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Breaking Bold: This Female Founder Taps An Underutilized Startup Resource—Women

The following article, written by John Greathouse, appeared on

Kristen Hazard is a lawyer and environmentalist, turned hard-core coder. She self-taught herself Ruby on Rails, Postgresql, MySQL, JavaScript, CSS and HTML, in order to launch Suntoucher Software, a successful environmental compliance software consulting firm.

When Fortune 150 PG&E needed an environmental compliance reporting app, it turned to Suntoucher. The app proved so valuable that PG&E expanded its use to a multitude of construction projects. Over the next five years, Kristen’s solution was used to submit over 50,000 reports and upload over 300,000 photos from more than 600 users from 30 companies.

As PG&E’s aggressive usage proved the app’s scalability and extensibility, Kristen recognized that a global opportunity existed. At the time, field biologists were still utilizing old-school data gathering techniques and then storing their data via inaccessible PDFs. What began as a tool to better serve one of her consulting clients turned into a cutting-edge software solution for the entire $30 billion environmental compliance industry. With this realization, Kristen promptly shut down her consultancy and launched Wildnote, as a Benefit Corporation.

Another inspiring aspect of Kristen’s company is that all the senior executives are women. In fact, women comprised 65% of all Wildnote’s employees. I spoke with Anita Henry, who heads up Wildnote’s marketing efforts and asked her how the team came together. According to Anita, “The core team assembled itself. Kristen is like a magnet for talented, tech-minded women who enjoy a challenge, love learning and have incredible grit and fortitude. I think she embodies the kind of leader and employer that women traditionally find hard to come by – and in the tech world, are real unicorns.”


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