In honor of #WomensHistoryMonth, CSforALL highlights two inspiring entrepreneurs that are unique in the CSforALL Movement space!
During Women’s History Month, CSforALL spoke with two members about their individual entrepreneur experience in the computer science for all (CSforALL) space as female founders. Caeley Looney the Founder and President of Reinvented Inc. Reinvented Inc. a nonprofit organization that works to empower the next generation of young girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and Allie Diracles the Founder and CEO of Vidcode, an online coding platform for teens. Schools, libraries, and individual learners subscribe to their content to complete standards-aligned computer science courses.
CSforALL: How do you feel in the tech “space” being a female-founder?
CL, Reinvented Inc.: I’m in a kind of unique position 1) I’m a founder of a nonprofit, and 2) I’m a founder of a nonprofit that works to empower women in STEM. In my experience, I have met some incredible people who are motivated to boost women in STEM, and then I have met some who don’t even recognize the gender gap. It’s my job to support Reinvented’s mission everywhere I go, and to help open the eyes of every person on how real this problem is.
AD, Vidcode: It’s changed SO much in the last five years. I remember three years ago one of our partners flew me first class to sign a big document. I’d never flown first class before and I got a lot of looks for being a young business woman in many settings. Flash forward three years, the idea of a female founder is much more common. That being said, there have been many challenges — mostly concerning educating myself on how to communicate with investors and lacking a previous network in the fundraising and tech space.
CSforALL: Why do you feel in CS that we have to continue to lift and support other women trying to start their own company?
CL, Reinvented Inc.: Women are trained practically from the beginning that they ‘can’t do it’, or that men are better at certain things than them. How many famous female founders can the average person name? Honestly, not many. Women need to know that they are fully capable of being their own bosses and that they can be the spark for change. Without female founders, the tech industry will never evolve and it will remain a “boy’s club” forever. And as a woman in STEM myself, that is definitely not something I want to continue to see.
AD, Vidcode: Women are a huge force in small businesses in America. Yet, when we think about garnering VC money (i.e. lots of capital) women are competing against men who have been coding since a young age and haven’t stopped. Many have worked at large tech companies and are at the top of their game; so, it’s a career-long competition. We need to keep lifting women up to become junior engineers, then senior engineers or, alternatively, to join venture capital firms. Additionally, being a junior VC is a great way to learn the business from across the table if you don’t want to be on the engineering side.
CSforALL: How do you plan to be a voice for other young women who are interested in starting a company?
CL, Reinvented Inc: The world absolutely needs more female founders! It needs to start with the voice of encouragement in young girls’ lives. That is exactly what we aim to do with Reinvented Magazine. We try to show our readers that they can be anything they want to be, and we LOVE featuring female founders.
AD, Vidcode: Vidcode became a for-profit company for that reason. We want to show young women that you can build value and profit from it. The research shows that women invest more money back into their communities. This is how we get the multi-generational change that we need done in the long term.
CSforALL: If you could give one piece of advice to women starting a company in the CS space what would it be?
CL, Reinvented Inc: Keep going and don’t hesitate to ask for help. One of the biggest setbacks to pushing girls through the CS pipeline is a lack of role models. And to be clear, the issue isn’t that role models don’t exist, because we do and we exist in strong numbers. The issue is that young girls and others in CS don’t know we exist. But, once you learn about the incredible communities that work to shed light on women like me, you realize how much help is out there for girls in CS and female founders, they just need to ask.
AD, Vidcode: Love your product so much that you would never want to work on anything else. Computer Science is an early market; it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Be in it for the long term. Also, be ready to bootstrap and travel to share the message of your product. You can do this!!!
About Caeley Looney, Reinvented Magazine: Caeley is a total space geek, avid Netflix binger, and French fry lover. She graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering in 2018. Now, she works as a Mission Analyst for L3Harris Technologies, where she plays an integral role in modeling and simulating their small satellite constellations. Last year, Caeley founded a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that does exactly that through the creation of Reinvented Magazine, the nation’s first ever print magazine written for girls in STEM.
About Allie Diracles, Vidcode: Allie Diracles is co-founder and CEO of Vidcode. She started her career as a photographer in New York City. She studied computer programming in graduate school and fell in love with the creative potential of code. Since then, she has made it her mission to create tools that help teen girls find their path and passion to code.