The New York Tech Meetup Women’s Demo Night hosted six female-founded companies who presented their products and services to a panel of three judges and a general audience. Although the NY Tech Meetup holds monthly demo nights open to both men and women, its executive director Jessica Lawrence opened the event by saying that almost 40 women applied to this first Women’s Demo Night, and that number is only rising.
Presentations varied from an investment education website to a DIY tech kit for young girls. Here’s a roundup of the 6 demos and a description of their founders and goals.
Image credit: CC by Startup Mena
Nat du Preez, CEO and Cofounder of Bunchcut
Duprez’s vision for Bunchcut was a clean, user-friendly image collaboration platform for advertising and marketing agencies. While Bunchcut looks similar to Pinterest, its function is completely different: whereas Pinterest is a content discovery platform, Bunchcut is meant for businesses, so users spend much less time on the site. By uploading images to a dashboard either directly from one’s computer, via the Internet or Dropbox (which is synced to the site), users can easily share photos that are being considered for marketing and advertising campaigns. Collaborators can then vote on their favorite images, thereby streamlining the photo-selection process within a company. Once photos have been selected, they can be downloaded in high-resolution quality, either individually or in bulk, as a board. The first two boards are free, and then users can select various price points starting at $15/month. Bunchcut came out of ER Accelerator.
Natasha Green, CEO of WeIntervene
Green conceived of WeIntervene while working as a dean of discipline in the Bronx. She recognized that her students lacked the resources to get the help they needed, or simply had interests that the school did not allow them to explore. Marketed to institutions, WeIntervene is a website that aggregates counseling needs, guidance needs and interests based on school district. Guidance counselors are then able to share the selected information with students through email, social media, and even text messaging.
Joselyn McDonald (CEO) and Nicole Messier (CTO), Cofounders of blink blink
McDonald comes from an aerospace engineering background and Messier from a creative technology background. They met at Parsons and instantly bonded over their desire to incorporate more women into the technology field. They noticed that many of their fellow students at Parsons were combining fashion and tech, and this led them to create the blink blink kit. Contained in a plastic toolbox is supplies ranging from copper tape, “fairy wire” (strings of thousand of LED lights), and sewable battery holders for girls to use to deck out their backpacks and sneakers with tech accessories. Girls can also make light-up cards with a smaller version of the kit that has more paper supplies. blinkblink also has a website, complete with DIY instructions, troubleshooting videos and a blog about inspirational women in the tech industry. The kits range from $35-$79.
Melanie Lavelle, CEO and Cofounder of Benefit Kitchen
Lavelle’s company has an ambitious mission: to end poverty. She shared a startling statistic that in NYC and California, 50% of low-income families aren’t utilizing their government benefits, simply because they don’t know what they’re eligible for. Benefit Kitchen is a website that provides a free benefit screening – all, without asking for a Social Security Number – to show users their government benefit options. The site also tests across benefits: for example, one is only eligible for ObamaCare if she is ineligible for Medicaid, and Benefit Kitchen accounts for that. While one audience member questioned the ability of Lavelle’s target audience to even access Benefit Kitchen, given the need for Internet access, Lavelle informed the crowd that 80-85% of low-income Americans indeed have Internet access.
Jane Barratt, CEO and Cofounder of Goldbean
During her time on Wall Street, Barratt noticed that many average Americans were completely uninformed about the investment process, and thereby intimidated by it. Goldbean is a way to remove that intimidation factor by educating users about investing while guiding them through actual investments. Complete with a virtual portfolio, a “shame-free dictionary,” and email reminders, all a user has to do to benefit from Goldbean services is enter her credit card information. The website’s algorithm then generates a recommended investment profile based on a person’s consumption data. Barratt believes that people should invest in stocks from companies that they already buy products and services from: if you’re contributing to a company often, you may as well get your share of the earnings. Goldbean also suggests other investments, based on what similar consumers invest in, as well as shows users what other people in their community have traded. Membership is $50/year, or $4.95/trade.
Sam Frons, founder, designer and developer at Addicaid
Frons opened her presentation by telling the audience that she is a recovering addict herself. While participating in group meetings and counseling, she noticed that the addiction treatment process isn’t very personalized. In order to create a more personalized platform for recovering addicts to share their experiences and find meetups catered to their needs, she created the Addicaid app. Users can create their own goals, which Frons says is important in cognitive behavioral therapy, and then other users can comment on those goals for encouragement. Finding meetups is also easy through a Google Maps function, and Frons has also integrated a Yelp-type component, where users can rate their experiences at certain groups. But the app isn’t just for those in recovery; counselors can utilize it to connect with their patients, requesting check-ins at AA meetings, for example, or send direct and group message their clients. The app even aggregates articles about addiction to de-stigmatize the recovery process, and users can share the articles within their networks.