October 27, 2020

She Loves Tech: Bridging gaps through the world’s largest competition for Women in Tech

4 min read

She loves tech is the world’s largest startup competition for women in technology held in over 30+ countries across the globe. Pushing for more and more women-led tech startups, the competition cultivates an ecosystem for women to break boundaries, shatter glass ceilings and thrive across all industries. Now in its 6th year, the competition shifted to virtual format and expanded its footprint to Sri Lanka in partnership with Hatch.

The winners of the competition will receive an equity-free cash prize of $15,000 alongside special media and mentorship prizes, fast track access to partner funds and accelerator programmes of She Loves Tech. Further, past finalists have gone onto receiving funding from Microsoft, Amazon, Sequoia Capital, Vertex Ventures, and Wavemaker. In aggregate, She Loves Tech alumni have gone on to raise over $100,000,000 in funding. 

This year, the She Loves Tech competition took place virtually across 30+ countries including Sri Lanka. On the 10th of September, the local rounds of the competition were held. Out of the several startups that applied, 8 of the most promising were selected as the local finalists, which proceeded to compete at the She Loves Tech Sri Lankan finals.

She Loves Tech | Hatch
The judges of She Loves Tech Sri Lanka

The 8 finalists were called in to sit with a panel of judges, juggernauts across the tech industry, Co-Founder of Aventude – Thushara Wijerwardane, Project Manager at ICTA – Nevindaree Premarathne, Director and CEO of Hatch – Randhula De Silva, Founder & CEO of Calcey Technologies – Mangala Karunaratne, and CoFounder of She Loves Tech – Rhea See. The participants had 5 minutes to pitch their ideas, and 3 minutes to take questions from the panel, bringing their startups to life for 8 whole minutes. 

Sri Lanka has been fighting the good fight of bridging gender gaps to reduce inequalities and abolish them entirely. The efforts taken are through forming solutions that address the problem from various arenas, to tackle the complexities, and to shine a light on the brilliant and beautiful capabilities of females in the island. A range of problems that your everyday female faces were addressed through varying solutions. The judges took to evaluating the pitches from the startups on how well thought out the plans were in scaling their businesses to the global stage and how far along into development they were.

She Loves Tech gave entrepreneurs a platform to address education, safety, the environment and data-driven products beyond its time.  While 8 startups qualified for the finals, only one made it through to the global stage. 

She Loves Tech | Hatch
The winners of She Loves Tech Sri Lanka

In third place, Verify Network provides eco-friendly alternatives to certificates through blockchain technology that ensures trusted, secured and transparent digital certificates. Himayande Loganathan, CEO and Co-founder, shared her product with a presentation that explains the value of maintaining your certificates digitally that is trusted by recruiters and universities, making processes of applying for positions more efficient. Sustainable tech solutions are amplifying their effectiveness in this world where scarcity of resources is an imminent threat and local solutions such as these set the blueprint for a better tomorrow.

Tilli, pitched by Co-founder Kavindya Tennekoon and incubated and funded by the Stanford School of Education, was created to battle sexual abuse. It does so through social-emotional learning interventions (SEL) for children by building resilient empathy models and critical thinking which allows them to understand unsafe situations they may find themselves in.  Tilli, as Kavindya explains, is a game-based learning tool for 5 to 10-year-olds to build metacognition, empathy and critical thinking. Sexual abuse and violence against children is a social issue that has been tackled from various angles, and with an increase in the use of technology globally, synergising solutions to build models that target both parents and children are imperative. The judges too believed in the potential that this toolkit has, and voted in second place. 

Urmila Chandrasekaram, the Co-founder of Algoredge, shared their technology that uses machine learning and big data analytics to make accurate credit decisions for individuals. Algoredge has a  Mint Augmented Machine Learning Platform that works by accumulating data from thousands of data sources, churning out reliable and accurate information needed for credit assessments. The combination of traditional and non-traditional sources of data seemed to hit the nail on the head for the panel, and its potential to capture Sri Lankan markets and grow into global arenas, paired with the booming fintech industry potential, made this the winning product of She Loves Tech Sri Lanka. 

As part of its efforts to empower female entrepreneurs, Hatch was one of the international organizers of the She Loves Tech competition, bringing it to Sri Lanka. Offering these local startups an opportunity to pitch to a global audience, its aims were to empower local female entrepreneurs and promote technologies that positively impact women. With the competition being held virtually this year, the playing field was levelled for Sri Lankan women from across the island and the world to come together, register their idea and compete for glory.  

From Trincomalee to Stanford School of Education, dynamic individuals across the board got an opportunity to showcase their products. With the tech industry booming in the island and with bright and dynamic Sri Lankans across the globe, She Loves Tech sets the benchmark for the plethora of startups yet to make their mark.  The competition inspires, teaches and brings together like-minded individuals prospering towards the future of Sri Lanka.

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