Over the past eight weeks, our sixth Immerse cohort has been busy strengthening both their Bubble and business skills.

Immerse is Bubble’s fully funded pre-accelerator designed to provide underrepresented founders with the tools and resources they need to build their product on Bubble. This cohort was our first group composed entirely of women and femme-identified founders, so we’re extra excited that this select group will be presenting during Demo Day at our first-ever BubbleCon.

These participants stood out from an already exceptional group. Out of nine accelerator participants, we’re excited to introduce you to our four finalists: Ana Saldaña, Deb Shelby, Princess Agina, and Vaishnavi Srivathsan. On October 24, they’ll take the stage to try to earn one of three prizes: Best Pitch, Best Product, and Fan Favorite.

Here’s a sneak peek at what they’ve been building and a behind-the-scenes look at the Immerse experience.

BubbleCon is October 24–25, virtually and in-person in New York City. Register to watch Demo Day live and cast your vote for Fan Favorite — virtual tickets are free!

Ana Saldaña

Founder & CEO, Moolli (Mexico City, Mexico)

A headshot of Ana Saldaña.

As an endlessly curious problem-solver, Ana Saldaña is a lawyer, former management consultant, and former television host. She earned her LLM from the University of Chicago, earned her MBA from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM), and is a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). But it wasn’t until the pandemic — when she adopted a dog — that she began to think critically about ways to improve the connection between humans and pups. And thus, Moolli was born.

Moolli is on a mission to make access to veterinary care and meeting the physical and emotional needs of pets easy for families. After “constantly” being told she needed to find a technical founder, Ana learned about Bubble and Immerse. “Not only did it empower me to build my own app, but it gave me the power as a founder to be able to really own my app. I know this will have a huge impact on the business, since I have the skills and knowledge to iterate as the business evolves.”

When it comes to advice for those considering Immerse, Ana keeps it real. “Be kind to yourself. This is a program that, for people with non-technical backgrounds, can be challenging. But if you take advantage of it, you will create something beyond your dreams.”

Deb Shelby

Founder and Executive Director, DART Command Central (Jericho, Vermont)

A headshot of Deb Shelby.

Deb Shelby was no stranger to software development when she enrolled in Immerse. With decades of experience working on custom web solutions, Deb started her own software company in 1997 and began building mobile apps in 2012. But it’s her nonprofit work that drove her to explore Bubble and Immerse. Motivated to help volunteers who are managing emergency pet shelters during a disaster, Deb launched DART Command Central in 2022 to serve as a resource for education, training, and data management for shelter volunteers.

“Embracing different approaches to a problem I have been thinking about since 2018 and allowing myself to see things differently was the biggest challenge and value I got from this program,” Deb explains. “Seeing what others are doing with technology really opened my eyes to options I had not thought of prior to this program. I feel I have only scratched the surface of how Bubble can make our tools better for volunteers and communities preparing for and managing a disaster.”

Building an app simple enough for non-technical people to learn and use was imperative for Deb. “The ease of use of this tool makes preparing for a disaster less stressful as the interface is designed for volunteers with any level of technical skills. They can focus on the care of the pets and not paperwork.”

Reflecting on Immerse as she preps a few “minor tweaks” for Demo Day, Deb called out the support from her product mentor, James Devonport, which helped nudge her over the finish line. “I don’t think I could have had a better experience as James was so kind, helpful, supportive, and gave me the opportunity to learn the tool while encouraging me to keep moving forward.”

Princess Agina

Founder, ConnectU (London, United Kingdom)

A headshot of Princess Agina.

Raised in Houston, Texas, Princess Agina knew from a young age that “creating impact” was her calling card. After graduating from Prairie View A&M University, she worked in Costa Rica, New Orleans, and Hawaii championing economic development before being named a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico and enrolling in Oxford University’s MBA program. It comes as no surprise that her startup, ConnectU, is all about leveraging global insights to help connect people and communities. Thanks to Immerse, ConnectU is nearly ready for takeoff.

“Immerse has been transformative for my journey,” says Princess. “It has not only accelerated the development of the ConnectU platform, but also enhanced my outreach to potential customers and users. This experience has instilled in me the confidence to demonstrate to prospective customers that ConnectU is more than just a concept‌ — ‌it's a tangible product.”

Because of Bubble and Immerse, Princess shares she now has a “firsthand understanding” of the architecture that goes into developing an application and a “heightened” appreciation for user-centered design. “My ability to test, learn, and iterate based on user feedback has been invaluable,” she told us. Though it took a few weeks of “rigorous homework assignments” for things to start clicking, Princess says Bubble became noticeably easier after about the halfway mark in the program.

As Demo Day approaches, Princess has her eye on the prize. “The development journey has been filled with challenges and learnings, and I'm eager to showcase the results of my dedication. I look forward to sharing my vision for the platform's future and how it can make a significant impact in the education sector and beyond.”

Vaishnavi Srivathsan

Founder, Simili (San Francisco, California)

A headshot of Vaishnavi Srivathsan.

A first-generation immigrant from India, Vaishnavi — Vaish, for short — ran toward tech after graduating from business school. As her career progressed, she couldn’t help but observe gaps in the education system. Eventually, Vaish decided she wanted to take a swing using her expertise in strategy and product development to help make quality education accessible to all. The result was Simili, an AI-powered tutor that “revolutionizes” reading education for kids between three and seven through “personalized story-making experiences” that encourage kids to develop a love for reading.

Though Vaish had done a “mini-build” before starting Immerse, she still considered herself a Bubble novice and was touched by the warmth she received. “The Bubble community and ecosystem is extremely welcoming to newcomers like me. People have reached out and gone out of their way to help me with my apps — especially the API calls. I am feeling very empowered to take on further challenges and maybe even become a bigger part of the ecosystem.”

Her Immerse product mentor, Brian Jagger, was instrumental in helping build Vaish’s confidence. “I was nervous about building on my own until I met Brian. He helped me scope things more clearly, project-manage the MVP build, and even helped me creatively address the biggest concern in my product experience.”

With time, what started as an unfamiliar platform soon became “as accessible as a slide to a consultant.” When Vaish cracked the code on how to run an API-based workflow end-to-end and generate output, she knew she was capable of solving even more complex problems on Bubble.

With Demo Day around the corner, Vaish is focusing on nailing down “a couple of pieces” before presenting. As for prospective Immerse candidates, she has a simple piece of advice: “Do it. And give it your damn best shot. It's worth it.”

Register for #BubbleCon2023 to watch the Demo Day presentations live on October 24, 2023. (Virtual tickets are free!)