Diversity & Inclusion
DEI / Events / Hackathons / Women in tech

Here’s who won Startup Weekend DC Flip the Ratio

The hackathon franchise again turned to D.C. to prove that tech events don't have to be male-dominated.

A group shot of some Startup Weekend DC 2015 participants. (Photo by Nikita Jotwani)

D.C.’s Startup Weekend (Sept. 25-27) was no different, only this city’s had a twist. The “Flip the Ratio” initiative looked to reverse the typical male-to-female ratio at tech events, which is about 70-30.
UpGlobal challenged the D.C. tech community to lead the charge. “You may ask why DC?” the UpGlobal announcement reads:

Besides having some of the most educated, ambitious, and confident women in the nation, DC was been recognized as one of the top 3 cities for women entrepreneurs. Women led businesses are on the rise and so the choice to startup at the nation’s capital was natural.

Last year’s event made some headway. And this year’s was also a solid showing.
“Though it did not reach our goal of 70/30, we achieved 50/50 gender neutrality,” said Nikita Jotwani, one of the organizers. “This was still a win for us, since it is a ratio that typically isn’t seen at startup or tech events. Perhaps this is the ratio we will one day achieve for startup/ tech events.”
Starting last Friday at 6 p.m., about 60 of the 70 registrants that actually showed up divided up into four groups. The teams worked on a product or service to pitch to the final group on Sunday evening.
The winning team was Reciprocare, which streamlines the ability for home healthcare workers to find available work.
Its leader, Charlene Brown, said she was surprised to come in first place, but was motivated by team members to aim for the top spot.


“I didn’t expect to win, yet I had great confidence in our startup and the importance of the problems that we are tackling,” she said. “We spent the weekend mired in business models and customer development efforts. We were all so grateful to have this incredible team working so hard and collaboratively on the business itself that we weren’t focused on winning. It didn’t come up in our discussions over the weekend until Sunday afternoon when one of our teammates said, ‘Let’s focus on winning this thing!’ It was at that moment that I realized that we could and why not! So, we went for it!”
Brown credits her team’s win to her teammates’ strong and varied professional backgrounds.
Faran Negarestan is an amazing software engineer. Evan Taylor is a talented designer. Vince Natale has a strong background in sales. Roy Morris has a lengthy background in business,” Brown wrote. “Their skills were the perfect complement to my own. We respected one another’s contributions, enjoyed each other’s company and really had fun!”
A diverse team with diverse talents equal wins. That’s the message that inclusion advocates try to relay.
The Startup Weekend franchise boasts that about 36 percent of event participants continue to build a company based on what was started at their events.
Startup Weekend: Georgetown University takes place this weekend, Oct. 2-4.

Companies: Startup Weekend

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