Today we kick off the sixth cohort of WiSTEM, the 1871 accelerator program that has graduated five cohorts, supported 64 companies and 72 individual women, and raised more than $10 million in capital collectively since the program’s inception in Fall of 2015.
The 14 entrepreneurs for Cohort 6 will undergo a rigorous 12-week program starting today which will include curated programming, mentorship, and facilitated introductions to key corporate and venture partners. The program will culminate in a community showcase event open to Chicago’s tech leaders, supporters and potential investors at 1871.
About the Companies:
- AptAmigo | Rachel Struna | The apartment search is overwhelming and frustrating, but AptAmigo makes the hunt efficient and reliable. AptAmigo provides real-time, transparent, and personalized availability, pairing premier customer service with over 4,500 detailed resident reviews in order to ensure that home-hunters experience a seamless transition into their new apartment.
I can't wait to engage with other female entrepreneurs; I want to hear how they solve problems within their industries, how they celebrate their wins, and see how I can incorporate their learned skills into my everyday. —Rachel Struna, AptAmigo
- Cleancio | Rocio Lane | Cleancio is a fast growing and innovative startup providing on-demand vacation rental cleaning services with the goal of improving the guest's experience by following hospitality standards. Moreover, Cleancio helps Airbnb hosts, vacation rental property managers and owners keep and maintain excellent guest reviews.
- Docademia | Nassim Abdi | Docademia is the "Airbnb" for social documentaries, offering a video-on-demand film catalog and a live Q&A service with the filmmakers to connect indie documentary filmmakers from around the world with faculty and students at colleges and universities. Docademia helps educators teach their students through creating real-life exposure in the fields of humanities, and partners with filmmakers to find new audiences for their creative work.
- Dresscode | Kayte Malik | Dresscode believes there is beauty in innovation and technology. The company merges fashion and technology to excite and educate women and girls about computer science, coding and STEM by producing sophisticated accessories engraved with computer science code strings, which users can use to unlock different coding lessons.
I wanted to learn from those who have more experience than I do when it comes to creating sustainable businesses. Also to successfully build Dresscode we need the brightest minds around to help us grow and scale. Knowing the reputation of WiSTEM and 1871, I knew it would give me the opportunity to cultivate lasting relationships with the cohort and other talented tech leaders in Chicago. It is an honor and a privilege to be part of WiSTEM C6! —Kayte Malik, Dresscode
- Givly | Tiffany Williams | Givly is the universal giving and stewarding app that brings donors and nonprofits together like never before. Givly brings nonprofits into the mobile digital space, allowing organizations engaged in mission-driven, transformational work, to manage their administrative resources effectively and affordably. It leverages the power, connectivity, and popularity of mobile digital capabilities to revolutionize the way we do philanthropy.
- Happenstance | Stephanie Choporis and Kathy Bartlett | Happenstance is a mobile app that changes Chicago journalism as we know it – by spontaneously delivering obscure audio stories about the people and places in the city directly to users as they go about their daily routines. Happenstance is not a tour or a news app, but a new form of timeless audio journalism.
- Jugl | Amy Rosenow | Jugl makes it easier to be a working parent. Jugl’s first product is a family calendar and logistics manager that reduces the time and effort involved in managing the schedule, planning and information of busy modern households. It’s an invaluable work-life coordination tool, reducing letdown and meltdown potential at home and optimizing at-work presence and productivity.
As an experienced executive but a rookie at tech and entrepreneurship, I have learned a TON since starting Jugl in January, yet it is humbling how much I still need to learn. I am the MOST excited about building relationships with other women going through the many of the same experiences and challenges as I am right now (this entrepreneurship life is not for the faint of heart!). I know the comraderie, peer mentorship and encouragement that we will be able to provide each other will be invaluable. —Amy Rosenow, Jugl
- Provide | Hannah Meyer and Chelsea Sprayregen | Provide is a software-based back office that automates childcare providers’ compliance to increase their income, reduce the time they spend on administration, and make it easier to accept families on the childcare subsidy. Provide’s mission is to help entrepreneurs build stronger childcare businesses.
We are excited for the opportunity to join a community of female entrepreneurs as well as the 1871 ecosystem. We're looking forward to learning from the cohort's experiences, and can't wait to see how Provide grows over the next three months. —Hannah Meyer, Provide
- Style545 | Disha Gulati | Style545 is a fashion technology company improving the apparel shopping experience by offering consumers expertly curated looks, customized for their personal style and occasion preferences. The B2B startup provides an analytics-driven platform for retailers to design looks based on available inventory, creating a personalized omni-channel shopping experience.
I have had the privilege of meeting many WiSTEM alumni who described not only the immense value the program added to their startup journey, but also about the meaningful relationships they build with other female entrepreneurs that have last out the program. As a first-time entrepreneur, I could use both -- the business rigor and the emotional support! —Disha Gulati, Style545
- Trax MRE | Jessica Chung | Trax's mission is to provide multifamily owners and investors with accurate data by streamlining real estate functions at the onsite level through data management and analytics tools. Trax’s web-enabled solution creates efficiencies at the site level and in turn, gives reliable ownership data. The cloud platform will require minimal data entry and will generate reports that owners demand in order to make sound investment decisions.
I'm most looking forward to the connections we will make as a cohort and meeting other female entrepreneurs. I'm particularly interested in sharing experiences navigating the tech industry and how to engage with investors or clients that are male-dominated. —Jessica Chung, Trax MRE
- truCrowd Illinois | Florence Hardy | Located in downtown Chicago, truCrowd is an equity crowdfunding portal operating under Regulation Crowdfunding (Title III of JOBS ACT) and the Illinois Securities Law of 1953 which connects startups and emerging businesses with non-accredited and accredited investors. Built on the belief that not all businesses and investors are alike, truCrowd delivers a personalized and professional funding experience through industry-leading technology.
I applied to this program to get a range of perspectives about what I am doing and how I can do it better. I am looking forward to being a part of a network of entrepreneurs who can provide mentorship and guidance as I work to create a sustainable business. —Florence Hardy, truCrowd Illinois
- Zinda.xyz | Deepa Kartha | Zinda.xyz provides employee engagement mobile and web Saas solutions with the mission of reimagining connected communities in the workplace and creating an environment where employees love their jobs. Journey from Zinda -- a mobile and Saas employee engagement solution -- was launched in September as a Beta product and is currently undergoing a pilot with early customers.
I applied to WISTEM because I wanted to grow together with other women entrepreneurs who are in the same boat as I am. Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey and having other women share and help each other succeed would make it so much more fulfilling. I am looking to learn from my team, instructors and mentors and full utilize the 1871 resources to get to revenue asap in 2018 and get prepared to grow fast. —Deepa Kartha, Zinda.xyz
Led by co-facilitators Jessica Williams and Ms. Tech Founder Nicole Yeary, the WiSTEM curriculum is built upon three pillars: community, technology and access to capital. Each week the cohort gathers at 1871 to receive training, ask for assistance and networking connections and celebrate their successes. The curriculum focuses on all aspects of the startup process to prepare the founders as they begin to seek investment, gain customers and expand their companies. The program is also supported by Ms. Tech, Yeary’s network of women entrepreneurs and includes “Ms. Tech Mastermind” programming that brings in inspiring and successful female leaders, as well as other resources provided by the organization.
“With every new cohort, our expectations continue to be surpassed, both for the caliber of the businesses applying as well as the incredible diversity of backgrounds and industries represented. The enthusiasm they bring to the table is evidence of the very real value that the WiSTEM program delivers to women entrepreneurs in Chicago.” —Howard A. Tullman, CEO, 1871
Interested in learning more about WiSTEM? Check out 1871.com/wistem.