners, and the healthcare system overall.”
Dr. Ajayi is a nationally-recognized leader in value-based care delivery for underserved populations. Prior to Cityblock, she served as Chief Medical Officer of Commonwealth Care Alliance, an integrated health plan and care delivery system for individuals eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.
While Katch, a scheduling app, raised a $4 million seed round led by the venture-capital firm LocalGlobe and the fund Speedinvest. Other angel investors included the Giphy founder Alex Chung and Classpass CEO Fritz Lanman.
It was founded by Alessandra Knight, Edwin Akrong, and Paul Murphy in 2021 with the goal of making calendar planning more effective.
“Paul reached out saying, hey, remember that thing we’ve been talking about? I’ve got six months to do absolutely nothing. And I can only start projects. So where are you right now? Do you want to start a project? I said, absolutely. He suggested we circle back with Edwin and see what he’s up to. And that’s how Edwin was pulled into this fun operation,” Alessandra told Onedeck.
The headcount at Katch currently stands at six full-time people, with plans to develop and grow the internal team as the product evolves. The focus today is on making it easy to set ad hoc meetings without all the back and forth of “Are you free? Send me a text!” katch is ready to tackle the inefficiencies of that back and forth, Onedeck reported.