Sarah Kunst - Geek Girl Rising
Sarah Kunst

Sarah Kunst

Founder and CEO, Proday

Venture for America

“Your friends will be your network, co-founders, best customers and sounding boards. Make a lot of them! Life’s more fun that way.”

Founder and CEO, Proday
Years in industry 8

Who or what inspired your career in tech? How so? 
I started in tech with a job at Apple where I led marketing at Michigan State University. I worked with brilliant Silicon Valley tech minds and realized that the innovation and business opportunity in tech was unparalleled. Since then, I’ve worked in tech at startups, big companies and venture capital firms. Building the future is the coolest career path in the world.

What’s been your best hack ever?
Make friends! It’s so easy to get focused on building a career and climbing ladders that we forget to engage with the people around us who will be there far longer than any one job or assignment. Your friends will be your network, co-founders, best customers and sounding boards. Make a lot of them! Life’s more fun that way.

What has been your greatest career challenge and how have you handled it?
The greatest challenge has been navigating an industry that historically hasn’t been very welcoming to women. Blazing a trail and making a place for myself among a mostly white male group of peers is hard but has taught me a ton of resiliency and perseverance.

What is your biggest career success to date?
Being named to Cool Hunting’s CH25 as a top innovator and disruptor was a huge honor and validation of my work as an investor and activist working to bring more diversity into technology.

Who are your role models?
My role model is anyone who works tirelessly to create the kind of world they want to live in. In technology, that’s often founders who had a vision of how their product would change the world far before anyone believed in them or would give them money and then they made that vision a reality. The people doing that are the ones I want to surround myself with.

If you could go back in time, what’s one tip you’d give your teenage self?
Read more. Build more. Pick up new hobbies like it’s your job. So many of the skills I use daily come from things I learned outside of the classroom and with the ever increasing access to technology, there’s no excuse for not teaching yourself new things. It’s a skill that never becomes obsolete.

What do you do when you’re not kicking butt at work?
Travel! My favorite places are sailing in Croatia and shopping in Istanbul. My dream trips not yet taken include Morocco, Bali and Australia.

Flats, heels or kicks? 
All three. My shoe game is Imelda Marcos level good.

Best career advice book?
Choose Yourself by James Altucher, it’s a great reminder of what’s important in career, life and sanity building.

Who are the women in tech whom you most admire and why?
Katherine Barr for bringing me into venture capital and rising to the top of the ranks in a male dominated industry. Aileen Lee, Kristen Green, Anu Duggal and Jalak Jobanpurta for starting funds. The founders of Houzz, Theranos, Lynda, Gilt Groupe and more for building billion dollar companies and setting an example for the next generation to follow. Lisa Lambert for being a trailblazing black VC and starting Upward to bring together female tech execs…There are so many amazing women in technology, building, funding and running companies changing the world. It’s endlessly inspiring.