We’re proud and excited to announce the sixth cohort of Bubble Immerse Founders in Residence — and it's an inspiring one! Immerse is Bubble’s fully funded pre-accelerator program for underrepresented founders with incredible product visions, and this is our first cohort composed entirely of women and femme-identified founders.
This milestone is not only a powerful moment for Immerse, but also for the entrepreneurship and tech communities as a whole. Women and femme-identified founders represent a severely underfunded group in the tech world, with female founders receiving only 1.9% of venture capital investment in 2022 — a five-year low — per Pitchbook. This lack of access to resources and funding stifles innovation and makes it harder for female founders to see their ideas come to fruition.
This cohort is filled with inspiring women and femme-identified founders, all with innovative ideas and a passion for making a difference in the world. The Immerse pre-accelerator is designed to equip them with the skills they need to build robust, viable web apps. It also helps them retain ownership in their businesses over the long run by avoiding the pitfall many new founders encounter when forced to forgo equity for cash to build expensive apps. We’re thrilled to share the experiences that catalyzed their entrepreneurial journeys below and can't wait to see the incredible products they create.
As Kelly Claus, professional Bubble Developer and the most recent addition to our Immerse instructor lineup, says: “There’s nothing more exciting than realizing you can build your ideas yourself, and then actually doing it. Bubble has been giving that experience to non-technical founders (including myself) for years, but the gap for non-traditional founders is still wide. I could not be prouder to be a part of Bubble’s effort to bridge that gap and lift up women in this space. The members of this special cohort are incredible — I can’t wait for the world to see what they’re building." We couldn’t agree more.
Dreammate (Boston, MA)
Alejandra Niebla is an artist, a designer, and the founder of Dreammate, a service to help people find housing. Originally from Cajeme, Sonora in Mexico, Ale graduated with a degree in Visual Communication from the University of Guadalajara. From 2018 to 2021, a lack of compatible housing and financial struggles led her to live unhoused — out of her van — in Northern California. Later, during her UX/UI specialization studies at Thinkful, she developed the first iteration of Dreammate. Dreammate helps humans with imperfect life transitions find compatible housing based on sincere human connection.
Vaish Srivathsan is the founder of Simili, an application that nurtures a love for reading in pre-K children through the power of personalized storytelling. It all started with her 3-year-old nephew, who enjoys looking at picture books and narrating his own stories. Vaish wants to build something that helps kids like him fall in love with books and the habit of reading. With her background in product development and strategy, Vaish plans to build an affordable and engaging product to make this learning experience accessible to children worldwide. A first-generation immigrant from India, she holds a master’s in business administration from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree in economics from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras.
Lournal (New Mexico)
Nicole Kesel is founder of Lournal, an innovative journaling platform that empowers people on their journeys of self-reflection, personal growth, and balance. A university professor for over 18 years, Nicole recognized the pressing need for young adults to engage in responsive reflective practices. Through her work with students, she witnessed the transformative power of guided self-reflection, resulting in improvements in quality of life, academic achievements, and career success. Lournal merges neuroscience and artificial intelligence to help users get more from their journaling practices.
Still Knowing (New Rochelle, NY)
Surayya Walters is a social entrepreneur, speaker, writer, and founder of Still Knowing, a platform that exists to bridge the gap between faith and mental health for youth. She graduated from The Wharton School in 2022 with a bachelor's degree in economics. Surayya is passionate about being an entrepreneur and enjoys advocating for greater mental health for Generation Alpha and Generation Z. For Still Knowing, she hopes to build a platform that can reintroduce youth to spiritual concepts in a fun, social, and interactive manner and encourage them to put their spirituality in action by caring for and cultivating their mental health. If successful, Still Knowing will be the first platform to merge the worlds of spirituality and mental health for youth in a modern and culturally relevant manner — creating a fun and accessible platform for access to education and resources. Surayya is also the founder of iDEIntity, a non-profit bringing diversity, equity, and inclusion to the startup ecosystem.
Ana Saldaña is founder of Moolli, a startup dedicated to providing online health services and training for human-dog families. An award-winning entrepreneur, Ana experienced firsthand the frustration of getting the wrong advice from “expert” trainers after adopting a dog during the pandemic. Happily, the puppy pulled through. As Anna learned more about the physical and psychological benefits of having a dog in your life, she adopted the mission of creating an easier and better way to be a pet parent. Moolli’s mission is to demystify the complicated world of pet training and veterinary medicine to create happier and more fulfilling lives for humans and dogs.
Tech Forward Solutions (Georgia)
Tiffany Spencer, founder and CEO of Tech Forward Solutions, is an accomplished professional who is committed to empowering others. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Tiffany is a leader in the Salesforce ecosystem (as her ultra-prestigious Salesforce Golden Hoodie award attests). Tech Forward Solutions is a Salesforce consulting partner focused on providing comprehensive training, technology, and talent development services. Through Tech Forward Solutions, Tiffany equips aspiring consultants with the skills necessary to thrive in the industry. She also plays a pivotal role in advancing economic opportunities for underrepresented groups in the tech sector. Tiffany provides mentorship and guidance for the next generation of leaders through her work with high school and college students, the board of Black Orlando Tech, and The Greatest Investment Girls Empowerment Program.
VeiledJustice (New York City, NY)
Emilie Castro-Schwarz is the founder of VeiledJustice, an access-to-justice legal technology tool. Emilie is a proud Swiss-American who moved from Zürich to New York City for college and never left. Emilie's passion lies at the intersection of law, technology, and human rights. In 2017, she founded the Columbia Law School Legal Technology Association and created a pro bono research program that pairs students with public interest–oriented legal technology companies. In 2019, she won the Inaugural Justice Innovation Challenge with an app that seeks to help immigrant survivors of domestic violence. Emilie holds a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College and a law degree from Columbia.
Sydney Walz is the co-founder and CEO of Shisa, a for-profit social impact startup that provides free tools to help people navigate consent crimes like sexual harassment, assault, and domestic violence in and out of the workplace. Sydney is a proud queer, Jewish, Asian-American woman from the Bay Area. As a survivor of consent crimes herself, Sydney draws upon her firsthand experience of the knowledge and accessibility gaps present in the legal system for survivors. Her mission is to use market forces to price harassment cultures out of business and make justice more easily accessible for all. Sydney uses systems thinking to solve societal challenges by exploring and developing effective action in complex contexts, enabling new technologies to catalyze change. As a co-founder and the CEO of Shisa, Sydney manages the company’s strategic direction, with a special focus on user growth, research, and marketing efforts.
ConnectU (London, United Kingdom)
Princess Agina is the founder of ConnectU, an alumni engagement CRM that harnesses the power of AI to connect alumni to the resources and networks they need to thrive. With a passion for creating meaningful connections, Princess has dedicated her career to solving complex challenges and enhancing user experiences. With a master’s in business administration from Oxford University and a rich professional background in advertising, international development, and community-building, she brings a unique blend of expertise to the world of alumni engagement. Over the last 10 years, Princess has been at the forefront of solving rapidly evolving challenges for Fortune 10 companies while also refining startup founders' visions for successful launches and fundraising. Her work as an advocate of user-centered design has empowered her to consistently incorporate the customer perspective into the design process, driving the creation of intuitive and impactful solutions.
DART Command Central (Vermont)
Deb Shelby founded the nonprofit DART Command Central in March 2022 after spending four years looking for software to support volunteers who manage emergency pet shelters during disasters. Working closely with Vermont Disaster Animal Response Teams, Deb designed the Emergency Pet Shelter Module, a standalone web app that makes it easy for volunteers to document animal care at emergency pet shelters. Deb presented the Shelter Module to the National Alliance of State Animal and Agricultural Emergency Programs conference in May 2022, and to the Vermont Emergency Managers conference in October 2022. Outside of DART CC, Deb is also working on an app that supports veterinarian researchers working to improve the welfare of captive elephants internationally, and partnering with her local government to establish recreation regulations to protect wildlife.
The Immerse program concludes with Demo Day, where standout members of the cohort are invited to present businesses before a panel of judges. This time, Demo Day will be held both live and virtually for the first time ever — sign up below!