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).
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.
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.