By Wendy Lee
San Francisco Chronicle.
More than 40 women gathered Monday to pitch business ideas in the nation’s first hackathon geared toward female veterans.
The event, held at Facebook headquarters and put together by veterans organizations VetsinTech and V-Wise, encouraged female veterans to present their proposals and collaborate in teams that would compete for money and resources to start a business.
Kristi Erickson’s presentation wowed a panel of judges and won the contest. Erickson, a clinical psychologist and an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, wants to start a business that would produce an app and use virtual reality to help treat patients with anxiety disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder.
One form of treatment is for patients to imagine a scene that makes them feel calm. Virtual reality could help patients conjure those scenes faster, Erickson said.
“I’m very excited with the buzz that’s around the idea and the momentum,” she said.
Erickson can win up to $5,000 in an Indiegogo campaign for her business, among other prizes. So far, the campaign has raised $1,295 and Erickson said she would like to raise $750,000 to develop the products.
Facebook said it has made efforts to bring veterans to work at the social networking company, but the hackathon for female vets wasn’t a job recruiting event. Facebook declined to disclose the percentage of veterans in its workforce.