Content Warning: This article deals with sexual assault.
In the final round of the Georgetown Bark Tank competition earlier this month, a team led by Emily Owen (GHD ’21) presented Bibti, an app that aims to provide women with travel companions to reduce the risk of assault. sexual.
The app comes at a time when discussions of sexual assault on university campuses and across the country are increasingly widespread. In 2018, nearly 81 percent of women in the United States reported having experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime. New strategies are constantly being developed to reduce the number of cases and help women feel more secure in their daily lives. Bibti hopes to offer a possible solution.
Bibti, created by Owen, aims to combat various types of harassment such as being followed or called by the chat by creating a buddy system. When opening the app, women can access a live map that connects them to other users within a certain radius, so they can walk together and have extra protection in public spaces. . There are three types of matchmaking services available: Walk With Me, Wait With Me, and Door-to-Door Service, depending on The Bibti site.
The idea for this buddy system first appeared at the Global Social Innovation Lab, a pitch competition in January 2020, when Owen and five other women formed a team to develop a solution to reduce the percentage of people. victims of sexual harassment. Owen’s interest in the matter stems from her experiences as a single woman living abroad and being in public at night. âI was looking for other younger women who seemed to be traveling in the same direction, and we would get on the buses together,â Owen said.
The team working on Bibti includes Max Zhang (SFS ’23) and Shirley Hu (MSB ’23), interns who joined the project after hearing about Bibti from Owen when she was their technical assistant. Both are passionate about improving women’s safety and were eager to contribute to the project.
“[Itâs] the little things you do to try to stay safe when you’re alone, âHu said. “Like the way girls wear keys between their knuckles, you keep your phone on and don’t wear your hair in a ponytail because it’s easier to grab hold of is a big part of my life.”
Bibti is a short form of the Arabic word “habibi”, which means “my love”. It’s a loving term used among female friends, according to Owen, who lived in the Middle East and wanted to use the word for appraisal to foster a sense of security.
On November 4, Owen, Zhang and Hu participated in the final round Georgetown Entrepreneurial Pitch Competition Bark tank. The competition typically awards teams or individuals preparing to start new business problem-solving ventures with a sum of money from the annual limit of $ 100,000, but this year the prize pool has grown to $ 150,000. The Bibti team won $ 5,000 to further develop their application
Bark Tank was not the first corporate competition Owen had brought Bibti to. âIn previous competitions it was really at the idea stage, and now we’re going into the focus group and the testing phase,â Owen said. âIt’s a very different experience when you hypothetically create a business model and when you actually execute it and have a values-driven thinking about business decisions. “
For Hu, participating in Bark Tank was a valuable learning opportunity. âIt was a very good experience in terms of practicing and critically thinking about Bibti in different ways, like the ways you need to specifically adapt to a professional audience, how it might change our understanding of how the app works, or how we want to generate income, etc. Hu said.
What sets Bark Tank apart from other Georgetown pitch contests is that it primarily supports businesses that are beyond the idea stage. Participants are passionate about their respective projects and want to continue spending time seeing their ideas come to fruition. âIt’s great because we want to execute what we’re throwing,â Owen said.
In preparation for Bark Tank, the Bibti team recruited around 60 Georgetown students for their pilot program to demonstrate the app’s ability to gain traction in the real world. âIt’s a more compelling or compelling way to show the potential of your business beyond just getting statistics, numbers and anecdotes to prove it,â Hu said.
Looking to the future, Bibti hopes to interact with its user list of people who have expressed interest in the app. Two angel investors, individuals who invest in startups in the early stages of development, have already been secured. Owen will continue to introduce Bibti to investors outside of Georgetown.
The beta will initially only be available to Georgetown students, as the Bibti team is seeking feedback from users to resolve issues that may arise. The team will continue to accept students interested in adding to their list of users for beta testing, which students can join by checking out Bibti’s social networks or by sending an email to [email protected], until the end of the fall semester.
âIdeally, we want to have [the beta version] ready for a spring semester launch by the end of January 2022, âsaid Owen.
Max Zhang is a member of Voice as Editor-in-Chief for Resources, Diversity and Inclusion and Design Assistant.