At the age of 5, Melinda Wittstock made $100 charging her neighbors a dollar each to watch her do cartwheels through a sprinkler. At age 9, she started a neighborhood newspaper because she wanted to report the news in her neighborhood, and she liked asking people questions.
Now, Wittstock is following up a long career in the media industry by creating an innovative crowd-sourcing news platform while leading her second start-up company, NewsiT.
Wittstock founded her first start-up, Capitol News Connection, in 2002 after working as an anchor and producer at MSNBC, CNBC and BBC World. "I started getting that itch," Wittstock said. "As an anchor I always had more producer in me than my bosses probably would have liked. I had always created a lot of programs, so for me it wasn't a stretch at all [to start her own company]."
Now in her mid-40s, she is among a growing number of women entrepreneurs who are having an increasingly greater role in America's recovery. Women like Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake, Buzzcar founder Robin Chase (who is also co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar), and iRobot co-founder Helen Greiner are changing the public perception of what a successful entrepreneur looks like.
Though Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates may still be making headlines, increasingly women are in leadership roles and in start-up businesses, studies show. Women like Yahoo! CEO and President Marissa Mayer are helping to highlight this fact.
A 2010 report by the U.S. Department of Commerce showed that between 1997 and 2007, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 44 percent, twice as fast as firms owned by men -- and they added roughly 500,000 jobs.
A report by the Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute in 2009 argued that women will create between 5 and 5.5 million new small business jobs by 2018, more than half of the new small business jobs anticipated and roughly one-third of the 15.3 million total new jobs anticipated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics by 2018.