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Among growth-minded female founders, the numbers are worse: While roughly 30 percent of all small businesses are woman-owned, only 10 percent of the Inc.500 fastest-growing private companies in America have female founders, and according to Catalyst, only 5.2 percent of the S&P 500 have women in charge.Divorced, parenting two small children, and burnt out after leaving her job at software company Sun Gard, Tucker decided to return to what had made her happy--if broke--soon after college: starting her own programming business.It's not a very radical choice for someone who self-identifies as an entrepreneur.(It now hovers around 18 percent.) After graduating, she found an engineering job that would move her to California, working for Hughes Aircraft on surface-ship sonar fault detection firmware.Then, in 1985, Tucker started her first company, selling her programming services to small businesses.But it does business with plenty of them: Coca-Cola, Under Armour, United Airlines, and e Bay are all customers.Black Line was so early into the market that the product description it coined, "continuous accounting," is now used by established enterprise-software giants, including Black Line partner SAP.

Black Line sells this service mostly to companies with more than million in revenue, and counts almost 2,000 customers.

5000 honoree that analysts credit with inventing a new market for accounting software. "Because then you accomplish it, and it's boring." Tucker has rarely been bored over the past 17 years, as she's faced virtually every entrepreneurial obstacle.

The Los Angeles company, which had 3 million in 2016 revenue and went public a year ago, has seen its stock outperform that of buzzier recent tech IPOs, including Nutanix's and Snap's. After cashing out her retirement savings to fund her startup, she came perilously close to failing with its first product, then pivoted her way out and spent several white-knuckle years trying to persuade big corporations to buy her technology.

According to a Frost & Sullivan report it commissioned, Black Line's potential global market could be billion by next year.

"A lot of product founders don't make the transition to being the CEO of a bigger company, but Therese has a knack for figuring out when she needs to drill down and when she needs to run with things," says Hollie Moore Haynes, who led Silver Lake Sumeru's initial 2013 private equity investment in Black Line and remains on its board.

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