Girls With Ideas was started to solve the gender leadership gap by helping girls see themselves as leaders at the critical age where they are thinking about who they are and who they want to become.
Name: Girls With Ideas
Location: Iowa City, IA
Product / Service Offering: We sell a curriculum for girls ages 9-13 to help them become creative, confident leaders.
Co-founder Interviewed: Allison Poss
Other Key Management Team Members: Britney Tracy, Angie Magazino, & Abbie Schneider
This article is part of our Women Entrepreneurs Spotlight Series featuring female entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you?
I am a school psychologist and also have my doctorate in interdisciplinary leadership studies. I have always been fascinated with the question – how do we come up with new ideas that add value to the world? This question is what I studied in the context of psychology and leadership.
As a women studying leadership I learned about the gender leadership gap, the idea that while women are over half of the U.S. workforce they only make up 15% of executive leadership. It is much more difficult for women to have a place at the table to even share their valuable ideas.
So I started Girls With Ideas to solve the gender leadership gap by helping girls see themselves as leaders at the critical age where they are thinking about who they are and who they want to become.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
I started Girls With Ideas in January, 2016 and started working full time on it in May, 2016. As with all ideas, there was not one specific moment I could pinpoint as the start of Girls With Ideas. Rather, it was a series of events. Things I read, research I conducted, discussions I had with others, leadership conferences I put on, small groups I created for young girls, etc. Pieces of each of these things were always brewing in my brain and over the years it evolved into Girls With Ideas. That is why it is so special to me, I have been working on this idea for the last ten years without realizing it.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
A girls confidence peaks at age 9 and from there it plummets. She struggles to find her voice and feel confident in her ideas. She would rather not try something than fail at it. I wanted to do something about this. I looked for lessons and curriculum to help girls build confidence and find their voice but everything I found was generic and was either really young girls or girls in high school. There is virtually nothing of substance for middle school girls. Our curriculum fills a need to provide research-based lessons that are fun to help girls build creativity, confidence, and leadership skills by coming up with an idea and making it happen. Unlike other programs that just say “Girl you rock!” We actually teach girls ‘how to rock’! Because we believe that confidence truly comes from trying, doing, failing, and trying again.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
Our curriculum is accessible and written for anyone to do with a group of girls. You do not have to be a teacher or go through an expensive training program like other programs. We are also the only program that teaches creativity thinking. We teach girls how look for problems they love or opportunities in their communities. Finally, we are built on project-based learning, meaning that girls decide a project they want to do and they learn skills along the way. Instead of prescribing what they have to do, they get to generate something they are interested and passionate about themselves.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge is that our team is a team of girls that have a lot of ideas. Each day we generate ideas for new revenue streams or products. It was very challenging for us to focus on just doing one thing really well as a starting point.
Are there resources you have utilized that other women founders might find compelling or useful?
We are part of a Slack community called Women Who Startup that has been helpful to connect with other women entrepreneurs around the globe to exchange ideas and resources.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
We had a Kickstarter campaign and were part of an accelerator for initial seed funding. We did do a little bit of research before launching our Kickstarter but if I was to do it again, I would definitely spend more time building up an audience prior to launching our Kickstarter campaign. We saw the Kickstarter as a first step but it should be step three or four, it is much easier to promote to an established audience.
Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
Legal and accounting questions have been the most difficult questions that we have struggled with. Especially questions about e-commerce sales with a remote team. We have learned that the services of lawyers and accountants are needed and while they can be the highest costs when you are first starting, they are the most crucial.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
Right now our biggest challenge is marketing. We are trying to bootstrap as much as possible and therefore do not have a large marketing budget. To help with that we are we are in the hustle of working every day to reach out to people to let them know about what we are doing through cold emailing and content on our social media channels. While doing this is time consuming and at times stressful, it is allowing us to truly understand the backend of our processes and really think about our target customers.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
One of our mentors asked us to describe our business in six words. It seemed like an easy question but was so difficult to do. Thinking through this question really made us think about the core of our business and how we talk to people about what we do.
The six words we are using currently are: “Empowering Girls To Share Their Ideas”
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
We are working to close the gender leadership gap through our social good company. Many people ask us why we are not a non-profit because of our mission. We decided to be a business because our main revenue source is selling products, not looking for donations. More importantly, we want to model to girls that it is okay to do good and make money at the same time.
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