How did the concept for Geek Girls Academy come about, and what is the mission for the organisation?
The powerhouse of a lady that is Tammy Butow (now Site Reliability Engineering Manager at Dropbox) had met all of us at various events she’d created in Melbourne. Tammy has a passion for education and also for technology and she recognised in all of us that we shared a similar desire to get more women building apps and creating startups.
You have had some great international press for Geek Girls Academy, what is it do you think, that has grabbed the attention of such mainstream news publications?
We have an incredibly talented cofounder, Amanda Watts, who is an amazing designer and she created our brand. When you have a good idea and can make it look great that definitely helps accelerate the attention!
Like with any strong business, if you build your company from an actual market need the chances of success are much higher. We are five women who wanted something like Girl Geek Academy to exist: and then we built it. We are the customer as much as the creator. This isn’t about someone trying to “help the women” – it’s us saying “yo! This is what we need and if other women need it to then we better do something about that!”
We aren’t tied to anyone else’s agenda – we’re non-government, non-corporate, getting shit done sort of people. That’s really rare these days so it is attractive and people naturally think “that’s something I want to be a part of”.
Also: we had cool photos 🙂 (thanks Scott Cooper! http://www.scottdanielcooper.com/)
What are your backgrounds and how do your powers combine to create one great woman-empowering movement?
We are firm believers that the 3 elements of a great founding team are the hacker, the hipster and the hustler. The hacker is the person with the technology skills to build things, the hipster makes it look great and the hustler gets everyone on board.
All of us have more than one of the hacker, hipster or hustler qualities. For the last two years we’ve worked on Girl Geek Academy alongside our full time careers. With five cofounders and a strong skillset between us, we’ve been able to accomplish almost as much as a full time team could.
Specifically in our team I should call out the awesomeness of our domain experts:
April Staines is an IT Solution Architect and Software Developer for NAB by day, and a robot geek chic / 3D Modeller / 3D Printer Consultant in her spare time. She championed the creation of our event #SheMakes – Australia’s first all-female makerfest, with a focus on 3D printing and wearable tech (pics attached).
Lisy Kane is a games producer and community manager at League Of Geeks, an indie game development collective where Lisy currently works on Armello Game. Lisy was the driving force behind our event #SheMakes_Games, which saw girl geeks learn to make a game in just one day. This year she will be working on bringing Australia’s first all-female game jam to life with #SheJams.
I’ve already mentioned Tammy, but she really is an accelerator of a woman. Tammy kickstarted everything Girl Geek in Melbourne including Girl Geek Dinners, #SheHacks and eventually brought us altogether to create Girl Geek Academy. She has run #Shehacks in New York City and launched Ladies Who Linux in both NYC and SF. She’s an incredible human and we love her.
Amanda Watts, the designer I mentioned, is also just a super duper magic person: she makes everything feel alive through design. Our brand is in her hands and people really feel a connection to the way she represents what we do visually.
I’m Sarah Moran and I am the marketing / PR / hustler of the group – we actually share a lot of the marketing and PR and I keep the conversation kicking along. I have a lot of experience in bringing crazy ideas to life and I try to be a reminder to us all that we’re our own boss so we can make Girl Geek Academy as awesome as we want it to be.
The Hackathon event particularity caught my eye, it’s pitched as ‘We invite hackers, hustlers and hipsters to create startups in 24 hours’. How should girls prep before attending one?
This is actually a separate blog post we’ve been meaning to write! #SheHacks is Australia’s first all-female hackathon and we have run it for the past two years.
#SheHacks brings together creative developers, designers, marketers and ideas people to collaborate on building a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) or prototype of a hack over a weekend. Come with your ideas, skills and motivation.
#1 Rule – Have Fun
#2 Meet like minded women
#3 Be Awesome
Our #SheHacks teams consist of a hipster (designer), hacker (developer) and hustler (marketer) so there is a good mix of skills in each team.
#SheHacks usually starts on a Friday night and you will be placed into teams of 3-4. We don’t have a pitch session to kick off #SheHacks – the business ideas come directly from each of the teams.
For many participants, this is their first foray into a hackathon, while others are serial entrepreneurs. There’s a whole range of talent in the room. Some teams have more business talent, and some teams have less. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people, learn something, build something and network with other amazing people in a meaningful way.