Susan Danziger is a trial-and-error kind of entrepreneur: She goes after her big ideas and isn’t afraid if they fail.
The Founder and CEO of a video technology platform, Danziger has real-world experience in building a community out of an idea. We got to sit down with her and ask about her work, the tech industry, and female entrepreneurship.
What is Ziggeo and why is it awesome?
Ziggeo is one of the companies I founded. We’ve developed video technology that gives a face and voice to people who may not otherwise have a chance to shine. Used in recruiting or admissions, our technology lets folks who may have gone under the radar explain first hand (on video) why they’re your best bet. It’s also used in education and for social good—teaching by example or spotlighting how individuals are making a difference.
Can you talk more about women entrepreneurs—why is it so important to think about gender equity in business? And where do you start?
Women have unique perspectives and talent that are simply not being tapped. By only encouraging companies founded by men, the world is losing out on an enormous number of important creations that only women could invent and bring to fruition.
It starts with women having the courage to run with their ideas. And then ensuring that more investment dollars go to women-founded companies, that women-founded companies are highlighted in the media, and that women are equally represented on stage at conferences and in boardrooms around the world.
What is your favorite thing about the work you do? What’s your creation process? And what do you love about Ziggeo?
I love that founding a company and using technology is wonderfully creative. People don’t think of technology as creative. But it is. I imagine what I’d like to see in the world and simply make it happen. I start small, and sometimes I fail, but that’s OK. I learn from it and move on. And then I either tweak that idea or start something new. With today’s technology it doesn’t cost much to test out an idea and see if it has legs.
I love that the video technology we developed at Ziggeo lets people realize their visions. By simply integrating our technology, people don’t need to build video capabilities themselves. So all kinds of wonderfully creative video-based apps and sites can easily be launched.
What are your hopes for the future of technology?
People still view technology as a guy’s tool. That means guys are getting better and better at it whereas women are being left behind. And that starts at a young age. Boys start playing and messing with computer games early on, and all of a sudden they’re gaining a deep understanding and comfort with technology. So by the time computer science is offered in school it’s a breeze for the guys and a struggle for the girls—so the girls end up dropping out.
I’d like us all to work together to change that cycle—so girls become as comfortable with technology as guys. That way when girls and women look around their computer classes or companies they see a community of other women who can support one another.
Do you have any advice for young girls who want to learn more about entrepreneurship?
The best way to learn about entrepreneurship is simply to start something. If you have an idea, run with it. It could be a group, a product, an initiative. It doesn’t matter. And it doesn’t have to be perfect. Start with something small and go from there. It’s OK to fail. You’ll learn a lot, and the next iteration will be that much better. You’ll also be amazed at what you can accomplish on your own or with just one or two others.
Is there something specific that sparked your interest in entrepreneurship and tech?
I love that tech gives me the power to create. It lets me realize possibilities that can quickly change lives and have impact throughout the world. And by being an entrepreneur, I can see my vision realized on my own terms.
What do you consider to be one of the most important aspects of your work?
I’m a big believer in the power of girls and women supporting each other—and doing whatever we can to create opportunities to encourage entrepreneurship and comfort with technology. I’ve launched women entrepreneur groups, on-line networks, evening salons and even computer boot camps to facilitate learning, meeting and connecting with other women. I encourage everyone to start their own groups and networks. It’s simple to do: just start with one event—or proclaim the first Friday of every month a time to connect. A brown-bag lunch is an easy way to get started.
What advice would you give for other women who want to get involved in the tech industry but don’t know how?
Think about what you want to create in the world and start to build it. Maybe it’s a website or an app or whatever. It’s best to have a project in mind and then figure out what you need to do to learn to build it. There are lots of on-line courses like Skillcrush, Khan Academy, Codecademy or W3Schools—or take a local in-person class. And if you’re looking for an internship or a job in the tech industry, being able to point to something you’ve created is your best bet.