HelloFlo had the chance to speak to the creators of an awesome women-centric film about what it was like to start their project from scratch. Here’s a sneak peak behind the scenes of She Started It, a documentary featuring women who are following their professional passions to change the world for the better.
For readers who may not know, what is She Started It, and what inspired you to create it?
Nora Poggi and Insiyah Saeed: She Started It is a feature-length documentary film following five young women on their entrepreneurial journey. Stacey and Thuy are the two main characters, whom we follow through their ups and downs over the course of two years. The film also features top experts such as Ruchi Sanghvi, the first woman engineer at Facebook, Megan Smith, CTO of the US, and many more.
After being at the Women 2.0 Next Billion in San Francisco in 2013, we saw that the powerful women role models we knew seemed unknown to the outside world. Because we were covering tech, they seemed like household names to us, but when we spoke to our friends, they’d never heard of those women or knew what they had accomplished.
We started interviewing successful women for a web series. But we realized that a long-form, story-driven documentary is what young women would relate to. What really became the heart of the film was being able to follow the real life stories of young women who were out there in the trenches starting companies.
Can you talk more about the numbers regarding inequitable representation in tech—why is it so important to think critically about accessibility to tech and entrepreneurship?
NP & IS: We wanted to focus on tech entrepreneurship in particular as tech is a trillion dollar industry creating products that are now shaping our everyday lives. The statistics are staggering: According to a Babson College study, mere 2.7% of venture capital-funded companies have a woman CEO, and 96% of venture capitalists are men. Women earn only 12.9% of computer science degrees, according to the Computing Research Association. Women and minorities are just not accessing the same opportunities when it comes to tech entrepreneurship.
Why does supporting women entrepreneurs matter? According to Elizabeth Gore, (who chairs the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council), entrepreneurship creates 70% of jobs in the US and 90% in the developing world. Moreover, women entrepreneurs tend to create businesses with a higher social impact and they reinvest in their communities a lot more, as shown in this study by Harvard Business Review.
How did you go about selecting the women featured in the documentary?
NP & IS: We wanted women who were starting out, had some initial traction and success and were okay giving us access to their lives; as you know 90% of all startups fail, so being open enough to share that journey to the world is extremely brave.
The five young women featured in the film all have unique paths and businesses that had enough traction for a story to unfold.
Stacey was just starting her second company; Thuy was starting an accelerator program and struggled with being an outsider to the system—many could relate. Agathe brings a French twist; she is building her company in France, while many in Europe are leaving to go abroad to build their companies. Brienne is from an entrepreneurial family in Silicon Valley, who got a college degree at 18, but still has the challenges of being in a start-up at her age. Sheena is an African American woman from the Deep South and shares her perspectives of being a woman of color trying to break into the system. Stacey and Thuy ended up being the lead characters because they gave us the most access, which is key for a documentary.
We also wanted to tell the stories of young women who are figuring out who they are and coming into their own.
Cover image courtesy of Samantha Andre.