24-Hour Idea Wins $25,000 Startup Prize at Zahn's Pitch Night

5/15/2019 Unknown 0 Comments

Last semester, Penelope Herrera BIC '20 signed up for BIC's 24-Hour Idea Hack course that partnered with VMLY&R and the Ad Council to bring together students from across the CCNY campus. Interdisciplinary teams spent an entire day (and night) together to come up with ideas on how to encourage more young girls to pursue paths in STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math).
Scene from the all-nighter 24-Hour Idea Hack back in December 2018 where STEM Hive was born.

Her team's idea, STEM Hive, took home the first place prize. But Penelope didn't stop there. Inspired by the idea's potential, she won a competitive spot in The Zahn Center for Innovation's incubator and further developed it.

Fast forward to Zahn's Final Pitch Night on Thursday, May 9th, when STEM Hive won the $25,000 Standard Chartered Women+TechNYC prize which bolsters women's opportunities to be a part of the NYC tech & entrepreneurship scene.

It was an astonishing feat. Almost 200 students, faculty, staff, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, mentors, sponsors, and family members watched in awe as eight startups gave it their all and pitched for the chance to win the grand prizes in each of Zahn's four competition categories. CCNY President Vince Boudreau described it this way: “What you’ll see here tonight is the future of CCNY–nimbleness, adaptiveness, that entrepreneurial thinking, is the future, and there’s no better time to be here.”

STEM Hive is a non-profit organization on a mission to make sure that girls never lose their interest in STEM and pursue careers in the field. They’ll use a combination of near-peer mentorship, workshops, skill-building curriculum, and more to keep young girls engaged in STEM. The multi-disciplinary team is made up of BICster Penelope Herrera, Biochemistry major Karla Jacome, Biology major Carolina Perez, and Computer Engineering major Daniel Gaston.

The journey from concept to pitch required commitment and stamina. According to Penelope: As part of the Zahn incubator, "we would attend a boot camp every Thursday, 12:15-1:45. Before attending, we had weekly videos to view on the week's boot camp guest speaker(s). We would attend, listen to them, and see groups pitch their assigned week. [Afterwards,] groups were lined up to have mentor meetings with the guest speakers to help with our business... My group attended a high school and conducted workshops as well... We had a tabling at City College for the New York Science and Engineering fair. Overall, we conducted six workshops with over 120 students in addition to pitching to IBM at their headquarters."

What an amazing accomplishment. A big BIC BRAVO to Penelope and her team.

About the Zahn Innovation Center: Launched with a gift by the Moxie Foundation in 2012, The Zahn Center is a startup incubator located at the City College of New York offering co-working space and an array of resources including: annual competitions, a startup bootcamp, mentorship and pro-bono services, networking opportunities, and rapid prototyping facilities. The Center inspires CCNY students to approach their education as changemakers, transforming classroom learning into real-world application. Each semester we partner with various academic departments to create curricula to cultivate the entrepreneurial mindset. We also pair students with startups and other companies in the NYC area through our robust internship program.

About The Standard Chartered Women+Tech4NYC Prize: Among the four competition categories at The Zahn Innovation Center, this award celebrates women founders specifically. This category is meant to bolster the NYC tech & entrepreneurship scene (already the best place for female founders) with even more women in c-suite positions. The startups in this category will define what Silicon Alley will be known for, and represent a variety of fields from robotics to edtech.