LGBTQ+ founders

The Pride month has come to an end, but the rainbow euphoria is here to stay. The Pride movement has not only brought the entire LGBTQIA+ community together, but also others in their support just for one purpose – Equality. While big brands changed their logos to rainbow colours and social media was filled with posts and hashtags to celebrate Pride Month, we wonder if that is enough. 

There is not much research on the prevalence of LGBTQ+ founders, but Backstage Capital estimates that they receive less than 1% of VC funding. According to a survey conducted by Start Out, more than one-third of the founders choose to hide their sexual orientation while fundraising. There are many LGBTQ+ founders, venture capitalists and innovators who have strived to prove themselves in an industry that is still not very open to diversity. Regardless, the community has had an immense impact on the business world of startups, venture capital, private equity and M&A. Below is a list of 5 amazing startups led by LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.

1. Madison Reed

 Madison Reed is a beauty company that aims to revolutionize the way women colour their hair. It uses technology, a proprietary ammonia-free formula and a team of licensed colourists to provide salon-quality hair colour to people for under US$ 25. Its conditioning formula is crafted without ammonia, parabens, resorcinol, PPD, phthalates, and gluten. The company is backed by top VCs – Norwest Venture Partners, True Ventures and Maveron. Madison Reed products can be purchased online or through select retailers including Sephora, QVC and Ulta Beauty.

Amy Errett
Amy Errett

The company was founded back in 2013 by Amy Errett. Amy is an alumna of the Wharton Business School. In 2015 and 2018, she received the award of “Bay Area’s Most Influential Women in Business” by the San Francisco Business Times. Amy is also a member of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast chapter of YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization). She serves on the boards of the University of Connecticut Foundation, Common Sense Media, Glide and Madison Reed. She has been married to Clare Albanese since July 19, 2014 and they have a daughter named Madison Reed.

2. MALIN+GOETZ: Malin+Goetz is a cosmetics company that provides unisex skincare products and services. It blends natural ingredients with performance technologies for women and men. It aims to create an uncomplicated luxury skincare and fragrance for the modern, design-conscious individuals. Their targeted treatments offer effective solutions for specific concerns and are formulated with sensitive skin in mind. They are also striving towards more sustainable formulation and packaging practices.

Andrew Goetz and Matthew Malin
Andrew Goetz and Matthew Malin

Headquartered in New York, the company was founded in 2004 by Andrew Goetz and Matthew Malin. They are not only partners in business, but also in life. Matthew Malin has years of experience working as a skincare executive for the likes of Barneys New York, Kiehl’s and Helmut Lang Parfums. Andrew worked as US Marketing Director for the family-owned, Swiss-based design manufacturer Vitra.

3. Misterb&b: Also known as the “Airbnb for gay people”, Misterb&b is a French startup which is a renting platform for gay people. It aims to provide an inclusive platform to the LGBTQ community and address the intricacies and nuances of renting an apartment as an LGBTQ person. Misterb&b has more than 100,000 hosts in 135 countries. It connects travelers and hosts in the LGBTQ community and offers short-term rentals of homes, rooms and apartments for its users.

Matthieu Jost
Matthieu Jost

The company was founded in 2014. The Co-Founder & CEO, Matthieu Jost, rented an apartment in Barcelona with his partner. But when they arrived, they could sense that the host was uncomfortable with gay travellers She asked them “are you going to sleep in the same bed?”. And this horrible experience led to the creation of Misterb&b.

4. We are Fluide: New York-based We are Fluide is an operator of a cosmetic brand intended for LGBTQ community. Its products do not use parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde and anything that comes from animals, providing customers with safe and cruelty-free products. It designs cosmetics for all skin shades and gender expressions. We are Fluide platform amplifies the voices of queer and gender expansive identities by showcasing queer beauty.

Laura Kraber and Isabella Giancarlo.
Isabella Giancarlo and Laura Kraber

The company was launched in 2018 by Laura Kraber and Isabella Giancarlo. Inspired by her experience as a parent of NYC teenagers, Laura founded We Are Fluide with Isabella Giancarlo. Isabella is an Environmental Studies concentrator and visual artist. Being a brand strategist and designer in NYC, she saw an opportunity to create something empowering for people of all gender expressions along with Laura.

5. Werkin: Werkin unlocks peak performance for leaders and cultures through modern mentoring, coaching and training. It offers different types of mentorships and has helped organizations design, set up and run mentoring programs for their employees. They can get dedicated one-on-one coaching sessions, aligned with the business strategy of the organization.

Hayley Sudbury
Hayley Sudbury

The company was founded by Hayley Sudbury. She recognized the fact that there weren’t many role models that were like her: a gay woman. She launched Werkin to democratise access to mentorship at global organisations with tech-enabled sponsorship. Her initiative fully supports the LGBTQ+ community, people of colour, women, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented groups.

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Komal writes about the startup ecosystem on VCBay. She is an Economics Hons. graduate from Miranda House, Delhi University, and is passionate about the world of entrepreneurship and finance.



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