The 15 most powerful women in startups in 2022

Fortune’The Most Powerful Women list ranks the most influential executives in global business. The CEOs and executives on that list tend to run big companies that already wield their influence in the global economy.

Yet some of tomorrow’s big business leaders are, for now, running still-private start-ups. To reflect that future, Fortune this year is publishing 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 women at the top of some of the most highly valued startups today.

First on the list is Canva co-founder and CEO Melanie Perkins, who graces the cover of the October/November issue of Fortune. Among today’s top-tier 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. Companies founded by women close to Canva’s valuation have female founders in executive roles who are not CEOs, while companies with female CEOs are of lower value.

Still, the women on this list are notable, whether as founders holding influential positions at their high-value startups or as CEOs of high-value companies. This universe is still too small: Co-ed founding teams like Canva’s received 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

With a value of $40 billion in 2021, Canva was the most valuable female-founded startup in the world. Even after its valuation was lowered, the company still holds that distinction.

Read more: Canva founder Melanie Perkins, 35, was turned down for 100 VC. Now his $26 billion design startup is ready to take on Microsoft and Google

Courtesy of Byju

2. Divya Gokulnath

Co-founder and director, Byju’s
Valuation: $22 billion

Gokulnath co-founded India’s most valuable startup, Byju’s. The edtech giant has faced hurdles amid the economic downturn and has reportedly missed 2021 financial goals 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’s valuation is down nearly 50% to $15 billion in 2022 and he’s eyeing an exit, with Simo set to 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 underserved populations in 2017 and served as president of Cityblock before replacing her co-founder as chief executive in March.

Courtesy of Ruchi Kalra

6. Ruchi Kalra

co-founder and CFO of OfBusiness; co-founder and CEO, Oxyzo
Valuations: $5 billion (OfBusiness); $1 billion (Oxyzo)

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

Courtesy of Guild Education

7. Rachel Romer

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

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

Nick Otto for FORTUNE

8. Adi Tatarko

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

Tatarko started the home design and remodeling platform Houzz with her husband in 2009. Some 65 million homeowners and 3 million home design and construction 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 unattractive corners of technology: human resources and payroll. Israel-based Guez co-founded the startup after a long career in global workforce management.

Fake pictures of Chris Saucedo

10. Julia Cheek

Founder and CEO, Everly Health
Valuation: $3.5 billion

Cheek, a rare solo founder, started Everly Health with digitally enabled home lab tests for food sensitivity and fertility, before expanding into telehealth care. Among companies founded solely by women, hers has the highest rating.

GEOFF CADDICK—AFP/Getty Images

11. Ana Boden

Founder and CEO, Starling Bank
Valuation: $3.4 billion

Boden created a fintech competitor with an atypical founder profile; the former British financial executive was in her mid-50s when she launched Starling. The digital bank is valued at $3.4 billion today.

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 company of female founders of highly valued startups (her others include skincare line Skkn by Kim and new private equity firm SKKY Partners). The apparel business, which began with shapewear, is among the most successful business ventures of the Kardashian-Jenner clan.

Courtesy of Institute

13. Daphne Koller

Founder and CEO, Insitro
Valuation: $2.4 billion

Koller is a leading 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 Koh

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

Spring Health offers mental health care services as an employer-provided health benefit. Koh, now 30, became the youngest woman to run a multibillion-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 backed by Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin before it became a for-profit company valued at $1.7 billion as he worked to scale Ethereum.

All PitchBook Valuation Data

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

Add Comment