Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

3 DC-area startups moving on in the InnovateHER challenge

After much constructive criticism from the panel, here's who will pitch again on Dec. 1.

The women who pitched at the qualifying round of InnovateHER in D.C.

(Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)

The most important trait at the InnovateHER qualifying round on Tuesday, according to an organizer of the event, was the ability to show up and keep trying.
InnovateHER 2016 might be a national pitch competition organized by the Office of Women’s Business Ownership at the U.S. Small Business Administration, but the atmosphere at the qualifying round for the D.C. metro area was anything but aggressively competitive.
Seven woman-led startups (though female leadership was not required to apply) each had three minutes to pitch their company in front of a panel at DLA Piper. Each pitch was followed by ample time for a Q&A and feedback from the panel.
Indeed, at the “Dolphin Tank” style event the focus of critique rarely strayed from constructive criticism on anything from an entrepreneur’s style of pitching to the content of that pitch — missing elements or particular strengths.
So it almost came as a surprise, at the end of the event, when three winners were announced. The three finalists will have the opportunity, and five whole minutes, to pitch again at Hera Hub on Dec. 1. From that event, one winner will be chosen to move forward to the InnovateHER semi-finals.
Here’s who is busy preparing their pitch for the December event:

  1. Splurge: According to founder Azah Awasum, Splurge takes an old African concept of social saving and makes it mobile. Specifically targeting the 18-35-year-old set, the mobile app makes it easy to create savings groups with friends based on what kind of purchase you are saving for.
  2. CJ’s Kids: Founded by one frustrated mom in the hopes of helping others, CJ’s Kids has created the Cozywoggle — a winter jacket that is safe for children to wear while buckled into carseats.
  3. Activity Rocket: The self-described “Open Table” for kids activities, classes and camps. Activity Rocket aims to makes mom’s lives easier by streamlining, and modernizing, the process of finding out-of-school activities.
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