Nora Poggi and Insiyah Saeed are the co-producers of She Started It – a documentary on female tech founders in the U.S. and Europe that aims to highlight successful role models for young women. FWD.us spoke with her about the film and how she hopes to change the narrative in the tech community.
She Started It filmmakers interview Agathe Molinar, CEO of Lemoncurve.com, in Paris, France. Photo: Sheetal J. Patel
FWD.us: Can you explain what She Started It is and what inspired you to take action?
She Started It team: She Started It is a documentary film on women tech founders in the U.S. and Europe that aims to highlight successful role models for young women and to encourage more girls towards entrepreneurship in the technology industry.
Shot on location in Silicon Valley, NYC, Vietnam and Europe, She Started It follows the main stories of four young female entrepreneurs on their road to startup success – Thuy, Brienne, Stacey and Agathe – as well as featuring veteran experts and role models who give perspective on the issues. As journalists covering the tech industry in Silicon Valley for the past three years, we noticed that there are some great female entrepreneurs that were not getting the spotlight they deserved. There were tons of great male founders to learn from but not enough women, though there were some successful ones that had started companies. We decided we had to shed light on this new entrepreneurial revolution in a compelling way, and film appeared to be the most effective medium to inspire girls globally.
Jess Lee, CEO, Polyvore in Mountain View, CA Photo: Sheetal J. Patel
FWD.us: What hurdles have you faced in conceptualizing She Started It?
She Started It team: When the statistic is that 90 percent of all startups fail, you know a lot of people would not want to show some of the real grit on screen, so access to tell the whole story can be hard. That being said, the women we built relationships with really were generous to let us in their lives during insanely busy times – they believed in the message of the film and what we were doing.
She Started It interview with 18 year old co-founder of Entefy, Brienne Ghafourifar, at their offices in Palo Alto. Photo: Sheetal J. Patel
FWD.us: What type of feedback have you received from the tech community?
She Started It team: People are extremely excited to be able to see women in technology on screen in a way that hasn’t been done before. Former leaders in the VC industry have supported us, and amazing men and women such as Megan Smith, Cindy Padnos, Tracy Chou, Sharon Vosmek, Ruchi Sanghvi, Michael Carter, Joanne Wilson (and more) have generously interviewed with us. Derek Anderson at StartupGrind, the people at 500 Startups, Girls Innovate, S.F. Citi and TechCrunch have been instrumental in helping us reach more of the tech community and we really appreciate their support.
Tracy Chou, software engineer at Pinterest, speaks to She Started It filmmakers. Photo: Sheetal J. Patel
FWD.us: How do you hope the role of women in the technology industry can change in the future?
She Started It team: We hope that by seeing this film, women and girls will think, “If she can do it, I can do it.” Not only do we hope that in the future more girls will take interest in studying computer science and math in high school – but that they would also think that they too could become an entrepreneur, or be entrepreneurial in their approach to life. By changing the discourse and the perception around STEM fields and what it means to be entrepreneur, learn what an entrepreneur does, we think we can get more girls to participate in the field, but also learn about persistence, resilience, and confidence and that being okay with failing is part of the process.
Nora Poggi of She Started It and Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the United States at Google headquarters. Photo: Sheetal J. Patel
FWD.us: What comes next for She Started It?
She Started It team: We are currently in post-production and hope to have a finished film by summer 2015. Our main goal is to tour the film across schools and colleges here and abroad, to inspire as many young people as possible. We also plan to apply to top festivals and are exploring all distribution avenues, like broadcast and online. We are actively fundraising to be able to get to the finish line!
Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, visits a Girls Innovate event in Palo Alto. Photo: Sheetal J. Patel
FWD.us: If you could tell yourself from 10 years ago something, what would it be?
She Started It team: Persist. Persist. Persist. Learn to be technically savvy in something, it doesn’t matter what. Learn to code, but also learn how to sell.