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Tuesday October 21, 2014

Women 2.0: Targeting the Pink Ghetto

By Lauren Keyson

Women 2.0 Pitch NYC

Women 2.0 held PITCH NYC Conference in a large estrogen-filled ballroom at the Manhattan Center Thursday. Designed to inspire and connect entrepreneurs, their pitch contest attracted 260 applicants, mostly change makers with a tech focus. Thirty VCs picked the top 10 entrepreneurs. They included EasyDrinkJobs, a way to hire and be hired in the hospitality community; Maternova, an online community aggregating health technologies pertaining to mothers and newborns; and The Daily Muse, a job and career development site.

The People’s Choice Award went to ActivityHero, a social marketplace for kid’s activities.  Founders Chandini Ammi, Ship Dalmia and Peggy Vhange said, “We make it easy for busy parents to find, plan and coordinate after-school activities and summer camps.” Citizen Made, a visual product customization toolkit for online stores, took second place. The Best Over All Award went to NewlyWish, a personalized wedding registry service that unites independent merchants with couples creating gift lists.

Izzy Johnston, CTO of GirlDevelopIt.com, a global organization that teaches low cost programming classes to women, dismissed pink stigma.  “About ‘pink’ – there is such a stigma when it comes to women-run organizations. But so many of them are about women or pink things. There are shoes and fashion and makeup and babies – but you will make a better company because you are passionate about it. Just because you come up with something and you feel your logo should be pink because of the topic — it’s not a bad thing — you’re still creating human products.”

Jessica  Lawrence, NY Tech Meetup, had similar thoughts about women-owned companies.  “We challenge the notion that ‘womany’ things are bad, that a woman building a company around fashion or connected to motherhood or shopping is a negative thing. I think that people refer to the term “pink ghetto” to talk about companies that are in that sector.  But the bottom line is there is a huge market in all those sectors so it’s actually pretty smart to approach that sector some of those sectors in that way.”

Liz Oermesher Salcedo of Everpurse started off by using Kickstarter and raised over 100% of her goal in less than a week. Users place a phone in a purse insert–essentially a smaller bag inside of a main handbag. It’s wireless and charges phones on the go, bridging the gap between fashion and technology. The device is targeted directly to women.  “We definitely had a lot of people come and ask us, ‘You have a product for women. What about me? I’m a guy; I don’t want to carry a purse.’ Really we had to say that’s great, we’ll get to that down the line. We really have to focus on one thing at a time. It comes down to what other people want to see and what audience do I want to reach.”