Tampa Bay Wave’s TechWomen Rising 2020 Cohort: A Powerhouse of Female-led Innovation – Sarah Marshall

accelerator program

Tampa Bay Wave has announced its TechWomen Rising 2020 cohort – 13 tech startups led by women. The TechWomen Rising accelerator program, funded by JP Morgan Chase, is aimed at empowering women founders by giving them the tools and connections to succeed in a world where male founders tend to get more startup capital earlier in their startup journey.

The TechWomen Rising accelerator program’s 2020 cohort includes a wide variety of companies, ranging from wedding planning and software development to fitness and health programs. Grit Daily caught up with a few of the cohort companies to see what their founders have gained from their experience in the program.

AfroCurators is, “a media and entertainment brand that is going to be focused on bridging African creatives through multimedia products and experiences,” says founder Skye Idehen. She’s currently working on a podcast where she interviews first and second generation African creatives to talk about how they got where they are today, which will include a lightning round called “It Takes a Village,” based on the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a family.” The podcast is due to roll out later this month. Idehen wants people of the diaspora to understand Africa in a more dynamic way and to be encouraged to visit the continent. Her goal for the brand is to have AfroCurators festivals, audio and video content, documentaries, etc. Of her experience in the TechWomen Rising accelerator, Idehen describes it as a “blessing” that, “allows me to take a leap over some of these pitfalls because I’m surrounded by women who care and who are authentically open in sharing their experiences.”

Another startup in the TechWomen Rising cohort is MARVLoUS, an augmented reality language-learning app that is reimagining language immersion. Founder Sara Smith, a language researcher, explains that many language-learning apps are unsuitable for children because they require the user to be able to read. MARVLoUS offers a “dynamic participation experience,” where cartoon characters pop up, but are still anchored in the user’s reality – think Pokemon Go! Smith talks about the value of retaining a child’s home language so that they may better understand concepts as opposed to just vocabulary words. Each character is bi-lingual and expounds upon vocabulary flashcards. Smith says that the app can be used for self-directed language learning and as a supplementary tool for teachers. The company is aiming to have the Spanish-English option available for testing and feedback in mid-November and seeks to create a template to bring on other language combinations in the future. Smith describes how Tampa Bay Wave’s accelerator program has helped her to see herself differently – as a tech entrepreneur and an inventor because she is surrounded by, “amazing accomplished super intelligent and driven women thinking of themselves in that way.”

Cuemby specializes in cloud native technology to make developers’ jobs easier. They have been certified by Kubernetes, Google’s open-source system for managing containerized applications across multiple hosts. Developers have had a problem of streamlining different cloud-based systems, often having to manually adjust variables to successfully deploy and scale their software. Co-founders Hitomi Mizugaki and Cristher Castro explain, “We did all the wiring behind the scenes and created something really simple so anyone can use it and be able to have awesome cloud system that can run underneath their software.” Mizugaki spoke of how the TechWomen Rising program made her realize that she was unaware of how female entrepreneurs can be treated differently when trying to raise funds, and how to successfully navigate the world of venture capitalists.

Tampa Bay Wave’s TechWomen Rising accelerator program, in partnership with Embarc Collective, has done a lot to empower the female powerhouses that make up its 2020 cohort. The program is a microcosm of what can be achieved when people begin to see how the institutions, they must navigate weren’t made by them or for them. Discussions of racial inequality, long overdue are exposing people’s ignorance and allowing them to see how the world either was or was not built for those who share their skin color. Program like TechWomen Rising equip female founders to understand what equal treatment looks like so they can demand it, and it fosters a community of driven women who are committed to taking each other’s entrepreneurial journeys seriously and lifting the overall tide of investment for female-led startups.

Here are the 10 other startups in the program:

20Lighter:

A unique program helping clients achieve better health through reductions of inflammation and visceral fat, the holy grail of cardiovascular and metabolic disease.

Goldn: The Family App:

A family care management application that helps unpaid care takers to pay bills, set reminders and locate wanderers so that they have an inclusive way to empower loved ones while giving the caretaker the resources that they need.

IVF Options 

IVF Options provides fertility benefits to self-pay patients, negotiating discounted rates on fertility treatment, medication and genetic testing to make treatment more affordable to cash patients. IVF Options has helped over 2,000 patients in their fertility journey in both the U.S. and abroad. 

Kinstak 

Provides private cloud storage that automatically organizes photos, videos and files into personalized categories that are easy to find and share privately with friends and family.

Tepey 

Tepey is a web-based matching and project management software solution that eliminates the guesswork of how to build a physical product, and where to find contractors and manufacturers at an affordable price.

The Natural Nipple 

The Natural Nipple is designed for seamless and stress-free breast and bottle feeding, with a nipple that is researched and designed to mimic a mother’s shape, feel and flow.

UBQFit 

UBQFIT, is a two-sided marketplace where livestream fitness training sessions are organized between trainers and trainees.

Vacayou 

Vacayou is poised to capitalize on the fastest growing sector of the travel industry — wellness travel.

Wedzee 

Wedzee is a C2C/B2C marketplace that is designed to connect former and future brides, wedding planners and small business owners, while providing them a way to buy and sell new, used and custom wedding and event-related items online.

weRise Investments  weRise Investments facilitates building wealth and revitalizing underrepresented communities by connecting friend and family groups to a technology-enabled platform to pool funds and socially invest in diver

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