Story of a Mozilla Girl who became an Entrepreneur

It was not the first time I was hearing the brand name Mozilla. I have always been a regular Mozilla Firefox user. But I was not aware of the story of Firefox, I was not aware of thousands of amazing contributors all across the world trying to provide safe and better access to open web. When I got invited to the Mozilla Kerala Event, I said “YES” without giving a single thought. I spent the whole day researching about Mozilla communities across the world and decided to go to the Mozilla Kerala WoMoz Festival on March 04, 2014 at Indira Gandhi Institute of Engineering & Technology [IIET] .

I used to volunteer for a lot of clubs back in school but there was something different about this community. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Mozilla Kerala Community ( which was more like my family :) ) that made me think out of the box, pushed the boundaries of my comfort zone and dream big. It gave me wings to fly and follow my heart. I wouldn’t have even thought of starting up a company if I was not a part of Mozilla Kerala Community. It is this community that gave me great friends who ignited my passion. I live in one of the rural areas in Kerala where girls were not even allowed to go out alone after 6.00 PM. I never had a good INTERNET connectivity and hence I stayed back in college till 6.00 PM in the college library to use internet. It was the community that gave me the idea of open web and power of internet to change the world ( I have not changed the entire world yet ;) ) But I did initiate change in my immediate surroundings. I used to be the “black sheep” in my locality who would reach home at odd timings. The More I got “stares” from people, the more determinant I became. I made up my mind that no matter what people were saying I will make best use of the most essential resource I have — Internet. I started advocating for Mozilla and open web access in colleges and schools across Kerala. And I have been part of many webmaker projects to spread the digital literacy across the state and I enjoyed every moment of that. The favorite among them being- Bosco Kids or Dinokidz. It was a webmaker project conducted exclusively for orphans and economically challenged kids. It was their smiling faces that gave me the energy to travel for about 8 hours daily to teach them. My parents were visibly disappointed by the way I stopped caring for myself. In a way that was true- I got addicted to Mozilla Community ❤ . And I’m still in deep love with Mozilla. It excites me more than anything.

As a girl from a middle class family, I would have dreamed of a MNC Job only. But I could do something that I was thinking to be impossible only because of the strong determination. The passion for technology has helped me a lot in surviving in the tech industry especially as a startup. There was a time in my life I used to dream of an MNC Job. Getting placed into the dream companies was the only aim I had when I joined for Engineering. But later I understood that there are lots of OTHER options for me. Thanks to all those wonderful communities like Mozilla, Startup Village, DIYHacking, Rethink & Tinker Hub which took me to the pool of like minded people who supported me throughout my startup journey. These communities changed my perspectives. I used to be the only girl in most of the events. But I didn’t gave up for being alone and this determination gave birth to WebAccede — My first company. I am proud to be the first student girl entrepreneur from our startup community. The startup was really something that taught me a lot. We have learned a lot in the startup journey. The risk factor in startup was the first question I have addressed everyday either from the relatives , neighbours or my parents. I can’t blame them since I live in a society of people who thinks that a student is incapable if he/she didn’t get placed via campus placements. I gave up my placements trusting my instinct that my field is not the MNC and I’m not regretting my decision. I managed to run the company while I was pursuing my Engineering. And I started with yet another one in hardware field. Since I have been knowing the hardships of entrepreneurship for the past few years, I would like to help out the startup communities with our new product — “ www.thestartupp.com ” I was not a coder, hacker, evangelist, activist, entrepreneur back in 2013, If I was able to become something then it’s all because of the communities that I am part of. A flashback through my journey as an open source evangelist ..

I never believed in love at first sight ;) until Mozilla happened to me :D . I think that’s why people say “Once a Mozillian always a Mozillian”

Kerala’s first ever HTML5S Developer Conference !!

Teaching kids to use computer and web

Had an amazing experience for being Grace Hopper Scholar 2014in the world’s largest gathering of women technologists !!

First international un-conference I have ever attended !! #AdaCamp

World’s largest maker party with 3,000+ attendees !!!

  • App Day at RGCET

Setting up the Mozilla Webmaker Stall- few minutes later, it became the busiest stall in the fest !!! #WebMaker

Two Day Women’s Only Developer Boot Camp !!! #Hackrgirls

Empower WoMoz V2

WoMoz rocked the event with #Imposter_Syndrome #AppDay

The excitement to be part of 15 day train journey with 650+ people from across the world is beyond explanation #JagritiYatra #JY2015

Although I stumbled for about 8,000 km across India, I was not aware of the fact that after collecting 50,000 reports the Mozilla stumbler automatically sets to zero. Hence the chance of getting a Guinness World Record was missed ;) But rank 788 in Mozilla Stumbler Leader Board is kind of achievement for me :D #JY2015 #MozStumbler

  • Net Neutrality Activism

We had to fight to get our basic right to access unbiased internet! #India #NetNeutrality

Wearing the hat of #WomenInTech

Sometimes people just don’t expect me to code and hack ;) :D . Well I’m one among that rare species of women who LOVES to be nerdy. #GeekyGirl #Hackrgirl

I never thought I was lucky enough to get first prize in my first hackathon with golden opportunity to attend HackAccelerator program at San Francisco :D Credits goes to #MozillaKeralaTeam #Haggler

  • Nirbhaya Women Safety Gadget

I was always concerned about women safety and hence Nirbhaya wearable was born. My first open source hardware project — Prototyped using #Arduino

  • All Girls Hack Camp — Venturesity

Look at my Mozilla T-shirt — #Marketing #Mozillian #WomenInTech

  • Women In Technology Meetup 2015
  • Rails Girls Summer Of Code 2015

Team Hackrgirls worked on Impress.js project under one and only Bartek Szopka !! :D #WowMoment #RGSoC

  • Google Dev Fest 2015 speaker
  • WeTech — Qualcomm Global Scholar Program Orientation 2016

Bagged first prize worth $5,000 and entry to Accelerator Program in the Hackathon against Gender Based Violence conducted by Geeks Without Bounds , The Bachchao Project and US Consulate. #StopHumanTrafficking #Wearable

I’m proud to be a Women In Tech. Challenge is in maintaining/increasing the participation of women in the field of technology. Who is gonna help me in empowering women in the world ???

PS: If Ping me via Facebook , Twitter or drop a mail to nidhiya.raj@yif.ashoka.edu.in if you are interested in supporting women in tech :)

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