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Wharton Alumnae Founders & Funders Association (WAFFA) accelerates the success of women in the startup ecosystem. Join us: HelloWaffa.org

Dean Erika James knows a few things about rising to the top and breaking barriers along the way. The first woman and first person of color to become Dean of The Wharton School, James climbed from psychology grad student, to respected academic, to leader of what she described on Good Morning America as “America’s first, biggest, and best business school.”

The journey taught her plenty of lessons about how other ambitious women who want to make a difference can conquer self-doubt, navigate environments that hold them back, and help lift each other up. …


These female entrepreneurs saw large gender-based gaps in the startup ecosystem — and set out to address them.

Photo: Courtesy of Shannon Grant

Alice Zhang and Jarah Euston shared a surprising, but all too common, experience while attending a large San Francisco angel investment conference in 2018. At that point, the startup world appeared to be on the cusp of change. Groups like All Raise and Women Who Tech had been carving out inroads for women and driving awareness around the need for systems of support for female-founded startups.

But at that conference, Alice, who was launching a wellness soup line, and Jarah, who was building a B2B data company, only saw a sea of smartly accoutered men in their best Trunk Club…


A look at BoCa Flavor

Jelece Morris, Founder BoCa Flavor

Tell us a bit about your company

BoCa Flavor: We are curators of bold flavor, creating Caribbean-infused blends for everyday consumption.

What inspired you to start your business / what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?

As a recent Wharton MBA graduate, the concepts of business have become a part of my everyday life. I can’t help but see the opportunity to solve problems and make processes more efficient. When the world came to a halt in 2020 due to the pandemic, it really challenged me to push my creative mindset to the limits — in order to stay encouraged and to make the best of a very debilitating situation. Catching up with my best friend from college, Suzanne Delica, proved to…


A look at Trouble

Bari Harlam, Founder Trouble

Tell us a bit about your company

Trouble: The purpose is to raise as much money as possible for non-profits doing the hard work on closing gender equity gaps. Trouble allows us all to honor and recognize TroubleMakers, courageous disruptors for good. Trouble donates 100% of profits from purchases.

What inspired you to start your business/ what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?

The need to accelerate progress on closing equity gaps for women & girls.

What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?

Launching on the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. Generosity among TroubleMakers who have shared their stories and networks.


A look at okko

Phoebe Kunitomi, Founder/CEO okko
Phoebe Kunitomi, Founder/CEO okko
Phoebe Kunitomi, Founder/CEO okko

Tell us a bit about your company

okko is a minimalist bodywear brand for women. Our mission is to help women cut the clutter in more ways than one — starting with what they put in their top drawer.

What inspired you to start your business/ what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?

As a daughter of a Korean mother and a Japanese father, I grew up influenced by Asian minimalist values. My parents taught me to always choose quality over quantity, and not to ground my happiness in material possessions. I continue to aim to integrate this conscious mentality in okko’s design philosophy. That’s why we committed to functional and comfortable undergarments — so women only wear pieces worth owning…


A look at Parla

Tell us a bit about your company

Parla is a digital women’s health platform. On Parla women can access personalised guidance for their fertility journey, order at-home fertility tests, connect with health experts, and collaborate with a community to better understand their health.

What inspired you to start Parla?

Having myself struggled with fertility issues and pregnancy loss, I felt that the current care pathways for women were reactive in nature and lacked focus on mental wellbeing. I founded Parla as I saw an emerging trend of women taking control of their health and wanted to empower them with more choice, convenience, and confidence.

What about your personal background, experience, or perspective fuels your passion for this venture?

I am an experienced investor, management consultant and mentor…


A look at Superkin

Miriam Williams, Co-Founder Superkin

Tell us a bit about your company

Superkin is Not A Maternity Brand. We create high-tech, low-maintenance clothing for exceptional women.

What inspired you to start your business/ what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?

In 2017 both Tara and I were pregnant with Director level titles in global retail organizations. We looked around and didn’t see a maternity brand that was speaking to us as powerful, ambitious women who were growing our careers just as we were growing our families. We decided to challenge the outdated notions of motherhood that were being presented to us.


A look at Double Dee’s Lingerie

Charity Migwi, Founder/CEO Double Dee’s Lingerie

Tell us a bit about your company

Double Dee’s Lingerie is a lingerie company based in Nairobi, Kenya that caters exclusively to busty women, from cup size D and up, providing alluring yet functional intimate wear to a market that most often is neglected by mainstream companies. It is run by two high school friends, who live in Nairobi and New York City.

What inspired you to start your business/ what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?

We started the business because my business partner and I were frustrated at the fact that we couldn’t find products that could fit us, and if we were lucky enough to find them, they were downright unappealing. …


A look at Nouri

Irene Liu, Founder of Nouri

Tell us a bit about your company

Nouri is the first adaptive meal plan that fuses Eastern food therapy with Western nutrition to help expecting mothers feel their best from trying to conceive through postpartum. While meal plans are our first product, we plan to expand on our Eastern therapy philosophy to become the holistic health “one-stop-shop” for life’s most critical stages.

What inspired you to start Nouri?

The pregnancy journey is uniquely challenging in the US. Nutritional needs become ever more important for nourishing mom and baby, pregnancy symptoms change at each stage and more women are working demanding jobs, living away from their closest friends and family. …


A look at Rise

Vivian Chen, Founder of Rise

Tell us a bit about your company.

Rise is a flexible work platform for entrepreneurial women.

Powered by technology, our modern work ecosystem brings together flexible jobs, opt-in benefits, and a supportive community. We use high-skilled, work-from-anywhere roles to accelerate a woman’s career. By working on a wider range of opportunities in a shorter amount of time, women can rise up faster. Companies seeking to fill internal skills gaps, staff part-time leadership roles, or complete time-sensitive projects can use the platform as a new avenue for recruitment.

Why did you start Rise?

I started Rise two years ago after leaving my 9-to-5 job to try my luck at entrepreneurship. Like many first-time…

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