By Mary Johnson
It was a simple need: Irene Ryabaya and Diana Murakhovskaya were building an app, one intended to help women make friends. And they wanted a female developer to build it.
Granted, the bulk of their connections were rooted in decade-long careers in finance. But they were building the app in New York City, arguably one of the best cities for women in tech in the country.
And still, female developers were hard to find.
“So we decided to do a hackathon for women,” Ryabaya told me. “If we can do one that’s all women, there will be lots of them, and we can talk one of them into building our app.”
And they did. You can download the app here. But that isn’t the reason Ryabaya, 33, and Murakhovskaya, 34, have earned “visionary” status on the Upstart 100, a list of game-changing startups, entrepreneurs and innovators compiled by our sister publication, the Upstart Business Journal.
The search for a developer and the resulting all-female hackathon spawned a pivot for the company, Monarq. Since it launched back in January of 2015, it has morphed into a business geared toward helping female entrepreneurs connect with each other and with investors — and, in the end, get funding.
To do that, Ryabaya and Murakhovskaya host the all-female hackathons, called #SheHacks. There have been two to date, with two more planned for this fall in New York and Houston. They also host intimate dinners — like guest list of 20 intimate — for female entrepreneurs and investors. And this past spring, they partnered with New York-based angel investor Alicia Syrett to put on #MentHERnyc, an event that allowed dozens of female entrepreneurs to ask investors for advice, not money.
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