Power Women of DC Tech: Part V
Our next batch of Trending 40 women have lots to report: a recent exit, new customers, program launches, and big-time growth. Help us celebrate these 40 amazing entrepreneurs on Oct. 15. Sign up here.
Innovation and product management VP, ECMC; Co-founder, College Abacus
Job focus: Integrating College Abacus into ECMC; launching ECMC’s innovation lab and hiring a team of developers; and developing next-gen technologies to change how people manage student debt.
Company: ECMC is a nonprofit national guaranty agency under the Federal Family Education Loan Program, managing $39B in federal student loans.
Latest news: ECMC bought my startup, College Abacus.
Inspiration to launch company: The net-price calculator requirement ensured that schools release financial aid information. We built College Abacus to make sure prospective students could access the data.
Why pursue a tech career: With a little vision, tech can make significant, scaleable change.
Biggest challenge of being an entrepreneur: The hours
Career milestones: Co-curating gallery exhibition with chief of an unrecognized tribe; winning Rhodes Scholarship; and co-founding and selling College Abacus.
Current home: Gallery Place
Why DC: Was living in Hong Kong with husband and got to pick next city. College Abacus was at growth point and picked DC to further grow it.
School: University of Pennsylvania and Oxford
First job: Babysitting
Favorite vacation: Sarawak (Malaysia) or Orkney (Scotland)
Favorite restaurant: DGS Deli (Dupont Circle)
Family facts: Married to Whitney Haring-Smith, also co-founder of College Abacus
Hobbies: Science fiction, NFL, baking, and teaching new vocabulary to 4-year-old brother
What you’d say to 18-year-old self: You aren’t going to be an archaeologist.
Social marketing VP, SocialRadar
Job focus: Getting the right people to talk about SocialRadar through social, events, and media and making sure SocialRadar is actively involved in local tech community.
Company: Builds mobile apps that give real-time information on people around you
Customers: Anyone with an iOS, Android or Google Glass device, particularly networkers and Millennials
Company’s latest news: SocialRadar was selected as the official networking app at CTIA Super Mobility Week—North America’s largest wireless event.
Why a tech career: Always loved using technology to change the way the world works. Had opportunity at previous jobs in education at SMARTHINKING and at Blackboard.
Biggest challenge: Not enough time in the day. Always things to do at SocialRadar, but also enjoy meeting and helping other startups.
Career milestones: Landing gig at SocialRadar; providing tech commentary on national television for Fox Business; and closing biggest mobile deal ever at Blackboard.
Hometown: York, Penn.
Current home: Petworth
Why DC: A semester in DC during college.
School: Messiah College
First job: Snack girl at Lincolnway Pool. Client Relationship Manager at SMARTHINKING (later sold to Pearson).
Greatest fear: Never meeting Bruce Springsteen. And missing out on making a great impact in career and life.
Favorite vacation: Stone Harbor, NJ
Favorite restaurant: Zaytinya (Chinatown)—can’t get enough of those Brussels sprouts.
Bucket list: Meeting Bruce Springsteen
A daily habit: Veggie shake with oatmeal in the Vitamix. (Isn’t as disgusting as it sounds.) And read The Skimm.
Family facts: Married almost 9 years
Hobbies: Running, restaurants, concerts, friends, selfies, and co-organizing DC Tech Meetups
Advice to 18-year-old self: Get an internship and make it count. That winter job at Sbarro won’t do a ton of good (though you’ll be skilled at making change).
Managing director, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
Job focus: Manage team and programs; make connections between Dingman and broader startup ecosystem; and being ambassador on campus and at business school.
What Dingman Center does: Equip next generation of entrepreneurs at University of Maryland with skills to take an idea to market. Also inspiring students and raising awareness of entrepreneurship. We’ve evolved from being an extracurricular program to being integrated into the curriculum. We have 200-300 students who engage with our programs every year.
Dingman’s latest news: Launching minor in entrepreneurship for non-business school students next fall
Biggest challenge for young entrepreneurs: Accessibility to tech has increased so much, and the cost of starting something is minimal, so they’re a little naive in how easy it is to launch a company. On the other hand, you just want them to do it, and this is a generation that’s not used to failure.
Career milestones: Graduating from University of Chicago with an MBA; helping grow startup investment bank to exit; being promoted to managing director at Dingman.
Hometown: Columbia, Md.
Current home: Potomac
What brought you back to DC: Husband and I are from here and when we found out we were having twins, we wanted to be close to family.
School: University of Maryland and University of Chicago
First job: Pizza shop cashier
Greatest fear: Bats in my hair
A daily habit: Write a journal entry every night for the last six years. Great way to see what I did on the same day for the last few years.
Favorite vacation: Italy
Favorite restaurant: Oyamel (Penn Quarter).
Bucket list: Live somewhere internationally for a year.
Family facts: Married 12 years; twins, Ari and Julia (seven-and-a-half years old)
Hobbies: Running road races, reading, crossword puzzles, little league spectator.
Advice to 18-year-old self: Don’t take things personally.
Job focus: Co-lead all aspects of 1776
What’s 1776: An incubation platform for startups around the world tackling education, healthcare, energy, and smart cities. Programs include education, incubation, acceleration, and funding.
1776's latest news: Ridescout, a 1776 member, was acquired by Daimler. Great example of today’s entrepreneurs: veterans who wanted to build a business and make a difference in the world, tackling congestion on our roads by delivering a ridesharing platform.
Inspiration to launch 1776: So many entrepreneurs were thinking about applying startup models to world’s big challenges instead of thinking about building more Angry Birds and Instagrams. The more we thought about getting the “power of DC” behind the most promising, game-changing companies, the more we realized we could create a massive platform to find and scale meaningful tech companies.
Why a tech career: By accident. Was a finance major in college and was interviewing for financial analyst positions and accidentally got put on the interviewing list for systems engineers. They made me a job offer I couldn’t refuse.
Career milestones: Starting my first business, Kinderstreet in 2000; first exit—sold Kinderstreet in 2005 to Arc Capital Development; and launching 1776 in 2013.
Hometown: Born in St. Catherines, Ontario; Grew up in Lake Ontario, Mich.
Current home: Falls Church
Why DC: Executive leadership role at National Strategies, a small state and local government consulting firm, to develop and execute a strategy to scale.
School: Central Michigan University and University of Michigan
First job: Systems engineer, EDS
A daily habit: Prayer, reading, and think about big priorities for day and week
Greatest fear: Snakes
Favorite vacation: Taking a houseboat on the Cumberland Lakes and renting a beach house on a quiet stretch of the Outer Banks
Favorite restaurant: Rosa Mexicano
Bucket list: Learn to surf
Family facts: Married; son, Chase, age 4; two yorkies, Scrappy and Shaggy.
Hobbies: Spending time with son—he’s so much fun. Run, reading, and anything having to do with art—drawing, painting, photography.
Advice to 18-year-old self: Worry less about career outcomes and focus more on the journey.