Hey, the Women Startup Challenge VR and AI took place at Google in NYC last week (February 15), and some game-changing startup founders took the stage for the chance to win $50,000, no string attached. 10 finalists pitched their ventures to a panel of big deal investors. Each startup had 4 minutes to pitch their venture, and 4 minutes of Q&A with the judges.
The judges included Lisa Stone, Cofounder of BlogHer and Entrepreneur; Kate Shillo, Investor at Galvanize Ventures; and Kai Bond, Investor at Comcast Ventures and Catalyst Fund.
The top prize of $50K, courtesy of the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund and Fred & Joanne Wilson, and $15K in legal services from Paul Hastings went to Didimo, which automatically creates a 3D virtual character starting from a single photo – and in about 2 minutes you have a lifelike avatar that can speak, move, and represent you in a 3D world.
Second place of $10K in legal services and 3 hours in consulting from 1843 Capital went to Spirit AI, which takes tools to craft more expressive characters, stories, and worlds in games and VR. They make digital interactions feel more human and accessible using the transformative power of AI.
Third place of $10K in legal services went to Addicaid, a digital addiction wellness platform for individuals with substance/process disorders.
The 10 Finalists Included:
- Addicaid – Sam Frons
- Didimo – Veronica Orvalho
- Droice Labs – Tasha Nagamine
- Galaxy AI – Jasjit Maggu
- Hauoli – Lili Qiu
- Hitlist – Gillian Morris
- Intelligent Space – Christianna Taylor, PhD
- Opaque Studios – Mariana Acuña
- Spirit AI – Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris
- Venti Technologies – Heidi Wyle
The deal is, this is about fairness, but it’s also about good business.Tech companies led by women are more capital-efficient, earn a higher return on investment, and when backed by venture capital bring in higher revenue.
The first Women Startup Challenge was held in June 2015 in Washington, D.C., and with the culmination of the this fourth Challenge in New York City, the challenges have reached 1500+ women-led startups from across the country. Folks, that's the real deal. Our next Challenge is Women Startup Challenge Europe in London at City Hall on May 3rd. Applications are open now. If you're a women-led tech venture based in Europe, please apply here.