Next month, four women-led startups will pitch for the win at the Vinetta Project’s final showcase of 2017.
On September 14 at Social Tables, the September Female Founder Showcase will feature finalists Yulia Yaani of RealAtom, Meghan Buck of VEDA Data, Steph Speirs of Solstice and Carey Anne Nadeau of Open Data Nation.
They were selected after pitching at semifinal events earlier this year.
One finalist will walk away with a $20,000 cash prize from Paley Rothman and GSP, as well as four months of office space provided by MakeOffices.
The event also offers something for those who might not be pitching. According to last year’s winner Saureen Desai, CMO and cofounder of ShipLync, the Vinetta Project showcases hold a particular value for those female entrepreneurs looking to get more connected to #dctech.
“[It’s] an amazing pitch competition to attend specifically for those female entrepreneurs who are a bit wary about the D.C. tech scene and need a place to start connecting the dots,” Desai told Technical.ly. “Attendees will also get first-hand exposure on what it truly takes to raise money from the ground up.”
After 54 hours of competition among seven teams at Eastern Foundry, three startups emerged as winners last weekend at Startup Weekend DC: Civic Impact Edition. However, their journeys to success weren’t without a few hurdles. After the event, members of some of the winning teams provided some insight on what it’s like to launch a company over three days.
It starts with a team, and an idea for the business. For the team of cofounders that included Tambra Raye Stevenson, Peter Boyd and Tim Nguyen, identifying a singular business plan to work on presented a challenge right away. They pitched Cottage Foodie, a virtual local farmer’s market that for customers to view the food available, pre-order, pay online, and pick up orders in person.
From there, it’s time to start building. Grand prize winner RecruitHer detects gendered language in job postings and provides alternatives to attract more female applicants by using natural language processing and machine learning methods. The team of founders—including Hratch Sofian, Natalie Olivo, Robert Chandler, Yurani Sandoval, Belen Sanchez, Tracy King, and Evann Smith—had a clear takeaway for finding success at a Startup Weekend competition.
“[You must] clearly identify the value proposition of your company/product in a single sentence as early as possible,” explained Smith, Founder and Chief Data Scientist. “If you can do this, then the problem you are solving should be clear and direct your path to monetization.”
Dupont Circle will soon welcome a familiar face with a new spot in the neighborhood--cove.
cove Dupont, located at 1666 Connecticut Ave., is set to open this fall. It marks the latest new spot for the local coworking chain following the shutdown of its K street location in December.
cove opened their first location in Dupont Circle nearly four years ago with a space of 700 sq ft. Since then, they’ve expanded throughout the district, including a space in south Dupont at M and 18th.
Now they will return just north of the circle with their biggest location yet, much to the excitement of co-founder and CTO Jeremy Scott.
“[Dupont] has always been an ideal place for cove with a strong sense of neighborhood,” Scott told Technical.ly via email. “We have so many great members who work remotely / from home and who live there, and we can’t wait to expand our Dupont community.”
It seems that no one can escape cyber threats these days — from political parties to even the King in the North.
As the threats in cybersecurity outpace the community itself, the need for innovative thinking has multiplied. According to New America’s Cybersecurity Initiative the solution is rather simple: diversity.
Despite a projected 1.8 million shortages in the workforce, women, for example, currently represent only 11 percent of professionals in the cybersecurity community.
It’s issues like this that are central to Laura Bate‘s work as senior program associate at New America’s Cybersecurity Initiative.
“The shortage of workers in the cybersecurity industry is an economic and security problem that we are working to confront through better alignment of the training pipeline and the hiring community, and through opening the aperture of who we perceive as a ‘fit’ for the workforce,” Bate wrote in an email.
To address the importance of diversity in solving today’s challenges in cybersecurity, New America Cybersecurity Initiative will host a panel on Aug. 11 at their 15th Street location in D.C.
Five months ago, when Amazon Web Services, C5 and the PeaceTech Lab debuted their inaugural cohort for the PeaceTech Accelerator, several misconceptions were stacked against the project.
Perception topped the list, according to Sheldon Himelfarb, PeaceTech Lab president and CEO.
“When people think about conflict, they’re picturing bombed-out buildings, bullets flying and chaos. But the fact is, in nearly every conflict zone we’ve worked, we see [technology],” Himelfarb said. “You don’t have to be defined by your immediate circumstances — there’s an outlet for expression, for cultivating and sharing new ideas, and for building something with purpose and value.”
A prime example of the innovative nature in the first cohort is Junub Games. This South Sudanese nonprofit develops video games and gaming communities as a means to promote peace in the area.
There’s also Wistla, a crowd gathering app for “sociable” experiences. While it may seem like a bit of a stretch for peacetech, Wistla focuses on “building peaceful integrated societies” and “offer[ing] an opportunity to build offline communities by helping people group together, mobilize and share their experiences,” explained Bee Heal, program manager of the PeaceTech Accelerator.
After finishing the program, Wistla soft launched their app for Andriod users at the British Style Collective last month and iOS users can expect to see the product later this month.
Now, the PeaceTech Accelerator is back for the program’s second cohort.
It’s no secret that the solar industry in the U.S. continues to gain steam, however the accessibility for most American homeowners remains limited. For example, according to the calculator for Google’s Project Sunroof, an extensive mapping tool that assesses the costs and benefits of installing solar panels, in certain areas of Washington D.C. the savings of solar would only be $1,000 over a 20-year lease.
However, Arcadia Power, a national clean energy platform, recently announced the addition a community solar project that aims to provide consumers with affordable access to solar energy and maximum savings.
Last month, the D.C.-based startup unveiled its Portable Panel program. For only $100 each, customers can buy solar panels—but don’t expect to see new panels popping up in your neighborhoods.
Instead, the model will mirror that of Acardia’s main program. One of their development partners will construct panels for solar farms across the country. As those solar panels produce power, Arcadia will then take the revenue generated and credit their customers’ utility bills.
That way, subscribers across the country can help generate more clean energy without the hassles of installing and maintaining solar panels.
Five health-focused companies joined 1776 in Crystal City recently, after the incubator and MedStar Health named winners of the #Patients2Consumer startup challenge. Eleven startups competed earlier this month to join the three-month MedStar Innovation Lab Cohort. As the name suggests, Columbia, Md.-based hospital and healthcare facility operator MedStar Health is a prime partner.
Of the five selected winners, two companies hail from D.C.
VEDA Data Solutions incorporates AI to provide dashboard free data science tools, eliminating the team of scientist required to operate the dashboards and their “lofty promises without real results” according to CEO Meghan Buck. Before joining the MedStar Innovation Lab, VEDA landed a contract with health insurance company Humana and began expanding their clientele in D.C. and Madison, Wisc.
No matter how much they grow, the opportunity to showcase their product and cut through the noise generated by the overused buzzword “machine learning” remains of utmost importance to Buck and her team.
“VEDA saw this partnership as a perfect opportunity to demonstrate how machine learning and AI can make healthcare work better,” Buck told Technical.ly. “Updating provider directory data, cleaning up claims and automating provider network performance might not sound like the kind of technology that fundamentally changes healthcare– but the cost savings are enormous.”
The other D.C.-based company in MedStar’s Innovation Lab is Pacify Health. Like VEDA, this isn’t the startup’s first major partnership.
Pacify aims to bridge gaps in the healthcare system by providing efficient support to new mothers and their infants. Concerned with the unnecessary panic and lack of care, CEO and cofounder Ben Lundin said that he sees “a real opportunity for technology and telemedicine in particular to address some of these challenges.”
Since we last visited him, Justin Siebel has pushed forward with his design company, Exit Velocity Design. Now he and Ashley Hudrick have started a new venture that takes a deadlier turn.
Siebel and Hudrick will set up shop in Siebel’s space in the Bok Building, the former South Philly school that’s being converted into a massive hub for artists and makers, for a series of three-day courses on different techniques in special effects (SFX) makeup.
Day one focuses on demonstrations, while the remaining two days see participants paired up and testing out their newfound skills and techniques on each other. They catered to the “at-home” artist, and amateurs to professionals are all welcome.
“I don’t believe in natural talent,” Siebel confidently told Technical.ly. For Siebel, it’s crucial that artists understand exactly what they’re putting their models through to improve their form.
Meet Amy Lee Walton. She’s the woman using her JFDI attitude to helm a hackathon that tackles gerrymandering.
This weekend, Thursday Network will call on D.C. technologists for its inaugural hackathon to educate young professionals about gerrymandering and propose tech-driven solutions to raise awareness and fight the archaic practice. #UNHacktheVote2017 will run from July 20-22 and has Mapbox and The Iron Yard as leading sponsors.
Walton, a cartographer at Mapbox and Personal and Professional Development (PPD) Chair at Thursday Network (the young professional arm of Greater Washington Urban League), felt inspired to create the event after a few choice words from one of her Twitter followers — and former president Barack Obama.
“President Obama’s farewell speech at the start of 2017 was my call to action!” Walton told Technical.ly. “He said as American citizens it was our duty to serve as ‘anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy’ and challenged us to get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand change.”
On August 4, Startup Weekend DC is offering the latest chance to launch a company in three days. Several times each year, the global grassroots association hosts 54-hour sessions to give entrepreneurs at all stages the chance to form a team, build and test a new product in front of an esteemed panel of judges and audience.
Each year, the D.C. branch’s event has a different theme. While social engagement has been a popular one over the last few years, civic impact will be the focus of this coming edition. Startup founders with an interest in driving civic engagement, public safety, or any idea that transforms or aides communities for the better are encouraged to participate.
And the timing is anything but accidental. “We chose civic impact as it is particularly relevant given the current political climate and outpouring of people asking how they can make a difference in the government and their communities,” Erica Soultanian, Organizer for Startup Weekend DC: Civic Impact Edition, told Technical.ly.
Soultanian also noted that D.C.’s proximity to the federal government and plethora of nonprofits makes the focus all the more worthwhile. “We hope to tap into this ecosystem and bring the community together to work on startups that will make a positive difference.” Soultanian said.