Teaching Girls to Code in Style: Jewelbots
As technology continues to progress at a staggering pace, there is more and more job opportunities for both females and males. However, as Brooke Moreland, cofounder and COO of Jewelbots points out:
The number of women who are developers is staggeringly low. Not only do they make up a tiny percent of the workforce in computer science, the number of women taking these jobs as actually gone down since the mid 80s. As these jobs grow in numbers and significance, it is more important than ever to have women represented in this field
Eager to learn about how Brooke plans to change that disparity, I interviewed her on her new product Jewelbots, and how it is changing the way young girls see programming.
Q. How did you first become involved in entrepreneurship and what is your role within Jewelbots?
A. I started my first company, Fashism, in 2009. It was a website and mobile app that let people post photos and discover fashion from around the world. I had never done anything entrepreneurial before, and I just dove in head first. I learned A TON along the way. Now, a little older and wiser, I am the cofounder and COO of Jewelbots.
Q. How did you come up with the idea for Jewelbots?
A. My amazing parter and cofounder, Sara Chipps, came up with the idea. She wanted to create a wearable that got kids interested in coding that specifically spoke to girls. The number of women who are developers is staggeringly low. Not only do they make up a tiny percent of the workforce in computer science, the number of women taking these jobs as actually gone down since the mid 80s. As these jobs grow in numbers and significance, it is more important than ever to have women represented in this field.
Q. What has been the hardest part about starting Jewelbots?
A. Starting a company is always difficult, but starting a hardware company is particularly challenging. There are a lot of upfront costs with designing the tech and actually getting the physical product made. It requires coming up with money to produce in advance, only it’s hard to raise money from investors when you don’t have a physical product to show them. So it is a bit of a chicken and egg dance. Our biggest job right now is to sell people on our dream, while it is still just that, a dream.
Q. What do you hope to accomplish with Jewelbots?
A. Our main goal is to get girls programming. The technologies we will use in the future are literally being created right now. We believe that it is critical to have women’s voices included as we write the future. Our dream for the future is one where girls and women see many positive female role models doing cool stuff with computer science, and think “I can do that too.”
A. The kids love that they can communicate with their friends in secret. Girls at that age already have special games, secret codes and acronyms they use when communicating with each other. We are taking that behavior that already exists- those strong friendship bonds- and extending it into the digital realm. We are making something that is fun, that also enhances friendships and creativity.
Q. What do you think are the most important characteristics to have in order to be a successful entrepreneur?
A. I definitely think the ability to not get discouraged is of utmost importance. Things go wrong every day when you are an entrepreneur, and if you thought about all of the bad stuff every day, you would never get out of bed!
Q. What is your best advice for new entrepreneurs?
A. Ask a lot of questions. Identify people you can learn from and ask them specific, direct questions about things you would like to know more about. Most people are willing to help as long as you do your research and don’t waste their time!