This is a story about women who are willing to stop everything because they are driven by a passion to start something completely new, from creating an app of convenience to a technology that solves a life-threatening problem for a family member.
The story begins with Adriana Gascoigne. In 2007, a 29-year-old Adriana saw that women needed a place to cultivate ideas around their careers and business concepts. So she launched Girls in Tech, a global, San Francisco-based non-profit focused on the engagement, education and empowerment of women (from girls to professional women) in technology and entrepreneurship.
Then in 2010 she saw a need to provide female entrepreneurs who are striving to make a scalable impact through innovation and new technologies with an opportunity to showcase their tech products. So Girls in Tech launched “Lady Pitch Night,” a half-day pitch competition for female entrepreneurs who are leading early-stage technology startups. The first event (2010) was in Paris, France and this year, it will be held on November 10 at the new Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center in San Francisco.
“We want to provide female entrepreneurs with an opportunity to showcase their tech products and services while practicing their pitch in front of an audience and a panel of judges including VCs, media, and Technorati,” says Adriana. “We challenge contestants to take RISK, enter into the competition for a chance to win $25,000 seed funding and a slew of community support. Our goal is to launch the Lady Pitch Night Competition all over the world – next year we are planning to be in Dubai, Brazil, India, Paris, Nigeria and again in the US.”
There were nearly 200 applicants for the November 10 pitch night. Bringing it down to ten finalists was a job for the expert judges including Lisa Hook (Neustar), Monique Morrow (Cisco), Jason McCabe Calacanis (“This Week In Startups” and Inside.com), Duncan Logan (RocketSpace), Gil Penchina (entrepreneur and investor) and Alison Wagonfeld (Emergence Capital). Adriana says, “All of these women finalists are a great day reminder to ask yourself — what’s your passion?” I asked Adriana to share why she’s passionate about these emerging startups (following is in Adriana’s words):
1) Having been partially raised in Mexico and having traveled to a variety of developing countries as part of Semester at Sea, I witnessed first-hand the slums, malnourished children on the streets and the increasing need for accessible healthcare all of the world. Privail develops technologies for early disease detection and monitoring and universal accessibility, allowing patients to take early action. What struck me about Privail is how scalable, easy to use and transportable the technology is and how very important this type of innovation is for emerging markets and rural areas.
2) Who doesn’t love food and convenience? Appthetable gives restaurant customers the freedom to browse the menu, order and pay directly from their smartphone from their restaurant table. This is a great business idea — and not just because I’m a self-professed foodie. At 16 years old, my first job ever was working at a pizza restaurant and the biggest issues revolved around mistakes in ordering, payment and dealing with dirty menus. This apps solves all of that!
3) Forty percent of all food in the US is wasted and so many people fall under the poverty line. Feeding Forward aims to help solve that by making it easier for businesses to provide meals to communities in need while receiving a tax write-off and reducing disposal costs. This startup definitely hit home for me as my mom grew up very poor in Mexico and sometimes she didn’t even have food to eat. She taught me that wasting food is a sin and this app solves the problem of not wasting food while also feeding people that are hungry.
4) Like so many of us, I am passionate about understanding and helping solve the climate change issue. In fact, I previously attended the Aspen Institute to discuss climate change, innovations within the industry and how we can scale education. UtilityAPI aims to help with the issue by solving one of the biggest soft cost problems in the industry by delivering simple access to energy usage data.
5) My dear uncle suffered from a heart attack and ended up using a variety of tools to help monitor his health moving forward — an online health coach, a nurse, as well as a bluetooth-connected scale, thermometer and medical alert phone. We are in constant need of finding new ways of monitoring and preventing diseases, while not being cost prohibitive. HingeBio, Inc. leverages technology for developing diagnostics and therapeutics for neurodegenerative disorders and other diseases.
6) Cocoon Cam, the first wellness video baby monitor with breathing and skin temperature alerts without requiring wearables, would be a top tool for all my friends with young children. It is innovative, easy to use and convenient. Knowing that you have virtual accessibility to what is going on with your child gives true peace of mind.
7) Making their latest mani/pedi a work of art is so much fun. Preemadonna is the creator of The Nailbot, a family of automated devices that decorate fingernails with nail art using your mobile phone. This is an incredibly innovative use of smartphone technology and has amazing market potential.
8) Working with Future Leaders of America, a non-profit for minorities, I came to realize how many minority students and their schools were so under-funded they they relied on books to teach themselves about SAT and ACT-type tests. Designed as the ultimate online private tutor to help improve SAT and ACT scores and unlock students’ full testing potential, TestRocker, Inc. is an easy, flexible solution to help students learn, particularly a standardized tests continue to change.
9) With some many educational budget cuts happening year after year, it is more than important than ever to find ways of decreasing the cost of science lab equipment. Lab4U is a set of apps that transform smartphones into an empowering science lab. This is such an innovative way to bridge technology into the school environment.
10) I missed the 2004 Tsumani in Thailand by two days and I found that the most difficult thing we faced was communication and providing resources from abroad to the people who needed it. GOODdler, a SaaS solution for civic and charitable organizations to collect and manage in-kind donations from individual donors, would have been a great solution during this time, helping create awareness of natural disasters and people in need.
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This article was written by Denise Restauri from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.