What does it mean to be a top CEO? Firstly, it means you’ve grown your company revenues from the point you took over. Secondly, it means you’re overseeing a company that’s impacting the world for the better.
There are many CEOs who have decades of experience and are worthy of this list, but I haven’t included them here. Instead, I have chosen ten female CEOs who are under 40 who are already displaying the traits of an executive well beyond their years. Here are my top ten CEOs under forty that you’ve probably never heard of:
1. Kelly Peller
Peller (above) is a 29-year-old CEO and founder of NextGenVest. Her company helps to give financial aid advice to Generation Z through text messages. Customers can text the company for advice on financial aid at any hour of the day. Pellers company has saved customers more than $39 million by giving them access to more than $2.7 billion of financial aid that goes unclaimed each year.
Best piece of advice: Become obsessed with a problem you’re trying to solve. If you’re not obsessed, you won’t be able to will yourself through your failures.
2. Nathalie Virem
Virem is the CEO and founder of Nathalie Virem Enterprises. She is an International Keynote Speaker, 20-Time #1 International Bestseller, Leadership and Entrepreneurship Master and Global Citizen.
Best piece of advice: Virem had adopted a philosophy of learning how to listen to her heart for answers. She had invested $70,000 in her business, but wasn’t seeing any results. The answer finally became clear… Once transformed, she could no longer go back. No matter how many obstacles came her way, she always chose freedom and fulfillment over security. She couldn’t give up because her personal calling was connected to her business and it was impossible to see one without seeing the other. Never do something in life unless it makes you happy each day.
3. Alexis Irene
Irene is a 24-year-old CEO and founder of Static Nails. She started her company from home and was able to drive more than $500,000 of sales during her first six months through strategic partnerships with Sephora and HSN. Irene’s company produces reusable, fake nails that apply with non-damaging glue and can be worn for 18 days and reapplied up to six times.
Best piece of advice: Your actions will always speak louder than your words. You can talk about what you want to achieve, but at the end of the day you need to take action if you wish to see results.
4. Payal Kadakia
Kadakia is a 35-year-old CEO and co-founder of Classpass, a fitness booking app that is available in 39 cities. Within three years, her company had raised $84 million in funding.
Best piece of advice: You need to keep moving forward. You will encounter setbacks in your business and you can let them define you, or you can do something about it. Always pick yourself up and continue to push forward. One day you’ll be amazed at how far ahead you are.
5. Katie Fang
The 26-year-old is CEO and founder of SchooLinks, a college and career readiness platform that runs a curriculum that helps students with self-discovery, career education, and college planning. Her purpose is to help students achieve the career they desire and attend the college of their choice.
Best piece of advice: When you’re building your company you need to make sure that you understand your audience. Your company can never succeed if you don’t take the time to understand who you’ll market your product or service to.
6. Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin
Weisberg and Zakin are both 28-year-old co-CEOs and co-founders of theSkimm. Their company has grown from a millennial women’s newsletter into a media powerhouse. theSkimm has raised $8 million in funding and Weisberg and Zakin are always continually looking out to develop new products.
Best piece of advice: You need to identify what makes your company special. What makes you stand out? You can’t expect to create the same product as someone else and drive revenue. When you first start your company find out what your unique selling point is.
7. Shirley Chen
Chen is a 29-year-old CEO and founder of Narrativ. Her company uses artificial intelligence to help retailers bid for clicks on product links in editorial content. Chen has already received $3.5 million in seed funding from Talis Capital and New Enterprise Associates.
Best piece of advice: You need to understand the risks you’re taking. You will always need to take risks if you wish to succeed, but your risks have to be disciplined. Doing your research will minimize your rate of failure and you shouldn’t be quick to launch if you haven’t done your research.
8. Daisy Jing
Jing is a 28-year-old CEO and founder of Banish. Her company created an acne formula that doesn’t use benzoyl peroxide which can cause inflammation and redness among people with cystic acne. She developed an all-natural organic alternative and has turned over $3.5 million in revenue. She also has over 200,000 YouTube subscribers.
Best piece of advice: What problem do you have, that other people might also have? This could be the big idea for your company because if you have a problem, there will always be others with exactly the same problem. Turn a problem into a solution by starting a company.
9. Polina Raygorodskaya
Raygorodskaya is a 31-year-old CEO and co-founder of WanderU. Her company is an airline search engine for buses. WanderU compares hundreds of different sites for the best prices on bus travel and has raised $8.1 million in funding.
Best piece of advice: You can’t do it alone. You need to build a support team around you to help grow your company. Trying to build a company without anyone else is the definition of insanity. Put your faith in others and you’ll be rewarded.
10. Nina Tandon
Tandon is a 38-year-old CEO and co-founder of EpiBone. Her company is the first in the world to grow living human bones for skeletal reconstruction.
Best piece of advice: You have to believe in yourself and in your potential. There will be times where you get knocked down, but if you believe in yourself you’ll quickly be able to pick yourself up and get back on track.
No matter your age or gender, you too can become a successful CEO. If you’re willing to put in the work, anything is possible. I hope the successful, young women on this list have inspired you as they’ve inspired me.