• Women 2.0 HowTo Conference San Francisco, September 30 - October 1, 2014

SupportPay Is Our Latest PITCH Winner

Image: Sheri Atwood pitching her startup on stage

The judges picked the platform for divorced parents to manage child support payments, while Pretty Padded Room won the People’s Choice Award.

By Jessica Stillman (Editor, Women 2.0)

Our signature PITCH Competition for early-stage, female-founded companies is always one of the highlights of every Women 2.0 conference — and last week’s event in San Francisco was no exception. Each day when the founders took to the stage, the room was packed to standing room only as our amazing panel of judges quizzed each founder about her company.

In the hushed room, the women on stage gave gutsy and compelling pitches (in just five minutes!) and parried the judging panel’s tough questions.

“This was a great batch of finalists, and I could not have been happier with how well they did both on-stage and off,” commented PITCH coach Dave Kochbeck. “So many of them deserve recognition, but I’m feeling good that, for most of them, this recognition will soon come in the form of new investment.”

And things were even more electric when it came time to announce the winners. After each day of pitching the audience voted for a People’s Choice semi-finalist, with remote psychotherapy startup Pretty Padded Room earning the most votes on day one and telemedicine company Sense.ly impressing the audience on day two. But when it came time for the big reveal, Pretty Padded Room, co-founded by the super charismatic Bea Arthur (yes, like the Golden Girl, she joked) and Rachel Beck, took home the prize.

“The CEO was passionate, driven, and she’s an executor. She’s fixed a problem for therapists, she’s fixed a problem for individuals needing support, and while she still has a way to go on the tech, she’s thinking about approaching the market in the right way,” said Nicole Glaros, a managing partner at Techstars and PITCH judge.

But who won the top honor and the incredible prizes, such as a meeting with top VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, a year’s worth of hosting from Rackspace and office space from Silicon Valley Pad? When the judges votes were tallied the ultimate winner was… SupportPay!

Sheri Atwood, the co-founder of the automated child support payment platform company, which enables parents to share child expenses and exchange child support directly with each other, had the room laughing with her dark divorce humor, but also managed to offer succinct and compelling answers to tough questions from the judges, earning their respect and ultimately their votes.

We can’t wait to see where these companies go from here. Congratulations to the founders!

Who would you have voted for to take home the People’s Choice award?

Jessica Stillman (@entrylevelrebel) is an editor at Women 2.0 and a freelance writer with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She writes a daily column for Inc.com, contributes regularly to Forbes and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM and Brazen Careerist, among others.