Meet Our Startup Challenge Winners

Meet Our Startup Challenge Winners

Today we’d like to introduce you to three mind-blowing female founders. They’ve stunned us with their winning entries to our 2021 Startup Challenge, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on their professional journeys.

As usual, we encountered many amazing women in this year’s competition. Our judges were particularly impressed with the quality and creativity of entries – further compounding how much we need more women in leadership positions in tech.

Judge John Almasan, Cloud & AI Technology Executive Leader at McKinsey & Co. said this: “The Startup Challenge was an impressive blend of originality and use of cutting-edge technologies – innovation at its best!”

So without further ado, let’s meet these entrepreneurs and their startups…

1st place: Tatiana Fofanova, Koda Health

Imagine being a physician tasked with the awkward job of helping a patient plan for their end of life. Understandably, these would be difficult conversations to initiate. But they’re essential conversations to have before patients are critically ill and unable to have them.

Currently, this issue is costing taxpayers and health systems over $100 billion annually in avoidable costs for unwanted care. But the female-led team behind Koda Health has developed a tech solution to boost end-of-life care and take the pressure off physicians.

Supported by AI, the application helps guide end-of-life conversations, starting with proactive, serious-illness medical care planning. Patients can:

  • Explore their values
  • Identify a surrogate decision maker to speak for them
  • Select important treatment preferences
  • Generate and share legal documents, like advance directives.
  • This incredible system aims to reduce healthcare costs, boost care standards and make the process seamless for patients, their families, and their care providers.

The team’s pitch video outlines how it works in greater detail:

A beautiful, simple solution to a costly and complex issue.

Congratulations to our winning team! Koda co-founder and Team Lead Tatiana Fofanova, said: “As a woman-led company, we often attract amazing female talent who don’t necessarily feel empowered in other environments… The funds from this first-place award will support mentorship and training for our female employees, and help us add a full-stack software developer to our team (P.S. We’re hiring!).”

2nd place: Tina Esho, The Fitting Room

When it comes to online shopping, getting the right fit is a consistent pain point for consumers. 84% of women feel that clothing sizes are random, or arbitrary depending on the brand. And this confusion leads to 50% of online clothing purchases being returned, with brands overproducing stock by 40%.

The Fitting Room aims to remove fit issues from the equation, allowing online shoppers to virtually try on clothing and order it according to their personal dimensions – because all bodies are unique.

While this technology benefits consumers, it also allows emerging designers and brands to facilitate a made-to-order production model at scale, reducing product waste. Using computer vision, machine learning and 3D visualization, The Fitting Room is replicating a real life “bespoke” shopping experience, virtually. The technology behind the product is staggering, and could drive a significant paradigm shift in apparel commerce.

Team Lead and Co-founder Tina Esho said, “It is such an honor to be selected by Girls in Tech. We plan to allocate our funds towards performance marketing ads that will champion and spearhead our future growth.” We wish the team the best of luck!

3rd place: Ashima Sharma, Dreami

At Girls in Tech, we’re passionate about the power of mentoring. And we believe that virtual mentoring is the way of the future, removing logistical setbacks and opening access to people of all abilities.

Our third place Startup Challenge winner, Dreami, is entirely in line with this belief. It’s a business founded by engineer Ashima Sharma, who felt that the lack of mentorship in her early career led to missed opportunities, passed promotions, and feelings of loneliness and frustration.

According to Dreami’s research, the benefits of having a mentor include:

  • Being five times more likely to be promoted
  • Achieving higher salaries
  • Obtaining greater self-confidence and satisfaction in personal and professional endeavors.

The online platform prompts women to complete a two-minute quiz outlining their goals. They’re then matched with suitable mentors, carefully vetted by the Dreami team. It’s an affordable, easy-to-use, quick to setup platform driving equitable access to mentorship for women.

Hear Ashima’s pitch video to better understand how it works:

Congratulations to Ashima and her team for championing inclusive mentorship experiences for all women! She said, “We’re so grateful for this opportunity! We’ll be using the funds to scale our platform.” And we can’t wait to see what’s in store for Dreami as a result.

Our community never fails to impress

Once again, we’d like to celebrate and thank everyone who submitted a pitch to the Startup Challenge. Tech needs women like you, with ideas like you.

We love that programs like the Startup Challenge motivate women within our incredible community to take action, follow their dreams, and learn new skills along the way.

If you’d like to take it a step further and benefit from your own personal career advocate, we invite you to take part in our Virtual Mentorship Program. This is an incredible opportunity to boost your knowledge, gain new skills and learn from an experienced woman who’s been where you are.

Sign up for the Virtual Mentorship Program now!


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