The need for data, technology, and software has grown exponentially over the past decade. More businesses than ever before are going to a python data consultancy, developing their own software, investing in new technology that will revolutionize the way they operate, the list goes on. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that most of these services are being offered by smaller businesses that come together to collaborate and grow.
I had the great pleasure of attending the InnoMAYtion Hackathon hosted by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and The Washington Post, convening civic hackers, entrepreneurs, students, and community members. The 120+ attendees learned and collaborated with organizations on projects that focused on the advancement of women and youth in entrepreneurship, and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
The BEACON-powered panel discussion highlighted the challenges and opportunities of women entrepreneurs in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Ximena Hartsock, Monica Kang, DeShuna Spencer, Desirée Venn Frederic, and I shared our entrepreneurial journeys, including the sacrifices and obstacles experienced along the way. One of the funniest remarks was, “Tell yourself you don’t suck!”
My mom joined me for the event, and had her first introduction to the DC entrepreneur scene. She had no idea what to expect, and as a former reporter observed everything. She was impressed with the honesty of the women on the panel and how we collaborated to help the room full of listeners. Her observations hold true for the ecosystem of DC women entrepreneurs. We are honest, we help each other, and we truly want to help fledgling founders create amazing companies.
The hackathon project tracks were exciting and brought innovative ideas to areas that desperately needed them. They were as follows:
Black Girl Vision – Social and economic empowerment of women of color through its initiatives in micro-finance, business development and community engagement. Building a comprehensive database and interface for black women owned businesses in DC.
My Brother’s Keeper – Building ladders of opportunity for boys and young men of color. Building a Youth Mentor Platform to connect youth with potential mentors and mentoring organizations.
Think of Us – Leveraging technology, data, and multimedia to improve policy, practice, and outcomes for youth and families. Revamping website focused on providing resources to pregnant teens.
DC Public Schools/ School Profiles & Scorecards – Brainstorming/ whiteboarding session to gather feedback on how to display the current school information and data on school scorecards.
In summation, the event was a huge success. It made me even prouder to call DC home, and DC female founders my friends.