Author Archive

April Amber Grant Awarded to Cyant

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

On Wednesday, we revealed our April Amber Grant finalists.  Today we’re here to announce the $1,000 recipient and the qualifier for our $10,000 year-end Amber Grant.

Congratulations to Barbara Hanna, Founder of Cyant.  Barbara and her talented team have a goal of connecting art and tech to foster learning and creativity.

So… how are they attacking that goal?  Let’s get the lowdown from Barbara.

WN: Share some background on yourself and how Cyant came to life.

BH: I bring a technical background, with a PhD in Computer Vision. I have had the opportunity to work on a number of technology and application areas, and in recent years my attention has turned to 3D printing and related technologies.

This is a very disruptive field, one that uniquely bridges the gap between digital and physical. It also brings together all types of people, backgrounds and disciplines, from art to engineering. It is always inspiring and exciting to read the latest advances in the field, which is already giving rise to tremendous innovation. It’s also a fast growing industry, which is poised to reach ~$20bn by 2020, with potentially significant impact in industries from fashion to medical to space exploration, in addition to creating new paths for design, production and sustainability!

So, this area is bringing great opportunities — and for the next generation of creators and builders in particular. Nonetheless, it is also raising a few challenges and needs to address. For example, making 3D modeling and 3D printing accessible and intuitive, which are two of the problems that are a focus at Cyant.

With a mission to foster learning, creativity and engagement through the connection of art and technology, our goal is to develop software products and services that can empower a diverse community of  young “cyantists” to learn and create new things in new ways. Our first product, Cyant’s Lab™, is an app that lets kids of all ages easily create 3D models.

WN: Explain what functionality the current app provides. 

BH: Our iPad app enables kids to create 3D models by doing something known to humans since prehistoric times: drawing! The app automatically turns those drawings and writings into 3D models. Models can be free drawn, but the app also offers a selection of templates as guides.

To make it particularly accessible to younger kids, the base version of the app has an intuitive, simple interface, with the possibility to add more tools and features in the future. Since not everyone has a 3D printer, 3D Prints of the models can be ordered and delivered via a partner 3D printing service. The app also provides articles to learn more about 3D printing, as well as pioneers in the field who can be inspirational models for young cyantists. So Cyant’s Lab™ can be used to very easily create and 3D print designs, from ornaments to components of more involved arts or crafts projects or educational activities.

WN: How long does it take the product to reach the customer once a design is submitted?

BH: For the first version of Cyant’s Lab™, the assumption is that not everyone has a 3D printer. We have been working with a partner 3D printing service (Sculpteo) which can achieve a rapid turn around. They can fulfill the order and deliver it within a week if there is a need for fast handling and shipping. This service offers a range of materials (including metal) and 3D printing technologies. So in general, the exact handling timeframe may depend on the order, but the prints are high quality, professional grade right off the bat.

This being said, for those who have a 3D printer, we plan to offer the ability to have access to the 3D model files. And depending on the model and print settings, the printing time can be fairly rapid. That’s critical in a setting like a classroom.

WN: Talk about the educational workshops you offer. Beyond those events, is there potential for partnering with schools?

BH: By nature, there is a significant focus on STEAM learning at Cyant and throughout the educational workshops we organize. We work to create art-meets-tech experiences that are project driven, and allow for individual creativity to be stimulated, while maintaining a level of collaboration. And while learning about 3D printing is weaved into the workshop, true to our mission, other areas maintain an important place too. It’s always wonderful and fun to see what kids (including the big ones known as grown ups) learn and create!

We have had the opportunity to explore educational activities in school settings and have received great feedback. So yes, there is definitely potential for partnering with schools!

WN: What advice would you give to an aspiring female entrepreneur?

BH: First, don’t hesitate to try. Try not to let self-doubt get in the way. Entrepreneurship is a journey with ups and downs. There may be 10 no’s before there is one yes, and there may be unexpected, time consuming roadblocks.

So it is important to persevere and draw lessons for the next steps. And try and find networks, friends, mentors who can provide input, feedback and guidance. Along the way, make sure to keep sight of the internal passion, or idea or mission that made it all start in the beginning! Oh, and, it may be hard, but remember to switch off from time to time, too.

Thanks to Barbara for her time, and congratulations once again on earning the April Amber Grant.  With May in full swing, we’re already considering candidates for the May Amber Grant. If you’re a woman-business owner, please consider applying today or sharing our grant with someone in need.

 

2018 April Amber Grant Finalists

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Below you’ll find the 5 finalists for the April Amber Grant ($1,000).  One recipient will become eligible for our year-end Amber Grant ($10,000).

Stay tuned, as we’ll announce the April winner by early next week.

Until then … congratulations to the finalists. And best of luck.

 

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March Amber Grant Awarded to Norma

Friday, April 6th, 2018

On Monday, we announced our March Qualification Grant finalists. Today, we’re thrilled to introduce our winner, Lauryn Dempsey, Co-Founder/CEO of Norma

Norma’s mission is to empower women to take charge of their breast health. How are they doing so?  And how can you get involved?  Read our interview below and view their quick video to find out.

WN: Share with our readers some background on yourself and the genesis of Norma.

LD: To say Norma came out of nowhere is an understatement. Seven weeks ago, only two of the six women who co-founded Norma even knew each other. Our team formed in mid-February at Techstars Startup Weekend Women in Denver and we were drawn together after hearing Amelia pitch her idea to create a breast health app. From Friday night until Sunday afternoon, we researched breast health trends, identified market gaps, tested our product ideas with women, and finally came up with a solution to build an all-inclusive breast health app with a connected breast self exam reminder device. On Sunday afternoon, nine teams from the event pitched their company ideas to five judges and Norma was the unanimous winner.

As Denver’s Startup Weekend’s winning team, we won a trip to Paris to compete in a Global Startup Weekend Women pitch event on Mar. 7, 2018. Over the course of the next three weeks, we worked hard to build out our business model, better understand women’s breast health needs, and launch a basic breast self exam journal app before the competition. Of the 22 teams from 15 countries that participated, Norma took home third place!

While in Paris, we learned that we had been accepted to participate in the University of Colorado’s New Venture Challenge (NVC) in March. The three-week competition wrapped up on April 4 and we took home three awards: Women’s Entrepreneurship Prize, 3rd Place in the IT track finals, and audience choice award. Not only that, of the 117 teams that participated in the competition, we were awarded the third highest amount of prize money, which is invaluable as we bootstrap Norma and work hard and fast to bring her to life.

Needless to say, the past seven weeks have been a whirlwind, yet we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Not only are we a majority-student team, but four of us have personal family experience with breast cancer and we all know we are working on a problem much greater than ourselves. Something really special and unique happened that cold, snowy weekend in February that’s left a team of six women on a mission to help women around the world take control of their breast health and learn their ‘normal’ so they can detect something that’s not.

WN: Take us through how the app currently works. What upgrades do you have planned for the future?

LD: We launched a basic breast self exam journal app in early March as a way to test our concept and understand how women use the app. Over the course of the next few months, we will expand the journal’s functionality, as well as build out new features to include adding a breast health resource section, a community connect tab, and an ability to share data and journal entries with a doctor. In the future, we’d like to incorporate telemedicine so that no matter where a woman might be, or whether she has health insurance or not, she can always connect with a medical professional if she has breast health concerns.

As we build out our app, we will also be building an app-enabled Internet of Things (IoT) device that signals a woman to perform her exam. In our interviews with hundreds of women, we learned that the biggest reason they don’t perform exams is because they forget. We know an app notification doesn’t always spur action and that’s why we are building this simple piece of hardware to help women form a lifelong habit of monthly breast self exams.

Further, we are determined to have Norma be an all-inclusive breast health resource. While breast cancer and other breast health issues primarily impact women, men and the LGBTQIA community are affected by breast issues, too. Additionally, when someone receives news they have breast cancer, they aren’t the only ones touched by the diagnosis. It’s our hope that Norma also becomes the go-to resource for minority groups battling the disease, as well as for the countless friends and family members supporting loved ones battling breast cancer.

WN: What is your marketing strategy?

LD: Our goal is to launch a fully-functional app and begin taking IoT device pre-orders in October 2018, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month. October is six months away and we don’t want to wait until then to start helping women change their breast health habits. That’s why we launched the Norma Network of Breast Friends on Apr. 1! Each month on the first, Team Norma and our Breast Friend brand advocates text the women in our lives a reminder to perform her breast self exam and to #feelitonthefirst.

Through this grassroots campaign, our goal is to get women to start taking a proactive approach to their health, while also building brand recognition and loyalty. We love the work our Breast Friends do to instill healthy habits and will be featuring them on our blog and inviting them to test our app and IoT device before we launch.

We’re actively seeking more Breast Friends so please send us an email if you’d like to join: founders@knowyournorma.com

WN: What are your goals for the year ahead, and how can the grant money help you reach them?

LD: The next six months are a sprint for Norma as we build, test and iterate (and repeat!) our products with the goal of launching in October. It’s certainly ambitious, but we have proven our ability to work together to achieve milestones and we’re confident we can meet the October deadline we’ve set for ourselves. It’s pretty rare to have as large of a co-founding team as ours, but the amazing thing about it is that we have nearly all the tech and business skills required to bring Norma from idea to reality. With help from WomensNet, we are able to start reaching out to manufacturers to build our IoT device prototype and to better understand mass quantity production costs. We anticipate raising a seed round starting in mid-May, but with this Qualification Grant, we can address the business needs now that all companies face when starting out.

Thank you, WomensNet, for your help in making Norma come alive!

WN: Share some advice you would give to an aspiring female entrepreneur.

LD: Show up, put yourself out there, and find a team to support you in your journey. There are going to be highs and lows and you need a solid network around to get you through trying times. If you ever have doubts, think about the regret you would feel if you didn’t take a chance on yourself or your idea and just keep driving forward. You can do it and there are so many women ready and willing to assist you!

2018 March Amber Grant Finalists

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

Congratulations to our 5 finalists for the 2018 March Amber Grant ($1,000). We’ll announce the winner shortly!

Norma

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Baby Change-N-Go

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Rocky Mountain Sign Language

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Just Ride Indy

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Cheer For You

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February Amber Grant Awarded to Don’t Forget The List

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

February marked another exciting and competitive month. Today, though, we’re thrilled to announce the 2nd Qualification Grant recipient of 2018 — Lisa Buie, Co-Founder of Don’t Forget The List.

DFTL is a unique company that specializes in planning Surprise Travel, Mystery Group Tours and Bucket List Tours. Lisa shares much more in our interview below.

​WN: ​Share the story of how Don’t Forget The List came about

LB: We first had the idea for our unique travel company at a moment in our lives when we were stressed out from the daily grind. We wanted to go somewhere, but didn’t know where, so we threw a dart at a map and set out on a weekend adventure. After recovering from a spontaneous road trip involving The Mothman, a haunted hotel in West Virginia, a dead cave and an epic horseback ride into the mountains of Kentucky, the light bulb lit and we decided we HAD to plan trips like this for other people.  The idea has grown and developed to now include group Mystery Tours as well.

The same spontaneous trip inspired us to start a yearly Bucket List of items that we add to and check off every year.  Our yearly Bucket Lists include items like skydiving, swimming with sharks and performing at an open mic night.  We believe that if you focus too much on the destination you miss the ride, and our company has been developed around inspiring others to have the same experiences.  “The List” in our company name refers to all of our Bucket Lists!

Our adventurous travelers have told us that waiting to know where they are going is one of the best parts, which tells us we are on the right track

The full story of our first epic trip can be found on our blog.

WN: Where are some destinations you’ve worked with and how do you decide on those destinations?

LB: While we don’t want to give away all our surprises, we can say that we love to craft unique surprise experiences for individual travelers as well as our group tours! We look for off the beaten path and unique locations to pleasantly surprise our customers.  For example, imagine sleeping in a luxury treehouse or snowmobiling to Old Faithful!  We meet with Destination Managers and Tour Suppliers from across the country to identify and select the places we send our travelers.  These colleagues ensure the locations and activities we send our customers to live up to our high standards.

WN: How do you strive to separate Don’t Forget The List from market competition?

LB: While offering Surprise Travel and Mystery Tours sets us apart, we also have other pretty awesome reasons we stand apart from our competition.

We love our amazing planet and want to ensure it is healthy for the next generation to explore.  Because we know the travel industry is inherently “dirty”, with all the carbon emissions involved in car, bus, train and air travel, we purchase carbon offsets for all of our trips, so our customers can rest assured that when they travel with us all they leave behind are their own footprints!  We work with a company called TerraPass that helps us offset the carbon footprint from each of our trips by investing in various earth-friendly projects and companies.  The amount we invest is calculated by the number of miles our busses and individual customers travel.

We are also dedicated to working with local small businesses in the geographical areas we visit. We aim to book accommodations at highly recommended local hotels or bed and breakfasts, and always supply travelers with a list of recommended local restaurants, retailers and entertainment venues to visit during their stay.

We also strive to make every trip Bucket List worthy.  While we are not the only company that offers Surprise Travel, we are the only one that custom creates journeys designed to ensure our customers don’t forget their Bucket Lists!  We strive to make sure our travelers are still sharing their epic experiences with their friends and family years after they travel with us.

WN: What are your plans for the grant funds?

LB: We have some lofty goals!  With a successful marketing campaign, we believe we can inspire a large audience of customers to live their lives fully and in the moment by restoring their sense of adventure through Surprise Travel and Mystery Tours.

Many of our colleagues believe Surprise Travel is the key to reaching the next generation of travelers. We want to be a major player in bridging the gap between millennials and baby boomers, and in boosting the travel industry as a whole.

Also, with some development and partnerships we plan on establishing a non-profit charity to fulfill the Bucket List items of terminally ill adults.

As a startup, reaching the public has been our greatest challenge by far.  Since gaining exposure is our biggest hurdle and as a startup we have limited funds, the qualifying grant we just received would be dedicated to marketing and promotions.  The money will help us get directly in front of potential customers at some larger travel shows as well as allow us to sponsor Surprise Travel trips for promotional events.  It will also help with printing expenses, video production and paid advertisements.

While the grant funds are a major benefit, the PR boost we receive from winning the grant is, in itself, super valuable!  Since exposure is what we need most, we are super excited and grateful to have been chosen for the qualifying grant and look forward to competing for the additional Amber Grant as well.

WN: Share some advice you would give to an aspiring female entrepreneur

LB: Go For It, Girl! 

My business partner Holly and I came to the realization that while we were working hard for other organizations and corporations, we were spending our valuable time and resources working towards other people’s visions, not our own.  Never doubt your greatness and ability to realize your dreams!  Take one day, one task at a time and before you know it your ideas that seem huge and crazy may one day set you up to inspire and transform your whole industry.

2018 February Amber Grant Finalists

Friday, March 2nd, 2018
Congratulations to our 5 finalists for the 2018 February Amber Grant ($1,000). We’ll announce the winner next week…

 

Ziva Wearables

Heloise Taillet

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DC Design Tours

Carolyn Muraskin

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YERU STEM Education

Shaakira Hardy

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Vie Cycle

Sylvie Froncek

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Don’t Forget The List

Lisa Buie

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