Nonprofit organization Women Who Tech, is awarding women-led virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI) startups with $50,000 cash and other startup friendly services.
Women Who Tech who describes itself as a nonprofit organization working to break down barriers to women in the tech industry, announced the fourthWomen Startup Challenge pitch in partnership with Craig Newmark of craigslist and the Craig Newmark Foundation. The event is also sponsored in part by startup investors Fred and Joanne Wilson.
“VR, AR, and AI are the new frontier in tech and it’s vitally important that women and their companies get funded so that their perspective on these life changing products is brought to market,” said Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech, which organizes the competition.
“It’s estimated that there will be 170 million VR users by 2018. Every major tech company is investing heavily in AI, and it’s critical that women-led ventures claim their stake in the space.”
Applications to the program will be accepted through December 12, 2016 via the organization’s website. 10 finalists will be selected to participate in the live pitch competition in New York City by February, 2017.
The panel of expert judges will include Robert Scoble, entrepreneur-in-residence at Upload VR; Lisa Stone, entrepreneur and cofounder of BlogHer; Lynne Johnson, former senior editor of Fast Company; and Sandy Carter, CEO of Silicon-Blitz and formerly of IBM.
The organization says, more than 1,100 women-led startups have participated in the previous programs and nearly $1M in cash and other prizes have been awarded to winners and finalists.
“Money’s important, but there’s more than just prize money to this,” said Craig Newmark. “Our Women Startup Challenges have gotten women tech entrepreneurs real visibility in the investor world and have closed seven-figure rounds.”
“We are looking at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to VR, AR, and AI,” said Carissa Flocken, finalist from the third Women Startup Challenge at LinkedIn and cofounder of Entry Point VR, a cross-platform distribution and analytics for virtual reality content.
“After the Women Startup Challenge, I got introductions to prominent investors and entry into IBM’s Global Entrepreneurship Program.”
Flocken is also a judge for the upcoming Challenge.