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Meet Avni Barman of Generation She in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Avni Barman.

Avni, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Having worked for various tech companies and always being the only female on the team, I was compelled to personally reassess the lack of gender diversity in technology. While many companies have already addressed this with numerous diversity initiatives for recruiting more women, only 20% of women hold these tech jobs. While this bottom-up approach is essential, we remain far from achieving a gender balance in leadership positions and our general workforce. Worse, every day fewer women are starting their own companies due to a variety of factors stemming from an absence of moral support and guidance at a young age, understanding of entrepreneurial risks, and lack of resources to pursue an idea. Culture shifts start from the top. I believe that if we approach this problem top-down as well, with a goal to have more women leading companies, the workplace culture will naturally shift towards improved diversity. With this approach, we can more rapidly attain gender balance in the workplace.

In a recent TEDx talk, Reshma Saujani pointed out that from a young age, boys are taught to be brave while girls are raised to be perfect. Starting a business involves taking risks and being bold, an idea often instilled in growing boys, not girls. Women around the world are less likely to consider entrepreneurship as a career path, largely because they do not see other female entrepreneurs as role models.

Teaching young girls entrepreneurial skills early on increases the likelihood of long-term success with their ventures. According to Jay Giedd, a child psychiatry researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health, “the teen brain is a time of enormous opportunity.” Thus, I determined the best target age group is high school students. High school students are simultaneously old enough to tackle independent, extracurricular projects and young enough to grow and explore future career paths.

From here, Generation She was born. By providing mentorship and resources to aspiring innovators, I hope to build the next generation of female founders.

Please tell us about Generation She.
Generation She’s execution is currently two-fold.

1. Entrepreneurship Makeathons:

We invited high schoolers in Los Angeles to attend our Entrepreneurship Makeathon on March 9-10th at Snap Inc. headquarters. During these two days, students actively engaged in discussions with female entrepreneurs (i.e., founders of Sugarfina, Angie’s BOOMCHICKAPOP, Knock Knock Stuff, etc.) and learned design thinking, ideation, product development, and marketing from industry leaders at Snapchat, General Assembly, verynice, etc. Students were able to gain effective communication and leadership skills, alongside a fully developed idea in preparation for a pitch competition at the end of the makeathon.

Eleven winners of the pitch competition were paired with leading female founders to help guide their ideas into reality through our mentorship program. In less than two months, I was able to raise $10,000 in monetary sponsorships and product donations from 21 companies. We also sold out our event (150 spots) in 3 weeks.

This January, Generation She hosted our second Entrepreneurship Makeathon. 250+ high school girls joined us at Lyft HQ for a weekend of ideation, engineering, design, branding, marketing, and pitching! From coding arduinos to perfecting elevator pitches, we had over 15 workshops to ensure every single attendee walked out with new skills, a pitch deck, and a viable business idea that they could launch.

Ten girls received grand prizes from the pitch competition. From mobile apps combating mental health to cruelty-free skincare lines, we cannot wait to see the revolutionary change this generation of young female leaders will bring.

We were truly grateful to have had 10+ female founders join us that weekend as inspirational role models to our attendees alongside incredible keynotes from Vanessa Dew and Daina Trout, the founders of Health-Ade Kombucha, and Wende Zomnir, the founder of Urban Decay Cosmetics. We also had 24 partners/sponsors who helped make this event a reality.

2. Our Community:

Our Community is made up of a group of passionate young womxn interested in entrepreneurship! We host online events where high school girls can interact with guest speakers (female CEOs and industry leaders), conduct AMAs with the Gen She team, share resources with other like-minded teens to grow their own business and much more! High schoolers can establish mentor-mentee relationship with our speakers and/or the Gen She team and receive one on one coaching and advice.

All these resources and opportunities are exclusive to Gen She community members. And best of all, membership is free.

We found a unique niche in the nonprofit sector. Although entrepreneurship programs exist for high school students, none focus exclusively on girls. While we do not limit our platform to women, we believe that catering our brand to that demographic is important. Current brands that do target young girls (like Girls Who Code) do not emphasize ownership and entrepreneurship. However, our intention is not to compete with organizations like Girls Who Code but to supplement the leadership skills that may be missing from their program.

Contact Info:

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Meet Downtown LA Series Sponsor:

Michelle FRECKLES Labelle: I am a writer. My inspiration when I write is my life. God gave me a complex life – mixed with pain & struggle, but he also added beauty, grace, & talents that I could use to improve my life and the life of others. I have 2 published books available for purchase on my website right now. One of the biggest ways to support me is to order my books. I am also available to perform my Spoken Word at events. People can email me at infodafreckledpoet@gmail.com to discuss fees. I have performed at dialogues between prominent public figures, such as Dr. Cornel West. I have also performed at hair shows, school events, business events, etc. People also pay me to create videos with myself vibing to their latest music.

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