Women Who Tech: Startups and 9th Graders Changing the World

By Julie Solomon
Julie has mastered the perfect company profile pitch to land her clients in their dream publications. When she's not in the office, she's scouting the best happy hour spots in Philadelphia to chill out with her team.
 

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending Women Who Tech’s Startup Challenge hosted at the Google offices in New York City alongside SSPR’s CEO Heather Kelly.

To kick off the night, event organizers shared staggering statistics. Only 1.9% of VC funding went to women founders in 2017 while 0.2% of funding went to women of color. Even more shocking statistics were yet to come: 45% of women founders reported to be sexually harassed and of those women, 65% were propositioned for sex in exchange for funding. Jaws dropped as the room filled with whispers of disgust. Is this possible? Is this really the world we live in? Luckily, Women Who Tech is making a conscious effort to help women-led startups get exposure and funding as well as promote women in the tech industry.

With a $50,000 grand prize at stake, I was looking forward to watching 10 early-stage, women-led startups pitch to the audience and panel of awesome judges. Presentation after presentation, while we were keeping up with the live tweeting, I was in awe of these brilliant women and the impact their companies have on people’s lives and the environment.

As part of SSPR’s Conscious Capitalism program with the goal to support women-led companies that #doGood in the world, we’re happy to award pro bono services to two deserving companies who pitched at the Women Who Tech Startup Challenge.

SSPR is excited to begin working with Neopenda and Curie Co. Neopenda is an affordable, wireless vital signs monitoring solution that reduces response time to newborns in distress. The company’s main goal is to help healthcare workers save lives in overcrowded and understaffed health facilities. Curie Co. is a life science company that utilizes enzymes and biocompatible materials to replace chemicals banned by the FDA in consumer health products. Both of these women-led companies do amazing work and we’re excited to help them succeed and reach their goals.

What was evident more than anything else at Women Who Tech: Women have the power to change the world – and these women are well on their way. I was particularly moved when a 14-year-old CEO hopped on stage to pitch her company.

Timeless, developed by 9th grader Emma Yang, is an app designed to help Alzheimer’s patients remember events, stay connected and engaged, and recognize people through artificial-intelligence-based facial recognition technology. Behind this brilliant invention came the heartfelt story of Emma’s grandmother’s progression of Alzheimer’s. Her family couldn’t find an app to help, so Emma created one. Let that sink in. A young woman saw her grandmother struggling with something, and, without hesitation, she created an app to help her, along with thousands of others affected by this terrible disease. Having seen firsthand how devastating this disease can be for families, I was touched as she described the impact of Timeless. It was truly inspiring to see the power of a young woman in front of our eyes as she rocked her pitch. The room was shaking with applause when the judges awarded Emma Yang the $50,000 grand prize. A feeling of awe filled the room.

Honestly, this event should have been called “Women Doing Kickass Things.” Being in a room watching women support other women in their tech startup ventures was a remarkable feeling and I’m honored to have been a part of it. We can’t wait to help both Neopenda and Curie Co. make a huge impact in the world of tech, and the world as a whole.

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