The 15 most powerful women in startups in 2022

The 15 most powerful women in startups in 2022

Fortune’The Most Powerful Women list ranks the most influential executives in the business world. The CEOs and executives on this list tend to lead large companies that are already wielding influence in the global economy.

However, some of the leaders of the big companies of tomorrow are currently managing start-ups that are still private. To reflect this future, Fortune this year releases this list of some of the most influential female leaders working in startups as founders and CEOs. Based on valuation data from PitchBook, this list highlights the women at the top of some of today’s most valued startups.

First on the list is Canva co-founder and CEO Melanie Perkins, who appears on the cover of the October/November issue of Fortune. Among today’s top startup leaders, Perkins can claim three combined accomplishments that no other woman has yet achieved: she founded her company; she runs it as CEO; and the company is worth more than $20 billion. Women-founded companies close to Canva’s valuation have female founders in non-CEO leadership positions, while women-led companies have lower valuation.

Yet the women on this list are notable, either as founders in influential roles at their highly regarded startups or as CEOs of highly regarded companies. This universe remains entirely too small: co-ed founding teams like Canva’s raised 14.8% of venture capital dollars last year, while all-female founding teams claimed 2.4%, according to PitchBook.

Courtesy of Canva

1. Melanie Perkins

Co-founder and CEO, Canva
Valuation: $26 billion

Valued at $40 billion in 2021, Canva was the most valued female-founded startup in the world. Even after its valuation cut, the company still holds that distinction.

Read more: 35-year-old Canva founder Melanie Perkins was rejected by 100 VC. Now his $26 billion design startup is ready to take on Microsoft and Google

Courtesy of Byju’s

2. Divya Gokulnath

Co-Founder and Director, Byju’s
Valuation: $22 billion

Gokulnath co-founded India’s most valuable startup, Byju’s. The ed-tech giant has encountered hurdles amid the economic downturn, reportedly missing 2021 financial targets as it seeks profitability.

Qilai Shen—Bloomberg/Getty Images

3. Miranda Qu

Co-Founder and Chairman, Xiaohongshu
Valuation: $20 billion

Social e-commerce app Xiaohongshu (translation: “Little Red Book”) has been key to the rise of experiential shopping in China. The Alibaba-backed startup is based in Shanghai.

Kelsey McClellan

4. Fiji Simo

CEO, Instacart
Valuation: $15 billion

The former Facebook executive took over its founder’s grocery delivery service in 2021. Instacart saw its valuation cut nearly 50% to $15 billion in 2022 and is considering an exit, with Simo set to close. add a chair to its title after the IPO.

Courtesy of Cityblock Health

5. Toyin Ajayi

Co-founder and CEO, Cityblock Health
Valuation: $6.3 billion

Ajayi co-founded the healthcare company that aims to serve marginalized populations in 2017 and served as chairwoman of Cityblock before succeeding her co-founder as CEO in March.

Courtesy of Ruchi Kalra

6. Ruchi Kalra

Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer, OfBusiness; co-founder and CEO, Oxyzo
Valuations: $5 billion (OfBusiness); $1 billion (Oxyzo)

Kalra is one half of the power couple of Indian unicorns. With her husband Asish Mohapatra, she co-founded carbon management firm OfBusiness and digital lender Oxyzo.

Courtesy of Guild Education

7. Rachel Romer

Co-Founder and CEO, Guild Education
Valuation: $4.4 billion

B2B education startup Guild, co-founded by Romer in 2015, works with companies to provide employees with learning, career development and coaching programs.

Nick Otto for FORTUNE

8. Adi Tatarko

Co-founder and CEO, Houzz
Valuation: $4 billion

Tatarko launched the Houzz home renovation and design platform with her husband in 2009. Some 65 million homeowners and 3 million home construction and design professionals use the platform.

Stuart Isett for Fortune

9. Eynat Guez

Co-founder and CEO, Papaya Global
Valuation: $3.7 billion

Papaya Global tackles the unsexy aspects of technology: HR and payroll. Israel-based Guez co-founded the startup after a long career in global workforce management.

Chris Saucedo—Getty Images

10. Play Julia

Founder and CEO, Everly Health
Valuation: $3.5 billion

Cheek, a rare solo founder, launched Everly Health with digital home lab testing for food sensitivities and fertility, before branching out into telehealth care. Of companies founded solely by women, hers has the highest valuation.


11. Anne Boden

Founder and CEO, Starling Bank
Valuation: $3.4 billion

Boden has built a fintech competitor with an atypical founder profile; the former British finance executive was in her 50s when she launched Starling. Digital banking is now valued at $3.4 billion.

Terence Patrick—CBS/Getty Images

12. Kim Kardashian

Founder, Skims
Valuation: $3.2 billion

Kardashian’s Skims is the business venture that puts her in the business of female founders of much-loved startups (her others include skincare line Skkn by Kim and new private equity firm SKKY Partners). The clothing company, which began with shapewear, is one of the Kardashian-Jenner clan’s most successful business ventures.

Courtesy of Insitro

13. Daphne Koller

Founder and CEO, Insitro
Valuation: $2.4 billion

Koller is a prominent founder in the hard sciences, where she launched the drug discovery and development company Insitro. His startup, which uses machine learning, is valued at $2.4 billion.

Stuart Isett for Fortune

14. April KB

Co-founder and CEO, Spring Health
Valuation: $2 billion

Spring Health provides mental health care services as employer-provided health benefits. Koh, now 30, became the youngest woman to lead a multi-billion dollar company when the startup hit its $2 billion valuation in 2021.

15. Jinglan Wang

Co-founder and CEO, Optimism
Valuation: $1.7 billion

Wang is a well-known figure in crypto circles. His startup was once a nonprofit research organization backed by Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin before pivoting into a for-profit company valued at $1.7 billion as it worked to scale Ethereum .

All PitchBook valuation data

An abridged version of this list appears in the October/November 2022 issue of Fortune.

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