If you’ve attended a hackathon, you might have seen Nicole Klein and her co-founder Melissa Hargis. Why? They’re hard to miss for a few reasons:

1. They learned to code at coding bootcamps
2. They’re women at a hackathon
3. They’re dressed as 15th-century queens, wearing “Game of Thrones”-style gowns and silver crowns on their heads
4. They’re winning thousands of dollars

That’s right. Nicole and Melissa turned to hackathons to fund their business idea because they thought it’d be an easier way to fund it. Yes, competing against thousands of male coders, who have been coding for years, sounded easier than raising capital. Below, their pitch

At the Launch Festival held in San Francisco (a.k.a. “The world’s largest start-up event”) with about 15,000 candidates, Nicole and Melissa did just that, and won! And walked away with the 1st place prize – $250,000 to start their business, Betagig.

Betagig is a try before you buy for careers, a way to see what a job is like in practice, no longer just in theory, before committing to the career or even college major. Or, more simply put, beta test your next gig (hence the name).

We caught up with Nicole after the Women in Tech event hosted by Sabio and asked her how it all began.

You can try before you buy with so many things. Why not with careers?

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How did you conceive of Betagig?

Melissa, my co-founder, and I were walking in Golden Gate Park and Melissa said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if there was an app where you could literally trade lives with someone for a day?” And I said, ‘No, it would be cool if there was an app where you could trade careers with somebody for a day.’ She asked me how we could make that happen and I said job shadowing. We came up with the name shortly after and built the app at the Launch Hackathon that weekend and won!

Starting a business comes with tons of challenges. What’s been the hardest thus far, and how have you overcome it?

Hardest challenge to date has been fundraising and learning the game of investors. It’s a tough game and even harder as a female founder. I don’t feel like I have completely overcome yet but I definitely learned how to play!

How do you see Betagig in the future?

I see us growing very quickly and it becoming the thing to do in college to figure out what you want to do! I also would like to expand to apprenticeships in the future. My co-founder and I attended what is essentially an apprenticeship to learn one of the hardest jobs, programming, so we think if there can be an apprenticeship for that, there can be one for just about anything.

Nicole plans on using Ideator to spread the word about Betagig and connect with investors. Students, job seekers and potential users can watch their commercial.

HR managers can learn more with this video.

Interested in helping Betagig? Connect with Nicole on Ideator!

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