Five minutes versus 45 minutes. When Daniella Yacobovsky, co-founder of BaubleBar had to explain her fashion jewelry concept to venture capitalists, that’s the general time difference it would take female VCs to understand versus male VCs. And when pitch meetings are capped at an hour, that’s precious time wasted. This kind of situation is one of the reasons why hosts Vanessa Dawson, founder of Evry, and Kathleen Ong, Evangelist at Wantering set up Girls Raising, a pitch event held at Xo Group Inc that gave female founders a forum in which to pitch and get feedback for their ideas/startups from panelists such as Yacobovsky.
“We want to change the standard pitch,” said Dawson about why they started this event series. For Dawson, that includes simply having a more welcoming atmosphere for women in a country in which only 25% of the tech industry are females. This included having the women pitch and receive feedback from other successful women in the industry which, in this case, included panelists Brittany Laughlin, General Manager Union Square Ventures, Kelly Hoey, Angel Investor & Co-Founder of WIM, and Amy Jain and Yacobovsky, co-founders of BaubleBar.
The five startups chosen were each given two minutes to pitch, all received overall praise from the panel on their presentation and product. Read on for a look at some innovative female startups:
Voncierge – As many married couples know and many engaged couples will come to know, the wedding may be a night to remember, but the road to arranging it, a headache best forgotten. Mee Jung Jang’s company attempts to alleviate the stress by providing a list of vendors. from florists to DJs, for all of your wedding needs. Thus far, over 90 vendors have made over 3500 appointments. Jang says they are looking to raise $750,000 to expand their marketing and product, and predict that they can raise $6 million in revenue in 2 years. Jang was commended for the usefulness of her product and was advised to reach out to bridesmaids as potential customers. since their company model was more likely to have one-time customers.
Bespoke-app.com – This mobile-first platform is geared towards creatives ‘suffering from content chaos.’ According to founder Michelle Spiezia, the app lets individuals store, curate and sell their content, thus creating a convenient, organizationed space. The site will launch in private beta in October and is set for a full launch next year. In the meantime, they’re seeking to raise $750,000 in the seed round. Spiezia said that Bespoke uses a freemium model to allow clients to have access to member’s content. As they gain traction, Spiezia is focusing on perfecting the presentation and accessibility of her site, which she sees as crucial to her creative users.
Exversion – To introduce her product, CTO Marianne Belloti asked the audience to think about the most useful app on their phones. What did they all have in common? They’re all built on top of huge data. Exversion thus exists as a platform for companies to publish their data on an accessible platform, whether it be a book company supplying metadata for marketing, or Occupy Sandy wanting to increase information-sharing for all non-profits working on disaster relief. The company says they are pre-seed and while not fundraising presently, are “investor-dating.” Their focus is on approaching non-technical organizations who might not want to build their own APIs, and to act as more of a data service than a marketplace.
TrytheWorld.com– For foodies who’s always up for satisfying their taste buds, TrytheWorld offers up a box of gourmet treats from a different country every two months. The box goes for $45 with a subscription and $50 without. As of now, co-founder Kat Vorolova says $0 is spent on marketing, with exposure garnered through word-of-mouth and social media. It was suggested that the company encourage customers to share their finds on social media via the postcards they receive with the box. Vorolova said their target market includes the 60 million US households with $50,000+ in annual income. They plan to get into B2B and retail markets, with longer-term strategies including setting up ecommerce to allow customers to purchase products they liked and to ship internationally.
TheDatingRing.com– If you hate the time-consuming world of online dating, this site seeks to be your savior. The Dating Ring lets people go on group dates at a cost of $10 for an initial meeting, which includes one free drink. Founder Lauren Kay interviews applicants herself to see who will be a good match. With such an appealing idea, panelists were concerned whether Kay was charging enough, since a lower price point might give the appearance of lower quality. Kay said subscription pricing will be launched in January that will let members pre-buy a certain number of dates and they will also have partnerships in place with companies that can offer one-on-one dates. Currently the service is only available in New York City and they are seeking to raise $150,000 to hire another developer.
The hosts hope to launch another event in Vancouver and are open to any suggestions that might enhance the pitching environment for women. Guest Taylor Koss, a lawyer and one of the handful of men present that evening, said he thought it was a good idea to keep the event female-oriented, since it provided a unique spin to the abundant pitching scene. And as for feeling out-numbered at the event?
“They welcomed us with open arms,” said Koss.
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