Launch Fest Lacks Ladies of Launchpad

I had my first Launch Fest experience this year, and I am happy to report that it was packed with energy, inspiration, and awesomeness!

My one gripe: there were no Ladies of Launchpad in this year’s competition.

I’m still new to the tech community, so I set about to find out why there were no females pitching companies. The answer was simple: there were no female applicants to the Launchpad Ignition class.

So then I came up with this bright idea: we should start brainstorming on ways to ensure that there is diversity in next year’s Launchpad class! Simple enough, right?

I set out to find women who shared my desire to see ourselves in the competition next year and discovered the following conundrum:

The writer does not know how to code. The programmer is not creative. The business manager’s allergies flare up at the thought of selling. The available local female developer is a figment of our imagination. People have ideas, but jobs that prevent them from developing said ideas. Fear of failure causes hangover laced migraines.

Oh, there was also the realization that it’s hard to convince young girls to pursue careers/businesses in technology when they do not see us doing exactly what we are encouraging them to do. ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ is a hard bargain to sell.

So what gives?

We have to start somewhere ladies. My unofficial poll revealed that there is a lack of startup superpowers granted individually upon each of us. However, the sum of our collective skills can surely come together to create something Launch Fest worthy.

Are you in?

For those of you who could not attend, here are the highlights from my cute black framed glasses wearing perspective.

@noahkagan gave a ‘ghetto to classy’ presentation on how he took @appsumo from a $50 startup to a multi-million dollar revenue generating company. He also inspired us with the admission of his 86% percent failure rate. He did not encourage us to fail on purpose, but to keep going despite the setbacks that we will encounter.

@paulsingh of 500 Startups schooled us on how they usually make decisions about funding startups in 20 minutes, what makes startups attractive investments, and how they stalk startups from the comfort of their airline seats. He also enlightened the crowd with off the record knowledge, warned us not to tweet said knowledge, and threatened the local angel investors and venture capitalists to invest in early stage ventures or else.

@rpmumby of Bonobos explained how Bonobos launched a successful business by focusing on the detail that other clothing manufacturers ignored: how to make a man’s butt look better in his clothes. Brilliant! He also fell in love with New Orleans and relocated here.

@aweissman from Union Square Ventures and Andrew Yang from @venture4America held a two-man panel type discussion about what makes startups attractive, advice for people considering non-traditional tech hubs like New Orleans, and sharing what it takes to be successful. My favorite takeaway: if you are that passionate about a company, just show up and start helping them. You never know what kind of opportunity you can create for yourself by doing so. Priceless.

@danparham rounded out the presentations by showing us the progress that @neighborland has made as a socially conscious startup, including the development of the St. Claude Night Market and facilitating the virtual movement that led to local political backing for a streetcar expansion to Poland Avenue. Co-founder @CandyChang was not able to attend, but her presence was felt and we appreciate her ability to turn ideas on stickers into positive change in our community.

After a lunch of networking with local startup enthusiasts, we were treated to watching Launch Pad Ignition startups pitch their businesses to investors. This was the most exciting part of the day!

@experttrivia showed us a fun 1 to 7 players mobile social trivia game where players can post questions for other players to answer.  Expert Trivia stands out from other games because most social mobile games are built for players to play one-on-one; this is a game that a group of people can play. It also lets players create their own questions, which is a more personalized way of playing games that come with built in questions that could never capture “only in New Orleans” moment related questions. I’m not a social gamer, but I’m definitely looking forward to playing this Red Ticket game!

@unawkward helps you meet new people around local experiences. The social network lets you create profiles and connect with other like-minded people who are interested in meeting new people to share those experiences with. The social platform designed to help ease the pain of meeting new people with shared interests when moving to new cities.

@connect4cause was my favorite pitch. I love the idea of facilitating the connection of people with business leaders, investors, and possibly celebrities while supporting charities and other good causes. Relationships with the right people create opportunities and often determine how far we go in life. I’m ecstatic to see a startup that opens closed doors with social goodness.

@lawyerfy is an online platform designed to take the headache out of the legal process with tools to manage cases from start to finish. As a former employee in the legal field, I can attest to the lack of good case management software available on the market, especially customizable cloud-based platforms. Special request: a premium version that comes with a ‘manage attorney ego’ function. Thanks.

@letsvoteit makes voting social and increases voter engagement via an online platform. We tested the product during Launch Fest to cast votes for an online pitch competition. I was impressed with the ease of use, level of social interactivity, and colorful visual data displays to better understand voter decisions.

@giftmeo is new online group-gifting platform that allows friends to pool their resources together to buy gift cards. Users simply create an account, start a gift, and use social networks like Facebook and Twitter to spread the fundraising message. My birthday is next month, thanks.

@kinobico is an online platform designed for interactive training in activities such as Yoga. Kinobi, used in conjunction with Kinect, captures user motions to provide immediate feedback on formation and positioning. The software provides teachers with targeted coaching and enables students to learn proper physical gestures with the help of color coded on-screen guidance.  Special request: a premium version that teaches Nola drivers how to drive in the rain.

In summary, Launch Fest 2012 was a wonderful experience. I’m looking forward to future competitions and being a part of this technology/entrepreneur community as it continues to grow into a more diverse bowl of awesome. Thanks so much to everyone who worked so hard to make the event a success.