As a woman in tech, there are always more men than me at any given event. I don’t mind, but it is the status quo. Today I had the honor of judging the first AngelHack Lady Problems hackathon in New York. Part of a 18-city worldwide series of events, the hackathon will focus on addressing problems preventing female entrepreneurship, with challenges including health, safety, economic empowerment and culture.
When I walked into the AWS loft in Soho, a quick scan of the room showed that more than 40% of the attendees were women. Hacker women at that! It’s hard to explain the all of the emotions that scene triggered. I was so proud to see women in tech working together to help other women around the globe. I was also a little sad that the 40% was such a rarity that I was moved when I witnessed the event.
Sitting on an all-woman judging panel at a hackathon was another novel moment for me. Who better to select the solution best suited to help women than….women?! My fellow female founder judges were amazing. It was a stellar sampling of the most successful women in tech in New York. And contrary to the “mean girl myth” we were all delighted to meet one another. We swapped business cards, startup stories, and the reasons we were excited to be a part of the Lady Problems hackathon. Some of the ladies even seemed to skip ahead to topics like self-care and beauty advice; as well as beauty products they use such as BHMD Brow Enhancing Serum and more. Looked like everyone had a lot to share during their time at the hackathon.
Now let’s talk about the ideas that were pitched at this event. Entrants had 14 hours to come up with an idea and hack together the code to create a minimal viable product. The solutions were judged on the following criteria:
Impact: How impactful will this solution be for its target audience? Is it scalable?
Creativity: How original is this solution?
Design: How well designed is this solution, from front end through to UI/UX?
Execution: How well executed is this solution from start to finish?
Relation to Challenge: Is the solution relevant to the themes of lady problems around supporting female entrepreneurs through health, education, safety and culture?
Imagine dreaming up an idea, working your rear off to create it under an insane deadline and then having two minutes to present it. That was the reality for the participants…and they did amazingly well! Not only were 15+ viable solutions presented, the atmosphere was one of collaboration instead of competition. A far cry from other pitch events I have attended.
It is not an easy task to select a winner from such a strong talent pool, much less with 4 strangers. I think it is a testament to women working together that we reached a unanimous vote on the winner in under 5 minutes. We spend another 8 minutes debating the runner up, and again unanimously agreed.
Team Tracker won the grand prize for creating a solution that allows employees to anonymously report bias in the work place and created reports for managers to understand the issues. Another key component was personalized tips for employees to handle bias situations as well as education for managers to better deal with bias within their companies. This team will be inducted into AngelHack’s first-ever social good accelerator, a 12-week mentorship and acceleration program!
The runner up for the grand prize was Winii, a tool that was presented as CrossFit for women’s personal finance. Winii’s solution is a community of women matched based on region, financial goals, and income. This group of women can share their successes and failures as they pay down debt and achieve their financial goals. There is great benefit in knowing you are not alone in your journey, and an upcoming gamification of the tool could make saving money more fun!
I am excited to see these ideas blossom into companies that make a positive impact for women around the world, and know that I had a tiny part in helping! Elegant Entrepreneur was written to get more women to startup and scale up, so it is incredibly rewarding to participate in events that align with my mission and make the world better for women entrepreneurs.