hcabot, Author at Geek Girl Rising

Author Archives: hcabot

Geek Girls Workin’ It Coast to Coast

Sam with Jamie Corley and Kristen Koh Goldstein

With Sam in the Bay Area and Heather in New York, Team GGR has been busy, busy, busy! We started off the week with a reading and panel in Sam’s neck of the woods: Book Passage Corte Madera. Friends and family enjoyed a discussion and a demo of some of the cool tech toys for girls we feature in Chapter 7 of the book. Speakers Sona Dolasia, UC Berkeley computer science student and founder of Reaching Out with Robotics, Jamie Corley, co-founder of TheBridge, and Kristen Koh Goldstein, CEO and co-founder of HireAthena, talked about the need for more women in the startup world, and strategies for inspiring the next generation of girls to pursue STEM studies and careers, particularly in computer science and engineeringSee more here.

Then, it was off to Nashville for Heather and a reunion with some of the managing partners of The JumpFund, the Chattanooga-based investment firm featured in Chapter 3.  The fund invests in women-led tech startups from across the Southeast. Heather had the pleasure of sharing the mission of the book at their “Women Investing in Women” cocktail party where she met female angel investors and entrepreneurs from Memphis, Knoxville and Atlanta.

Women Investing In Women

And the next morning, she moderated an incredible panel at Launch Tennessee’s 36:86 tech and startup conference, addressing the growth of tech and entrepreneurial hubs far away from Silicon Valley and WHY that can be a boon to diverse founders.  Among the rock star line up: Lori Feinsilver, head of corporate responsibility for the investment bank, UBS and the architect behind Rent the Runway Foundation’s Project Entrepreneur, the pitch competition, accelerator and summit for female founders; Leslie Miley, chief engineer of Slack, who also runs Venture for America’s program that matches tech execs with cities that have burgeoning startup hubs like Detroit and Baltimore; and Nick Smoot, founder of Mountain Man Ventures and the Innovation Collective, a boot camp to help communities stimulate local businesses and recruit local talent. Their advice to founders outside of the Valley? Don’t chase funding. First find champions in your own backyard who can help you build the fundamentals of your business first. And, recognize the distinct advantages to building a company outside of the “group think” of SV.  Lots of food for thought.

Heather with Nick Smoot, Lori Feinsilver and Leslie Miley at 36:86 in Nashville

Later in the week,  Heather was honored to be featured in a live interview with Grown and Flown‘s Mary Dell Harrington while Sam was interviewed on Femgineer, the web interview show hosted by its founder Poornima Vijayashanker. We kicked off our Coach of the Month series with ELLE, CSPAN’s Book TV featured GGR and our very first book talk and finally, GGR capped off a fun week with Heather’s fireside chat at the Rye Free Reading Room on Thursday night!

And there’s more to come! Heather will be speaking at the BooksNJ Festival on Sunday, June 11th at the Paramus Public Library. Team GGR will reunite on the West Coast next week with events at Visa, Google and Facebook!  It’s been whirlwind and we are ever so grateful to our friends and family for all of your support.

Thank you!

Heather and Sam

 

What a Launch!

 

Well, our book celebrated its birthday this week and we were overwhelmed by all of the love you sent our way. Thank you for making this occasion a special one for us co-authors and for all of the people who helped make the project a reality.

With Sam in from San Francisco, our big week in New York was packed with events and media interviews. One of the coolest things that happened was getting to listen to the new Geek Girl Rising trivia game on the Google Home, powered by Google Assistant!  Check out the video above.

Fireside chat with Jane Francisco, Editor-in-Chief, Good Housekeeping

We also had the honor to speak to dozens and dozens of women in technology, entrepreneurship and law this week. From a book talk at IAC Apps and Vimeo to a Lean In lunch with the women’s organization at law firm Simpson Thacher& Barlett to our fireside chat with the amazing Jane Francisco, Editor-in-Chief of Good Housekeeping at our book party (co-hosted by GH, Perkins Coie, Civic Hall and Sofia Coppola Rose),  the reaction to our message and mission was energizing.

Our culminating NYC event,  presenting at Google on Thursday afternoon to a crowd of Googlers and members of the Harvard Business School Women’s Alumni Association of Greater New York, could not have been more exciting.

Fireside chat at Google
Fireside chat at Google

In addition to a fireside chat about GGR, we also were honored to host a dynamite panel of leading women in entrepreneurship and venture finance. Tiffany Pham, founder and CEO of Mogul; Kay Koplovitz, cofounder and managing director of Springboard Accelerator and Springboard Fund; and Jean Brownhill, founder and CEO of Sweeten, weighed in on the ups and downs of leading a startup and what it takes to be successful. Persistence, focus on solving a problem and always being open to learning new things were key takeaways and we are grateful for their willingness to share their wisdom with the packed audience.

We had some cool media coverage this week, including a great interview on Yahoo Finance and were featured in Glamour magazine! WATCH US on Good Morning America on MONDAY 5/29 in the 8:30 half hour when we unveil the top toys to inspire a new generation of Geek Girls!!

Thanks again to everyone who helped us get to this point – especially our husbands and children. It was a long road and we are grateful!

WATCH: Geek Girl Power in Action!

In preparation for the big book launch on May 23, we gathered a few of the hundreds of women we’ve interviewed through the years to talk about the code among women in tech to help each other advance.  The result is this uplifting video that really portrays the spirit of Geek Girl Rising — and also includes some of the cool early accolades the book received.

Thank you to our stars: Tanya Van Court, Ayna Agarwal, Adda Birnir, Diana Murakhovskaya, and Natalia Oberti Noguera for taking the time for Heather and Sam to interview you on-camera. We are grateful to Nadine Gilden of Curious Light, who created the beautiful graphics, Andrew Schutzman for editing the piece, Tommy Hawkins for videography and also to WeFest, WOC Tech Chat, and the Anita Borg Institute/Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing for the beautiful images that reflect the diversity and energy of the landscape of amazing people succeeding in technology.  Oh – and that funky track is by Polyrhythmics. Thank you, all!!

Geek Girl Rising Hits The Apollo & WOW Festival This Sunday!

Our children and their insatiable appetite for all things tech sparked some of the initial ideas for Geek Girl Rising. Heather has tween twins: a boy and girl.  Sam has four children: two teenaged boys, a teen girl and another daughter in elementary school.

Over the years we worked on this project together, we lamented the lack of computer science education in our suburban school districts on opposite coasts and the dearth of after school classes and camps that offered programming.  So much has changed in five years — but there is much still work to be done to reach ALL children and to expose them to the tech skills they’ll need for 21st century careers.

The search for new role models to inspire our girls and boys to think of themselves as the builders and inventors of the future drove us early on in our reporting process. We learned about the efforts inside public schools, by inventors and entrepreneurs and by non-profit organizations to smash stereotypes about coding and engineering and to ignite kids’ and especially, girls’ imaginations around their potential to be creators and problem solvers.
This is one of the reasons we spent years following the trajectory of Debbie Sterling’s company, GoldieBlox, and why she figures so prominently in the book.

So it is a true privilege to be able to continue the conversation and to share the knowledge we gleaned from leaders who are on the front lines advocating for gender equality in tech — but also those fighting to close the digital divide in underserved communities. We are thrilled to take part in the WOW Festival THIS Sunday, May 7th.  The Women of the World Festival is a FREE event at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem celebrating female thought leaders, creators and performers.  We’re proud to lead the discussion called Digital Dames: The Future of Women and Girls in Tech.

Speakers include tech education advocate and Geek Girl Aruna Prasad; Sonya Magett, founder of Code and Content Academy, a non-profit that provides free training in computer science to youth in undeserved communities; Alex Tosti, co-founder of the e-textiles crafting company, Blink Blink; and Opeyemi Olukemi, senior director, Interactive at the Tribeca Film Institute.  Please join us at 6PM for a conversation and Q&A.

We hope to see you!! We’ll be signing books at 4PM, too!

 

 

Launching A Book is Like Launching a Startup

Hot off the press!

Writing a book is an entrepreneurial endeavor but promoting it and pushing it out into the world is truly like running an early stage venture.  There’s too much to do and not enough time and resources and yet so much passion for this project on our team. It’s all hands on deck 24/7 East Coast and West.  Our families are feeling it so please let us take this opportunity to say thank you to our husbands and children for supporting us in this crunch time. Please know we love you even if we are still answering email at 11pm.

The good news is that the hard work is paying off and this was a HUGE week for us at Geek Girl Rising.

First off, the physical books arrived at the St. Martin’s Press offices! Editor Vicki Lame snapped this photo as soon as they arrived. Thank you!!

Next, Heather spent the bulk of her week narrating the audio book in Manhattan and happily reliving her broadcaster days in the booth.  

Reading the book aloud actually felt more reminiscent of the years she competed on the speech team in high school rather than reading a news story.  Heather spent her teen years competing in the “serious prose” category in which she had to change her intonation to make the voices of the “characters” come to life and that’s a bit like what narrating the book entailed. Coached along by supportive producer and engineer Matie Agiropolous, Heather found that recording a book takes a tremendous amount of focus and work.  After the first day,  and reading 100 pages, she was told to rest her voice and drink tea with honey.

Heather and Matie worked on it over three days and in about 12 hours (with breaks) they managed to get through all seven chapters. The audio book will be released on May 23 with all other editions of GGR.   We hope you like it!

And if narrating the audio book wasn’t thrilling enough, we were humbled to receive two fantastic shout outs in the press this week.  The Wall Street Journal named GGR one of the books to read for geeks this spring and Marie Claire dedicated a whole page to some of the female tech bosses in the book.

Finally, we got serious about our pre-order campaign and kicked off a fun bonus giveaway to anyone who pre-orders the book.  We’ll send you an autographed book plate and two adorable laptop decals.  Please pre-order and help us spread the word! Thank you!

Preorder Giveaway Decals & Book Plate

Geek Girl Rising Goes Hollywood

Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos, Co-Executive Producers, Milojo

When we began researching this book starting in 2011, we had one big goal in mind: to share the untold stories of enterprising women forging a new path in the male-dominated world of technology.  Imagine our delight and surprise when we learned last fall that our project had caught the attention of talk show host, actress and TV producer Kelly Ripa, her husband, actor and TV producer Mark Consuelos and their team at Milojo productions.

We are delighted to share with you some big, big, big news: GGR has been optioned by Milojo as part of its overall deal with ABC Studios to develop the book into a scripted TV series!  Kelly,  Mark and Albert Bianchini will executive produce the project, along with Michael Halpern, Milojo’s manager of development.   Variety broke the story on Friday.

After reading an early copy of the manuscript, here’s what Kelly had to say:

“I don’t know much about tech, but I do know that these pioneer women are pretty dope.  Geek Girl Rising gives a much needed voice to the fearless women paving an important path in the tech world, while forming a lasting sisterhood along the way.”

Thank you to all of the women we interviewed for the book who shared their hopes and dreams and day to day lives with us.  We hope the visibility of women in tech and entrepreneurship that we aspired to accomplish with the book will only grow exponentially with this amazing opportunity.  And a huge shout out goes to our publisher, St. Martin’s Press, our ever supportive agent, Lisa Leshne of The Leshne Agency , her fantastic colleague, Elizabeth Newman at CAA and attorney Andrew Hurwitz at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC.  Go Team Geek Girl Rising!!

Why Did We Write Geek Girl Rising?

Writing a book is a labor of love.  It takes grit, discipline and passion. We spent more than five years digging into the stories of the “sisterhood shaking up tech” from coast to coast. We had no idea where it would go. But we knew in our hearts there was an important message we just had to share.  And we are so proud to bring it to you on May 23, 2017!

Please preorder your copy now.  And watch this video to find out more about Heather and Sam and what lit our fire to work so long and hard to make Geek Girl Rising a reality.

xoxo

 

Geek Girl Rising Debuts at SXSW ’17

Austin, Texas was hopping this week for SXSW (South by Southwest), the annual film, music and tech conference that draws attendees from around the world. Geek Girl Rising was there, on the ground, soaking up live music, eating shrimp and grits, and “soft” launching our upcoming book, Geek Girl Rising, which comes out on May 23. It was exhilarating to read from our book for the first time in front of an enthusiastic crowd! One audience member told us that he got teary-eyed when we heard about the many amazing opportunities available for women and girls in the technology world today and how excited he was to introduce his two young daughters to the host of strong female role models featured in our book. The day before our talk, Shelley Zalis and The Girls’ Lounge hosted a Geek Girl Rising panel in which Shelley, entrepreneurs Maci Peterson, Jill Richmond and Sarah Kunst joined angel investor Adam Quinton to discuss the funding crunch for female startup founders and how more women can help by becoming angel investors. Thanks you for the opportunity to share our book and our mission!  You can pre-order Geek Girl Rising today.

How This Roboticist Invented Her Dream Job

RockPaperRobot’s Jessica Banks with Geek Girl Rising’s Heather Cabot in Brooklyn 2015

One of our favorite parts of researching Geek Girl Rising has been the chance to look under the hood at some of the most interesting businesses and meet the geniuses behind them. On a chilly morning in November 2015, we ventured to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and into the workshop of scientist and MIT-trained roboticist Jessica Banks, founder and CEO of RockPaperRobot.  Jessica’s company designs and engineers “kinetic” furniture and home accessories that incorporate movement through the principles of physics.  Pieces like the “float table,” made out of “magnetized” cubes that levitate, tease the brain with its shape and functionality.

Jessica says her brainstorms come from everywhere – especially living and working in New York City.  But it was a dramatic change in her eyesight as a teenager that made her look at the world differently. She told us she suffered a two week period of blindness as a high school junior and when her sight returned, she developed acute peripheral vision, as well as a form of convergence dyslexia that made it hard to focus on reading.  It led her to spend more time on her math and science schoolwork.

“I gravitated more and more to the physics and the math books because they were easier to read since I could look at patterns. It was harder to read a block of history or prose, because if I looked up, I didn’t know where I was.  But if I got distracted and looked up when I [was] reading something from a math or science book, there was space, italics, numbers and letters,” she recalled.

Her unique vision led her to study physics at the University of Michigan with the goal of one day going into space.  But it was a chance viewing of the 1997 documentary, “Fast, Cheap and Out of Control,” which profiles the remarkable careers of a lion tamer, a topiarist, an expert in hairless rats and MIT roboticist Rodney Brooks that led her to apply to MIT where she eventually earned a PhD and even worked in Brooks’s lab.

“At MIT, as part of our robotics training, I learned how to do a lot of machining, and it became my favorite thing. When I learned how to machine metal, it was like, ‘Wow, you can take this thing that I thought before was impenetrable…and I realized that I could transform this thing and I was like, “I can make or break anything in the world.’ It was, basically, like I learned how to use my hands again or for the first time,” she told us as we marveled at the robotic chandelier and the “Brag” table, shaped like a diamond, that appeared to balance on its point.

RockPaperRobot’s latest project is the Ollie chair, a “shapeshifting” chair that folds up to save space inspired in part by tiny NYC living spaces.  Jessica and her team recently launched a campaign on Kickstarter to fund the production.

“I have notebooks everywhere and pieces of paper, ” Jessica told us of how she keeps track of all of ideas.  Then she and the team “play” with the elements. “There’s the initial stage of working out mechanisms where we work with Legos or foam and hot glue and really simple things to just see, “Well, how could this work?,” she explained.

As both an artist and entrepreneur, the woman who once also worked as a comedy writer for Al Franken and whose career followed an admittedly “curvy path,”  divides her time between dreaming up new projects and the nuts and bolts of running the business.   Doing what she loves keeps her going as well as the knowledge that she is owning her future.

“You don’t have to know exactly what you want to be when you grow up. You can create that thing. This didn’t exist as a job, right?” she said with a smile.  “I think it’s important to say this didn’t just happen to us, especially for a woman, but to say we made this thing happen and we can make bigger things happen, because of what we do.”

Yes we can!

Geek Girl Rising TV: Success Secrets From the CEO of CLEAR

For Caryn Seidman Becker, CEO of CLEAR, the biometric technology company that strives to make security seamless in an age of extreme caution, hard work and constantly asking hard questions is how she succeeded in some of the most male-dominated professions: finance, aviation and technology.

“Life is a puzzle. It is a maze and you have to want to be persistent…and have absolute passion for what you are doing,”  the New York City based executive told Geek Girl Rising’s Heather Cabot when we sat down with her in her office.

“[A] ‘no’ isn’t a ‘no.’ It is an opportunity to learn and grow,” the mother of three said.  We met in late January, the day before CLEAR’s kiosks would go on-line at LaGuardia Airport, bringing the total availability of its service to 21 airports and nearly 1 million subscribers.  In her professional life, she has often gravitated to a road less traveled for women. She co-founded the billion dollar asset management fund Arience Capital, which invested in Apple and Priceline as turnarounds.  The work fed her constant desire to find a “diamond in the rough. ” When she bought CLEAR out of bankruptcy in 2010, it was similar challenge.

“[I’m] always trying to think ahead [about] where the road is going in five to ten years and that means you are not playing for what’s now but for what will be,” she told us.

More in our sit-down interview!

 

 

 

Former Zynga VP Finds a Home in Hollywood

Silicon Valley collides with Tinseltown in the story of Maureen Fan, the trailblazing CEO of one of the few virtual reality animation studios. This is a woman who loves storytelling as much as she loves technology and spent her twenties trying to find a way to finally combine it all while pursuing her dream job: making animated films.  After a successful run at Zynga, Fan launched Baobab Studios in July 2015.

She is truly a Geek Girl Rising who defies labels as both a “techie” and a “creative.”  We got the inside scoop on how she launched on the eve of the premiere of “Asteroids!,” her latest VR project at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.  Thanks Maureen for sharing your story with us.  More on Forbes

 

Uber Revelations Underscore Vital Work of Geek Girls

Reading Susan Fowler’s allegations of appalling sexual harassment and an unresponsive human resources department inside Uber this week gave us goose bumps.  Not only did it echo disturbing anecdotes we gathered from interviewing hundreds of women across the tech ecosystem about the toxic “bro” culture still tolerated in many corners of the tech industry (and documented in research such as the “Elephant in the Valley” report which found that 60% of  SV women surveyed have experienced sexual harassment),  but we had actually witnessed a discussion of sexism inside the Uber’s engineering ranks that seemed to foreshadow Fowler’s eye-opener.

It was December 11, 2015 and co-author Samantha Walravens was tagging along with software engineer Tracy Chou who was invited by the company’s #LadyENG and #LaddieEng groups to speak about inclusion and closing the gender gap at a lunchtime event.  Chou, who went on to co-found Project Include with Ellen Pao among others, was at the time still working at Pinterest and had received national attention for her crowdsourced data that revealed the tiny numbers of women working in the technical ranks of Silicon Valley darlings.   As we write in Chapter 1 of our book, one of the women in the meeting put Tracy on the spot and asked what Uber could do to improve its image so it can recruit more women?  Tracy asked if she meant the brand or “Is there stuff that needs to be addressed internally?” and went on to say that Uber couldn’t fix its reputation if it didn’t address concerns on the inside first. This meeting took place about a month after Fowler had joined Uber.

Now more than two years later, Uber’s CEO  Travis Kalanick (who told GQ that “Boober” is how he refers to the effect he and his company have on his desirability to women) is promising a swift investigation into the company culture.  We are inspired by Fowler’s courage to stand up and speak out and are reminded once again that the power of grass roots activism and social media can never be underestimated.  Within minutes of posting her story, Fowler’s blog post was shared incessantly across Facebook and Twitter, sparking outcry.

In our reporting for the book, we cull together the amazing stories of brave women across the tech world — developers, founders, investors, educators and advocates — who have united to change the culture of tech and to create new opportunities for women and people of all backgrounds.  Some of those trailblazers include Tracy Chou; Rebecca Miller-Webster and her Write/Speak/Code conference that helps female software developers hone their writing and public speaking skills; Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, founder of theBoardlist, a platform to help companies recruit board-ready female directors; Natalia Oberti Noguera, whose Pipeline Angels boot camp for women angel investors is creating an new stream of capital for female founders; Kathryn Finney, founder of digitalundivided and the new BIG Accelerator in Atlanta that helps black and Latina entrepreneurs launch their startups; Kathryn Minshew and Alex Cavoulacos, co-founders of The Muse, Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder and CEO of Care.com, Yunha Kim co-founder of Locket and Simple Habit, who are proving that women-led businesses can deliver big-time; Dr. Maria Klawe,  president of Harvey Mudd College and Dr. Lenore Blum, distinguished professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, who have led important efforts to boost the number of women majoring in computer science.  And SO many more! What we found is that correcting gender imbalance is a nuanced and complicated problem.  There is no magic bullet. But efforts to increase diversity on boards and in the C-suite,  to funnel more venture investment to female founders, to crush stereotypes of who works in tech by increasing the visibility of female technologists and corporate leaders and to inspire a new generation of girls who see themselves as tomorrow’s builders and innovators are underway.

This is not a time to feel defeated.  “Geek Girls” will continue to rise up. The Uber scandal reinforces the important and tireless work of the “sisterhood shaking up tech.”  And they will #persist.

Attendees at the 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence Take Centerstage at Women’s Pitch Contest

 

From self-driving wheelchairs to digital personalized help for addicts to predictive data analysis for doctors to virtual travel agents, the fourth annual Women Startup Challenge showcased women venturing into emerging areas of technology.  The competition, hosted by Google in New York City, offered a $50,000 prize courtesy of the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund. The night drew more than 200 spectators, including investors, founders and techies, who watched the ten dynamic finalists pitch their cutting edge companies.

“We’ve received many hundreds of submissions from female entrepreneurs whose product ideas are often brilliant and disruptive, and a few that could even be the ‘next big thing.’ We’re just scratching the surface of  the pent-up talent, as you see from the caliber of today’s winners,” said Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech, the organization that runs the Challenge.

Didimo of Clayton, California took home the grand prize.  It’s a tool that transforms the image from a single photo into a 3D virtual character that can speak, move and represent a user in a 3D world. Runners up were Spirit AI and Addicaid, both located in New York.  Each will receive $10,000 in legal services from Paul Hastings LLP.  Kudos!

 

The Sisterhood Shines at Women’s Marches Around the Globe

Awesome sign in SF in LED lights!

Like many of you, the team behind Geek Girl Rising spent the day after the presidential inauguration marching with millions of women waving irreverent and powerful placards, donning pink hats, and rising up to say we are here, we are for tolerance, kindness and yes, we are feminists with a capital “F.”  It was a defining moment both for us personally but in particular in the life of this project. To see daughters, moms, grandmothers, aunts, and girlfriends (and their male allies) take to the streets in such overwhelming numbers, it felt like the Geek Girl movement we spent so much time researching had literally leaped off the page.  This was the sisterhood we discovered bubbling up all around us when we ventured to Houston to experience the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the largest gathering of tech women in the world; when we covered angel investor Joanne Wilson’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Festival in New York City; when we immersed ourselves in the Women’s Startup Lab in Menlo Park, California; when we spent an evening in Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon University where we met the college students mentoring the next generation of engineers; when we journeyed to Chattanooga, TN to meet the JumpFund and its members funding woman-led tech startups across the Southeast; when we met the amazing teen girls who competed in the #BUILTBYGIRLS challenge in San Francisco and on and on.  They are all about lifting each other up and have a deep sense of responsibility to help each other.  That’s what we saw typified in the faces of the marchers everywhere we went.

I (Heather) marched with my synagogue (a group of nearly 100) along with some of my very best friends in Manhattan.  Arriving in Grand Central Station gave us goosebumps as we stepped off the train and into a sea of pink wool hats. It was something else.

One of Heather’s favorite signs in NYC

Sam spent her Saturday with her friend Karenna at the march in San Francisco. Her mom and sister-in-law did their part in Denver.

Sam and Karenna in SF

Our fearless literary agent, Lisa Leshne, boarded a bus from NYC in the wee hours of Saturday and headed for the nation’s capital with a #GIRLGANG from all over the city.

Lisa and her NYC #GIRLGANG take the Mall

And Nadine Gilden, our talented web designer and social media guru, also spent the day with the 400,000 of us who marched in the Big Apple.  It was a day of activism and unity.  We can’t wait to see what the sisterhood does next to advance the cause of women’s rights.

Nadine Gilden and her “Pug Squad” in NYC

It’s Time to Launch! Geek Girl Rising to hit the shelves in May

We’ve made our final fact checking calls. Pored over pages and pages of proofs. Turned in the final edits. And now it’s go time for Geek Girl Rising. It’s been two years since we actually sat down and wrote up the book proposal (essentially the architecture of the book); edited and re-edited it; sat on pins and needles as we received disappointing rejections and then our hearts soared when we received multiple offers; accepted our book deal from a top NYC publisher – St. Martin’s Press; embarked on the journey of filling in all of the details laid out in our book proposal outline; tracked and trailed Geek Girls all over the country and the world from San Francisco to Boston to PIttsburgh to Atlanta to Los Angeles to London and on and on; sat for hours on end in the library and at the kitchen counter on nights and weekends pulling all of those hundreds of interview transcripts together into an entertaining narrative; edited and re-edited; and now, here we are.

We could not be more excited about the months ahead.  Publication date is May 23, 2017.  The experience of holding a finished advance review copy in our hands, seeing the font the publisher chose along with the layout and the beautiful cover was a feeling like none other.

We have been blown away by the early response. We have immense gratitude for the super women who contributed such beautiful praise. Thank you Arianna Huffington and Joanna Coles!  We’ve been honored to speak at Tech Inclusion, Women of New York and a private reading in the Hearst Tower.  Up next, our book talk at SXSW on Monday, March 13th. The fun is just beginning and we are so excited for the journey ahead.  Please let us know if you would like us to visit your company or hometown bookstore.

Thank you for all of your support. Onward and upward, Geek Girls.

How to Succeed as An Early-Stage Female Founder

What does it really take to turn an idea into an actual business? At the 2016 Tech Inclusion Conference in San Francisco, Geek Girl Rising Co-Author, Samantha Walravens gathered some essential insights from Silicon Valley CEO’s (and Geek Girls we interviewed for the book!). They shared candid advice about what it’s really like to raise money in the early stages, find the right investors and connect with a network of supporters.

Check it out!

Six Ways to Tap Into the Sisterhood of Women in Tech

September 13, 2016

Power women meet up in The Girls' Lounge in Cannes Lion 2016
Power women meet up in The Girls’ Lounge at Cannes Lion 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the course of reporting and writing our book, sisterhood emerged as an undeniable theme.  As we traveled the country and the globe from 2014 to the present, we observed the powerful ways in which women are collaborating and encouraging each other in startup accelerators, inside tech companies, in co-working spaces,  on email lists and private Facebook groups, on college campuses and at male-dominated tech trade shows and conferences.  Shelley Zalis, founder of The Girls’ Lounge and one of the women featured in Geek Girl Rising believes fiercely in the power of girlfriends.  As we shared on Forbes, here are her six tips for forging lasting and authentic relationships in business.

Shelley Zalis, Founder of The Girls' Lounge, CEO The Female Quotient (TFQ)
Shelley Zalis, Founder of The Girls’ Lounge, CEO The Female Quotient (TFQ)

Diverse Founders Experiment with Crowd Investing

August 30, 2016

Female founders and other under-represented entrepreneurs are banking on a new vehicle to raise money from U.S. investors. It’s called crowd investing and it allows just about anyone to make an investment in a startup without having to meet the wealth and income requirements set by the SEC for traditional private investors.  How can it help early stage ventures started by women, people of color and of the LGBTQ community? Check out our story about one of the first crowd investing platforms, Republic and RaceYa, one of the first companies that successfully exceeded its fundraising goals via crowd investing in the fall of 2016.  RaceYa raised $88,000 from 173 investors to help build its customizable radio-controlled race cars that teach kids about science, technology, engineering and math.  Way to go!

Abigail Edgecliffe-Johnson, founder of RaceYa - a tech start-up that creates customizable toy cars that teach children about science and engineering, works to fix and organize some of the cars at her home office on Monday, February 29, 2016. CREDIT: Adrienne Grunwald for The Wall Street Journal NYVENTURE
Abigail Edgecliffe-Johnson, founder of RaceYa – a tech start-up that creates customizable toy cars that teach children about science and engineering, works to fix and organize some of the cars at her home office on Monday, February 29, 2016. CREDIT: Adrienne Grunwald for The Wall Street Journal NYVENTURE

#Women In Tech: Think Like A VC

December 2, 2015

The prospect of getting in on the ground floor of the next “unicorn” may seem enticing to anyone, especially women with sophisticated technical skills in hot demand today. Start-ups are now the primary source of net job creation in the US, according to 2015 Start-Up Index report by the Ewing Marion Kaufmann Foundation. But the high stakes world of working inside an early stage venture requires nerves of steel since most start-ups fizzle out. That’s why Mary Holstege, Principal Engineer at MarkLogic, an enterprise database company, says women in tech should try to “control their destiny” by evaluating a start-up opportunity the same way hard-nosed venture capitalists assess a deal.

Holstege, who holds a PhD from Stanford in computer science and has worked at all kinds of start-ups from the proverbial two folks in a garage to “splashy and crashy” IPO’s, shared her advice with hundreds of women this fall in Houston at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the largest gathering of female technologists in the world, where tech firms were on the hunt for new talent among the 12,000 attendees. As an angel investor myself, I thought her advice was spot on as she shared the types of questions investors use to assess a business that could help prospective employee make a more thoughtful and informed decision on an offer.

1. Can The Founders Execute?
Ask yourself, do you understand how this business makes money? If you don’t, ask the founders how the business generates revenue. For example, Holstege says, “users” do not mean “paying customers.” You should understand the difference and what it means to YOUR bottom line. And listen to your gut instincts about the founders. Do you like them? Do you believe in what they are doing? Do some research on them. Ask around. Do they have expertise in the space? If not, who are their advisers or other hires that will help them reach success?

2. How Much Runway Do They Have?
This is a delicate question to ask directly but doing some homework on the financial resources of the company is a smart thing to do if you want a paycheck for long. Look up the business up on CrunchBase to see how much they have raised so far, when and from whom. A potential investor wants to know how much “runway” the company has right now or how much cash they have on hand and also the monthly “burn rate:” how much money are “burning through” on salaries, customer acquisition, marketing and PR, etc? These are things that will all affect you as a new employee. And a key question to ask: When are they raising financing again?

Geek Girl Rising recently spoke with Maren Kate Donovan, the founder of Zirtual, a business forced to lay off all 450 employees in August 2015 when they ran out of cash and couldn’t make payroll. Donovan recently shared with the 2X Conference at the NYC tech incubator Grand Central Tech last month that by the time she realized the finances were in trouble, it was too late. She told the crowd of more than 200 female founders that if she had to do it all over again, she would have hired a CFO much earlier on instead of handling the books herself. Hers is a cautionary tale for both founders and prospective employees. More on our candid interview in a future blog post to come…

3. Financial Risk and Reward?
When investors size up a deal, they look at a variety of metrics to calculate the potential return and you should, too. Holstege says prospective hires should ask, how much of the pay will be based on current earnings? Will you receive stock options? How many shares are outstanding? What was the valuation when those initial shares were issued? “Do the math,” she entreated the crowd. You probably won’t be paid much in the beginning. Will the investment pay off later in your career? There may be upside even if the venture fails. Ruthe Farmer, Chief Strategy and Growth Officer for the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) says having start-up experience on a resume, even being part of a failed start-up can be very helpful for young women, especially those who would like to be entrepreneurs later in life and plan on raising capital.

4. Is It A Culture Fit for You?
Finally, Holstege told the packed convention hall, look around and really consider, “Is this the right environment for you?” Make no mistake, working at start-up is all in. “A small company can’t afford anyone who isn’t contributing,” she said, “You will be doing great things. You will be doing everything.” Bottom line: Make sure it’s a place to you want to invest your valuable time and energy.

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