Please Assist Me wins again with $20K grand prize at 2019 Vinetta Project final

The startup's founder Stephanie Cummings is making waves with her tech platform that connects apartment complex residents with reliable assistants.

Stephanie Cummings of Please Assist Me accepting her award at the Vinetta Project 2019 Venture Challenge. (Photo by Michelai Graham)

A local founder secured her second pitch competition win of the week at the Vinetta Project’s final pitch challenge.

The #dctech community gathered at the Booz Allen Hamilton Innovation Center on Thursday to see the four women founders pitch their ventures. Pitches were judged by an expert panel and ultimately one winner was chosen to receive a $20,000 cash prize.

Each founder had three minutes to pitch followed by a Q&A with the judges and one minute of advice.

The crowd heard pitches from:

  • Stephanie Cummings of Please Assist Me
  • Kari Clark of Uplift
  • Lola Han of CultivatePeople
  • Cynthia Adams of Pearl Certification

Please Assist Me, curator of a tech platform that connects people with reliable assistants to help them manage day-to-day chores and tasks, took home the grand prize. Founder Stephanie Cummings is making waves after expanding her company to the District in January: Earlier this week, Cummings won first place and $25,000 at the HERImpact DC pitch competition, bringing her total winnings this week to $45,000 in cash.

“I want to hire a diverse team of engineers, I want to hire women of color and having that background allows me to do that,” Cummings told in a post-win interview last night. “Just the support that D.C. has [shown] for women of color … I think that really breaks down barriers and make things fair for women and for women of color.”

Cummings said she is a self-taught coder, whose parents are both engineers, and she runs her own platform. She said if she could, she’d spend all her time coding.

Though she won the top prize, she wasn’t the only victor of the night. Clark took home the Unstoppable Woman Award worth $5,000 presented by Booz Allen Hamilton. Clark curates a tech platform focused on helping employers improve retention rates of mothers of all stages with coaching, digital exercises and more.

The evening came with two more surprises.

Meghan Gaffney, founder and CEO of Veda Data Solutions, confirmed that her startup has raised its first Series A funding round. Gaffney sat on the panel of expert judges but she’s no new face to the Vinetta Project scene: She took the stage at the first D.C. Vinetta Project pitch competition in 2017, and won. Veda Data Solutions’ platform uses machine learning to make sure health provider directories have the correct information.

Vinetta Project D.C. Regional Director Kelly O’Malley also announced that she is stepping down from her role, and has accepted a position with the Georgetown Innovation Lab.

O’Malley has been leading the Vinetta Project for the past two years, and also led SEED SPOT’s most recent Impact Accelerator program. More details to come on her transition.

Projects: DC Startup Week / The Vinetta Project

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