Local founder Roselle Safran took home the top prize of $20,000 at the 2020 Vinetta Project DC final Venture Challenge.
Safran is the founder and CEO of KeyCaliber, a startup that applies data science to cybersecurity stack data to identify mission-critical assets. KeyCaliber was founded in December 2019 and currently has four team members. Safran said the fresh funding will go toward building out the company’s team with experienced software engineers and data scientists who will focus on developing its product.
“I’m absolutely thrilled! It is a major achievement,” Safran told Technical.ly about winning at Vinetta Project DC’s final pitch event of the year. “We were honored to be chosen as the winner and are very proud of the accomplishment.”
The hardest part about preparing for a virtual pitch competition for Safran was fitting all of the important information about her venture into a five-minute presentation. She said it was just as nerve-wracking as preparing for an in-person event.
“Each time I practiced the pitch I discussed the slides slightly differently and I had to make sure I was being as efficient as possible with my words,” she said.
Congrats also to all of the amazing founders who applied and pitched. We are so excited to assist you on your journeys!
Stay tuned for more! pic.twitter.com/AKvd243EOD
— The Vinetta Project (@VinettaProject) September 10, 2020
Vinetta is aiming to to close the gender-based venture capital funding gap by connecting women founders and investors by way of pitch competitions, mentoring and more. Because of the pandemic, the organization had to take all of its events planned for the year online. This year’s events were led by Dawn Myers, Vinetta Project DC’s director.
“Roselle has been a member of Vinetta’s network for several years now, and our community has had the privilege of watching her blossom as a founder and as an investor,” Myers said. “Being a part of her journey with KeyCaliber is an honor and we’re so excited to see where she goes next. ”
(Check out Myers on the inaugural episode of Technical.ly DC Diaries.)
Hundreds of attendees tuned in virtually on Sept. 8 to watch the final pitch event from Vinetta’s D.C. chapter, which was sponsored by Deloitte, Booz Allen Hamilton, The Motley Fool, Capital One, Pacific Western Bank and Amazon Web Services this year. The event kicked off with a panel discussion featuring Brandon Andrews, a “Shark Tank” recruiter; Natalie Bufurd-Young, managing director of Deloitte; Scott Case, cofounder and CEO of Upside Business Travel; and Andrea Baptiste, leader of global strategic startups at AWS.
“It has been a continuous learning experience hosting virtual events. We’re constantly looking for the most interactive and cost efficient platforms to leverage for these events,” Myers said. “We put in an extraordinary amount of work on the front end to make sure these events run smoothly, but there are always things we can do better.”
In the future, Myer said she would like to incorporate more interactive elements and music to set the tone and keep attendees engaged online. Without certainty if Vinetta will return to in-person events, the organization is still on the hunt for sponsors who are invested in supporting women founders. Increased sponsorship would allow Vinetta to offer more prizes, fund more companies and support the ecosystem in a more nuanced way, Myers shared.
“We had a blast meeting so many amazing founders during this year’s Venture challenge. We’re putting in the work now to offer an even more robust program next year,” Myers said. “In the meantime, we have more impactful programming between now and year’s end.”
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