Reshma Saujani, as shown above, is a champion for girls and women. Reshma began her career as an attorney and activist, and founded Girls Who Code (GWC) after witnessing first-hand the gender gap in the field of Computer Science while running for US Congress (fun fact: Reshma was the first South Asian woman to run for Congress). She visited a lot of New York City schools during this time, and noticed that boys vastly outpaced girls when it came to learning how to code or become tech innovators. This was/is a problem, and so began Girls Who Code as a response to this issue. Below is an analysis of Reshma Saujani as an entrepreneur, as explored using five characteristics / lessons of successful entrepreneurs fro Investopedia’s “5 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs”:
- Start with an idea: Girls’ participation in computer science drops off drastically between the ages of 13-17. Reshma started GWC with the idea to place more opportunities and support for girls in schools in the form of coding clubs and a summer immersion program (including a stipend for those girls needing to work during the summer to fund their education).
- Take Risks. Don’t Waste Your Time Avoiding Failure: Reshma lost her US Congress race. Rather than focus on her political failure, she viewed it as a turning point and channeled her energy into GWC. It was a risk for Reshma because it forced her to look at her own scholastic journey and asked herself why she didn’t pursue STEM fields. She recalled childhood memories when her father would throw out math questions at the dinner table and since she couldn’t work out the answers on the spot, she decided that she wasn’t good at math. So, she turned to other subjects that were easier for her. She has also written multiple books, and one title, Women Who Don’t Wait in Line, promotes female leadership that focuses on risk and failure. Here is one of her TED talks where she discusses the importance of taking risks.
- Be Persistent. Make Your Own Luck. Coming off of a loss in the political world, Reshma remained steadfast in staying true to her vision and life work in creating opportunities for underserved populations. With this persistence, Reshma has created her own luck in that she has created value in her company – people want to partner with her. GWC boasts many corporate sponsors, partners and friends.
- Whatever You Are Creating is Useless if it Doesn’t Find an Audience to Serve: To date, GWC has directly served 185,000 girls with their coding clubs and immersion programs, and GWC will be expanding to Canada this year.
- Never Stop Learning. Give Back: Reshma reflected on her own scholastic experience in that she gravitated toward English because Math didn’t come “easy” to her, when in reality, she just needed more time to work out problems. She uses her experience, relatable to many, and gives back to women and girls by providing a key service that will better their lives and future.
To learn more about Reshma, here is her website.
From the Girls Who Code website:
GWC is an international non-profit organization. It provides free clubs for girls ages 11-18, and their mission statement is to get girls excited about coding and computer science, and to change the way society perceives the “typical coder”. Clubs can run before, during or after-school, on weekends or over the summer. GWC Clubs encourage girls to impact their community in a positive way through code. Girls engage in fun and simple online coding tutorials, build community through interactive activities, and learn about inspiring role models in the technology industry. The girls then work together to design and complete a “Girls Who Code Project,” where they apply their new coding skills to solve a real-world problem they care about.
GWC was founded on December 7, 2011. In pre-seed funding in 2013, with a budget of $916, 658, GWC launched their Girls Who Code Clubs and served 600 girls. To expand on this vision, in its seed / angel round of funding, $1,000,000 was raised on January 20, 2016. According to Crunchbase, Girls Who Code has raised a total of $6.5M in funding over 5 rounds (4 of which were grant rounds). Their latest funding was raised on Mar 9, 2019 from a Grant round ($3M from Walmart). As per GWC’s annual financial reports available on their website, last year they procured $19,459,149 in total unrestricted revenue from unrestricted contributions, grants and in-kind donations.
Seth, S. (2019, March 12). 5 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs. Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/101014/10-characteristics-successful-entrepreneurs.asp