Big News: Women Startup Challenge NYC to Fund Women-Led Startups

Hey, big news: I'm working with Women Who Tech again to scale the Women Startup Challenge. Next up: The Women Startup Challenge NYC at Microsoft on November 9th. Applications open today. You have 'til September 30th to complete your application. This Challenge is focused on the NE region.

The deal is that the Women Startup Challenge NYC is showcasing and funding innovative, women-led startups and disruptive ventures that are solving problems for people, businesses, and the planet. 10 of the most promising startups will be selected to pitch their venture on stage on 11/9 in front of investors ranging from Joanne Wilson to Susan Lyne of BBG Ventures, and a live audience at Microsoft in Times Square. Prizes include at least $25,000 in cash, startup profiles by me and my team on craigconnects, HuffPo, LinkedIn, and Medium, as well as startup friendly services. Please note: if any sponsors want to match my donation, reach out to the team at info at

We're not just giving away money, we're trying to make long-term connections between women startups founders and the investor community. On November 10, the final 10 will be participating in the first-ever Women Startup Speed Dating at AOL. The event is designed to give women founders one-on-one access to investors and experts to help them hone their startup pitches and ideas.

Women Startup Challenge Impact

In just four months, the folks at Women Who Tech have made a lot of impact:
  • Nearly $500,000 raised
  • $315,000 funded 88 women-led startups
  • $50,000 awarded to the Women Startup Challenge grand prize winner, On Second Thought
  • Additional funding and advisory support for Challenge finalists
Since this past summer's challenge, the Women Startup Challenge finalists have been making a lot of progress:

Zidisha has a few important milestones they've accomplished since the Women Startup Challenge:

- July 2015: Reached $200K / month in loans crowdfunded for the first time in their history (the average in 2014 was ~$90K / month). They're on track to raise even more in August.

- Zidisha's gotten some great press coverage in Forbes, Wired, and Fast Company.

- Thanks to growth in lending capital and strong repayment performance, they've raised the starting loan size for new borrowers from $50 to $100, helping people jump-start their businesses faster.

- Beyond the numbers, the updates written by the entrepreneurs themselves gives a really inspiring look at the human impact of Zidisha's growth and ability to crowdfund more loans.

On Second Thought has raised $250K, to date, and was funded by K Street Capital. Since the Challenge, they've gained 42K new users, and their users are sending 250K messages per month. Shelly Kapoor Collins joined their team as an Advisor, too. Keep a lookout because they've got more funding coming in October.

Kicker Women Startup Challenge Advisory Board members have introduced Kicker to potential media partners. The startup has also been establishing partnerships with major media companies that will their millennial focused content Stay tuned for partnership announcements.

Since their profile, Why a NYT Editor Left Her Job to Start the News Site Kicker, on craigconnects, they have also gained hundreds of new Facebook followers and newsletter subscribers. is the progressive online dating and social networking platform for the entire LGBTQ community. Since the previous challenge took place, they received funding from an angel investor and continue to seek funding to complete their seed round. LGBTQutie also continues to acquire thousands of members on the site and has nearly 60,000 Facebook followers. They are in the process of developing their highly demanded innovative mobile app.

MYOLO has had two investor meetings and two new informal advisors, since the Women Startup Challenge, who are helping them work their way to launch. They've also had some great meetings with a range of lenders, including values-based banks, who are interested in joining MYOLO's network to boost their online presence and reach new types of mortgage borrowers.

PeerSpring was just featured in the 110-magazine, detailing the impact of their technology and programming inside a high-school local to that community.

On September 8th, they're announcing a partnership with Take2 and their tour across the country to raise awareness for the importance of music education in American schools. Over 40-weeks, they'll travel 10,000 miles and perform 275 concerts for over 100,000 students.

Virtue.Us is running a private beta with a small group of users at the moment. Stay tuned for more.

Fam-ess has launched their Beta product for both iPhone and Android since the Women Startup Challenge. They have over 500 beta users right now and are tracking how they are navigating through the process. Users spend about 4 minutes per session with the app and typically use the app every day to every few days. They have had several parents telling them how much easier the app has made their back-to-school mornings because they don't have to nag their kids to get ready, and check off their to-do's. The app is motivating them to do it themselves!

Fam-ess has added an advisor who is helping them to further focus on user journey and experience and helping them make connections for upcoming PR. They told us that they saw significant lift after we profiled 'em on craigconects, HuffPost, Medium and LinkedIn: New App, Fam-ess, Teaches Kids Financial Responsibility.

Michelle Salsberry, of Fam-ess, said, "The Challenge really helped us start to make waves and promote our business. I definitely recommend it to other startups who are looking to make that first break!"

Vijilent takes the strange out of stranger through their mobile app that quickly searches social media and provides a summary of an individual's trust and safety. They recently launched the Android version of Vijilent's mobile app. The app is free for download during their beta period. The iOS version is expecting release to the Apple store any day now. Sign up at their website to be the first to know when it launches.

Vijilent also opened a Brazil satellite office in Rio de Janeiro to plan for the Summer Olympics. They've been selected to participate in the Innovatour on September 9 as part of Innovate Raleigh and have selected to showcase at the CED-North Carolina Tech Venture slated for September 15th & 16th.

Primary Book Club is going to be participating in the SeedSpot program this fall. They've also been working on finishing up development of their new website and should be rolling that out in the next few weeks. They have a number of subscribers on the waitlist that they'll roll out to as soon as the new site is live. Including the new subscribers from the Women Startup Challenge crowdfunding, they have about 50% more subscribers than they did before the Women Startup Challenge.

This isn't altruism, it just feels right. With only 7% of all investor money going to women-led startups, it's time that we make some intentional investments. Make sure to check out the Women Startup Challenge NYC, apply, and please share with startups in the Northeast region. We're long overdue for funding women-led startups, folks.