News / AOL Blog

#BUILTBYGIRLS Challenge: 21 Girls Have Officially Taken Over Silicon Valley

Sep 16, 2016

The 2016 #BUILTBYGIRLS Challenge, AOL's pitch competition for tech projects built by girls, judged by girls, came to a close this week. Challenge participants pitched revolutionary tech products and solutions addressing global girls’ education at Twitter headquarters, hacked the world overnight at TechCrunch Disrupt, and showcased their work alongside some of the world’s best creators and innovators at Disrupt’s Startup Alley. And they’re just getting started.

The Next Tech Leaders and Changemakers
We’re thrilled to announce our 2016 #BUILTBYGIRLS Challenge winners, chosen by the five Girls Who Fund judges; each team left San Francisco with $10K in funding and mentorship to take their projects to the next level.

Future Founders: FacePrint - The New Face of Healthcare

Sixteen-year-old Kansas native Erin Smith created FacePrint, an early and accurate detection system for Parkinson’s Disease using facial recognition software to identify early disease markers well before it is currently being diagnosed. Erin is changing the face of tech—and healthcare.

Let Girls Build: TARA - SMS for Girls' Education in Cambodia

Kathy Kong and Lillian Yuan, 17, from California and Illinois, created TARA, a community- and location-based mass SMS service that will ensure the safety and education of in-migrant girls across Cambodia through the use of ubiquitous mobile technology. Their work will support First Lady Michelle Obama's Let Girls Learn initiative, which aims to help #62million girls around the world who aren’t in school get access to education.

  • Nearly 500 girls submitted; flew 21 girls out to SF from around the country from hometowns in Kansas, Chicago, Jersey and more

  • 100+ attendees at Pitch Day
  • Hosted 9 influential mentors including the Peace Corps
  • Krista Rigalo, Let Girls Learn Director addressed audience raising awareness for the #62MillionGirls worldwide without access to education
  • Girls met AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, Verizon EVP Marni Walden, United States CTO Megan Smith and NBA MVP Steph Curry

My personal highlight was seeing the level of pride the girls had when explaining the Challenge and Let Girls Learn. According to Lillian Yuan, winner, Let Girls Build, prior to this experience "I did not see myself in tech. I am passionate about girls' education, but this Challenge has opened my eyes to how I can use tech to make a different for girls around the world."

So what's next?
While Wednesday marked the end of this year's #BUILTBYGIRLS Challenge, it's truly just the beginning. We'll continue to support and collaborate with these young founders to help scale their products. We're also looking into how we can expand the impact of this partnership to even more girls, and engaging more AOLers in the future!