Which US States Have the Most Female CEOs and Entrepreneurs?

Which US States Have the Most Female CEOs and Entrepreneurs? main image

Every year in business, there are whisperings this will be the ‘Year of the Woman’, with female-led businesses leading the way and helping to break the glass ceiling once and for all. 2019 was a successful year for female entrepreneurs, all of whom were working tirelessly to close the gender gap in venture capital and challenge the status quo of the old boys’ club.

According to a recent PitchBook report, 11.2 percent of VC deals were made by female CEOs in 2019, with education (19.1 percent), pharma and biotech (14.7 percent), technology (10.2 percent), and fintech (6.7 percent) sectors leading the way.

PitchBook also named the four major cities where female CEOs are doing the most business: Los Angeles (17.1 percent), New York (15.3 percent), Silicon Valley (12.1 percent) and Boston (11.7 percent).

Does the city where you start your business matter?

Short answer? Yes! Female-founded start-ups are most prevalent in North America, specifically in the US. The four most active areas in the US seem to split evenly between the coasts: LA and Silicon Valley out west and New York and Boston in the east.

Examples of New York-based companies that made headlines last year include Rent the Runway and Glossier, while the Bay Area-based The RealReal was also one of the more notable start-ups in 2019.

Success isn’t limited to these start-up hubs though, with female entrepreneurs succeeding even in US cities which offer fewer funding opportunities or a minimized entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Take Lovevery – a recreational goods company with its HQ in Boise, Idaho – founded by CEO Jessica Rolph in 2015.

Although Idaho doesn’t seem like an entrepreneurial hub, the child development company (offering a wide range of play products for children through an online portal) has nine investors and one of its latest deals totaled US$22.6m. 

Pitchbook’s data demonstrated that although there are challenges female entrepreneurs face, women around the country are in fact succeeding in their goals of creating valuable, thriving companies.

Women were able to surpass 2018’s decade-high US$3bn in venture capital, demonstrating the VC market may in fact finally be getting the shakeup it needed.

Start-ups to lookout for in the top US states

New York

Founders Stephanie Korey and Jennifer Rubio launched Away, a designer travel luggage company in 2015. Customers can buy a range of luggage products made of a lightweight and durable polycarbonate and premium materials, an ejectable battery to charge your devices, as well as an interior laundry bag and compression system, giving passengers a stylish and useful traveling companion.

Based in New York, Away’s last known valuation was US$1.45bn, with the latest deal amount totaling US$100m. 


Kendra Scott – founded by CEO Kendra Scott – has its HQ in Austin, Texas.

Founded in 2002, the company (with 1,000-5,000 employees) is described as a multi-channel fashion accessories brand inspired by travel, personal experiences and a sense of community.

Whether it’s necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets, beauty products or home goods – Kendra Scott’s portfolio is vast. There are 90 standalone retail stores scattered across 32 states and the accessories business was last valued at US$1bn.


OnXmaps, Inc., founded in 2009, is currently overseen by CEO Laura Orvidas (formerly a high-flying Amazon employee of 19 years), at the company’s HQ in Bozeman, Montana.

The company (with 61-70 employees) develops a mobile mapping technology app for outdoor adventurers – and its HQ is definitely in the right spot when taking into account Montana’s vast and picturesque landscape.

But how does it work? The maps application utilizes GPS and a chip, giving users access to a color-coded map that shows state, county, federal and private lands from any advice, anywhere. The company is seemingly doing well regardless of its smaller scales, with its latest deal totaling US$20.3m.

After almost two decades at Amazon, directing several divisions, she knew she desired to be CEO someday, working with a smaller company for a great product and market fit. It looks like Orvidas found her true calling in Montana. 

Bay Area

Kristen Dumont became CEO of Machine Zone – based in Palo Alto – in June 2018 after serving as the company’s Chief Operating Officer since 2015. However, the most interesting element of Dumont’s career is she is the first and only woman CEO of a major gaming company.

The entertainment software company’s last known valuation was US$5bn, and with its HQ in Palo Alto, it’s certainly rubbing shoulders with the best in the sector.

Founded in 2008, the mobile games developer offers entertainment in multiplayer experiences, allowing gaming to be an ever more social experience.

One pull of the company (that boasts a workforce of 801-900 employees) is its live global data ecosystem that breaks down geographic and linguistic barriers, enabling global players to compete in one unified gaming world.

Niamh Ollerton, Deputy Head of Content at QS
Written by Niamh Ollerton

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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