If programming is power, then I’d like you to meet a real power broker. Jenna Pederson (pronounced PED-erson, unlike how yours truly said it during the interview) has built a thriving software development practice of her own. As cofounder of the local chapter of Geekettes, she’s also seeking to share the power of software by helping bring other women into what’s been a “brotherhood” of coders. Listen to our chat and find out why Jenna’s so inspired and inspiring!
Show notes: selected links from the episode:
LinkedIn: Jenna Pederson
Links and people mentioned:
Geekette Event Sponsor
List of other groups in town promoting women in tech:
- Gr8 Ladies
- Py Ladies TC
- Girl Develop It Minneapolis
- Girls In Tech – Minneapolis
- CoderDojo Twin Cities
- Technovation [MN]
Recommended Book: Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City by Brad Feld
Don Ball [D]: Welcome to another Fueled Collective Dreamcast. Today we have somebody who we talked to on Wednesday and she was all fired up and inspired, so we said, “How would you like to be on a podcast Friday?” So who we have is Jenna Pederson; owner/founder and boss of 612 Software Foundry – that’s your freelance business, right?
Jenna Pederson [J]: Yeah, yeah.
D: …And, also, ambassador of the Twin Cities Geekettes – that was the event on Wednesday that…you were kinda settin’ up for, and you were all pumped up for…so I thought, Oh, here’s a spark of energy; let’s find out what that’s about. I want to ask you:
Can you describe the kind of work that you do as part of your software business?
J: Yep. So I am a web developer. I do, kind of, full staff (?) development for usually smaller companies, like with new startups. I’ve also done work for larger companies, but…I like the energy of smaller companies and being able to just kind of see the change that I’m able to make…in a quicker way than with larger companies.
D: So the projects may be a little shorter in duration–
D: When you say “web developer,” do you mean front end? Or…
J: Kind of…all of the above–
D: . . . this part that we see? Or even the things goin’ on behind the scenes?
J: All of it.
D: All of it.
J: I am not a designer. I can do some of the HTML and CSS stuff to kind of get by, but I prefer the back end part of it; then even just wiring stuff up and then maybe handing it off to someone that can make it look very nice.
D: Um-hm. So the part of the web app that…like what makes it tick, is–
J: Exactly, yes.
D: So you’re like setting up the database, and all the scripting and–
D: . . . and, okay.
D: Very cool.
J: I work on the part that makes it go, and then someone else typically takes the part that makes it look nice.
D: And they gussy it up.
D: …That’s the important part, right?
J: [Laughs] Yeah.
D: Yeah, everything else is just…window dressing.
D: [Laughs] …Until you get a site that’s unusable because–
J: Right, right.
D: . . . because it’s bad window dressing.
D: I want to ask you a question here, ‘cause I sense a theme here given what you’re doing with Geekettes, as well.
What’s it like being a woman in tech?
J: [Laughs] Ah…
D: Can you dish some dirt?
J: [Laughs] Yeah, it’s interesting. Um–
D: In a Minnesota sense?
J: In . . .
D: Which is to say it’s not very–
D: And where you say it’s something interesting – you say I don’t like it.
J: …I’ll be honest, I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve had some really good career opportunities, some very good learning opportunities, and leadership opportunities – both in my jobs, as well as in the community – and it’s been pretty good. When I say “interesting,” I mean more in that like I see a lot of stuff that’s going on through Twitter and through just talking with people. Especially…being a part of the Geekettes now – I hear a lot more of what’s going on in the bad parts; but I’ll hear the good parts, and that’s a lot of what I like to focus on: the good stuff.
D: Sure, sure.
What was your path to go into programming?
J: When I went to college, I thought, Hey, I want to be a doctor. ‘Cause you have to memorize a lot of stuff [Laughs] – and I was better at math. The math degree required a computer science background, and so that’s kind of how I got into it. So I have a degree in computer science. When I got out of college, I found my first job was doing DOS programming.
D: Alright. [Laughs]
J: Yeah, [Laughs] exactly. There was definitely a lot of room for growth just at that job. Then my next job was kinda the one that I grew up at, and I was there for almost seven years and really started doing a lot more web development. It…kind of grew into a senior engineer position, and a technical lead position. Then realized I didn’t want to be in the management track; I kinda wanted to get back into doing my own thing and staying technical – that’s when I ended up leaving and going off on my own.
D: Yeah. What was it like when you were in college? What was the moment that you realized, Oh, this is the shift?
J: There were probably many of them. I mean…one of ‘em is: I was one of the first few people in my dorm. I had three other girls that I lived with, and (Inaudible) the one that had the computer, and friends of ours around us had computers; and I was the one that had to fix them, because I knew the most about them.
J: And I enjoyed doing that; I liked kind of being that ‘go to’ person. [Laughs] So that was
kinda…one thing. But…even the very, like, trivial part of writing a program and having it work – I remember being up at, like, 3:00 in the morning, pulling an all-nighter, just to get my code to compile; and like probably high-fiving myself when it actually was working. [Laughs] Going to class the next day, turning it in, and being done –it was a very, very rewarding experience, I guess; even though it was very challenging at the same time.
D: Um-hm, um-hm. It really sounds like even though maybe the pieces that you work with are different – it really sounds like it’s the same creative process that a lot of people go through that, you know–
D: . . . where…things can be a real mess until they suddenly come into place, you know?
J: Yeah, exactly–
D: That…you move the right thing and, all of a sudden, it’s comin’ together.
J: Yep, yep.
D: So, that’s one thing: when you’re alone doin’ it, but…when you’re like workin’ with other people – is that a bit harder…trying to rope in, like, to marshal three different people workin’ on different aspects of a project?
J: Yeah, yeah. There’s challenges on both sides; both working independently and as part of a team. And you often hear, when people are talking about writing software, that it’s not about the technology that’s hard; it’s really about the people, and the business, and figuring out what people want, and how to actually translate a team of developers – and supporting roles, as well, into building something that they can actually use. So, yeah, it’s very much challenging on both sides. But, yeah, trying to work– I mean, obviously, you have to have a good relationship with your teammates, as well, to be able to coordinate and work well together and to collaborate. And it’s other challenges working independently, as well. I am a very introverted person, so I enjoy working by myself; but there are definitely days when, even if I’m here at Fueled Collective, or if I’m at home, I need to have that external interaction with someone either to bounce ideas off of, or just to get out of my own head. So I have kind of my own systems in place for collaborating with other people, even if I’m just the one developer in a project.
D: Um-hm, um-hm. It strikes me that you – even though you say you’re an introvert–
D: . . . and you enjoy your time alone – but you seem to have some soft skills that maybe gives you a bit of an advantage in working with clients.
D: ‘Cause it’s a bit of a stereo type, but there are certainly programmers who, like, would rather have the stuff served up to them, then they’ll go work on it.
J: Yep, right.
The ability to go talk to the client and actually hear about their needs and translate that – is that something that you have found that you do pretty well?
J: I’m learning.
J: I enjoy it – very much enjoy it. Over the last – or up until the last year, like last January, 2014 – I was actually working, for the most part, primarily through another company. They would talk with clients; they would, you know, spec out the job and – or the project – and then they would basically hire me.
J: And then I would go and work on it. And that’s good. I like that, to some extent, because, you know, I don’t have to do all that work; I don’t have to, you know, go looking for work all the time. But I found that I really enjoyed, like, actually, the direct interaction of trying to find – to meet new people even was just…energizing is a good word for me.
D: Um-hm, um-hm.
J: …Energizing to meet new people and hear about their problems and what they want – like from the very beginning.
J: As opposed to, like, halfway – they’ve already thought through this and they want this specific thing.
D: Right, right. So…you’ve done a lot of client work –
Have you ever thought of doing a startup?
D: Where you…take your talents and kind of turn them onto something that–
D: . . . interests you – what do you think about that?
J: I think it’s a lot of work. [Laughs] And I would like to, and I definitely consider myself very entrepreneurial. I haven’t quite figure out, like, what I’d want to do, and kind of where I’d want to go with that. So, yeah, that’s kind of where I’m at with that.
D: Yeah. It would have to be worth it, right? Because–
J: Yeah, for sure.
D: . . . because…you’d be giving up time you’re spending doing client work; that means less money, and–
J: Exactly, yep, yep.
D: . . . so sacrifices right off the bat.
J: Yeah, exactly, yep. So, I do think about it quite a bit. [Laughs]
D: Um-hm, um-hm. And, you know, maybe the right idea will come along.
J: Yeah, right.
D: There’s no lack of people running around this place with ideas, and, you know, if it’s the right one, maybe that’ll be it for you.
J: Right, right. Yep, for sure.
D: So what have you noticed – you know, we had that effort last year – and I don’t want to make this the focus…yet I’m interested because…I know you’re gonna have a new perspective and you’re probably not gonna be shy of sharing.
D: We had an effort last year to try to, you know, bring more women into Fueled Collective.
D: And then we actually had a good run with some of that.
D: And we’re kind of going back to that in a little bit – ‘cause, you know…I don’t think we licked the problem.
D: Exactly. What is the culture like, especially with running startups and (Inaudible), which is a big component of what we have here? What is the culture, and in what ways is it kind of off-putting and disgusting? [Laughs] You know what I mean: say you go to a startup event or an entrepreneurial event here in town. You go in there, it is all bro hanes (?). I mean, you know…
J: I’m glad you said that.
D: You see one or two or three women, and–
D: . . . even I get the creeps because it’s like – it’s too much of anything, right?
J: You see too many people that look just like you–
J: . . . and I see no one that looks like me.
J: As an example: I was in here in the garage, like a month or two ago, with one of the meetups that meets here; the job was for Twining (?) – it’s a great meetup. But I was the only female, and there was probably 45 people here. And it’s always good conversation; it’s always, you know, good to be here and to hear what people are presenting on and stuff. But it still is very off-putting to come and be the only one. We see that a lot in, you know, at companies, as well. I mean, in my first job out of college, I was the only female developer on a team of like five people. And my next job after that – it was a team of maybe 100 developers, and it was maybe five percent. As as my career has grown, it has gone up; but it is still very imbalanced.
D: Yeah. Is it a chicken or an egg problem? In other words:
Are there other female techies like you?
J: Um-hm, yeah.
D: …Who just don’t show up for these events? They’re out there, but…don’t get ‘em to show up? Or…to begin with, are there fewer of them? Then, to compound the problem, are the environments where techies meet up not exactly welcoming?
J: Yes, all of the above.
J: Even just having been a part of the Geekettes for the last nine months, or so, I’ve seen that there are more women out there than I ever expected that are doing this; or that want to be involved in the tech industry.
J: And I think one of the things that we’re seeing is that if we can show that there are more women doing this, that it’s gonna not only just attract more women; it’s gonna encourage companies and other organizations around us to encourage other women to join, as well.
J: For example: When we have an event on Wednesday night here, and one of our sponsors – he runs a (Inaudible) shop in town –he showed up and he was really surprised to see, you know, 35 women ready and rarin’ to go to learn how to code. It was good to have him show up and see that, because, you know, he can take that information and hopefully do something with it on his own, or with his own organization. But, it’s unfortunate that it’s a shock, as well, because it shouldn’t be; there are women out there that want to do this. I mean, the Geekettes – it’s not the only women in tech organization here in town, either; there’s, you know, probably half a dozen of ‘em that I know of and that we work with.
D: What would be your recipe – or one possible recipe, ‘cause there’s probably no one right answer. But what would you say…[to] anybody who’s involved in the tech scenes folks – so, Fueled Collective could look at this–
D: …And let’s say anybody else who’s organizing events, or is somehow touching the larger, quote, unquote, “community.”
What would be one or two things that should be front defined – for the next six months, or a year – to start to switch this up and open things up?
J: The one that I’ve been telling people that want – quote, unquote – to get “involved,” and i: show up at one of our events and just see if it’s what you want to be a part of; let it surprise you. Because it absolutely will; it surprised a lot of people – the number of women that show up at these events. I mean, we sell out – some of our events have sold out in 12 hours.
J: And then we get people that show up and they don’t have a ticket and we don’t have enough food.
D: Yeah, yeah.
J: That’s a good problem to have, right? I think the first thing I would say is: just go to one of these events, see what their mission is, and what the energy is like in the room. Then talk to people. It’s funny – we get a lot of people coming to us saying, “Hey, what can we do? We want to start hiring more women.” That’s awesome, I want that to happen. But…you actually have to insert yourself into that community and become a part of it for that to actually be an effective way to make change.
D: Instead of just putting out cattle calls.
J: Exactly, exactly.
D: Actually, like–
J: Be a part of it. [Laughs] And participate.
D: Okay, so we’ve been skirting around Geekettes; let’s jump into it. But–
D: . . . first, before we jump into – what it is and how it works and what you’ve seen –
What’s a list of organizations locally that are comparable, or fighting the same fight [as Geekettes]?
J: We’ve done a little bit of work with GR8 Ladies: G-R-8 L-A-D-I-E-S.
D: I haven’t heard of that group.
J: They work with the Groovy Stack (?) of development tools.
J: They put on workshops and a monthly event, as well; PY Ladies Twin Cities, which is a Python user group; Girl Develop It is – I don’t know how frequently they have workshops, but it’s, again, a learn-to-code workshop specifically geared towards women; Grove and Tech – they’ve been around a little bit longer; it’s (Inaudible) organization. There’s probably one or two others.
D: What about Coder DoJo? Is that for girls, or for just kids, in general?
J: Exactly. That’s a whole ‘nother market. It’s like the under 18 market, right? And Coder DoJo is specifically kids; but there’s a Katie Coder DoJo, which is for girls under, I think, age 17. There’s also Technovation MN, which – I don’t know everything that they do, but it’s, again, getting girls in junior high and high school, I think, to build mobile apps; then they go and present it to an audience, or a group of judges.
D: Very cool.
D: Alright, just had a brain lapse. [Laughs]
D: I was thinkin’ about how I wanted to ask you about Geekettes.
J: Sure, yeah.
D: The thing that struck me was when we saw you on Wednesday; we were doin’ the Jump School that day. Garrio – I’m pointing to Garrio, here, for the listening audience and not the viewing audience – I’m pointing to Garrio; we were both doing Jump School that day, Wednesday, and we came out, we were pumped up, and then we saw you were gettin’ ready for this thing, and you also seemed to have an energy about you. And so, clearly, Geekettes have been something that…it’s been inspiring for you, is what I gather?
J: Um-hm, very.
D: So tell me, what is it?
How does it go down each time?
Or is it different every time?
J: It’s different and the same very time. I mean, it’s–
D: It’s a monthly meetup, right?
J: Yes. Right now it’s a monthly meetup. Fueled Collective has graciously given us the second Wednesday of every month to meet here, in the evening; so have a place to meet, which is really great. But we have a different topic, or a different event, every month. And every single time, Kristen – Kristen is the other woman that I lead this with – every time we leave, or even just arrive, [Laughs] and start having people pour in and talking…it’s like this wave that comes over us and it’s very motivating and very inspiring just to see so many very bright and talented and ambitious women in the same spot. And I’m getting, like, emotional now. [Laughs]
D: Wow. [Laughs]
J: . . . coming to do stuff that I do, and learn what I do, and see the other opportunities that are around, and not just like work opportunities, but presenting opportunities, or opportunities to learn about someone’s job.
D: Um-hm. Is everybody who shows up…senior people like you? Or…
D: Then what levels are they at?
J: So in our chapter, here in the Twin Cities, we have found that – and these are not scientific numbers – it’s about 60 to 70 percent of the women are in either completely non-technical organizations, or non-technical roles, or they’re in a supporting role, like QA, or business analyst; and they want to…become more technical. So they are showing up at our workshops, any of our technical presentations trying to immerse themselves in more technical–
D: They’re trying to get ahead in the game, yeah.
J: Yep, exactly. And meet people who do this on a day-to-day basis so they can bounce ideas around with other people. Then the other, you know, 30 to 40 percent are people like me that enjoy sharing their experiences with other women. And some of those people are actually the ones that run these other organizations; they’ll come to our events, as well. We had a couple on Wednesday night that were here mentoring during our workshops – helping other people learn and get through the exercises that we were working on.
D: Yeah. So last Wednesday – what was it you guys were covering? It was like Command Line, right?
J: Yep, yep. It was a Command Line crash course. So a lot of our computing usage these days is with visual tools – graphical interfaces – and the Command Line’s been around for a long time, and it…can be much more productive to use. Very often, we’re working on servers where we don’t have the graphical tools, so we just have that Command Line. It tends to be very scary, and you have a lot of power, which can make it even more scary. It was a great opportunity for people to come and kinda be able to try out the tool without without making your server a – rendering it useless. [Laughs]
D: Yeah. Is there – okay, so I’ll demonstrate my ignorance . . .
J: That’s okay.
D: Are you using Command Line…is it within certain platforms, or like a big Unix,
J: Oh, yeah, it is a Unix.
J: Or it’s Unix based. Windows does have a command line, but it’s not as well – I don’t want to offend anyone, but it’s not as–
D: Oh, go ahead.
J: . . . it’s not as [Laughs] – yeah, the one we are using; it’s the Unix limit-spaced one, which also
is the part of what powers our Mac, is what–
D: Yeah, right, exactly. Yeah, I’ve occasionally gone and done that.
J: Yep, exactly.
D: Only with explicit instructions from somebody who assured me that it would not destroy my computer.
J: Right, exactly. Windows has one, as well, for using its underlying operating system commands, too. But the one that a lot of our web servers and web development tools that we’re using today are on that Unix based one.
D: Yeah. Now, have you ever caused a major – I’ll use a technical term here – a major booboo…
J: [Laughs] Probably.
D: . . . in using Command Line – really?
J: Yeah, yeah, I’ve probably shut down a server accidentally.
J: Yep, I can almost guarantee I’ve done something like that. [Laughs]
D: And ere you able to keep your job? Or…
J: Oh, for sure, yeah.
D: Okay, okay, good.
J: Yeah, I mean, that’s – yeah. [Laughs]
D: Stuff happens, right?
J: Yeah, exactly – exactly. That’s one of the things that we’re trying to teach women; and not just women, but developers in general: don’t be afraid of typing out this command. Because, sure, you might screw up your computer, but guess what? It’s just a computer – you can fix it, right? The tool that we actually used on Wednesday night – it’s a push-button tool, so if you screw up your server, you can create a new one with the push button.
D: I see; you’re workin’ on an instant, so – yeah, got it.
J: Yeah, exactly. We want them to be experimenting and trying things.
J: …Not just at the command line. [Laughs]
D: Right, right. So what’s next month’s gonna be, do you know?
J: I do not know. We’ll be getting together probably this weekend and we’ll talk about that. The last few months have been pretty technical. We’ve had what we called a “hack-in demo.” I think that was January, which was an evening we kinda gave the women a topic – learning about the statistics of women in technology – and tryin’ to visualize that using the visual vision tools.
D: Sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh, I was just measuring… there’s two sides of the screen and there’s mass amounts of people here and there’s like a few over here.
J: Yeah. [Laughs] Well, so–
D: That was a short session. [Laughs]
J: No, it– they were actually very creative, and…what was interesting is – so they broke into three teams – three or four teams – and they had a couple problems that they had to figure out to be able to do this. One of ‘em is: “Where do you get this data?” “Is it in any sort of usable format?” That was very challenging – there’s not a good resource of data out there. One or two of ‘em had used…they took some census data, and they found some other application that didn’t take gender into account; but they had names, and so you could use the census data to figure out whether it was male or female.
D: Oh, interesting. You automated the verification of whether their name is male or female? Great.
J: Yep. There’s actually a Java script library out there to do that.
D: Is there really?
J: Yeah. I thought that was really interesting.
D: That’s very interesting.
J: I can’t remember exactly what sort of information was visualized, but some of it was: number of computer science degrees completed – that’s the only one I can really remember.
D: Yeah, yeah.
J: It was really interesting. Then I think our February event was – it was kind of just a – an evening of bring – we called it Bring Your Own Project: “BYOP.” People just showed up with their laptops and something that they were working on, and they were able to chat with other people next to them; we didn’t do any sort of demo at the end…
D: You have more like a coworking hangout, huh?
J: Yeah, exactly, exactly.
D: Yeah, that’s cool.
J: Yep. We had a great turnout for that one, as well. Our April event – we don’t have a specific topic, yet, but yeah.
D: You might come up with one?
J: Yeah, we will – [Laughs] there’ll be some things.
D: It’s interesting. I see a parallel: you’re describing people who are wanting to break in; they’re testing the waters, and…there’s always just a little bit of anxiety, too, about when…you want to break into something, but you didn’t know quite how.
D: What point are you good enough…that–
D: . . . there’s always a little bit of a posture (?) thing goin’ on. Anyway, to say, it’s a pretty good parallel to what we’ve been doing with the Jump School stuff.
D: …Because, again, it’s a room full of people who want to be somewhere else, and they’re enthusiastic about it; they’re also anxious about it.
D: But it’s a great. It’s always fun to be in a room with people like that, because it’s like this really great energy of yearning for something.
J: Yeah, yeah.
D: I feel like people pay attention more than they ever would.
D: You know what I mean?
D: …Because they’re just lookin’ for any scrap; anything that’s gonna give you just a little bit more motivation; or maybe, looking for the – at what point do you say, “That’s it, I’m really doing this?”
J: Yep, yeah.
D: “I’m in,” you know?
J: Yeah. I mean, we have people who are…they’re ready to just get that first job in a tech position. And then there are other people, and, I mean– we’re all like this, right? We all have our own doubts about where we’re at. The forum for being able to talk to someone else that either has gone through it, or is currently going through some sort of life change like that is really what is helpful to them.
D: Um-hm. Yeah. It sounds like the culture of the event is really cool.
D: I mean, I like that – it sounds like it’s a real safe environment.
D: Which…I feel like you need that when you’re working with people who don’t go in there; they’re not gonna have the bravado, which–
D: . . . we’ll see in some other environments. You know, you go in there with some doubts. It would be like me going to a podcast convention at this point, right?
J: Sure. [Laughs]
D: “Do you podcast?” “Uh, yeah.” [Laughs]
D: About that. . . [Laughs] Well, very cool. I think – are we about time? Sorry, I’ll let people see our dirty laundry. [Laughs] It’s uh – yeah, oh, there you go. Yeah, I’ll hide behind that one, you know? With this podcast – we’re always feeling our way through it.
D: See, I think the only thing that matters is just to find someone who actually is turned on by what they’re doing.
D: You know? Which, it’s harder to find somebody who’s not, when you’re running a Fueled Collective –
J: Right, right.
D: The variety of things people – like, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever run into here at Fueled Collective?
J: Oh, at Fueled Collective?
D: Any strange professions?
J: Oh . . . I don’t know.
D: We have Andrew the Meteorologist turned–
D: …app maker, right?
J: Right, right, right. Who’s the woman who does the white board – that’s not weird, I
just – it’s (Inaudible) me.
D: It’s cool. The white board illustrations; like they were having a conference and they illustrate it?
J: No, the videos.
D: Oh, Katelyn – Katelyn Rogers, yeah.
J: Katelyn, yeah. I think that’s awesome. I’d never even knew that there was someone who did that.
D: Yeah, like explainer videos, right? Yeah, we’ll have to put a link to her in the–
J: Yeah, for sure.
D: . . . in the show notes. But she demoed at–
J: Yeah, that’s where I – the member spotlight.
D: It was the last member spot light. I was trying to think if there was another even where we had demos – but, yeah. And those were cool videos…it sounds like they turn ‘em around, like, probably fast.
J: Yeah, that was really sudden.
D: Yeah, ‘cause right now there’s like three or four dudes hangin’ out in the front end uptown, and they must put their screens in and they set ‘em up at a table and they have (Inaudible) –
J: Oh, yeah.
D: And…there’s some kind of 3D imaging that they’re doing.
J: Oh, yeah, it’s some modeling or something.
D: Yeah, but it’s takin’ three or four of ‘em to do this, so I’m thinkin’ it must be complicated, or–
J: Yeah, that is interesting – I’ve noticed that.
D: Then there’s – what I love is when things double back on themselves. Years ago, I was in St. Paul, and – oh, another potential podcast victim – I look over at this guy, Paul Littman, and he’s got, what is it now? [Laughs] He’s changed the name a couple times. We’ll have to look it up and put in the notes. Flat Earth, yeah – sorry, Paul. So he had, on his screen, this amazing map: a colorful map of some island somewhere I said, “What is that?” It was really cool – it was like there was all sorts of like patchwork on the map, itself. He said, “Oh, this is a certain prefix here in Japan.” And I go, “Why are you doing that?” He goes, “Well, I’m mapping data for a client that’s trying to figure out if there’s…” like, they only need two or three instances of some rare disease within proximity to a city center to be able to go in there and justify doing a clinical study for (Inaudible). So he was taking public data from Japan, on all these different diseases and mapping it out, laying out, you know, over the map–
D: …so they could basically visually determine if this was a hot zone or not.
D: That was my introduction to GIS as a whole discipline; I was ignorant of it completely before then.
D: But then the minute I saw it, I was, like, Whoa, now I’m seeing GIS things everywhere. I’m thinking about it – if you took that data and put it on the map, you’d suddenly be able to see things. So then, more recently, we had Michael O’Leary working on a really cool project of mapping – doing mapping for schools and public transport stations; almost like bar stations and things…
J: Uh-huh, sure.
D: . . .where he’s able to provide for first responders. He’s been able to provide mapping and then layering some data over that, so they could go in there even for inspections; they could see where all the stand pipes are, and where the fire hydrants are. But, then, if there’s an actual emergency, they can just see what rooms are where; where are the exits.
D: …Really fundamental stuff that you would need in an emergency. So he’s got a little of a GIS application. And then, if you want, you could zoom out from a single bar station to all of ‘em.
D: I was, like, “You gotta talk to Littman, ‘cause I know that he’s doing this stuff,” you know?
J: I just was gonna say, that’s one of the great things about working here: you get
to see the different kinds of things that people are working on and then connect them together.
D: Yeah, that’s the fun part: when you can connect them, you know. And you know…they weren’t necessarily gonna run into each other otherwise
D: That’s the big payoff for me.
D: I like that.So, let me ask you this…you’re out there – you’re obviously looking for people to come to Geekettes.
J: Yeah, absolutely.
What’s the website?
J: The website is: geekettes.io
D: Okay. That’s the Twin Cities one, right?
J: No, that’s the global one. So there’s, like, seven or eight different chapters around the world – mostly in Europe. Then, we’ve got two here: one in the Twin Cities, and one in New York. So the geekettes.io website is for the global organization; you can see the overall mission, and what the other cities are doing.
J: And we do have a Facebook page: Twin Cities Geekettes. That’s our public one. We do have a private one that is specifically for members; it’s the forum for the community to talk to each other.
D: Cool. And how can people find you if they want to use you for programming.
J: Sure: 612softwarefoundry.com is my website. Otherwise, I’m on Twitter: Jenna Pederson.
D: What if I’m in the 651 area code? Can I still work with you?
J: You can still work with me. [Laughs]
D: [Laughs] But I have to come over to Minneapolis for meetings, right?
J: Well, yes. [Laughs] I suppose we could use the phone.
D: Then what would be meaningful, when talking about connections?
What would be a meaningful connection for you?
What are the right kind of hookups here?
J: Workwise, if you’re looking to build – just MVPs, just small, smaller apps that you want to get out there and try an idea – I’d love to work on something like that. If it’s anything related to the Geekettes stuff, we’re always looking for new members; we’re always looking for event sponsors – people to immerse them with the community, and to get more people talking about it is really our goal right now.
D: Gotcha. Alright. Great. Well, Jenna, thank you very much.
J: Yeah, thank you.
D: And we’ll see you around Fueled Collective.
J: Yeah, absolutely.
D: You just spent another valuable half hour listening to the Fueled Collective podcast. We are forever in search of more podcast victims, as we like to call ‘em. So if you are a candidate – if you’re a Fueled Collective member and you would like to tell the world about your venture – let us know; we’re really open. If not, we’re gonna find ypu and recruit you. If you want to hear more Fueled Collective podcasts, we are – or Dreamcasts – hello – [Laughs] if you want to hear more Dreamcasts, we have them on the website at cocomsp.com/dreamcast. We have some other goodies there, too. If you sign up for our e-mail list, we’ll let you know when new Dreamcasts come out, plus other kinds of Fueled Collective-ey news. And – what else do we have, Garrio? – All sorts of stuff on the website.
Oh, we should mention Jump School – we’ve kind of been breathing that 24/7 for the last few weeks. We have resuscitated Jump School, which was a project we started last year, and it was really an attempt to figure out how to do entrepreneurial education without all the focus on tech. Not to say we don’t like tech, but it’s not the “be all and end all” – there’s a lot of people out there with entrepreneurial dreams that have nothing to do with it, and we think they’re equally worthy of inspiration and support. So, Jump is basically a school to teach you how to jump into your own venture; be it for profit, or non-profit, or a project, or an entrepreneurial project within a company – we’re teaching that game, basically. We had two classes last week – two Jump days. We did one on a Friday and one on a Wednesday, and they were – how would you describe ‘em, Garrio?
Garrio Harrison [G]: I’d say they were pretty awesome; lots of really interesting ideas that people came up with…just the enthusiasm folks brought to the table – it was awesome.
D: Then there’s always a couple in every class who don’t know what they want to do; they have a little bit of a special place in my heart because, it’s that point of indecision – all you know is you’re not crazy about where things are at, but you’re not quite sure what you should invest in, you know? Like, if I’m gonna take a step forward, it’s gotta be the right thing; or, you think, it’s gotta be the perfect thing. It’s hard to move when you’re in that position. I always feel…if we can help somebody get unstuck from there, that’s a really big accomplishment. We had a couple in each class, I remember. Then the few who had their ideas so baked out it was like they were off to the races.
So, yeah, we’ve been doing that, and then we just added – well, we had to actually switch the format, ‘cause I only got one taker on this idea; we called it Jump Month. The idea was – no, it was Jump Week. It’s – I’m reversed; we had Jump Week, and the idea was you’d come for five days solid, and we would run you through almost like a boot camp, and at the end, you would much further along on your business plan and developing your business. But we found only one person who said they could park it a week to go do that. So we were, like, “Huh, maybe a week’s too much.”
So we just broke it up into four consecutive Fridays: April 10th, to May 1. The idea there, then, is come on a Friday; in the morning, we’ll have some content and lectures and guest/experts, and work you through some specific steps. Then, in the afternoons on those Fridays, you basically cowork; you work on your idea with some available mentoring and peer mentoring, as well. We’re gonna see if some people can maybe part with four Fridays in a row to get their businesses started. You can look for all that on the Fueled Collective website; there’s a lot of stuff about Jump School. The same information is listed on cocojumpschool.com. And we’ll actually be kind of consolidating all that in the near future, and make it really easy and accessible to find that.
That’s it for another Fueled Collective podcast – you just got a little bonus extra [Laughs] rant at the end, there. We’ll see you next time.
About the Fueled Collective DreamCast
Our goal for the Fueled Collective DreamCast is pretty straightforward: we want to talk to Fueled Collective members, find out what makes them tick and learn how they’re living out their dreams. Look for another episode soon!