Sophomore Helps Team Take First Place at 2014 Startup Weekend

By Eliza Williams

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A team of Indiana University students won first place at 2014 Startup Weekend Bloomington for their product CareBand, a wearable wander management tool for individuals suffering from dementia or other developmental or physical disabilities. Sophomore Information Systems and Business Analytics major Claudia Maria was the only woman on the team of five students.

Maria’s previous experience interning for a Silicon Valley startup helped prepare her for competing in Startup Weekend. She was the only woman on her intern team, an experience that taught her the value of women in tech and the importance of strong leadership skills.

“Being a woman offers me the empathetic depth in a lot of subject matters that men might fail to notice. I may have been the only woman on my internship team, but I was able to focus more on my qualities as an authentic leader and capitalize on that,” Maria said.

Maria brought this resilience and determination to Startup Weekend, and together with students Adam Sobol, Andrew Jones, Christopher Chu and Scott Trepper created the first functional CareBand mobile application and wristband. Throughout the process of preparing CareBand for StartUp Weekend, Maria was continually inspired by teammate and founder Sobol’s wide spectrum of development and design skills. She decided to further develop her own technology skills by pursuing a minor from the School of Informatics and Computer Science.

“I was highly involved in the business and product design side of things, but I wanted to do more than that. I realized that I enjoy creating and that I want to make my own projects, and that’s why I decided to pursue a STEM degree,” said Maria.

Startup Weekend facilitator Jamie Bass described Maria as a key leader on the CareBand team.

“She was engaged and very intelligent with a great marketing background. She understood what needed to be done and how to execute ideas,” Bass said.

As a woman transfer student and immigrant from Indonesia, Maria has faced challenges working in technology. Despite adversity, she loves building a startup and encourages other women to take risks and create change. She is a passionate advocate for both women in tech and enabling the Startup Visa, a proposed amendment to the U.S. immigration law to create a visa category for foreign entrepreneurs who have raised capital from American investors.

“To succeed in any STEM field as a woman, you have to be a lifetime learner, have a growth mindset and get comfortable in being uncomfortable,” Maria said. “Work hard, strategize and take risks. Figure out exactly what you want and create a plan to get there.”

Bass encourages young women interested in STEM careers to join robotics, engineering and technology clubs in high school and college, and to pursue events such as Startup Weekend.

“The tech field is wide open for women and there are tons of opportunities. For ladies who have a technical aptitude, jobs in this growing field will make them happy,” said Bass.

Maria continually expands her skillset and network by participating in hackathons and startup events, attending regular Women Empowering Success in Technology (WESiT) meetings on campus and taking tutorials through codecademy. In her free time, she enjoys watching TED talks, weightlifting, dancing and trying ethnic restaurants around Bloomington. She interns at the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington, where she hopes to launch Club Tech, a program that helps young people develop the technology skills necessary to succeed in school and the job market.

Claudia Maria and Group

In the photo above is the CareBand team: Scott Trepper, Andrew Jones, Claudia Maria, Adam Sobol, Vince Rowold, and Chris Chu, plus Startup Weekend facilitator Jamie Bass.