The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute partnered with Georgia State’s WomenLead program and the Honors College to present Women, Technology, Science and Entrepreneurship. The event included a panel discussion, small-group breakout sessions, and a networking desert reception that aimed to encourage more young women to explore and pursue businesses in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
There was roughly 90 years of experience between the panelist seating on the stage at Centennial Hall Auditorium on March 21, 2017. The panelists included: Tricia Dempsey, Founder/President of Agile; Dr. J. MacCalla, CEO of Zyrobotics; Julia MacGregor, Founder of Global Safety Management; and Tiffany Ray, Founder of Generation Infocus.
While their journeys are miles apart, each panelist shared common themes. Entrepreneurs come in all forms, the key is to focus on the work and not to get distracted by the challenges. These entrepreneurs are proof that even in industries, like science and technology, where women remain underrepresented, anyone can succeed. Women, Technology, Science and Entrepreneurship was all about what women can do, and are doing.
Former First Lady, Michelle Obama once said, “Whether you come from a council estate or a country estate, your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude.”
This group of leading ladies portrayed confidence and fortitude at its finest!
Zyrobotics is the third company for entrepreneur and electrical engineer, Dr. MacCalla. Zyrobotics is making STEM accessible to all children everywhere, through a series of apps, e-books and stuffed animals. The company was recently picked up by Google Employee Store.
Serial entrepreneur, Julia MacGregor, is leading her sixth company, Global Safety Management (GSM). MacGregor began her entrepreneurial journey as a humble child with her own guinea pig breeding business at age six. GSM is her first company with venture capital backing.
Media outlet, TechCruch composed the first study on women in venture capital finding that only seven percent of partners at are women. That is just 54 women out of 755 total partners in the top 100 venture capital firms.
“If I walk in as the president or CEO of the company, instead of people seeing a woman as entitled to a seat at the table, we must earn that seat every single time, she said. “A man walks in a room and he belongs. You have to fight that continuously.”
Tricia Dempsey started her company with no business plan, no funding, and no partner. What she did have, however, was stage three breast cancer in 2004.
“Agile was never meant to be a real company,” Dempsey said. “It was really meant to be a little pit stop on the way back to working with my partners. Within a year, we (Agile) were over a million dollars in revenue.”
That “pit stop” led Dempsey to the path of entrepreneurship. Next thing you know, Dempsey is picking out company colors, finding a logo and creating a website for Agile.
“Fundamentally, I’ve always had an ‘I’m going to win’ mindset about things,” she said. “If I put my sights on what I want to do, I don’t feel held back.”
Tiffany Ray, a former high school educator, saw an unmet need like many entrepreneurs and went to work on developing a solution. Generation Infocus is a STEAM educational program focusing on science, technology engineering, art and math. Generation Infocus partners with schools to offer “school-day labs” in addition to providing after-school and summer programs. Before Generation Infocus, Ray worked in several positions within education. Starting out as teacher, she moved into administration leading to educational consulting. Not to mention, she tackled the corporate world as a certified Instructional Designer.
“I say, let the work speak for itself. It’s been a driving force for me, to always do something different, always be innovative,” Ray said. “Bring something of value and difference.”
Whether it was missing their payroll to ensure their employees were paid in full, creating a healthy company culture or reminding themselves of why they started in the first place, being a woman was never an obstacle, it was a definite advantage.
words by Loe Cole
photos by Amy Morris