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Meet the 2010 Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs

by Patricia Sellers

Entrepreneurs not only drive economic recovery but also create better ways for us to do everyday things. Howard Schultz improved the way we drink coffee. Reed Hastings enhanced our at-home movie viewing. Steve Jobs beautified computers and the ways we use them.

The 2010 Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs are not necessarily building the next Starbucks or Netflix or Apple . But who knows? Everyone can dream, and our 2010 winners are doing that and more.

Fortune launched Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs in partnership with American Express last fall. The idea was to find the most innovative, ground-breaking, game-changing female entrepreneurs in the U.S.–business builders who might be Fortune Most Powerful Women someday. We selected 10 winners last year. This year, we drew more than 200 nominations–some from participants of the annual Most Powerful Women Summit–and selected 10 winners who will come to this year’s Summit, taking place next week in Washington, D.C.

The 2010 class of 10 MPWomen Entrepreneurs includes media pioneers and bioengineers and a variety of innovators in between. To my point that entrepreneurs often create ways to improve ordinary life, one of this year’s winners, Mariam Naficy (pictured below), started Minted, which uses crowd-sourcing to make stationery a prettier thing.



Photo Credit: Elisabeth Fall

Minted holds competitions to source stationery designs and lets visitors vote on what Minted should sell. “We allow the best designs to surface based on community interaction,” says Naficy, 40, who successfully tapped into consumer trends a decade ago. Back then, she made millions for herself with Eve.com, a pioneer in selling cosmetics online. Naficy, who grew up in the Middle East and Africa (Kuwait, Lebanon, Tanzania, Iran and Egypt), and moved to the U.S. when she was 14, founded Minted in 2007, a few months after her daughter was born. Now she has two children–or three if you count her fast-growing company.

At next week’s MPWomen Summit, Naficy will join another 2010 winner, Bioengineering Group CEO Wendi Goldsmith, and two startup experts, HSN chief executive Mindy Grossman and venture capitalist Dana Settle of Greycroft Partners, in a roundtable discussion called Finding Great Entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, American Express OPEN President Susan Sobbott and Tory Burch, one of today’s brightest lights in the fashion space, will take the main stage to share best practices with two other MPWomen Entrepreneurs: blip.tv co-founder and COO Dina Kaplan and A10 Solutions CEO Leah Brown.

You’ll hear more about the 2010 Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs from us…and, we hope, beyond as they make their marks on the world. For now, here’s the full list of 2010 winners:

•    Theresa Alfaro Daytner, President & CEO, Daytner Construction Group, Mt. Airy, MD
•    Leah Brown, President & CEO, A10 Solutions, Inc., Cary, NC
•    Linda Chaput, Founder, Agile Mind, Grapevine, TX
•    Wendi Goldsmith, CEO, Bioengineering Group, Salem, MA
•    Desiree Gruber, CEO & Founder, Modelinia/Full Picture, New York, NY
•    Alexa Hirschfeld, Founder, Paperless Post, New York, NY
•    Dina Kaplan, Co-Founder & COO, Blip.tv, New York, NY
•    Susan Koger, Co-Founder, ModCloth, Pittsburgh, PA
•    Mariam Naficy, Founder & CEO, Minted, San Francisco, CA
•    Elizabeth Perelstein, President, School Choice International Inc., White Plains, NY