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Amsterdam’s wonder women

Women are shaping the future of Amsterdam's startup scene and these are some of the most exciting movers and shakers leading the way.

What are the top women-run startups in Amsterdam? And who are the women at the helm? This roundup (in no particular order) highlights a few of the female mavericks putting Amsterdam on the map for inspiration and innovation.

1. Simone Brummelhuis

Partner at Borski Fund 

Simone has been recognised in multiple media outlets as one of the most influential business women in the Netherlands and was included in The Guardian’s article “10 Women to meet in Tech”. She is a founding partner and fund director of Borski Fund, a VC fund investing in technology leaders and diversity and also founded The Next Women, which provides female entrepreneurs with access to capital, programmes, resources and networks.

Super power: Governance, digital transformation, legal advice and supporting women entrepreneurs

2. Christina Calje

Co-founder at Autheos

Christina is co-founder of Autheos, a marketing technology platform that applies artificial intelligence techniques to inform video strategies, creating personalised video experiences for their client’s online consumers.  Drawing from vast executive experience in finance and e-commerce companies across New York, London and Amsterdam, she’s also served on the Advisory Board for multiple artificial intelligence startups. Alongside her advisory leadership roles, Christina expanded her focus in 2021 to the investment space, partnering with industry and governmental organizations to address the funding gap of underrepresented founders in Europe. 

Super power: Championing under-represented groups in leadership roles and bringing an innovative mindset to the application of artificial intelligence

3. Ellen Spithoven

Business advisor for PIM and MKB Digital Workspace & project leader for Ready 2 Scale

For the past two years, Ellen has been the programme manager at Ready 2 Scale, a collaborative growth initiative designed to help entrepreneurs who are looking to expand. The programme will be extended for another three years and during that time she will act as the project leader focussing on growth and digitisation. Ellen is also the business advisor at PIM, which helps mission-driven startups and SMEs attract external funding. In addition to these two projects, she helps companies digitise their businesses through MKB Digital Workspace, an ACE-Incubator initiative. Ellen’s always on the lookout for new projects that positively impact entrepreneurs and the environment.

Super power: Community building, funding, co-creation and business development

4. Emilie Sobels

Founder Hashtag Workmode & The Self-Made Summit

Emilie has been busy. In 2015, she launched Hashtag Workmode, a lively community and co-working space for female entrepreneurs and, in 2017, she co-authored Babe, you got this, a book for “women who dream of success”. Hashtag Workmode is also the driving force behind one of the biggest female empowerment events in the region: The Self-Made Summit, which brings together powerful and ambitious women to support each other in their careers.

Super power: Creating engaging new concepts that are focussed on impacting the lives of ambitious women

5. Anca Stefan

CTO & Co-Founder at Creative Fabrica 

Anca discovered her love of math and started coding at an early age. Her career has taken her from junior programmer all the way to Chief Technology Officer. She is currently a co-founder of Creative Fabrica, a social & digital marketplace for the global crafting community. Creative Fabrica occupies an important space within the creator economy, fostering a close-knit ecosystem for crafters. The platform provides a broad crafting audience with inspiration, resources and tooling for a spectrum of craft verticals.

Super power: Coming up with creative solutions for technical challenges

6. Iffat Rose Gill

Founder at Code to Change 

Iffat is a social innovator, digital strategist and global leader for the digital inclusion of women. She has extensive experience in setting up programmes, initiatives and public-private partnerships that address the shortage of skilled labour and help empower women to take leadership roles within the technology industry. Iffat founded The Code To Change, which has provided digital-skills training to nearly 700 women (and counting!) across Europe and Asia and is now gearing up to launch an extensive programme for entrepreneurs in Pakistan. She was also nominated for the UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education by the South Asia Foundation and has been at the forefront of shaping the global policy debate to reduce the skills gap and associated gender divide throughout Europe at EU and UN platforms.

Super power: Mixing social entrepreneurship with analytical and creative thinking

7. Mei Ling Tan

CEO, House of Einstein

Mei Ling is the CEO of House of Einstein, an online personal shopping service for men that grew from a scale-up to a thrumming business. Mei Ling built on the technology developed through House of Einstein to launch Superflow, a B2B SaaS platform for retail that enables retailers and brands to build revenue channels based on personalisation. Today, Superflow’s focus has extended past fashion to umbrella a wide array of consumer lifestyle goods where curated shopping is key, including furniture, health, jewellery, cosmetics and eyewear.

Super power: Growth, team building and finding product-market fit

8. Semra Celebi

Female Entrepreneurship Lead at StartupAmsterdam (Ecosystem builder) 

Semra has been working for the City of Amsterdam for more than a decade. In her current role as Lead Female Entrepreneurship and Women in Tech at Startup Amsterdam, she is responsible for creating an ecosystem where ambitious women can succeed. Prior to this position, Semra worked as a Policy Advisor on Diversity & Inclusion, collaborating directly with the city mayor. She's also the founder of Female Works, a company that helps women reach their full potential. 

Super power: Mapping out new avenues at a government level to help women succeed

9. Rixt Herklots

(Former) Director of The Next Women NL and ecosystem thought leader on DEI

As the Director of The Next Women NL, Rixt worked to bolster the potential of female entrepreneurs through one-on-one mentoring, peer-to-peer coaching, financial training, international pitch programmes and a VC-fund that solely invests in women-led companies. She was also the Women Empowerment Lead at the 2019 Global Entrepreneurship Summit. 

Super power: Inspiring female leadership and paving the way toward a world of true gender equality 

10. Jacqueline van den Ende

Founder, Carbon Equity

This powerhouse founded market-leading online real estate company Lamudi Philippines and De Kleine Consultant, a non-profit company which now employs more than 200 students across three countries. She also worked as an investment professional at HAL Investments and was Director of True Money, a fintech company. Until recently, she was an investment partner at Peak Capital which she says “ is one of the most entrepreneurial and value adding investors out there” and now she’s gone on to co-found Carbon Equity, which funnels capital to emerging climate technology.

Super power: Passionate entrepreneurial drive and the ability to create a great company culture

This is just the tip of the woman-led entrepreneurial iceberg. There are so many brilliant minds and dedicated women driving Amsterdam forward. Looking for support for your female-run business in Amsterdam? Learn about the Netherlands-based initiatives that promote women in tech