Founders / Roundups

Power Moves: These Philly women made Inc.’s Female Founders 100 list

Plus, new leadership at the Center for Breakthrough Medicines and healthcare tech startup Tendo.

Stix cofounders Jamie Norwood (L) and Cynthia Plotch. (Courtesy photo)

Power Moves is a column where we chart the comings and goings of talent across the region. Got a new hire, new gig or promotion? Email us:

Four local entrepreneurs have made Inc.’s 2021 Female Founders 100 list for their work growing their companies amid the pandemic.

Stix cofounders Cynthia Plotch and Jamie Norwood made the list after an exciting year for the pregnancy and fertility startup. The subscription and mail-based service became increasingly important for women who needed access to fertility care and pregnancy tests as when folks wanted to limit leaving the house.

The company was formed after the cofounders, both former Venture for America fellows, had uncomfortable experiences purchasing fertility products, they told after their 2019 launch. In the past year, the 2021 RealLIST Startups honoree has hired a team, completed some fundraising and got its first office.

When the pair first set out to raise money, more than 100 investors turned them down, Inc. reported.

“Most of venture capital is run by men, and this is a problem that mostly women face,” Norwood told the news outlet. “So not only are we pitching the business and explaining why it makes sense as a business, but we’re also explaining the problem.”

Now the company is focusing on adding additional health products, like UTI and yeast infection tests and treatments, along with expanding its online library of health resources.

Also on the list is lingerie and loungewear company AnaOno founder Dana Donofree. As a breast cancer survivor herself, Donofree was inspired to launch the company that specializes in communication surrounding breast surgery and unique bras and wearable post-surgery products.

“After breast surgery, your body is different, so why would a normal bra work for you?” she said at a pitch event last year.

The pandemic led many people to skip their regular cancer screenings and other preventative care which now means more diagnoses, more surgeries and more women needing post-surgery care, the founder told Inc. AnaOno is on track to hit 30,000 customers and nearly $3 million in revenue this year, nearly double last year’s figures, Donofree said. After a 2018 seed round, the founder is looking to fundraise again and expand into new product offerings, like swimwear.

Tia Lyles-Williams. (Photo via Twitter)

And listmaker Tia Lyles-Williams is honored for her work “tackling the diversity gap in drug development.” Her company LucasPye Bio, based out of the University City Science Center, is a biologic drug manufacturer that landed its first customer in African diaspora genome mapper IndyGeneUS AI.

LucasPye Bio is also behind the forthcoming HeLaPlex, a coworking space and wet lab for commercial life science companies. The name is reportedly a reference to the infamous medical case of Henrietta Lacks.

(Psst: Look for an interview with Lyles-Williams in a forthcoming series on the intersection of health equity and technology.)


The Center for Breakthrough Medicines, based in King of Prussia, announced that it has appointed former Discovery Labs president and CEO Joerg Ahlgrimm as its CEO.

Joerg Ahlgrimm. (Courtesy photo)

Discovery Labs and Deerfield Management Company announced last year that they had formed the Center for Breakthrough Medicines, a contract development and manufacturing organization and specialty investment company. It leased 680,000 square feet of Discovery Labs’ facility in early 2020 to provide pre-clinical through commercial manufacturing of cell and gene therapies, including process development, plasmid DNA, viral vectors, cell banking, cell processing and support testing capabilities.

Since, it’s announced some top leadership positions, including its SVP of business development and strategy, VP of project leadership, VP of testing and analytical services and VP of viral vector manufacturing earlier this year.

In his new role, Ahlgrimm brings more than 20 years of experience in operations and supply chain management in biotech, vaccines, pharmaceutical and medical device markets.

“I am laser-focused on building a company that will solve the biggest challenge in cell and gene therapy development, which is manufacturing,” the exec said in a statement. “Beyond manufacturing, our goals include the creation of high-performing teams and fostering an exciting and inspiring culture with a close connection to the patients and customers we ultimately serve.”

The Center also announced this week that it had appointed Peter Carbone as COO. He is the former EVP of quality for Accorda Therapeutics.


Software company Tendo, maker of a cloud-based healthcare platform intended to tie all parts of the patient and clinician care cycle together, made two top technical hires this month.

Dan Ballough, SVP of engineering, joins the company after 15 years at Workday, where he led teams across a range of platform and application products. And Peter Thorson, SVP of product management, joins from Salesforce where he led digital platform development for industry cloud provider Vlocity before its acquisition by Salesforce.

Peter Thorson (left) and Dan Ballough are joining Tendo’s team. (LinkedIn photos)

Together they will lead Tendo’s product and engineering teams that are now based in San Francisco, Salt Lake City and Philadelphia. The company has grown to more than 50 employees in just under a year, and raised a $50 million Series B this summer.

“Dan and Peter have the perfect blend of experiences to lead Tendo’s product and engineering teams,” said Jen Goldsmith, president of Tendo, in a release. “Their proven ability to design and develop some of the world’s most transformative technologies will be critical to our success as we build a healthcare platform and applications that are intuitive and engaging for patients, clinicians, and caregivers.”


Former Philly Startup Leaders Director Kiera Smalls also announced on LinkedIn this month that she’s open for providing meditation and DEI consulting services. Smalls left the nonprofit after two years in August 2020 to become GM for delivery service Bloc Delivery, where she worked for a year.

“Check out my services page for corporate training, leadership development, life coaching and marketing consulting,” she wrote in a post. “Specifically, if you (or someone you know) is looking for a meditation coach or advisor for transformative DEI initiatives.”

Smalls is currently working with Johnson & Johnson on its Health Equity Innovation Challenge that aims to address health inequities in Philadelphia by supporting potential innovative solutions from local entrepreneurs, innovators and community-based orgs.

Kiera Smalls. (Courtesy photo)

Companies: Stix / Tendo / Inc.
Series: Power Moves

Knowledge is power!

Subscribe for free today and stay up to date with news and tips you need to grow your career and connect with our vibrant tech community.


WeWork ditched its original Philly coworking space at The Piazza

What roles do gender and race play in the IT job market?

Techstars startup 1to1 is helping ecommerce vendors personalize your shopping experience

This Week in Jobs: Sketch out a new role with these 28 tech career opportunities

Technically Media