Winners and the judges of the Capital Factory 100,000 awards at the Women in Tech Summit during Austin Startup Week.

By Laura Lorek
Publisher of Silicon Hills News

Austin Startup Week kicked off Monday with the second annual day-long Women in Tech Summit at Capital Factory in downtown Austin.

The event culminated in the afternoon with a pitch competition featuring six female-led tech startups from all over Texas. Capital Factory received more than 150 applications for the six spots to pitch.

Capital Factory’s judges decided to award two $100,000 prizes to the winners. They chose Austin-based The Mentor Method led by Janice Omadeke, CEO and founder. They also picked Austin-based Rectify led by co-founders Melissa Unsell-Smith and Lisa McComb.

Rectify provides cleansing of documents for data sharing for companies.

“At Rectify, we are leveraging privacy enabled AI to protect consumer identities when data is being shared,” Unsell-Smith said.

“Now we all know that data is being created at an exponential pace and the proliferation of data is causing organizations to share information more than ever before,” Unsell-Smith said. “Mainly for business growth opportunities and to gain advantages in the marketplace. But there is a problem. There is a ton of private data residing in this information, things like consumer identities and trade secrets that are required by law to be protected.”

Data sharing activities include open record requests, media requests, merger and acquisition documents and companies that monetize their data and sell it to third parties, Unsell-Smith said.

“Companies are struggling to protect sensitive documents,” Unsell-Smith said.

Rectify created a solution to the problem. It has a patent-pending technology that uses machine learning to organize data and then it leverages automation techniques to remove sensitive content from documents, Unsell-Smith said. Its revenue model is based on the level of automation required to remove data.

“We do consider ourselves data warriors on a mission to standardize smart, safe data sharing,” Unsell-Smith said.

The other winner, The Mentor Method has created an enterprise platform that allows companies to keep their diverse talent through mentorship.

“It’s a monumental problem. Companies are spending $16 billion each year in efforts to keep diverse talent and it’s still not working,” Omadeke said. “Fourteen million minority professionals will leave their employer this year.”

The Mentor Method has created a customizable software platform with a framework focused on professional development, Omadeke said.

The Mentor Method customers include Deloitte and Fannie Mae. It has secured $210,000 of contracts for 2019. It is also working with a government agency to white label its platform for $1.5 million, Omadeke said.

To fulfill its active contracts, The Mentor Method needs to expand its team, Omadeke said.

“We’re making diversity and inclusion affordable, data-driven and easy to implement,” she said.

The Mentor Method plans to use its $100,000 to expand its team, Omadeke. The Mentor Method, originally founded in Washington, D.C., moved to Austin last summer to participate in Mass Challenge Texas. It won a $25,000 award at the end of that program. It has since been accepted into the Capital Factory accelerator, Omadeke said.

The other companies presenting included:

PraxisMetrics, based in Austin, helps small to medium-sized businesses create a dashboard of metrics to measure their business online to eliminate waste, see new opportunities and scale faster. It sells its product on a monthly subscription basis. It also provides custom insights from a company’s data at an additional cost. Meaghan Connell is the co-founder.

EverThread, based in Dallas, has created a patent-pending technology that can automate images fast and easily online so companies can provide customers with multiple variations of their products, particularly for furniture and home décor. Nicole Mossman is the founder and CEO. She said it’s costly to produce images of every product but through her technology companies can offer all kinds of color and pattern combinations for customers to see online.

DearDuck, based in San Antonio, is a software company that helps businesses in the “buying for others” category of gift giving. Katy Aucion is the CEO and founder. The company moved from Houston to San Antonio to join RealCo’s Long-term Accelerator. DearDuck sells software and data insights for businesses on how customers buy gifts.

Benincasa Milano, based in Austin, makes luxury Italian-made high heel shoes with custom insoles to ensure the perfect fit and comfort. It launched with 12 styles earlier this year in Dallas. The company developed its technology in partnership with biomedical and footwear experts. Its patent-pending custom insoles are specially designed to prevent pain in the ball of the feet. Maija Benincasa is the founder and CEO.