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On Tuesday Night at City Point the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership presented their first Female Founder Pitch Contest as a part of the Make It In Brooklyn partnership, the most recent in a series geared towards connecting Brooklyn’s entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses. This event also comes at the start of The Other Festival, an event program for female makers and creators being held at City Point this weekend.
Regina Myer, President of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, kicked off the evening by introducing the judges; a well curated panel of founders, directors, and CEO’s with unique insight into the needs and struggles of the female founded startup; Jennifer DaSilva, President of Berlin Cameron; Yao Huang, Founder of The Hatchery; Alessandra Henderson, VP of Network at Human Ventures; Valerie Biberaj, Director of the Kate Spade & Company Foundation; and Ishveen Anand, Founder and CEO of OpenSponsorship.
Two facts set the tone for the evening. First, that Brooklyn is home to the highest concentration of female founded startups in the country. And second, announced by event M.C. and founder of The Other Festival, Dee Poku Spalding, that the percentage of VC investment given to female founded companies decreased from 4% to 2% in 2016.
With introductions made and context set, a room full of cheering supporters, potential investors, and a panel of discerning judges turned their attention to the presenters.
First up was Margarite Halaris with BunkUp, a roommate finding app that has the function of Craigslist with the UX of Tinder. BunkUp solves a few problems, but perhaps most fittingly for a Female Founders Pitch Event, can provide a much needed element of security for young women looking for a roommate in a city they don’t know.
Next was Teniola Adejuwom with her membership based custom makeup platform, MIAH Beauty. Teniola started MIAH in response to the lack of beauty products created for multicultural women, and now seeks to bridge that gap using her own personal experience in the beauty industry.
Sabrina Varanelli presented her medical device tool suite, neMedIO, a system created to jumpstart robotic medical device development in a field with typically very long times to market. neMedIO is comprised of a Quality Management System, software, and integrated hardware functions.
Jane Mitchell and Courtney Snavely pitched Ovee, an app with the goal to empower women to make more informed choices about their bodies and sexuality using AV and AI technology. Ovee functions like a virtual doctor’s office and education platform and hopes to use AI to increase trust and comfort level in women that are deterred by going to the doctor.
The final presenter was Alice Formwalt with her startup StreetSmarts VR, a virtual reality training platform that is a product of gamer tech, military minds, and UX research. StreetSmarts VR sees the problem on police-citizen violence and seeks to reduce it using virtual reality training that draws from real life experiences and can be implemented by police departments.
After the judges emerged from what seemed to be a spirited deliberation, Jennifer DaSilva announced that the contest winner was Sabrina Varanelli for her neMedIO pitch. Sabrina will receive $5,000 prize money and $15,000 worth of consultation from Berlin Cameron.
The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership called last night’s event “inaugural” and anticipates it will be the first of many.