Top 4 Cities for Female Founders

This morning, 1000 American women launch their startup. Women are creating 52% more businesses than we were a decade ago. Here are the top 4 places female founders thrive today.

This morning, one thousand American women launch their startup. Tomorrow, another thousand female founders will wake up and start companies. The growing army of women entrepreneurs is outpacing any other single large demographic category. Sure, some of these new female founders will fail, but most will succeed.  That’s by the numbers–not optimism. Across the board, business failures are down a third since the 1970s.

After 5 years, 50% of businesses are still open, and another 17% have already had an positive exit. Despite what you’ve been told about most small businesses dying,  the 5 year failure rate is closer to 30% than the 80% often quoted. (If you’re quant-inclined, here are the full, original business survival stats.)

Maybe it’s because more women have started businesses than men in the last decade. Even so, whether or not they knew the odds were for them or against them, women entrepreneurs have added a net new 1,290,245 jobs and $90,191,545 billion in payroll to the nation’s economy in the last decade. A few cities are emerging  as hot spots ofwomen’s entrepreneurship. They’re taking advantage of the new economic engine of women-led firms and it’s boosting the bottom line in several ways.

Hotspot for revenue growth for female founders: Atlanta

Women-led businesses in Atlanta lead the nation in revenue growth–65% in the last ten years. Atlanta is also in the top 5 cities nationally for new companies started by women, with 65% growth. (For comparison, the growth rate for guy-led firms in Atlanta is  22%).

Mayor Kasim Reed has put women’s entrepreneurship in focus, even opening a city-sponsored incubator downtown for high potential women entrepreneurs. Atlanta is also home to Startup Runway, a regional pitch series that connects female founders to seed capital.

Live it like a local: Atlanta has a number of startup hubs worth visiting, including the Gathering Spot, FlatIron City, Tech Square Labs, and the largest, Atlanta Tech Village in the financial center of Buckhead. It boasts one of the few women-led venture firms in the country, Valor Ventures, and is also the home of the famous Startup Chicks.

Hotspot with the largest number of female founders: Texas

While Atlanta’s growth is incredible, nobody can touch Texas for the sheer number of women-owned firms. Houston, Dallas and San Antonio are all in the top 10 cities nationally for number of women-owned businesses and for the growth rate of women-led firms. Plus, with Fort Worth now in the mix, Texas is home to not the top one, two or three, but the top four cities in the country for topline revenue.

Live it like a local: The 1500 power women of the Austin Women Who Code chapter are game-changers. Check them out at an upcoming event soon. The local chapter ofAustin Women in Technology is also a powerhouse.

Hotspot with the greater number of female founders in tech: Chicago

Thirty percent of the software companies launched in the City of the Big Shoulders are shouldered by women. That percentage leads the nation. In other tech hubs like New  York and Silicon Valley, the number of tech startups started by women is around 18%.

Live it like a local: Go to 1871. Just go.

Hotspot with the most municipal support: New York

Mayor Bill de Blasio kicked off Women Entrepreneurs New York City (WE NYC) last year. Unlike most major cities, which focus on bringing major corporate jobs, New York is carving a specific budget for women across all five boroughs to build businesses as a key economic driver. Why? Their report cites a recent study by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor found that women entrepreneurs rate their happiness higher than their counterparts in traditional employment–and of course, it’s good for New York.

Live it like a local: Subscribe to the weekly startup scene email roundup from insider Charlie O’Donnell, the man behind Brooklyn Bridge Ventures.

The new economic engine of growing economies: female founders

These hotspots are part of a larger national trend. In the last decade with verified numbers, the number of U.S. businesses created by female founders jumped by 52%.

Investing in women-led startups has become a growing venture capital trend.  Despite these challenges, hotspots like Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, San Antonio, New York and more across the country are making women’s entrepreneurship a clear financial, economic and civic priority.

This was first published in my column on Inc. Magazine.

In this article


Join the Conversation