From Dame Anita Roddick and Ariana Huffington, to Beyonce and Oprah Winfrey, many women entrepreneurs are leaders in their field.

Photo of Milly Elvis

But unfortunately, this figure still stands: for every ten new businesses founded by men, there are currently fewer than five started by women.

Last year, Virgin StartUp became the first business funder to pledge 50/50 gender investment equality for Start Up Loans by the end of 2020. Recent findings show that closing the gender gap could generate £250 billion to the UK’s economy – and help many important women-led businesses get the recognition deserved.

Let’s take a look at some of the companies you probably didn’t know were founded by women.

Denise Coates – Bet365

British businesswoman Denise Coates founded Bet365 in 2000 from a portacabin in Stoke-on-Trent, building on a betting shop business ran by her father, Peter. Denise is also the chairwoman of Stoke City Football Club and is estimated to be worth around £2.5 billion.

Witney Wolfe Herd - Tinder and Bumble

American woman Witney Wolfe Herd is the founder and CEO of social dating app, Bumble, and was a co-founder of dating app, Tinder. According to reports, Bumble is valued at more than $1 billion.

Anne Boden – Starling Bank

Swansea-born Anne Boden founded digital, mobile-only challenger bank, Starling, in 2014 after a career in banking. Since its launch, it has received more than £230m of funding and won Best British Bank in 2019.

Cher Wang – HTC

Taiwanese woman Cher Wang co-founded electronics company HTC in 1997, originally designing and manufacturing laptop computers. Cher and HTC moved onto making smartphones years later. It’s estimated Cher is now worth around $1.1bn.

Caterina Fake – Flickr

American entrepreneur Caterina Fake co-founded photo sharing website Flickr in 2003, before selling it to Yahoo two years later.

Melanie Perkins – Canva

Australian woman Melanie Perkins co-founded multimedia design platform Canva in 2012 and is still its CEO today, employing more than 800 people worldwide. In 2019, it had more than 20 million users and was valued at $3.2 billion.

Julie Hartz - Eventbrite

American entrepreneur Julia Hartz co-founded global ticketing and event technology platform Eventbrite in 2006 and still holds the position of CEO today.

The 50/50 gender pledge announced last year is about more than just funding. Virgin StartUp is proactively addressing the barriers faced by women starting up their own businesses with a new programme of women-led initiatives.

Countless female founders have been helped by Virgin StartUp. Read their stories, get inspired and join them on the journey to better business now.