HR & Management

The four most inspiring UK female entrepreneurs under 25

7 min read

29 July 2015

Despite the improving economy, it’s still difficult for young people to find a job – the current unemployment rate for those aged 16-24 is at 16.2 per cent. With a glass ceiling still hanging over UK's young females, we rounded up the four most inspiring entrepreneurs who are still under the age of 25.

The growth of the app economy is helping to ensure that generation Y is followed by “generation entrepreneur”, according to Procorre. After a search through Companies House data, it revealed that there are now 26,400 people aged 21 and under in the UK registered as company directors.

This included Pete Cashmore, who founded Mashable at the age of 19. The website now has a monthly worldwide readership of 23 million and is reported to be worth $95m (£60.57m). Then there’s Nick D’Alosio, who sold his news aggregator app Summly for £20m to Yahoo in 2013 at the age of 16.

But with gender equality still a blockade in the path of potential female entrepreneurs, we found out which current young Brits broke the glass ceiling before the age of 25.

Name: Ella Woodward
Company: Deliciously Ella 
Age: 23

After being diagnosed with a rare illness, Woodward started a “clean-eating” blog with the aim of inspiring people to eat more healthily.

When doctors told her she had postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS), Woodward explained that the initial idea for her empire began when she googled “natural healing” and “alternative remedies”. She came across a book by Kris Carr, a cancer survivor who had changed her diet to plant-based foods only.

Woodward claimed to have read her book in a day, and changed her diet completely. She noted that it had been a difficult transition given that she hated vegetables and had a sweet tooth. But her improving health made her realise that this way of eating was curing her.

This led her to create a blog whereby all recipes were based on vegan, raw food and “free-form” foods. Her site now has over 150,000 hits a day, and she has even released a recipe app. It has had over 70,000 downloads – which garnered her the top spot on iTunes. Furthermore, she has started running regular events and cooking courses, and produces products with partnering companies. 

She now makes a six-figure income from the books, the cookery classes and by developing recipes for supermarkets.

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Name: Melanie Goldsmith
Company: Smith & Sinclair 
Age: 24

After being named one of the top business ideas in 2014, and with turnover projected to reach £550,000 and profit set to increase from 12 per cent to 20 per cent this year, the company is obviously going from strength to strength.

Smith & Sinclair are the world’s first cocktail confectioners producing alcoholic, edible cocktails. The idea struck when Goldsmith tried to find an “icebreaker” for “adult play” board game dating nights. To do this, she asked chef friend Emile Bernard for help. 

After selling £3,000 worth of pastilles in just three weeks, Goldsmith and Bernard began approaching stockists. The brand now boasts retailers including Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, as well as partnerships with London Fashion Week and Jamie Oliver.

Having originally started out exclusively producing sweets with innovative infusions, the business has expanded its offering to include consultancy to drink brands and white label products for events. It’s definitely not bad given that the company is only just over one year old.

“It was an egg before chicken scenario – the sweets were so popular with events, individuals and drinks companies, and we were getting orders before there was even had a company,” she said. “Once we had the company it was about working with the right people to maintain the brand identity that we wanted.”

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Name: Nina Devani
Company: DevaniSoft 
Age: 16

Devani founded her computer security software business at the age of 14. The market for password management is said to be worth over $700m by 2019, but according to Devani if you look at all the security aspects that still need continuous improvement for doing transactions online and managing accounts online, it is already worth billions more today.

The idea, she said, came to her while in the car with her father, who “was complaining about how he had to change all his passwords because one of his accounts had been compromised and he kept the same password for all his online accounts”. After changing them, he then struggled to remember them, she said.

“It occurred to me that many people do this and it is very unsafe for individuals and companies to pass them to a third party,” Devani explained. “I thought that there must be a way around the issue of trying to remember different passwords, which affects millions of people. That is when ‘Prompt Me Nina’ and later ‘Prompt Me Now’ occurred to me.” 

Devani raised £10,000 from a private investor to start the business and says the company has been “profitable since launch”. With five employees and an additional ten consultants working for her, Devani is currently working on new ventures set to launch later this year – which she hopes “will be a huge success”.

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Name: Zoe Sugg
Company: Zoella 
Age: 24

Perhaps the most well-known young entrepreneur is vlogger Zoe Sugg. She created her fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog “Zoella” in February 2009, and by the end of the year she had amassed thousands of followers and made the decision to expand the blog into a YouTube channel.

The 24 year-old’s YouTube channel now has over 7.5 million subscribers and her second channel MoreZoella has more than 2.8 million subscribers. In September 2014 she launched her own bath and beauty brand named Zoella Beauty, which is stocked in stores such as Superdrug and Boots.

Companies House data reported that she had a revenue of almost £400,000. She also recently purchased a £1m house in Brighton.

Furthermore, she was named in the 2015 Debrett’s 500 as one of the most influential people in Britain.