Women 2.0's First PITCH NYC Conference And Competition

At the end of the day, winners joked about "thanking the Academy," and the emcee said the day included more talk of vulnerability most tech conferences. Plus there were lots of hugs. Businesswomen hugs. By Amy-Willard Cross (Editor, Vitamin W)

Singers may dream of performing on American Idol or dancers may hope to appear on Dancing with the Stars. But women tech entrepreneurs have their own star-making vehicle: PITCH, Women 2.0’s startup competition.

The event took place last week in New York City in a darkened old theater. Ten women-led tech companies competed for three prizes; they had to sell the panelists their business idea. The intrepid pitchers faced a judging panel of VCs and other investors who gave them a shark tank-worthy grilling as they presented their “decks” onstage.

500 Startups founder David McClure (who is known to be an investor and supporter of women-owned businesses) gave the tough love quote of the day, asking contestants to say in the “first 30 seconds: Customers have problem X, which we solve by doing Y, and we make $Z. Please practice.” The man who uses the Cat in the Hat as an avatar also warned of staying away from “buzzword bingo." It’s good advice for anyone in any business looking to make a sale.

The winning startup was Newlywish, an online wedding registry for independent stores that will get a meeting with Marquee VC Marc Andreesen, one year hosting service at Rackspace, and an interview for incubator TechStars. The L’Oreal Women in Digital Grant went to Citizen Made, a product customization tool-kit based in Chicago. The democratically conceived People’s Choice award (measured by tweet counts) was awarded to ActivityHero, a social marketplace for kids activities. The company will receive a meeting with angel investor and first lady of the ladybusiness movement Joanne Wilson.

Other companies competing for prizes included Alike (purchasing research technology), Clear Returns (retail returns), EatDrinkJobs (restaurant labor service), LightningBuy (mobile commerce app), Maternova (childbirth tech), The Daily Muse (job search) and Whit.li (social media intelligence services).

It wasn’t all about the pitch. Hundreds of women in various stages of startup mode attended for the conference portion of the day, flying in from as far as LA and Cleveland to hear case studies and keynotes. Cisco co-founder and Jane Austenite Sandy Lerner made a rare appearance. And Oxygen media founder Geraldine Laybourne was interviewed by a friend so close, she credits Laybourne’s advice for encouraging her to have that third baby (something that Laybourne openly admits regretting). Stars of the crowdfunding movement, from Goldieblox to Everpurse to Roominate, also shared their stories of Kickstarter fundraising.

At the end of the day, winners joked about "thanking the Academy," and the emcee said the day included more talk of vulnerability most tech conferences. Plus there were lots of hugs. Businesswomen hugs.

This post originally appeared on Vitamin W.

Women 2.0 readers: What did you think of the Women 2.0 PITCH NYC Conference last week? Let us know in the comments below.

About the guest blogger: Amy-Willard Cross is the editor of Vitamin W, a platform for news, business and philanthropy. A former editor at national magazines, she authored books, written countless articles, features, op-eds and book reviews. Once while working on a documentary, she found an American who had fought with Fidel. She wants her daughter to learn how to code as the pay gap is only 6% for women programmers. Follow her on Twitter at @VitaminWomen.