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Interview with Pree Walia, CEO and Co-Founder, Preemadonna

Interview with Pree Walia, CEO & Co-Founder, Preemadonna

By Joanna Furlong

Pree is co-founder of Preemadonna, the inventor of the Nailbot. The Nailbot prints instant custom nail art directly on your nails in 5 seconds. You place your phone in the Nailbot cradle. You coat your nails with a special base coat, take a picture of your nails, tap print and voila—your nails are done. This may sound futuristic. But it’s real. www.preemadonna.com | @preemadonna

What is Preemadonna’s vision?

Preemadonna is a female consumer company that meets girls with technology that is relevant to their lifestyle. We are starting with a very popular form of creative expression for many girls, nail art and nail decoration. We invented a family of Nailbots that automate the nail decoration process. A robot that paints your nails or prints cool custom nail art. We think it’s awesome. We are also building a mobile art marketplace for applications well beyond fingernail printing.

Ultimately, the Nailbot is a platform for creative self-expression for our community of dynamic girls.

Why do you think people are so excited about this?

It’s our authenticity. So much of our hearts and our past experiences are in this company.

Preemadonna and the Nailbot are powered by our community of girls and women. We want them to build this company with us. Girls can design their own digital nail art with the Nailbot. We will be putting together tutorials for girls to learn how to do so using software programs like how to program your own printer with our Preemadonna Maker Kit. We are showing our community our product design process and having them directly participate. They are literally going to build one of the prototypes we used to prove our concept and get angel funding.

To reach our earliest supporters, girls aged 7 to 17, we developed an Ambassador program and formed partnerships with nonprofits. We meet them where they are, house parties, tech summer camps, Girl Scout meetings and schools.

Did you ever think your career would lead to working with girls?

Decisions in your life make sense in retrospect. I’m a girl’s girl, one of three daughters. I was in a sorority. And starting a company for girls, by girls, makes sense to me. I found my truest self with girls. That said, I never anticipated that we’d be so focused on a younger generation. But they keep you in check. You can’t pull a fast one on them.

You’re owning the feminine side of you.

Yes. The name of company is Preemadonna. But the definition of being a “prima donna” means “first lady”. It means a talented artist. But over the years, it’s gotten a negative connotation. But the original definition was a show stopper. And you know, quite frankly, when I get my nails done and my hair done, I feel really good.

I like being smart. I like feeling beautiful. I like being a girl. Being smart and feeling beautiful should not be a contradiction.

How did it feel to get your first round of funding?

Diane Donald was my first investor. She was a close friend, my freshman year roommate at Northwestern. She has three daughters and understood the concept. I warned Diane that she would likely lose her money, but she believed in me. You have to use those early investments to push forward and believe in your ability to execute on a vision. We need more angel investors like Diane who are willing to make big bets on women that they believe in.

What do you want to tell other founders who are in the early stages?

Take care of your body. By that I mean food, exercise and self-love. I started out strong, but there is always an excuse for getting off track. This is a marathon and if you’re not in good shape mentally and physically, then you’re not going to finish.

I genuinely believe because women have held me up over the past 33 years, you have to look to other women to support you. Find those core group of friends. I worked in politics before, and many of the campaigns I worked on lost. So I understand failure very well. Everyone wants to be with you when things are amazing.  But who is with you when you fail publicly and have no money?

At what point, do you feel you need to step back? Draw a line in the sand?

I’m doing everything to make it a success. We want to reach as many girls as possible and still remain true to our core to inspire girls with creative tech and involve them in the building of our products.

At some point, success may mean exiting. The exits of which to do that may be not what I envisioned. They may not be pleasant. It’s not money that stops the company. It’s the founder who stops believing.

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Girls in Tech Founder Interviewed on VICE: The Role of Female Tech Start Ups in the Developing World

Adriana Gascoigne started the non-for-profit organization Girls In Tech in 2007 as a reaction to her experiences in the tech world. Previously she had worked for a startup that employed almost 50 people where she was the only woman. She envisioned Girls In Tech as a way to support women passionate about technology, and address the gender imbalance she had experienced. In the past eight years the group has taken the best initiatives from Silicon Valley, focused them on women, and installed chapters across the world. It’s now a global network of women helping each other excel in tech sectors and start-ups, and is set to launch a 53rd chapter in Melbourne early next year.

Through this work, Adriana also became increasingly interested in the way women in developing countries engage with technology. She recognized that tech start-ups and application innovations were finding innovative ways to create employment, develop communication, and affect social change.

Ahead of her appearance at Pause Fest next year VICE caught up with Adriana to talk about how technology is allowing women around the world to design their own futures.

Read the whole article here.

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espnW PRESENT GIRLS IN TECH’S SUPER FOOTBALL APP CHALLENGE HACKATHON

espnW PRESENT GIRLS IN TECH’S SUPER FOOTBALL APP CHALLENGE HACKATHON

A Weekend-Long Hackathon Matching Silicon Valley’s Tech Talent With America’s Biggest Sporting Event!

Girls in Tech’s weekend-long Hackathon ties-in with America’s Biggest Sporting Event, which takes place February 7, 2016 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Mobile app Developers, Designers and Product Developers will team up and have the opportunity to prototype and develop apps that visitors new to San Francisco or staying during Super Football Week could use. Developers, designers and product people sign up here!

This two-day hackathon will last day and night and apps are slated to launch 3 weeks prior to the Super Football weekend. These smart phone apps will help visitors have the ultimate San Francisco Football experience possible. We’re seeking ideas for developers, designers, and idea people to transform consumer app concepts into a reality. Some of the ideas currently being tossed around are:

REQUIREMENTS

Developers should be familiar with third-party APIs, in particular they should be able to:

UI/UX Designers can team up with developers and create assets/graphics or flows in order to make a great app that is fun and easy to use.

SCHEDULE

Friday, January 15, 2016

6pm – Doors Open for Happy Hour, meeting teammates discussing ideas.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sunday, January 17, 2016

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Silicon Valley Startups Commit to Hiring Female Engineers From Around the World; $60K Internships

Year-Long, Paid Internships Offered to Female Engineers from Around the Globe

The Silicon Valley Internship Programme (SVIP) is partnering with Girls in Tech to increase opportunities for female engineers from around the world through year-long, paid internships.

Currently, women are drastically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) careers and the numbers are decreasing – according to a 2015 report by the American Association of University Women, in 2013 only 23 percent of U.S. computing jobs were held by women, down from 35 percent in 1990. More specifically, just 12 percent of engineers are women. This report further suggests that widely held stereotypes and biases actively harm women in engineering and computing.

SVIP’s existing programs offer software engineering graduates one-year paid internships with high-growth tech companies in the Bay Area. During the internship, they learn entrepreneurial skills through a structured training program that includes mentorship, entrepreneur meet and greets and hackathons. The ultimate goal is for these interns to develop their technical skills and business ideas and absorb the Silicon Valley attitude with a view to contributing to their local entrepreneurial ecosystem upon their return.

With the new partnership with Girls in Tech, SVIP is both expanding its global reach and redressing the gender imbalance of the program’s existing participants and in tech overall. This year two of the 18 graduates taking part in the existing program are women. This group was selected from over 150 applicants of which only seven were women. With the GIT expansion, the goal is to at least double the size of the program and reach a 50:50 female-to-male ratio or beyond.

With this announcement, applications have opened for the SVIP class of 2016-2017 along with commitments from LoopUp, Guidespark, Coffee Meets Bagel, Bitnami and Valuation Metrics to participate in the programme. Applicants are invited to go to http://www.siliconvalleyinternship.com/GirlsInTech

To stay up to date on the program, visit the SVIP website or the  SVIP Facebook page.

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Girls in Tech Announces Finalists for 2015 Lady Pitch Night USA Competition

Startups Include Those Introducing New Ideas In Philanthropy, Health Monitoring, Beauty, Academia; Two Organizations From NYC Join The Pool of Bay Area-Based Companies

Girls in Tech, an organization focused on the empowerment, entrepreneurship, engagement, and education of women in technology, is proud to announce the finalists for this year’s Lady Pitch Night, a half-day pitch competition for female entrepreneurs leading early-stage technology startups. The event will take place at Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center in San Francisco on Tuesday, November 10, 2015.

“Covering everything from biotech and data analytics to social, educational and philanthropic technology, we are thrilled to have such innovative and accomplished female-lead startups as part of this year’s group of finalists,” said Adriana Gascoigne, Founder and CEO of Girls in Tech. “We look forward to their pitches on November 10 and can’t wait to see how they continue to grow over time.”

This year’s finalists, which were selected from more than 187 applicants, include:

UtilityAPI (Oakland, CA) – UtilityAPI aims to solve one of the biggest soft cost problems in the industry by delivering simple access to energy usage data.

Privail (San Francisco, CA) – Privail develops technologies for early disease detection and monitoring and universal accessibility, allowing patients to take early action.

Hinge Bio, Inc. (Palo Alto, CA) – Hinge Bio, Inc. leverages a revolutionary core technology for developing diagnostics and therapeutics for neurodegenerative disorders and other diseases.

Cocoon Cam (San Francisco, CA) – Cocoon Cam is the first wellness video baby monitor with breathing and skin temperature alerts without requiring wearables.

Preemadonna (Menlo Park, CA) – Preemadonna is the creator of The Nailbot, a family of automated devices that decorate fingernails with nail art using your mobile phone.

Appthetable (San Francisco, CA) – Appthetable gives restaurant customers the freedom to browse the menu, order and pay directly from their smartphone from their restaurant table.

Feeding Forward (San Francisco, CA) – Feeding Forward makes it easier for businesses to provide meals to communities in need while receiving a tax write-off and reducing disposal costs.

TestRocker, Inc. (New York, NY) – TestRocker is designed as the ultimate private tutor to help improve SAT and ACT scores and unlock students’ full testing potential.

Guesterly (New York, NY) – Guesterly creates print or digital “who’s who” guides for attendees of events such as conferences and parties to follow-up and stay in touch after the event is over.

GOODdler (Daly City, CA) – GOODdler is a SaaS solution for civic and charitable organizations to collect and manage in-kind donations from individual donors.

The winning team of Lady Pitch Night will receive a $25,000 cash prize along with additional resources such as office space for 6 months and laptops, to help move their startup forward.

Finalists were selected by a panel of experienced tech professionals and investors including Lisa Hook (Neustar), Jason McCabe Calacanis (“This Week In Startups” and Inside.com), Brianna Wu (Giant Spacekat), Roseanne Wincek (Institutional Venture Partners (IVP)), Yasi Baiani (Fitbit), Alison Wagonfeld (Emergence Capital), Duncan Logan (RocketSpace), Monique Morrow (Cisco), Gil Penchina (entrepreneur and investor), Denise Terry (Embrace Health), Jonathan Abrams (Nuzzel), Michael Hughes (LoopUp) and Andy McLoughlin (SoftTech VC).

Speakers for the November 10 event include Yvonne Wassenaar (New Relic), Jennifer Tejada (formerly of Keynote), Stephanie Tilenius (VIDA Health) and Arum Kang (Coffee Meets Bagel). Emmy Award Winning Anchor & Entrepreneur Kym McNicholas will host.

Sponsors of the Lady Pitch Night competition include SheKnows Media, Genentech, TEKsystems, Salesforce Ventures, State Farm, NASDAQ, H&R Block-Small Business, Automattic, Institutional Venture Partners, Franklin Templeton Investments, LoopUp, YouNoodle, GoDaddy and Fenwick & West LLP.

Tickets for Lady Pitch Night are available but limited.

Silicon Valley Non-Profits Work to Address Tech’s Gender Imbalance

Year-Long, Paid Internships Now Offered to Female Engineers from Around the Globe

The Silicon Valley Internship Programme (SVIP) today in partnership with Girls in Tech, an organization focused on the empowerment, engagement and education of women in technology, announced a new effort to increase opportunities for female engineers from around the world through year-long, paid internships.

“We’re excited to partner with Girls in Tech who will use its considerable influence – and its more than 50 chapters in 30 countries around the world – to amplify our message and get this opportunity seen by its members globally,” said Michael Hughes, Founder of SVIP and Co-CEO of LoopUp. “The entrepreneurial world is driven by ideas and innovation and helping the under-represented half of the population to contribute more to this crucial part of the puzzle can only add fuel to the entrepreneurial fire both in the Bay Area and around the world.”

Currently, women are drastically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) careers and the numbers are decreasing – according to a 2015 report by the American Association of University Women, in 2013 only 23 percent of U.S. computing jobs were held by women, down from 35 percent in 1990. More specifically, just 12 percent of engineers are women. This report further suggests that widely held stereotypes and biases actively harm women in engineering and computing.

“By offering unique engineering opportunities for recent female grads, we are helping to continue their interest in the field and inspire career longevity. Through the SVIP and Girls in Tech partnership, more female engineers from around the world will be motivated to exploit their programming and entrepreneurial aspirations,” said Adriana Gascoigne, CEO and Founder of Girls in Tech.

SVIP’s existing programs offer software engineering graduates one-year paid internships with high-growth tech companies in the Bay Area. During the internship, they learn entrepreneurial skills through a structured training program that includes mentorship, entrepreneur meet and greets and hackathons. The ultimate goal is for these interns to develop their technical skills and business ideas and absorb the Silicon Valley attitude with a view to contributing to their local entrepreneurial ecosystem upon their return.

With the new partnership with Girls in Tech, SVIP is both expanding its global reach and redressing the gender imbalance of the program’s existing participants and in tech overall. This year two of the 18 graduates taking part in the existing program are women. This group was selected from over 150 applicants of which only seven were women. With the GIT expansion, the goal is to at least double the size of the program and reach a 50:50 female-to-male ratio or beyond.
“As a woman in technology, I wish such an opportunity would have been available to me in the early stages of my career and we at Bitnami are delighted to support this important initiative,” said Erica Bressica, COO of Bitnami.

“Coffee Meets Bagel is currently extremely unusual as we have an all-female founding team. This should not be the case and we need to be proactive in encouraging women into entrepreneurship” said Arum Kang, CEO of Coffee Meets Bagel.
With this announcement, applications have opened for the SVIP class of 2016-2017 along with commitments from LoopUp, Guidespark, Coffee Meets Bagel, Bitnami and Valuation Metrics to participate in the programme. Beginning today, applicants are invited to go to http://www.siliconvalleyinternship.com/GirlsInTech.
To stay up to date on the program, visit the SVIP website or the  SVIP Facebook page.

SWEDISH STARTUP FINDIFY WINS LADY PITCH NIGHT EUROPE 2015

Girls in Tech selected 10 finalists from 10 different countries among nearly 300 applications from 28 countries. A record for a competition that attracts more and more talented women entrepreneurs from all over Europe.
Paris, October 9, 2015 – Jacylyne Clarke, co-founder of Swedish startup Findify, is the winner of the 5th Lady Pitch Night. Findify is an intelligent e-commerce search powered by machine learning and big data. Benedicte de Raphélis Soissan, founder & CEO of French startup Clustree, first talent management tool dedicated to internal mobility and using big data analysis, comes second.

The 10 finalists:
SEMU(Estonia)
Leeluu(Finland)
Clustree (France)
MrPatch (Germany)
PublishDrive (Hungary)
KidkeDoo (Israel)
InSelly (Latvia)
Gleam (Portugal)
Findify (Sweden)
Powr of you (UK)

Full list of awesome finalists also on our blog

The Lady Pitch Night, biggest startup competition dedicated to women entrepreneurs in Europe, took place October 7 at Hub BPI. Speakers included French Deputy Minister for Digital Affairs Axelle Lemaire and Olin14 year old Sverritdottir, TechOlina Founder and 12 year old Manon Van Hoorebeke, European Digital Girl of the year 2014.

The 10 finalists pitched in front of over 200 people and an international Jury : Clara Gaymard, President, RAISE endowment fund; Pascal Latouche, Director Orange Fab France, the Orange France startup accelerator, Hermione Way, Co-Founder of Vibease; Mollie Spilman, Chief Revenue Officer, CRITEO ; Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, Serial Entrepreneur, Co-founder & CEO of The Next Web & Bedy Yang, Managing Partner at 500 startups.

For Hermione Way, founder of Vibease, « the level of pitching was Silicon Valley standard ».
“Attending the Girls in Tech event in Paris was an eye-opening experience. Every guy in tech should experience how it feels to be a minority in a room filled with talented women. It would change their perspective on the gender balance in our tech industry, and it shows how ambitious and smart female Entrepeneurs are”, Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, Serial Entrepreneur, and Co-founder & CEO of The Next Web.

Finalists were selected among 300 applications from 28 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Macedonia, Holland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK & Ukraine.

Finalists will receive tickets for Slush, SXSW, TechCrunch Disrupt London, The Europas, The Next Web & Web Summit.  Findily will automatically be qualified for Web Summit startup competition and get exhibition space at TechCrunch Disrupt London, The Europas and Web Summit. These opportunities aim at offering women entrepreneurs more attention & visibility at all these conferences.
About the Lady Pitch Night : Girls in Tech Paris launched the first edition of the Lady Pitch Night in France in January 2011.  In 2013, the event opened applications to all of Europe. In 2014, over 200 startups from 22 countries applied. Finalists from last year’s edition are Gemmyo (France), Cortechs (Ireland), Fojo.me (Croatia), Cocofarm (Bulgaria) and EasySize (Danemark), the winner – who  automatically qualified for the startup competition of our partner LeWeb, where she won 2nd place. All our finalists were congratulated by our expert judges and speakers: Mike Butcher (TechCrunch), Reshma Sohoni (Seedcamp), Brenda O’Connell (Twitter), Joanna Shields (TechCityUK), Neelie Kroes (European Commission) et Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook).
About Girls in Tech : Girls in Tech is an international non-profit organization that seeks to give more visibility to women working in the tech and startup industry. The network was founded in 2007 by Adriana Gascoigne and counts over 40 chapters across all the continents. The French chapter was founded in 2010 by Mounia Rkha (ISAI) and Roxanne Varza (Microsoft). The French team has over 20 people. In Europe, Girls in Tech has 7 chapters: in France, the UK, Italy, Spain, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and Romania.

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Keynote Stephanie Tilenius Dishes On Google and VIDA!

We’re excited to have you speak to our audience at Lady Pitch Night USA SF! You have an awesome tenure that sets a high bar for other women executives climbing the career ladder. How has working for a company like GOOGLE helped enhance your leadership skills?

It’s always a unique opportunity to work for company that has such an impact in the world, and to work with smart and talented people!  When you work in this type on environment, it sets a high bar for development of programs, platforms, and changing products.

Tell us the story behind VIDA, you’re amazing new health-coaching app!

One in 3 people or 133 million people have a chronic health condition they are living with.  Four out of five health dollars go toward these health conditions. We’re establishing a new way to have people live healthier and happier lives.  We have consumers on our platform from age 12 to age 84. This includes but is not limited to obese children and elder medicare patients.

With so many successful female entrepreneurs out there, we have a lot to be inspired by. What words of inspiration can you offer anyone who is climbing the entrepreneurial success ladder?

I think the opportunity to be an entrepreneur and change the world by building better products or services is one of best ways you can use your time on this earth.  Using your freedom and creative expression is priceless. For women leaders in particular, especially in certain verticals or having ideas for a new product is a great way to build without thinking of resource constraints.  If it is great, you will get resources. They will come.  I think that getting over the belief that you CAN’T get resources is key.

Stephanie, thanks for sharing your wisdom! Best of success with VIDA and see you at Lady Pitch Night SF!

Why ‘Girls’ and not ‘Women’?

Girls in Tech recently engaged in an email exchange with some women who were offended by the use of the word ‘Girls’ in “Girls in Tech” and ‘Lady’ in “Lady Pitch Night”. We apologized to these women for any misunderstanding or offensiveness caused. We also wanted to provide insight on why we branded the organization and one of our trademark events with these names.

Why ‘Girls’ and not ‘Women’? In conceptualizing the organization, Adriana wanted to create a community, a platform and a resource to further women’s careers in technology, as well as to create excitement around potential opportunities within the technology and startup worlds. Diving deeper into the organization’s culture and brand, the first things that came to mind were cutting edge, fun, collaborative, carefree and embracing challenge and risk. To her, these adjectives are clearly exhibited in our youth of today, and in everyday life, she embraces being a girl at heart and understands that all women were that girl and have that youthful spirit in them that should celebrated rather than suppressed.

Additionally, Girls in Tech addresses audiences at all points in the life cycle of a women in technology – from girls to professional women – and encourages each audience to embrace their femininity and “girlishness” as an asset and strength. We will continue to incorporate these tenets into our overall programming with confidence and vigor, as these are our core values. Our primary goal is to produce initiatives that make an impact on society, and we feel that focusing on semantics detracts from our mission.

At Girls in Tech, we believe that deep down, we’re all still girls at heart. No matter where we are in life, the corporate ladder, how successful we are, or how much money we earn, we … as women leaders, professionals, mothers or sisters will always be “girls” first and foremost … especially away from the boardroom and the home.  Plus, we wanted to brand Girls in Tech as a “young,” “hip,” “progressive,” cutting-edge,” and “NOW” organization … hence the name “Girls in Tech.”

“Lady Pitch Night” is the name of an EVENT that we created … not the description of a person or a professional.  We want to brand the event as a “Woman-Only” pitch event … and “Female Pitch Night” or “Women Pitch Night” just doesn’t cut it in terms of flow, branding, hipness and edginess.  Much like “Ladies Room” sounds MUCH BETTER than “Women’s Room” or “Female Room,” Girls in Tech believes that “Lady Pitch Night” is the best way to brand the event, grow the event worldwide and leave a lasting impression.

Keeping Up With Adriana Gascoigne ? Read Her Feature on Medium.com

From talking about her proudest work accomplishments, to reading about her run in with discrimination, CEO of Girls in Tech’s Adriana Gascoigne dishes on her highlights and challenges as a Woman of Silicon Valley in the latest digital article on Medium.com.

Topics also include answers to questions like, ” What advice do you have for any girls pursuing a future in tech?”  At the top of her list of answers?

“Maintain confidence! It’s the key to anything you do whether you are in tech or not, so having it while being a part of this industry can only benefit you in the long run.”

– Adriana Gascoigne, CEO Girls in Tech

Finally, here are 3 of the 6 things she feels makes a woman in tech awesome:

    1. Opportunity to have a voice in the industry
    2. Opportunity to mentor other women
    3. Leverage listening skills to absorb feedback and make changes

To learn more about Girls in Tech’s fab founder, visit: http://bit.ly/1QiLZ9B.