By Sheena Moore/UTexas MSTC ‘17
The facts are alarming at the start of She Started It, a documentary film empowering the next generation of women founders. Women create only 3% of tech startups; receive less than 10% of venture capital funding, and run only 4% of Fortune 500 companies. The film highlights five women: Thuy Truong (Vietnam); Stacey Ferreira (Phoenix/LA); Sheena Allen (Mississippi); Brienne Ghafourifar (Palo Alto); and Agathe Molinar (France). However, it’s Thuy and Stacey that the camera follows for over a year, as they attempt to bring their technologies to the market.
Thuy is CEO of GreenGar, a real-time whiteboard: collaborative drawing app. With over 12 million downloads, her technology shows creativity, innovation, and successful user experiences. However, Thuy faces a challenge that many of us don’t think consider. A language barrier. Selected to participate in the 500 Startups, Truy and her team struggle through the pitch competition, not because they lack a problem to solve, or because they didn’t know their financial projections, Truy struggles with the inflection of her voice when she pitches her idea. Afterwards, other participants comment that she was a bit loud or they were unsure of the messages wanted to convey. Although not her fault, Thuy’s tone just didn’t set the right message for investors. As a result, Truy’s company GreenGar, did not receive additional funding from investors and she goes back to Vietnam to start all over again with a new technology company.
Stacey Ferreira started her first startup, MySocialCloud with her brother after graduating from high school. After being acquired for an undisclosed amount, Stacey ventures out to start her own tech company, Admoar. Packed with a list of over 100 potential investors and companies, viewers watch tirelessly as Stacey pitches her idea over and over again. Each time, you notice a look of defeat as she exhausts every contact on her list. After she has contacted several investors, she realizes that maybe her struggles have to do with her being a female. At one point during the process, she says, “I wonder if my brother was fundraising if we would have the money already?” Unsure of what her next steps should be, Stacey appeases her parents and returns to school to work towards a college degree in business. Stacey goes to school full-time and continues to pursue her dreams to start a tech company on the side.
She Started It explores what is it’s like to be told “no” multiple times, gender bias that tech world, and the importance of having women mentors. It’s refreshing to see a film that celebrates the voices and technology of women. Although, the women struggle, they push through and remain determine to see their technologies change the lives of others. For more information on the film go to: http://www.shestarteditfilm.com/
Sheena Moore is a MSTC (Master of Science in Technology Commercialization) student at The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business.