Encouraging Empowerment in Community

The Norma Team, who supports women’s health, at Startup Weekend Women Denver 2018

What would it be like to find yourself in a community that’s not only passionate about their own ideas, but also about your ideas, too?

What if that community was endlessly supportive of you, even in the face of competition?

To the amazement of founder Amelia Coomber, communities like that not only exist, they exist in regions all over the world.

Coomber, a computer science major at University of Denver, loves creating things and solving problems. When she saw the lack of breast health resources for women under 40, she knew that had to change. She started Boobi Butter in 2016 to help young women do regular breast exams even when physicians brush it off as unnecessary at a young age.

Coomber takes Boobi Butter’s mission seriously, especially after connecting with young breast cancer survivors on Instagram.

“We have a network [on Instagram] of over 200 women who are like, 21, 23, 28 years old that were diagnosed,” she says.

Being present in communities of empowered women is something Coomber sees as vital to providing knowledge on breast health. When Startup Weekend Women came to Denver, Coomber and her co-founder were overwhelmed by the inspiration they found while participating.

“All of these women wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves, which is all I want to do.”

“I’m a computer science major so I’m surrounded by dudes all the time, and they just don’t understand. This is something that women really understand. Many of them might have had a scare or know someone personally who has breast cancer.”

Coomber and her co-founder pitched an app called Norma, which, like Boobi Butter, encourages monthly breast exams. She was ecstatic to find a number of women as team members, gifted in engineering, UX/UI design, programming, and leadership.

Together they won first place in the competition, which would take them to Paris for the Global Startup Weekend Women Final.

Norma celebrates their 1st place victory at Startup Weekend Women Denver

“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Coomber says. “There’s sometimes some animosity towards the winning team, but it was such a cool community where even when we won everyone was so supportive.”

When arriving in Paris three weeks later, the Norma team was set to compete against 22 teams spread across 15 countries. But instead of finding rivalry among their opponents, Coomber and her team found encouragement.

“Everyone was giving each other hugs!” Coomber laughs.

“For some of the other women, English wasn’t their first or second language, and still everyone was so supportive of each other by figuring out how they could help and how we could practice for the pitches together.”

Coomber was amazed by the problems these women from around the world were seeking to solve. Even with scarce resources and other barriers, Coomber saw that each woman within the competition wanted to help others in their community with a creative solution.

The Norma team at the Global Startup Weekend Women competition in Paris

The Norma team placed third in the final competition. While Coomber is ecstatic about their accomplishments, the global community of women from Startup Weekend inspired her team to keep on pursuing their goals.

“Being a part of this startup community is the thing I feel more confident about than anything. If it weren’t for that community with Startup Weekend and Techstars, I don’t even know where I would be. It’s definitely life changing.”

Are you thinking of launching your idea? Check out the next Techstars Startup Weekend near you!