Meet the Winners of the Women Startup Challenge

 In Winners

 Stephanie Lampkin and Blendoor

  • Live Event Audience Choice: Blendoor
    $120,000 in IBM Cloud Credits

What sets your company apart from others in the industry?

Blendoor is the recruiting app that masks name, photo, and age to circumvent unconscious bias so companies can match with the most qualified & diverse candidates possible. The new standard for sourcing talent.

What is your next step?

Closing our seed round ($500K), expanding the team, and rolling out the next version of the product.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

Fundraising.  There have been only 16 Black women in the world to raise $1M+ in venture capital.

What does winning this award (and prize) mean for you and your company?

Validates that what we’re building is useful, meaningful, and meets a customer need.

For more information check out this article.

 Carissa Flocken and Entry Point VR

What sets your company apart from others in the industry?

Entry Point is making VR accessible to the everyday user. The major hurdle with VR is too many people write it off as something for serious enthusiasts—but we see the potential for incredible applications—right from the desktop. Think of the ability to tour a resort and book a room in-experience or to watch a piece of compelling, live 360 journalism. The possibilities are limitless when the technology is more accessible. And that’s what were doing. We’re opening VR up to the wider world.
 

What is your next step?

Right now we’re in major pitch mode. We’re meeting with a number of investors and simultaneously signing new premier clients. It’s a lot of (enjoyable) work 24/7. So the next big step we need to make is to up our hiring game. We want to be very intentional about the people we bring on and ensure we’re building an inclusive company and culture.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

There are two major hurdles associated with the industry right now. The first is that VR content creators are sprouting up everywhere and they are often pigeon-holed into using very specific platforms to deliver 3D experiences. We could help them. The problem is they’re just like us — they are just getting started. So identifying the right partners who are going to work with you to take things to the next level is trickier than in other established industries. The second hurtle is hiring. While some Universities are keeping up with VR trends, many computer science departments are not. We’re battling it out with companies big and small to find the best talent. Luckily, we think we have an advantage capturing new talent because we’re well networked in the VR community and we’re doing something that no one else is doing — building a web-based interactive 360 video player.

What does winning this award (and prize) mean for you and your company?

This award is particularly meaningful to me because I was honored to be considered alongside so many inspiring women leading, creating and innovating in tech. I think that awards of this nature, that celebrate diversity in the industry, are so important because they’re validating for women founders. Those are the intangibles. In a real sense however, as a young company that still needs to be scrappy, this prize is going to help us  be more cost efficient with our head-hunting and marketing needs.
For more information check out this article.

 

Sara Malak and ClearVest Advisers

What sets your company apart from others in the industry?

We are a financial technology company that provides a web based portal for financial advisors, family offices & high net worth investors, where they can research & and learn more about private investment strategies (hedge funds, private equity and other alternative investments), and can also subscribe electronically.

Our target market currently experiences a number of pain points around investing in private investments, including: limited access (investment minimums often north of $1million), lack of diversity of product, high barriers to entry, and conflicts of interest.  With the financial advisor set, there is a shift in the management of their clients assets.  Investors want more individualized, diversified products but research and regulatory burdens slow trade execution.

ClearVest’s technology and legal, operations & research infrastructure solves these hurdles.  Through our web portal, our clients benefit from a 360 degree solution for research, selection and execution/subscription.  They also experience a new world of access, with minimum investment levels as low as $100 thousand, and diverse array of offerings, both with larger well known groups, and unique and niche emerging manager opportunities within private investments.  We are empowering these investors by augmenting their research capabilities and resources, all while also minimizing conflicts of interest.

Though we have a few competitors in our space, we feel strongly that our solution is truly comprehensive in addressing all of these pain points.  In addition, the experience of our team, both collectively and individually within the private investment space is second to none, and embraces technology to enhance the point to point experience for investors who have not previously had access to these kinds of investments.

What is your next step?

We will hire a CTO and engineers to continue to enhance our technology. In addition, we will also build out “point of sale” staff to end users.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

We had an advisor who decided on an investment and she was ready to sign on the dotted line but, in less than 30 seconds after we sent the legal docs –  I got a call from her saying “what am I supposed to with this 300 page document?”

ClearVest looks to simplify this by collecting only the relevant information and retaining and reusing the data, significantly reducing the time and effort but keeping consistent with regulations.

Today, and more importantly going forward, we feel technology is a big part of the puzzle ClearVest aims to solve.  Educating end users (potential investors) on alternative investments is a part of our mission.  In order to do so however, requires more of a “boots on the ground” effort initially, in concert with a hi touch level of investor relations, and a smooth, point to point end user experience to attract and retain clients.

We are only in the beginning stages of marketing our firm.  Things may not always go to plan, given how  much time and focus we have put in to building out of all aspects of our company, we are excited to take on the most difficult part of our journey going forward, ready to adapt to challenges and hurdles along the way.

What does winning this award (and prize) mean for you and your company?

We were very excited upon learning about our selection, participation, and overall experience with Women Who Tech and the Women Startup Challenge.  For us, we feel winning this award further validates what we are aiming to accomplish as a financial technology company focused on access to private investments, with minority co-founders, and integration of technology as a part of that story.

Winning the IBM Cloud Services prize not only enables us to kick start further enhancements and development to our technology, but we also become a part of the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program (“IBM GEP”),  which allows us the unique opportunity to build and scale our business utilizing resources within IBM GEP.

 

Kiah Williams and SIRUM

What sets your company apart from others in the industry?

Medicine donation is not new, but existing programs typically rely on the generosity of drug manufacturers. SIRUM taps into a new source of medications worth an estimated $5 billion: unopened, unexpired surplus that would have been destroyed. We source this surplus from a much wider range of healthcare entities, including pharmacies, wholesalers, and nursing homes.

SIRUM is also the only national medicine redistribution program that has created and leveraged the infrastructure needed to operate donation programs in-line with the Good Samaritan laws that exist in 40 states across the US. These laws, many of which are very new, provide unprecedented legal protection for both donor and recipient organizations.

What is your next step?

Our vision is to become a national solution by 2021, redistributing enough medicine for 5M patients valued at $100M each year.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

Behavior takes time to change, especially in an industry like healthcare. But, we believe that there will come a tipping point, just as there was in the recycling movement, when medicine donation will replace destruction as the rule rather than the exception.

Given medicine’s high value, it would be unthinkable for policies and procedures to continue allowing–or even enabling–its waste. We are constantly finding ways to accelerate this behavior change by making medicine donation not just the right thing, but also the easiest thing, to do.

What does winning this award (and prize) mean for you and your company?

This award process was inspiring and motivating for me personally–it was great to see so many smart female founders pitching such great products. I was ready to buy at least half of them right away!

For SIRUM, this prize helps us along the path to our ultimate vision of getting each and every unused pill to a patient in need. As a nonprofit, unrestricted funds like these are incredibly important. This is the risk capital organizations like ours need but don’t often get from traditional funders to make the investments we need to make in order to grow quickly and on a national scale.

  • Backstage Capital Selection: bluDiagnostics
    $10,000 Backstage Capital Investment

What sets your company apart from others in the industry?

Our product will be the first at-home test that quantitatively measures estradiol and progesterone—the key biomarkers that physicians measure with blood tests when diagnosing and treating infertility. We will measure them in saliva as accurately as a blood test and deliver results immediately.

What is your next step?

We are connecting with as many people as possible to share our mission and vision.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

We are working hard to connect with people and with funding resources that are passionate about delivering personalized medical data into the consumer’s hands, and especially into women’s hands, to help them make educated choices.

What does winning this award (and prize) mean for you and your company?

We are so grateful to womenwhotech for the amazing opportunity they provided for us to connect with so many helpful people and resources. We are so excited to work together with Backstage Capital to bring this important innovation to women everywhere!
For more information check out this article.

Congratulations and good luck to these award winning companies and founders!

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