Finnegan Shepard (he/him), founder of trans-focused apparel brand Both&. Finnegan Shepard founded Both&, a brand that specializes in clothing for trans men, as a response to what he felt was missing in his own life. “It’s accidental entrepreneurship. I was just waiting for someone to make something,” he says. His approach to growing the company was simple: putting people and their needs first.
Kel Rakowski (she/her), founder of queer dating and community app Lex. Lex started as an Instagram account called Herstory, where founder Kel Rakowski posted vintage photos of queer people. She later launched Personals, an Instagram account for queer romance-seeking personal ads. “I came out later in life, and I felt very isolated from the queer community,” says Rakowski. She realized something was missing: an app where queer people could connect. She bootstrapped Lex and has found that people use it to create friendships as often as to find dates.
Gefen Skolnick (she/her), founder of inclusive coffee company Couplet Coffee. With Couplet Coffee, Gefen Skolnick wanted to create a funny, accessible, and inclusive coffee brand. Her work in tech, including at streaming service Hulu and electric-car brand Tesla, gave her insight into funding a business. She went full-time with Couplet in 2021 and the brand is now on 350 shelves across the US. Its success is a combination of factors. “The number 1 thing that I’m always trying to preach is: create the leverage that you weren’t born with,” says Skolnick.