Women Startup Challenge DC Finalists

DC 2015 | Finalists | JudgesMentors

Meet the 12 women-led startups who presented their innovative and disruptive ventures to a panel of investors at the first-ever Women Startup Challenge Pitch Competition at General Assembly/1776 in Washington, D.C. on June 30, 2015.

Amplify Loud


Pitching Founder: Kim Butler


Amplify Loud is a “do it yourself” website and online marketing system. Amplify Loud walks users through the development of a conversion focused WordPress website and custom tailored online marketing programs that strive to increase five core revenue drivers: website visitors, visitors to leads, leads to customers, average order volume, and number of orders. This all-in-one system bundles hosting, a web platform, online marketing products/tools, and online training, to save businesses up to $1,200 annually in product and service cost. It also provides time limited users options to outsource or get one-on-one help for various parts of their online projects, empowering them with knowledge and control.



Pitching Founder: Michelle Salsberry


Fam-ess: Making the Unknown, Known—We teach kids what they don’t know about money & how to make better buying decisions, while bringing to light insights that help inform the planning of new products and services for kids. Our mission is to teach kids financial discipline long before they go off to college or get their first job, while helping inform the making of new products that are worth working for!


Pitching Founder: Bernadette Hyland


Where we live and work determines our health and well-being. GeoHealth.us provides key information on environmental factors and diseases related to chemical exposure in our communities.

Imagine being able to share details about toxic chemicals or exposures that are in your environment and discuss the health impacts with your care provider?Knowing what physical, chemical and biological factors that we’re exposed to may provide more timely identification of conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancers, metal poisoning, skin disease and reproductive issues. Identification of environmental exposures may allow for earlier intervention, helping to reduce costs and drive better outcomes. GeoHealth.us aims to educate children about the environment and to get kids, especially girls, interested in STEM. They’re launching a product called EnviroPods™. These solar powered, arduino-based sensor kits detect particulate matter, volatile & combustible gases.


Pitching Founder: Holly Epstein Ojalvo


Kicker (gokicker.com) is news for people who don’t like news – because we solve the key problems that keep curious, thoughtful people from getting in the know. We explain what matters, why, and what you can do about it. By making current events accessible, understandable, and actionable, Kicker engages and empowers millennials with a fresh voice on current events and relevant social action.


Pitching Founder: Rachel Kimelman

@ lgbtqutie

LGBTQutie is the progressive online dating and social networking platform of today. Our site allows for people to find meaningful connections, romantic relationships and friendships. We are also the only site that exclusively caters to the full spectrum of LGBTQ sexual orientations and gender identities. LGBTQutie offers a unique content-specific platform for its users including a blog with relevant LGBTQ topics and a user-generated/sponsored events page.



Pitching Founder: Shally Venugopal


Myolo lets you complete just one mortgage application and shop it to multiple lenders. Get a lower, more accurate rate, with less effort. Myolo also makes applications better. We customize your application checklist, organize your documents, and guide you through the process. Our collaborative workspace and transcription technology lets you share and compile documents, fill forms, and sign everything in record time.

On Second Thought

Pitching Founder: Maci Peterson


On Second Thought is the flagship Digital Reputation Protection Platform (DRPP) and ecosystem that protects the reputations of individuals via mobile application technology. It does so by allowing users to take back text messages, chat messages, emails and social media posts before they get to the recipient. On Second Thought won 1st Place in the UpGlobal and Kauffman Foundation’s #StartupOasis pitch competition at South by Southwest in 2014, and it was recently named “The Texting Savior” by AT&T. It is currently available in the Google Play Store and Amazon AppStore.



Pitching Founder: Lee Fox


Certifying as a B corporation, PeerSpring is a California civic-tech educational start-up focused on the mastery of 21st century leadership, youth social innovation and the development of life-skills. Our open platform provides a framework in which students and teachers can individualize learning, collaborate with peers and apply existing curriculum to global information resources. To do this, we use “hot-button” social, economic or environmental news stories as adaptive content to standards based outcomes so that when participants build social action projects on PeerSpring, they are building their critical-thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication and community-building skills at the same time. As a result, PeerSpring’s mantra is “learning on purpose.”

Primary Book Club

Pitching Founder: Erin Witmer


Primary Book Club is a subscription service and resource for parents and caregivers of children aged 0-5. Each month, members receive a set of age-appropriate children’s books selected by our team of early childhood development experts. Our process is designed so that members never receive a book they already own or do not want. With each book, we also include a teaching guide with tips and techniques offering ways to share the book to encourage a child’s literacy skills, self-confidence, cognitive reasoning, and social development.


Pitching Founder: Rosanna Garcia


Vijilent seeks to be the ‘carfax’ for people looking to participate in the worldwide multi-billion dollar sharing economy. After co-founder, Rosanna Garcia’s vacation rental home was vandalized by a guest, she turned to her expertise in predictive analytics. Vijilent uses social media mining and data analytics to provide a trust score that represents the likelihood of an individual being a good exchange partner in a peer-to-peer (P2P) network. The score can be delivered through our mobile app, on the web or through an API for P2P network marketing partners. Our goal is to provide safer P2P exchanges and to give peace of mind to people who meet strangers from online.


Pitching Founder: Lea Yu


That dollar you just spent might have helped a company that’s innovating on water conservation, or one that turns a blind eye to slave labor. How can you know?Virtue.Us is a social impact Fitbit for you wallet. We sync up with your purchasing data (via your email + loyalty cards) and break down your dollars according to research done by NGOs and sustainability experts, giving you a distinct sense of how your purchases are impacting the world. Our reports show up in your email inbox, packaged with memes and Internet humor.


Pitching Founder: Julia Kurnia


Zidisha is the first loan crowdfunding platform for people in developing countries that connects people directly, without going through local bank intermediaries.

We’ve gotten the cost of loans down from over 35% at traditional loan crowdfunding platforms such as Kiva, to just 5%. We did this by replacing local loan officers with a self-governing, eBay-style peer-to-peer lending community.

So far we’ve facilitated over 14,000 loans between 20,000 people worldwide, with a repayment rate of 85 – 90%. Our lending volume has doubled in the past six months.