i3 | November 27, 2019

Ingrid Sanden of Boolean Girl Tech

Rachael Watson

Boolean Girl Tech Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Ingrid Sanden and her partners, Brian Moran and Sarah Eastman, have developed a self-contained computer and engineering kit which teaches girls how to code and build electronics through play. i3 sat down with Sanden to learn more about Boolean Girl Tech and their first product, the Boolean Box.

Boolean Girl Tech Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Ingrid Sanden

How did the idea for the Boolean Box come about?

We have a sister organization — a nonprofit — and that’s how we started. The actual Boolean Box was born out of necessity because we were traveling to different elementary schools and teaching girls in third grade and up how to code. The kids responded to it and we took a lot of input from them. And then parents wanted to buy the kits to use at home, but we didn’t sell them. So, after a groundswell of support for it, we decided to do a Kickstarter in 2016 and that’s how it started. The curriculum, which is available on our non-profiit website for free, is pretty awesome. It’s really robust and is molded by the girls in our after-school classes. It’s really been fun. Girls make such cool things.

How do you hope Boolean Girl Tech will impact the industry?

A Our ultimate goal is to erase the gender gap in computer science careers. It’s a tall order, obviously, and we’re not the only ones working toward it. We are really happy that we can be part of a different way of looking at the industry and people in the industry. Because a lot of people think, incorrectly, that engineers and programmers are people who sit in dark rooms all by themselves and don’t interact with anyone. But the product or service that you’re delivering or that you’re creating is always better when you have diversity on your team. The problem that your solving usually has a much more successful outcome if you’ve got different voices involved.

What is the biggest challenge your company has encountered as a tech startup?

The three of us work really hard but there’s not always enough bandwidth to answer every email in a timely fashion or follow-up on all possibilities or partnerships. Prioritizing is a challenge. It’s definitely something we’ve gotten better at, and just being able to move forward on things as wholeheartedly as we’d like because we are pulled in so many directions. We’re constantly re-prioritizing and renegotiating because sometimes things come up and they turn into something that you never could have expected them to. It’s always worth exploring things if you feel like maybe there’s something there. That’s been hard, but it's also been really fun

What advice would you give entrepreneurs founding a new startup?

I think it comes down to having a goal and a mission. What do you want to do and why do you want to do it? Because if you’re not passionate about that, you’re never going to be able to sell it to anybody, whether it’s an investor or a customer. Once you do that, find those people around you who can help you in a real, hands-on way. Find those people who are good at what you’re bad at. If you don’t know how to find them, you’ve just got to get out there. But really, it starts with being passionate about what you’re trying to sell, however you’re trying to sell it.

For more information, go to booleangirltech.com. And for more tools for STEM education, check out CES 2020.

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