Greta Gerwig’s Little Women- A modern take on a classic story

2019 was a particularly great year for film, as the Rotten Tomatoes official list was published just a few weeks ago. To much joy, many female directed projects sat atop the tomatoes. Booksmart, The Farewell, and Knock Down the House were just some of many female-directed movies this year employing much praise from critics. There is one other movie however making headway that I would wish to address- this being Greta Gerwig’s second directorial project and six-time Oscar nominated Little Women

Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. (2019)


This is not the first time the Louisa May Alcott classic has been adapted to the silver screen; five other films of the novel were forged before the release of Gerwig’s rendition in December of 2019. Though some (yet not many) viewed another rendition of the beloved novel unnecessary and outdated for our modern age, Gerwig found contrary to such a notion. In a recent 92nd Street Y interview, Gerwig explained “I hadn’t read the book since I was 15 and picked it up again when I was 30. I couldn’t believe it- it was so much stranger, urgent and more modern than I had remembered.” Little Women does, and has done so successfully for more than a century and a half, is reiterate that roles for women in our ‘ever-changing’ society have remained seemingly unchanged. Yes, things have gotten much better from the days of nuclear wives and the lack of women’s suffrage, of course, but the fact still remains- women are still receiving only 49 cents to a man’s dollar in the workplace in 2019. There’s still a hangover in the rhetoric of grandmothers across the USA reminding their granddaughters to ‘marry for money and not for love,’ and even mockery of the profoundly important #MeToo movement coming out of the film industry represents a story that is inherently a reality of being a woman in America. 

What Greta Gerwig has done in Little Women is instill a commonality that one can overcome such hardship and succeed in this world. Through our historical pasts, one watches the film not with a sense disdain for how our society has evolved, but more so with a confidence that so much can still be achieved. Little Women is a breath of fresh air and has been retold with modern gist and new life in Gerwig’s ode to a cherished classic of American literature. 

Male leads still dominate Hollywood box offices and award shows, as this year’s Golden Globe Awards showed us. Not a single female was nominated for Best Director at the ceremony this year. Which, is almost the perfect irony for Little Women. Regardless of the Hollywood Foreign Press’ reasoning, Gerwig remains poised and exact knowing the future of cinema is inherently female, and will continue to be as more young women see and read Beth, Amy, Meg and Jo March discover the world and their places within it. And as for Gerwig and here continued success in cinema, she softly reminds “Men have been putting glasses on hot women [in film and television] and saying they’re awkward, so I can do whatever I want.”

5 women-led tech companies paving the way in 2020

As the new decade rapidly approaches, tech continues to be an industry disrupting the social conformities of our modern times. However, the growing acceptance of women-led companies is still being adopted slower than one may believe. Only a mere 2.2% of investment money for tech startups funds women-led organizations. As a collective conscious, recognizing the marginalization of women’s abilities in the workforce is of the utmost importance. Regardless of such percentages, many women in the industry have achieved wonderful success, remaining pillars of hope for individuals looking to redefine societal expectations for women in and out of the industry. Here is a brief list of 5 women-led tech companies paving the way for others in 2020: 

4D Healthware

CEO Star Cunningham has dealt with chronic illness since she was young. 4D Healthware, under Star’s vision, aims to humanize the health industry. Her time at IBM made her implement the use of data in patient care, optimizing the time and care each individual receives within the platform. 


Coming out of the MIT Media Lab at the end of 2009, Affective tackles three different categories; Automotive AI, Media Analytics, and In Lab Biometric Solutions. From Market Research, social robotics, to human behavioral research, co-founders Rana el Kaliouby and Rosalind Picard are shaping the way we think, interact, and communicate using state-of-the-art tech developed by movers and shakers across the world.

Astral AR

In a Nation plagued with gun violence and a constant fear of domestic terrorism, Astral AR has created detection of bombs and weapons of any type of build or design. Co-founder Leah La Salla has helped lead Astral AR into working closely with law enforcement, school districts, and general public places and check-ins with the goal of creating safer and more secure lives for all individuals; the catch? Atsral AR does this all without discrimination as the backbone of its software. 

Biobot Analytics

Wastewater epidemiology- though not known by all, plays a vital role in the public health of individuals globally. Co-founders Marian Matus and Newsha Ghaeli have created a company that collects samples of wastewater amongst cities and determines a percentage of narcotics and their societal impact on the given geographical area.


Diversity hiring is more important than ever in an expanding world, and tech made to ease the process has proved to be dangerously discriminatory. Founder Stephanie Lampkin however, created a three step hiring system within Blendoor that involves anonymous selection of candidates within the software; only qualifications and passions are to be considered. By doing this, Blendoor gives companies the best candidate for the job without the biased given based on sudden appearances. 

Want to learn more about women in tech? Visit @SWSiliconValley on Instagram to keep up-to-date on Menlo College’s Startup Weekend, starting March 27th!

Startup Weekend Orlando 2019 – Wrap Up

It’s a wrap folks! SWORL 2019 was the biggest and best ever. 🙂 It was certainly the most sustained entrepreneurial energy Orlando has seen in one place.

Startup Weekend Orlando 2019

By the numbers:

      • 105 tickets sold
      • 45 ideas pitched
      • 10 teams formed
      • 17 coaches
      • 3 judges
      • 54 hours of solid teamwork
      • 60 pizzas, 35 gallons of water, 12 platters of sushi, 6 platters of Italian food, 6 platters of middle eastern/Mexican food, and lots of coffee and snacks

And after all was said and done, the winners were:
1st place
Jacqueline Dufault @ Selffy (Social media-style app to capture memories and feelings but 100% private)

2nd Place
Nelson Cienfuegos @ Xperience Influencer (Platform to connect influencers with brands that pay for performance)

3rd Place
Nina Mirhabibi @ Moodie (A virtual friend in your pocket)

Crowd Favorite
Jeffrey Craig (novelCX – Gig economy for Call centers)

Thanks to all the coaches and judges, our facilitator Josh David Miller, and our venue CREDO Conduit that made SWORL 2019 special for the attendees! It was a tremendous effort by the organizing team members: Rajiv Menon, Dennis Pape, and Vanessa Zababla, and food organizers @Jason Wade (Doorbell Ninja), Ashley Elliott, and Patti Rader. Without them this event would not have happened.

A Big Thank You to our amazing sponsors for investing in our wonderful Orlando/Central Florida Tech & Startup community:

See you all on the next one!

Judging Criteria

With prizes ranging from cash, professional mentoring, swag, and positions at great companies there is a lot at stake during Startup Weekend.

Of course, the weekend is about much more than winning. But in order to keep your head on your shoulders during the hectic 54 hours it’s important to remember what you are expected to present at the end of the event. We therefore wanted to give you a look into what our judges will be thinking about on Sunday evening.

The Startup Weekend judging criteria is broken up into three sections. Teams are judged according to the following 3 criteria (weighted equally):

      • Business Model
        • How does the team plan on making this a successful business? Have they thought about (either solved or identified problems) competition, how to scale, acquiring customers, their revenue model etc?
      • Customer Validation
        • Are teams building something that people actually want? How well does the team understand their customer and their customer’s needs. Did the team get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers?
      • Execution & Design
        • Have they established a “Minimal Viable Product” for the weekend (software, hardware, etc.)? *Note: an MVP is the minimum set of features to be able to start collecting data. Does it deliver a compelling and captivating user experience? Were they able to demo something functional?

Get your ticket today to get the chance to impress the judges with your idea! Tickets available here.

Startup Weekend WOMEN SBE 2019

Originally posted by Erling Amble

Techstarts Startup Weekend Kansas City: Make, Design, Build Demo Day


8 teams participated during Techstars Startup Weekend Kansas City on September 20-22, 2019. We enjoyed participants from Kansas City, MO, Iowa, Columbia, MO, Nebraska, and other parts of the world. Global Ties KC brought 35 different international delegates from every corner of the world including Fiji, Georgia, Haiti, Tajikistan, the UK, and Zimbabwe who took part in Startup Weekend’s activities. 

Thank you to Safetyculture, JE Dunn, Kauffman Foundation, UMKC Regnier Institute, and Black & Veatch for allowing us to make this event happen. 

  • 1st Place Ecoeye (WeWork 3 Month Membership & Black & Veatch Accelerator Consult)

EcoEye is a company focused on reducing plastic waste. To do that EcoEye is using biodegradable eco-friendly plastics to package products, starting with the eye care industry.

  • 2nd Place Recycle4YOU  (Meeting with JE Dunn Investment)

    Recycle4YOU is a company that aims to gamify recycling to elementary schoolers. We will send out specialized bins to schools that can track how much each student has recycled using the school’s already implemented ID system and convert it into points for competition.

  • 3rd Place CuePlay (Hammerspace 3 Month Membership)

CuePlay simply the process of renting a pool tables both for players and business establishments by using technology for mobile devices and Internet of Things.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Staychill: We provide a cooling and support accessory you can attach to your existing backpack that eliminates back sweat while wearing your backpack.
  • Pet Tech: HotDog collar will make safety concerns a thing of the past by implementing our temperature reading and GPS tracking technology. Your phone will automatically update you on your dogs status, warning you of potential weather related threats and alerts you if your dog leaves your backyard.
  • SocialNinja is a learning platform for K-5 classrooms that engages students while teaching social and emotional learning skills.


  • Tidy Space is an online application that networks cleaning services with AirBnB property owners, it is intended to be reliable, efficient, and affordable, with built-in checks for both accountability and advocacy for everyone involved.
  • Recrewt

Meet the Judges – Ashleigh S. Chapman, JD

StartUp Weekend Laramie is approaching!  We are going to post a series of blogs to introduce you to our Judges and Coaches!


StartUp Weekend Laramie Judge

Ashleigh S. Chapman, JD

President/CEO, AFRJ®
Founder/CEO, Altus™

Ashleigh S. Chapman, JD has worked solely on combating human trafficking and protecting vulnerable populations for the past 18+ years professionally, and travels extensively to strengthen the movement. Her passion and focus areas are in helping to reform systems of care, strengthening community collaborations, increasing multi-sector engagement, and building the solutions needed to increase the impact of all justice advocates in the field.

Prior to founding the AFRJ, Ashleigh served as: the co-founder and Director of the Center for Global Justice at Regent University School of Law in Virginia; the Director of a non-profit serving thousands of at-risk youth in Tennessee; a Children’s Pastor; and a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in foster care.

Ashleigh is a licensed attorney. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with her Juris Doctorate from Regent University School of Law, receiving the school’s Most Outstanding Graduate award, and Summa Cum Laude with her B.S. from Tennessee Technological University.
In addition to her work in the nonprofit sector, Ashleigh is the founder of Altus™, a benefit corporation that exists to innovate solutions in education, technology, finance, and business to accelerate the movement to end and prevent human trafficking.
Ashleigh and her husband, Sloan, reside in Wyoming.

Register for StartUp Weekend Laramie HERE!

Potential Ideas to Present During Startup Weekend

Techstars Startup Weekend Kansas City is around the corner. There are many ideas that anyone can describe on Friday night to have their dreams become a reality. Below are a list of industries where a product or hardware device can be created. Remember, a software can be developed to compliment the hardware or product. Of course the choice is yours, and we know great things happen during Startup Weekends.

  1. Clean Technology
  2. Robotics
  3. Entertainment
  4. Education Hardware or Product
  5. Game
  6. Internet of Things (IOT)
  7. Construction
  8. Fashion
  9. Redevelopment of an everyday household item
  10. Sports

Kansas City Startup Weekend Prizes-September 20-22, 2019

We are excited to announce prize offerings to winning teams.

5 Tips for Having a Successful StartUp Weekend

Last year’s winner from StartUp Weekend Laramie, Minden Fox, offers tips for 2019 participants. Minden is a Marketing & Entrepreneurship professor for the Laramie County Community College and owns Blue Box Fox, an allergy-friendly vending company.


Here are 5 Tips to help you prepare for StartUp Weekend Laramie:


#1 Practice your pitch.

Sixty seconds goes by fast and you need to be able to explain your idea well so that the majority of people understand your idea.


#2 Stay and learn to get the most out of this experience as possible.

Even if your idea isn’t chosen there is so much great information shared that can be used down the road with your ideas.


#3 Bring your laptop, paper and pen, and a lot of creativity.


#4 Be prepared for networking opportunities.

If you have business cards, bring them. You’ll meet amazing people that you’ll want to stay in touch with and people that can help you down the road.


#5 Lastly, take away everything you can from Startup Weekend Laramie.

It’s a fun, fast-paced weekend, that anyone could benefit from (student or not).


Register for Techstars StartUp Weekend Laramie >>>HERE<<<

StartUp Weekend Laramie to be held at the UW College of Business October 4th-6th 2019

Registration is now open for the 2019 Techstars StartUp Weekend Laramie that will be held October 4th-6th at the University of Wyoming’s College of Business. The event is organized by the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance’s Retention and Expansion (BR&E) Committee. As well as being open to entrepreneurs, students, and intrapreneurs, the 2019 StartUp Weekend Laramie is focused on helping current businesses create new business offerings; where companies can send talented employees to gain fresh ideas and valuable business skills.

Techstars StartUp Weekend Laramie starts with participants pitching their business ideas. Teams are formed around the ideas that are selected and the rest of the weekend, they work together on developing a prototype and final presentation. Prizes are awarded to the top teams.

During the event, participants have access to top mentors and industry experts to help them further develop their ideas into a final product.

The idea that won at the 2018 StartUp Weekend Laramie was an allergy-free vending machine, pitched by Minden Fox, a Marketing & Entrepreneurship professor for the Laramie Community College. In a recent interview, Minden commented, “The people I met that joined my team, their background and knowledge helped me tremendously. I’m a big fan of the Techstars platform and can’t say enough good things about the value attendees get out of the experience.” After the event, Minden moved forward with her company Blue Box Fox and is working on recruiting brands and locations for the vending machines in Wyoming and other states.

“In addition to providing a fun, supportive environment for participants to develop entrepreneurial and business skills, the success of StartUp Weekend Laramie comes from community partners working together to help foster Albany County’s entrepreneurial environment,” remarked BR&E Committee Co-Chair, Rebecca Miller of ANB Bank.

Brad Enzi, CEO of the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance added, “LCBA is excited to be hosting our second startup competition this fall. As part of our mission to grow businesses and jobs in Laramie, this is an exciting way to learn and share ideas as we continue to encourage entrepreneurship and business startups in Laramie.”

Sponsors for Techstars StartUp Weekend Laramie 2019 include the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance, the City of Laramie, the University of Wyoming College of Business, Albany County, Albany County Tourism Board, and the Laramie County Community College.

For additional information, visit: or email Melissa Ross