#BUILTBYGIRLS Challenge Winners Score $10K and Totally Blow Us Away

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Have you ever had a great idea for something you wanted to build? Or course you have. But have you ever actually put that idea into action? Hundreds of high school students in the Girls Who Code program have done just that. And this summer teams from across the country were invited to submit their final projects for the #BUILTBYGIRLS Challenge. The entries, including everything from mobile apps to games, were judged on innovation, creativity and technical application. The prize: A trip to San Francisco to compete for a $10,000 scholarship to take their submission to the next level, a mentorship from BBG Ventures and a chance to exhibit their creation at Start-Up Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt, the most prestigious tech conference in Silicon Valley, where it's not uncommon to run into Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg or even Snoop Dogg, who spoke on a panel this year.
The four judges, Girls Who Code alumnae who just started college, spent their summer learning all about VC funding as BBG Ventures' inaugural group of Girls Who Fund interns. The #BUILTBYGIRLS Challenge put their new skills to the test. Entries poured in from 185 teams, and they had the unenviable task of whittling down the impressive field to five finalists, Bach to Basics (a game that teaches music reading), MapIt (for organizing the places you've visited or are hoping to), Terra (an interactive news map of the world, complete with local music), Connections (to help you stay in touch with Grandma and so much more) and Study Pea (a hand-held device that keeps distractions to a minimum by allowing the user to effortlessly adjust lighting and music).

#BUILTBYGIRLS challenge finalists meet #twitter #bbg #bbgpitchday #bbgventures

A photo posted by BUILTBYGIRLS (@builtbygirls) on

On September 18, the five finalist teams all flew out to San Francisco, put the finishing touches on their presentations and had 10 minutes each to "sell" and demo their projects to the Girls Who Fund interns at Twitter HQ (above), after getting a tour of the Twitter offices and a chance to take a selfie in front of their selfie wall (yup, they have that, a mouth-watering kitchen, a roof deck with bean bag toss and two Montana log cabins that have been recreated as hangout spaces in the middle of their cool AF offices). This time the interns got an assist from four industry experts - Dana Stalder (Matrix), Shanna Tellerman (CEO, stealth start-up, ex-GV), Eurie Kim (Forerunner Ventures) and Lauren Kolodny (Aspect Ventures).

After watching five incredible presentations that gave those of us in the awedience a whole new set of #squadgoals, the judges deliberated for much longer than they expected and ultimately crowned Study Pea the winners of the $10,000 scholarship to take their device to the next level (which in this case involves building more features and adding attractive packaging to hide the messy wiring). But everyone went home a winner when a surprise donor stepped up so that $1000 could be awarded to each of the four runners-up. And the excitement didn't end there. All of the teams were invited to attend an overnight Hackathon at TechCrunch Disrupt where they each built another awesome app (this time they just had 60 seconds to present, above!), collected cool swag from sponsors and coded the night away (with plenty of snack and dance breaks). On Monday, Team Study Pea exhibited side-by-side with real start-ups at the conference.

Everyone returned home exhausted yet exhilirated. The whole weekend was a wonderful testament to the mission of #BUILTBYGIRLS - "Be anything you want to be and build anything you want to build. We believe young women should be builders, creators and innovators — the protagonists in their own lives." Whether they want to be the next Jack Dorsey or build the next great fashion empire, all of these girl coders have now seen and experienced firsthand exactly how technology can fuel their passion and drive their success. We can't wait to see what these inspired - and inspirational - girls build next.

Who hack the world? GIRLS. 🔨👯🔩#builtbygirls #tcdisrupt #hackathon #girlhackers #beyoncpiration

A photo posted by BUILTBYGIRLS (@builtbygirls) on

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