On June 14, 2016, the Women Startup Challenge VR and AI showcased 10 amazing, women-led tech startups at a pitch competition held at Google in New York City. The $50,000 top prize was awarded to Veronica Orvalho of Didimo, a startup that creates automatic 3D virtual avatars starting from a single photo in only 2 minutes.
The 10 startups were chosen from close to 200 online applications, all from women-led startups in the Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), or Virtual Reality (VR) space. The event was co-produced by Women Who Tech and Craig Newmark of craigslist and the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, and sponsored in part by Fred and Joanne Wilson.
Grand Prize: Didimo
Founder Pitching: Veronica Orvalho
Didimo won the top prize of $50,000, courtesy of the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund and Fred & Joanne Wilson, and $15,000 in legal services from Paul Hastings. Didimo automatically creates a 3D virtual character starting from a single photo — and in about 2 minutes you have a lifelike avatar that can speak, move, and represent you in a 3D world.
Second Place: Spirit AI
Founder Pitching: Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris
Second place of $10,000 in legal services and three hours in consulting from 1843 Capital went to Spirit AI, which takes tools to craft more expressive characters, stories, and worlds in games and VR. They make digital interactions feel more human and accessible using the transformative power of AI.
Third Place: Addicaid
Founder Pitching: Sam Frons
Third place of $10,000 in legal services went to Addicaid, a digital addiction wellness platform for individuals with substance/process disorders, friends/family coping with loved ones in care, a dashboard for treatment centers and insurance companies to facilitate care delivery in an organized, intelligent, cost-effective manner.
The 10 Finalists
- Addicaid – Sam Frons
- Didimo – Veronica Orvalho
- Droice Labs – Tasha Nagamine
- Galaxy AI – Jasjit Maggu
- Hauoli LLC – Lili Qiu
- Hitlist – Gillian Morris
- Intelligent Space – Christianna Taylor, PhD
- Opaque Studios – Mariana Acuña
- Spirit AI – Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris
- Venti Technologies – Heidi Wyle