We started the Immerse program to show the world what underrepresented founders can do when empowered with no-code. We finished the cohort with four Demo Day finalists, a fabulous best product winner D’azhane Cook (Remane) and a best pitch winner, Maryssa Salomon (TravelTrunk), who is now officially part of the Antler accelerator.
This year, we’re expanding the Immerse program to include all founders of color, partnering with even more VCs / accelerators, and increasing our cohort size to include more exceptional builders.
We hope you’ll join us on this journey. Apply here for Immerse 2021 or recommend a friend.
Meet the Top No-Code Entrepreneurs of Immerse
Immerse started with 750 applications that gave us 10 core founders in the cohort. Our Demo Day showcased our four founder finalists who came from across the country to build new-to-world apps in a matter of months. As I hosted the Demo Day and watched our founders interact with our judges Merline Saintil and Navi Singh, I couldn’t hide just how proud I was of each and every one of them. Just three months prior, when I met them, they were just beginning to learn about programming and design. And that day, they proudly showcased professional-grade web apps they had built on their own.
Christina Strong-Regan, founder of ShackBuddy, turned her partner’s harrowing roommate experience into a fully functional platform that finds, vets, and matches users with a compatible living companion. Her platform lets you swipe and match with roommates like Tinder or Bumble, build out a profile, and shorten your roommate search by up to 50%. All built on Bubble’s visual programming platform without code or previous building experience.
Nichole Bestman, founder of ShipFair, saw a market inefficiency in international shipping that prevented small batch producers from reaching customers abroad. This inefficiency is the cause of a multi-billion dollar underground informal shipping economy. Using her experience working with West African government trade authorities, she built a platform that formalizes informal shipping, adding security guardrails to build trust for each stakeholder, similar to what AirBnB did for homeshare and Uber did for rideshare. And she did this with no prior technical experience.
D’azhane Cook, cofounder of Remane, saw an opportunity to add structure to the $90 billion global haircare market, starting with the $2.5 billion that the Black spends on hair products. As one of these consumers herself, she understood that buyers needed formalized regimens and reliable information, both difficult to find in the noise of the natural hair universe. In her final year at UT Austin, she met her cofounder Ariel and they put together a low-fi MVP using existing no-code tools that was basically a survey on steroids. But after the 10 weeks of the Immerse program, Remane is now a fully built out webapp with a custom regimen builder, live product information, and a community of beta users. The sophistication of her app won her best product at Demo Day giving her the Bubble resources to continue to scale her users without financial constraints. And she did this with no prior coding experience.
Maryssa Salomon, founder of TravelTrunk, lost hundreds of dollars when her friends didn’t pay her back for a group trip, so she built a Bubble app to make sure that it would never happen to her again...without writing any code. Soon, people who joined her on her trips through the TravelTrunk app began planning their own trips within the app, inviting others in the process. This word of mouth traction resulted in her processing over $150,000 in payments through her platform and winning best pitch at Immerse Demo Day. She is now part of the NY Antler program’s first 2021 cohort where she has the opportunity to get $200,000 in funding to scale her business.
What’s most compelling to us about these founders is not just how impressive their accomplishments are. It’s that they exemplify thousands of underrepresented founders around the world who could do the same if given the chance. For every Christina who turns a bad roommate experience into a customer-centered matching platform, there are four or five others who may never get the chance because they can’t afford to prospect a developer and don’t know about the power of no code. And we’re in a position to change that.
This is a clarion call to all the Christinas, Nicholes, D’azhanes, and Maryssas out there. Founders of color who are working tirelessly to make their ideas a reality. You can find your home here at Immerse. We want to empower you with web app building skills, introductions to the tech ecosystem, and a community of founders who understand what you are going through.
You’ve been working tirelessly on your business and you just need that first product to validate your idea. Join the Immerse community and we’ll help get you there.
Immerse is a free no-code pre-accelerator for Black, Indigenous, and POC (people of color) founders, powered by Bubble.
Bubble is a leader in the no-code movement. Bubble offers a powerful point-and-click web editor and cloud hosting platform that allows users to build fully customizable web applications and workflows, ranging from simple prototypes to complex marketplaces, SaaS products, and more. Over 600,000 users are currently building and launching businesses on Bubble - many have gone on to participate in top accelerator programs, such as Y Combinator, and even raise $365M in venture funding. Bubble is more than just a product. We are a strong community of builders and entrepreneurs that are united by the belief that everyone should be able to create technology.This article was written by Yaw Owusu-Boahen and first appeared here: https://bubble.io/blog/black-female-founders-2021/