Why is the #WomenStartupChallenge important to everyone, including you?
Tech and entrepreneurial events for women are popping up all over the country -- and they’re worth our attention. Recently, at the first ever #WomenStartupChallenge (hosted by Women Who Tech in partnership with Craig Newmark, the force behind craigslist and craigconnects), one lucky entrepreneur won $25,000 in cash. No strings attached. All she had to do was convince a panel of judges that her start-up would fly.
The winner? SoftSpot, the latest brainchild of uberkund Dr. Sabine Seymour. It flew in the face of wearables, those trending little gadgets that we wear to track everything from our biorhythms to steps per day. This sensor system can actually be embedded in your undergarments. Well alright! How much more wearable can you get? And though that was no easy task, and the competition was fierce, Seymour walked away a lot richer. Talk about going hard while keeping it soft. What a velvet glove, iron fist play.
Ten of the best women-led startups in the Northeast region, as selected by judges, pitched their vision to a crowd of journalists, tech-heads, business titans, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists -- and a panel of digital disruptors and investors. The judges: DigitalUndivided’s Kathryn Finney; digital innovator and investor Joanne Wilson; Susan Lyne; President and Founder of BBG Ventures, a fund for women lead tech start-ups, and Victoria Song of Flybridge Capital, an early stage venture capital firm.
“What’s your business model?” Finney asked one entrepreneur.
“How will this monetize?” Lyne asked of another.
“How is this truly unique?” Wilson wanted to know.
Direction from established tech-mavens is priceless, and nights like these are a gold mine for both the tech-curious and tech-savvy alike. The next time there’s an event like this I highly recommend you check it out. Why would you want to go to an event like this? There are three very good reasons.
1) Meeting People in Real Life is a Good Thing. So much of our time is spent behind a computer screen, talking to people in key strokes. Or, thumbing our input and lives into acronyms: TTYL, NP, laced with emojis to legions of “friends.” Getting to meet someone you’ve established a business e-relationship with (or want to establish a relationship with) is cool! And what about re-connecting with someone who you haven’t seen? These events are a great way to make real connections.
2) Learning More About the Tech Space is a Good Thing. Tech is everywhere. Literally. Sabine Seymour nailed it with a comment as to the utility of her seamless sensory system during her pitch: “It’s in my clothing. My heart is really racing right now and the feedback is showing me that.” Anxious laughter aside, this wearable was a good thing after all! Based on the fact that she won, the judges also thought it was a good thing. The second place winner, SirenRing was bringing that Wonder Woman 3.0 ethos in a stylish ring that emits a debilitating sound when activated. What a bad ass way to be a lady! Go tech!
3) Women Supporting Women is a Good Thing. In the tech space, women start-ups are often called “unicorns,” so rare are they in the digital land of Tech Equality. According to a stat glaring out from the Women Who Tech site, “Only 7% of investor money goes to women led startups." Yikes! By supporting women in tech, we nurture a growing niche industry into a vibrant economic source. To create platforms for issues vital to women, it’s vital that women create the platforms. Simple. And the more we share, retweet, like, fund, discuss, develop, dream and do, the more we invest in our most valuable commodity. Ourselves. And that’s a good thing.
Women-centric tech events like #WomenStartupChallenge are a good way to learn about a growing industry, meet new smart and innovative people and quite possibly spark an idea that’s time has come. Who knows? Maybe next year, you’ll walk away with a cool $25,000 after meeting a venture capitalist at an event who invests in your idea. A long shot? Maybe. Then again, maybe not. We believe in unicorns after all. And that’s a good thing.
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