For the second year in a row, Seattle has ranked in the top five of major U.S. cities supporting women entrepreneurs.
In the latest rankings compiled by financial services company NerdWallet, Seattle comes in third, behind Washington D.C. and San Francisco. Minneapolis and another Pacific Northwest city, Portland, round out the top five.
The NerdWallet survey includes factors such as the number of businesses per 100 residents, the numbers of women entrepreneurs, women's earnings power in those cities and each area's overall economic climate.
Seattle's high ranking offers little surprise to Diane Najm, CEO and founder of PhotoPad, a visually-based social marketing tool for businesses and organizations. Najm is experiencing the kind of support, resources and mentorship that Seattle offers to women entrepreneurs.
"Seattle is a very innovative town, and it's very open to allowing everybody to launch a startup," she said before rattling off a laundry list of programs such as StartUp Weekend Women's Edition and the local chapter of Women in Technology International. She also name-checks mentors like former Decide.com executive Shauna Causey, brand-new City of Seattle startup liaison Rebecca Lovell and Health123 founder/CEO Rebecca Norlander.
"There have been some people that have paved the way for us," Najm said. "And there are forums for women to go to."
All these individuals and networks have been helpful since she started Photopad in 2010. It was originally designed as a consumer-focused Facebook photo app - something she came up with during her previous career as a social worker. "I'm kind of an accidental entrepreneur. What got me excited was my vision to create something that everybody could use to tell their story."
That Facebook app ended up in the hands of business owners who were looking for more marketing-type features and functionality. In 2012, "we decided we wanted something bigger, so we wanted to go on the Web and give businesses the freedom to customize and design and share out without any barriers."
Photos, audio and video help companies tell their stories via PhotoPad, which provides a social marketing platform for their websites with the ability to share on Twitter and Facebook. Yes, she is competing with Instagram and Pinterest, but Najm says PhotoPad offers more customization designed just for businesses.
So far she's funded her company with her own money, but will soon be seeking angel investors. Najm is also in the middle of asking local companies to take part in her launch project called "A Day In the Life Of...," where businesses show a typical day at their offices with PhotoPad.
"The way I see it, it takes a city to raise a startup," Najm said, "and I'm asking everybody to join me."