Sam Frons
Sam Frons

10 Finalists Announced For Women Startup Challenge Pitch Competition

Women Who Tech, in partnership with Craig Newmark, announced the 10 finalists selected for its fourth Women Startup Challenge pitch competition.
Sam Frons
Addicaid Founder Sam Frons copitched her startup to make it into the final finalists.
photo courtesy of

Women Who Tech, a national nonprofit working to break down barriers to women in the tech and startup industry, in partnership with Craig Newmark, announced the 10 finalists selected for its fourth Women Startup Challenge pitch competition, a nationwide contest that will focus on showcasing and funding women-led startups working in the areas of virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI). The competition is co-sponsored by startup investors Fred and Joanne Wilson, and will award $50,000 as a cash grant, $35,000 in pro bono legal services by global law firm Paul Hastings, LLP, among other startup friendly services.

“We received close to 200 entries from women-led startups who are at the forefront of VR and AI. These ventures are building virtual limbs, self-driving non-automotive vehicles, 3-D immersive cameras, drone technologies and wearable tech for gaming. It’s vitally important that women and their companies get properly supported so that their perspective on these life changing products is brought to market,” said Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech.

The 10 finalists, who hail from California, Massachusetts, New York and Texas (see descriptions below), will appear together Feb. 15, at the Google’s New York campus in Chelsea. One grand prize winner will be selected in the course of a “shark-tank style” competition. More details here:

The panel of judges who will be selecting the winners of the Challenge consist of investors Kate Shillo (Director, Galvanize Ventures), Kai Bond (Principal, Comcast Ventures), and Lisa Stone (Entrepreneur and Cofounder, BlogHer).

“The creativity and accomplishment of a lot of women in this highly technical field is impressive,” said craigslist founder Newmark. “The startup challenge is about matching opportunity with talent. It’s about opening doors. We can’t make that happen fast enough.”

This marks the fourth Women Startup Challenge since June 2015.  To date more than 1,500 women-led startups have participated and nearly $1M in cash and other prizes have been awarded to winners and finalists.

Women Startup Challenge Finalists

Addicaid – A digital addiction wellness platform for individuals with substance and process disorders, as well as for friends and family coping with loved ones in care. Addicaid is a dashboard for treatment centers and insurance companies to facilitate care delivery in an organized, intelligent, cost-effective manner. Cofounder Pitching, Sam Frons (Brooklyn, NY)

Breinify – The first time-driven, predictive AI engine for uncovering unique and actionable user behavior insights. Their technology blends traditional machine learning and AI techniques with a complex temporal foundation so their engine learns, reacts, and makes extremely granular intelligent decisions that vary for each individual at any time enabling ROI at scale. Cofounder Pitching, Diane Keng (Cupertino, Calif.)

Didimo – Automatically creates 3D virtual characters from a single photo; in about 2 minutes you have a lifelike avatar that can speak, move, and represent you in a 3D world. Platform agnostic and compatible with all 3D environments, their technology can be used in games, social media, film, AR, and VR. Cofounder Pitching, Veronica Orvalho (Clayton, Calif.)

Droice Labs – Artificial intelligence startup in the healthcare space using cutting-edge machine learning to help hospitals achieve better patient outcomes. Cofounder Pitching, Tasha Nagamine  (New York, NY)

Hauoli LLC – Revolutionizing how users interact with the world, Hauoli is developing patent-pending high-precision acoustic-based motion tracking technology. The technology will enable VR/AR users to easily interact with objects in the scene. Cofounder Pitching, Lili Qiu (Austin, TX)

Hitlist – An intelligent assistant that monitors flight and accommodation prices for trips you want to take, then alerts you when prices drop. Using a combination of machine learning, social and expert recommendations, Hitlist recreates the old school travel agent experience while saving you 50%+ on your bookings. Cofounder Pitching, Gillian Morris (New York, NY)

Intelligent Space – Developing artificial intelligence for space applications by leveraging autonomous robotics to restructure space for satellite safety from orbital debris starting with a space towing system moving dead satellites to a graveyard zone. Cofounder Pitching, Christianna Taylor, PhD (Moffett Field, Calif.)

Opaque Studios – Building VR-based tools for Hollywood studios; combining Virtual Reality and Virtual Production; allowing content creators to produce feature films, TV shows, games and VR applications more efficiently than ever before. Cofounder Pitching, Mariana Acuña (Los Angeles, Calif.)

Spirit AI – Developing tools to craft more expressive characters, stories, and worlds in games and VR; players can communicate naturally with characters, be deeply understood, and have unique conversations. With this technology, they’re also combating online harassment in multiplayer video games. Cofounder Pitching, Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris (New York, NY)

Venti Technologies – Building non-automotive autonomous vehicles such as wheelchairs, golf carts, tractors, scooters and shuttles to give freedom and mobility to tens of millions of seniors and mobility-impaired people, and provide life-enhancing cost-effective, transportation for everyone. Cofounder Pitching, Heidi Wyle (Weston, Mass.)

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