Starting a company and building a production-ready app can be a long road, especially for founders who don’t have previous technical experience or a relevant network they can tap for advice, resources, or funding.

That’s where Immerse comes in. Immerse is Bubble’s fully funded pre-accelerator program specifically for underrepresented founders. Over the course of about two months, each Immerse cohort learns how to build a fully functional Bubble app with the support and guidance of the Bubble team and mentor volunteers. Founders learn how to thoughtfully think about architecture, design, development, and building a product roadmap. By the end of the program, participants have a fully-functional Bubble app — and the tools and resources needed to take their effort out into the real world.

Immerse marries ambition with opportunity and resources with agency. At our inaugural BubbleCon, we couldn’t be more proud to have had the finalists from our most recent cohort — the first one entirely composed of women and femme-identified founders — debut their apps for the BubbleCon audience.

Catch the replay below.


Best Pitch winner: Vaish Srivathsan, founder of Simili 

As a former management consultant and product manager, Vaish knows a thing or two about user research and business strategy. Vaish kicked off her pitch presentation by asking for a show of hands: “How many of you have read anything in the past hour?”

Motivated to lend a hand after noticing her nephew’s disinterest in reading, Vaish combined her business acumen and market research skills to create Simili, an app focused on revolutionizing reading and learning for future generations.

Vaish shared that one in three 4th-graders can’t read at grade level and kids between the ages of two and eight years old regularly spend about three hours daily on electronic devices. Vaish built Simili to help kids get hooked on reading early, noting that the global children's book market is projected to reach $10 billion by 2030, and the educational games industry is expected to be worth a staggering $50 billion around the same time. Simili combines artificial intelligence, personalization, and a privacy-first mindset into a child-driven app experience.

In the next few months, Vaish plans on beta testing Simili to help inform a go-to-market plan that currently includes partnering with reading organizations, local libraries, and even influencers and government agencies to help make Simili accessible to all.

Best Product winner: Ana Saldaña, founder of Moolli

Imagine a world where we have our pet’s integrated health, wellness, and even training data available at our fingertips. That’s the world Ana Saldaña is building through Moolli.

After kicking off her pitch by asking for a show of hands of pet owners in the audience, Ana dove into the problem space near and dear to her heart: her Border Collie and co-founder, Kalah. Being able to easily access and track trustworthy information about Kalah’s health, behavior, and training was unexpectedly challenging for Ana, who adopted Kalah during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across the world, data shows fewer babies and more dogs in homes. In Ana’s native Mexico, there are 18 dogs for every one baby. In the United States, that number jumps to 24. In fact, Ana even cited Nestle recently reporting pet care as their biggest growing category.

Pet owners can pay as they go for Moolli or subscribe to a membership plan with perks. Plus, Ana is exploring creating the “Uber for vets” to help quickly connect animals who need care with available veterinarians. In the future, Ana has aspirations to develop the first fully digital Dog Passport, contribute to human-dog science and research, and even connect animal chip technology to the Moolli app.

If you love Moolli’s mission, Ana is currently looking for a CTO and Growth and Data Scientist to join the team. She also welcomes conversations with angel investors.

Community Favorite winner: Deb Shelby, founder of DART Command Central 

Before moving to Vermont, Deb Shelby lived in Texas and North Carolina – two states quite familiar with disaster relief efforts from hurricane batterings over the years. But Deb was in for a surprise in New England: Vermont endured more frequent and dangerous flooding than she realized.

Motivated to join the Central Vermont Animal Response Team as a volunteer after a natural disaster in 2018, Deb was struck by how tedious it was to intake and monitor animals in times of crises. “It was ten pieces of paper, [with] lots of the same data on every page, required for every pet. I thought, ‘Wow, this is not good.’”

Asked by the Demo Day judges why a solution to this problem didn’t yet exist, Deb contextualized the problem: “The biggest competitor we have is paper. Volunteers don’t have a voice or financial support at the national level.”

Deb founded the DART Command Center (DARTCC) nonprofit in 2022. Using her background as a software developer, she developed an app in PHP to help volunteer-run pet shelters streamline disaster relief efforts. But as the app came to fruition, Deb needed a faster, more flexible, and less-expensive way forward. That’s when she discovered Bubble’s Immerse program.

DARTCC’s mission is to help volunteers “focus on pet care, not paperwork.” She's currently seeking $500,000 in fundraising to help pay the volunteers involved with the project and expand to other areas across the country. With 2023 disaster costs estimated to reach $43 trillion globally, $45 billion in the United States, and $120 million in Vermont alone, Deb’s goal is to grow DARTCC into a national and international platform. 

Finalist: Princess Agina, founder of ConnectU 

“Almost one in four [university] students said they are lonely most or all of the time,” shared Princess Agina shortly after she took the Demo Day stage. “This is four times worse than the one in 20 adults who say the same.”

After struggling to navigate her own feelings of loneliness and overwhelm at Oxford University, Princess set out to build a solution that'd help university students not only feel less alone in a new place among strangers, but also strengthen ties to the individuals who walked the same halls before them. The result is ConnectU.

ConnectU connects university students with alumni who are interested in playing an active mentorship role. “For the freshman, ConnectU is that friend who points out the best spots on campus or the senior who advises on tricky course selections,” Princess explains. “For the graduate, it’s a portal back — a chance to mentor, share experiences, and remain tethered to their academic roots.”

For school administrators, ConnectU helps illuminate trends and strengthen alumni data and outreach. With over 20,000 higher education institutions globally and a market size of $4.3 billion, ‌the opportunities for ConnectU “are vast and varied.” 

As of Demo Day, ConnectU has established contracts with “two major players” and “2,000 upcoming users.” Early usage data reveals an 84% repeat user rate with early adopters — a promising leading indicator.

Interested in ConnectU’s mission? Princess is on the lookout for a technical co-founder who cares about Bubble and fostering connections.

What’s life like after Immerse? Mmara founder Obi Chukwuma shares.

While the judges deliberated following the finalists’ presentations, Bubble Director of Community Jayvee Nava sat down for a conversation with Obianozo Chukwuma, the Community Favorite winner from Immerse’s previous cohort that ended in February 2023. Her app, Mmara, is a “personal hair concierge that simplifies textured hair care through behavioral and cosmetic science.”

Since graduating from Immerse, Obianozo (Obi, for short) has not only embarked on the new path of solo entrepreneur, but also dealt with real-world business pivots along the way. “After Immerse we attempted to do a beta.” Obi shared. “It didn’t work for a lot of reasons.”

Obi explained that they realized they needed to build a native mobile app — responsive web wasn’t going to cut it. She spent significant time rebuilding pages and deepening both her Bubble and mobile expertise. “I got a lot better at Bubble,” she reflected. “I’m happy to say that as of two weeks ago, we’re in beta on iOS and Google Play.”

In the last few months, Obi has also added a formal business advisor to the team and is actively looking for a second advisor with experience as a cosmetic chemist. “We’re building a science-based tool. I am not a cosmetic chemist. We’re doing what we can and building a framework, but at the end of the day we really need an expert in this field.” Adding to what Mmara values in an advisor, Obi emphasized, “We don’t want a team of fifteen advisors … I really want to bring on a few really core people who can grow with the business. Passion is a big thing we’re looking for.”