Recently, the New York Code+Design Academy held its 4th installment of its Women In Tech Lecture Series. The forum is designed for females in the tech community to connect with each other and address gender issues in the workplace. By holding these forums, the NYCDA hopes to educate, inspire, and bring women together through the speakers who share their stories.
“We need a change of culture, and also better educational opportunities for women,” said NYCDA CEO Jeremy Snepar. “But more importantly, we need to inspire more women to lean in to tech.”
The guest speaker of the night was Stacey Ferreira, a 22-year old college dropout who is also the CEO of Admoar, an online marketplace that facilitates branded content deals between brands and YouTube video creators. Speaking to a large group comprised mostly of women and a few men, Ferreira talked about innovation.
“What does it actually mean to be an innovator?” she asked the audience.
The Webster Dictionary definition of an “innovator” is “one who creates or introduces something new.”
“I also think that to be an innovator, in some sense, you have to have some sort of intention behind what you’re innovating, or why you’re innovating,” said Ferreira.
She believes that innovation begins way before one has an idea.
“It starts with a mindset and it starts with the way you live your life,” she suggested. “And the things that you do on a day to day basis, and the decisions that you make.”
Ferreira proceeded to share three lessons on what she believes will make one a good innovator.
Experience the world.
Seizing opportunities as they come by is important. But, knowing if it’s the right opportunity is better.
“You have to also have had prior experiences to find when opportunities are the right opportunities to go and seize,” said Ferreira.
Ferreira then told the story of the summers of her junior and senior years. She and her two best friends decided to come up with new projects every week to prank their friends and neighbors. One such project she shared to the audience was compiling a large quilt of sticky notes and hanging it on garage of one of friends. The project took them a week.
“It’s things like this that taught me work ethic at a young age. Granted, it was work ethic towards pranking, but it was something that I was passionate about.”
Be a little bit skeptical.
Look at the world as it is, but don’t just accept it as good enough.
“Constructive observation is different than judgment,” Ferreira said. “If you’re going around and constructively observing things, you’re not just looking at things saying, ‘This is bad’ or ‘This is impossible,’ and then pocketing it as bad and impossible forever. You’re looking at it and saying, ‘Okay, this is a good starting point, but this can be better than it already is. How do we make it better?’”
She proceeds to share the story of the summer her brother returned home from college for winter break. His computer crashed and lost everything, including an Excel spreadsheet that contained all his usernames and passwords.
While she observed him trying to get all this data back, Ferreira thought, “An Excel spreadsheet works, but it’s probably not the best thing that you can do to save your usernames and passwords.”
It was then that she and her brother thought about building some kind of online platform for storing usernames and passwords. So, after high school graduation, Ferreira packed her bags and moved to Los Angeles with her brother, where they and a friend spent the summer buildingMySocialCloud.
They had the opportunity to meet with entrepreneur Richard Branson in Miami that same summer, and he gave them his e-mail address. After finishing the prototype of the site, they sent it to Branson, who introduced them to Jerry Murdock, the co-founder of Insight Venture Partners. Murdock flew out to L.A. to meet with them.
Branson, Murdock, and Alex Welch, the founder of Photobucket, invested over $1.2 million on MySocialCloud.
“That’s what kickstarted the journey to entrepreneurship,” said Ferreira.
This is one lesson that even Ferreira herself struggled with, but is necessary to being in innovator and creating a successful business.
In 2013, MySocialCloud was acquired by Reputation.com and the whole team was moved to San Francisco. Ferreira admitted to being nervous and worried about what people would think of a 20-year-old college dropout, especially after she left Reputation.com and began a new business.
“But then I learned that it really doesn’t matter,” she said. “Change for you and your own life is what you got to do for you.”
She embraced many changes when she and her team began building Admoar last year. But it wasn’t until some weeks ago that she began thinking about the popularity of Youtube and how she could use it to sell product placement in Yotutube videos. After talking to the right people, doing research, and doing a re-design of their site, Admoar eventually changed their entire platform from pure advertising to selling product placement in Youtube videos.
Youtubers are matched with brands and paid to do videos and brands get exposure.
“Embracing change,” said Ferreira. “A little bit scary, but it’s worth it, right?”
Having these three lessons will pave the way for that mindset to take you through life. Ideas change and all you need is to act on them.
“Once you have action, you’re golden, and then you’re able to be a true innovator with intention.”
Image credit: CC by Flazingo Photos