Why I want to help every child find her or his inner geek.

It was a chilly March morning in Austin, Texas when I met a new friend to go visit a classroom in a low income part of East Austin at a school called East Austin College Prep. I knew this school was special because there were live camels outside when I arrived. Camels are part of Texas history apparently. Yet I was not there to learn about these dromedaries, the purpose of the visit was to see a class using Globaloria. Globaloria is a social learning network where students develop digital literacy, STEM and Computing knowledge, and global citizenship through game design. At EA Prep, Globaloria is a required class for all 6th — 8th graders. Imagine 1 hour of this a day for 3 years?! I was blown away by this program and how effective it was in the classroom. These middle schoolers were writing code in a real commercially used programming language and doing their own animation and graphics. They even talked like mini-game development professionals. These students were not just building educational games for a grade, but to improve their community. The educational games were for local non-profit organizations such as MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The most inspiring part of this class was that it was about 80% Latino and 50% women. Completely unheard of demographics in the real world of computing professionals. In the almost 20 years I’ve been working on STEM advocacy for underrepresented minorities I had never encountered such a program. …

..This post was originally published on the Technovation Challenge Blog and syndicated on the Women 2.0 blog.

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Think about an app or gadget you love to use. Is it Instagram? Is it Snapchat? Your smart phone? Whatever it is, at some point it did not exist. At some point someone out there decided that there was something missing in the world or they wanted to make the world a better place. An entrepreneur is someone who feels this way and makes something to create the world they want to see. When this something makes money, it is a business. If it does not make money, then it’s just a hobby. You do not have to have an MBA or a PhD to start a business. Anyone, no matter how young or old, can be an entrepreneur. …

Get TEKD! — Find the class or group for you!

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“Ever want to start programming or understand startups more and just not know where to start?” That was the line I used to pitch TEKD at the AT&T Hackathon for Social Good.

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The Background

Tekd is a fun mobile app to help folks reach their tech education goals, whether that is to learn to code, find a community to hack with, or volunteer for a program. The initiative behind this app came from the need to create more awareness and visibility of educational programs in technology for underrepresented groups in the US, especially underrepresented youth. This initiative is called Connect to Tech. It spawned from a roundtable held at the White House in August about Tech Inclusion. The problem is that many people do not know where to start when it comes to entering the tech community. There are many high quality programs emerging right now such as Black Girls Code, Girls Who Code, Spark America, Technovation Challenge, and many more. However, if you do not have someone in your family or network who is plugged in then it may be a challenge to find these programs and tech communities. As the founder of Code Scouts told me, “It is about getting an invitation to be part of the tech community.” …

I started this blog to cover my journey in entrepreneurship among other things. As I am taking personal stock in what has gone on in the last year, I came across this essay I wrote for an application. I thought I would share it since it captures the essence of what and why I want to be an entrepreneur. Perhaps some tenets will resonate with you. At least that is my hope.

Write 2–4 paragraphs on why you want to be an entrepreneur:

“I want to make a difference in the world” is the standard answer to this question. The difference for me is that *I am* making a difference in this world, but not at enough scale and not fast enough to solve the problems I see facing society. I chose my given field of computer science because I knew it would give me the foundation to attack various problems and that technology moves so fast I would never get bored. I am the type of person that must constantly be intellectually stimulated and I can get bored rather quickly. It just so happened that at 6 years old my parents gave me a little QWERTY keyboard as a toy and what I thought was play turned out to be programming. You can say I found my calling rather early in life. This insatiable curiosity is something I feel I will be able to fulfill as an entrepreneur. …

Hearing how people got into tech is fascinating to me, especially women. (Check out http://ilearnedtoprogram.com) Not that men’s stories are not interesting. It’s that women’s stories tend to have a lot of variability to them. From the age to the role model to the reasons. Here’s my story.

I started programming at the ripe old age of 6. In today’s world that sounds somewhat young, although not very unbelievable considering 18 month year olds know how to play with iPhones and download apps. …

I somewhat chuckled when I heard this. I thought it was a bit of an exaggeration. Then I remembered a book I read last year called “Click”by Ori Brafman, which was all about codifying why people click when they meet. I really wanted to understand why with some people it felt like I had known them my whole life and not so much with others.

A lot of the book seemed like common sense to me. I especially remember the chapter about Naturals, a person who can make a new close friend from just meeting a person once. They are called high self-monitors. When I read this chapter I could relate with it a bit, but secretly wished I had that level of clicking power. I seem to be getting there. …

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I’m on a plane right now on my way home from Central America. Fortunately the long plane rides afford me a lot of time to be pensive and Startup Weekend is on the dome right now.

I’ve been pondering what I wanted to get out of the Women 2.0 Startup Weekend this weekend. It’s my one-year anniversary of starting to go to Startup Weekends. This will be my 3rd. The first one I actually took an iOS programming class the Friday night of the weekend so I could be a developer that weekend for a team. I ended up being the project manager, as I usually tend to be. The last one was an EDU Startup weekend, where I pitched and was the CEO of my own team Pariba. That kicked off a whirlwind 6 weeks (see my previous post). …

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Often other technical women ask me what was my path from being a coder to a product manager. I’ve recounted the same steps over and over again. I coded for several years. Got a taste of working with clients. Liked the more social aspects of working with non-technical people and then using my technical skills to advise them. Was very good at organizing projects and getting things done. Did not want to keep building customized solutions and wanted to build actual products. Hacking shifted from code to requirements and project plans. Now it’s more about customer development and product definitions. Creativity shifted from the most elegant technical solution to finding a way to make life better for a consumer. …

Two Pivots in 6 Weeks

This year it is no secret that the entrepreneurial bug has come back to bite me and bite harder this time around. I’m still crazy for education and technology. A decade ago I was right out of school and ready to take on the world. The world of hacking that is since I was a developer back then. Now, I am still ready to take on the world, but a lot wiser and not as financially free as before. This is a story of how in just 6 weeks I had an entrepreneurial rebirth and pivoted twice.

In the start up world “pivoting” is changing the product direction to keep the business afloat and hopefully moving forward. It does not mean changing your vision, just your implementation of it. In this case I am the product, hence Product of Me (POM). My vision is to “Go big or go home”, meaning to have a huge impact by bringing valuable innovation to the masses. …

Herding Kittens

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Being a part of the Founder Institute has essentially turned me into a 24/7 thinker, where I’m to the point that I have to have my phone always near me to take a note or record anything that comes to mind on my idea. Basically, I want to capture all I can on my assignment this week, which is to use my Vision and Values to refine my start up idea. My last post went into mind numbing detail about my plan to do this. Can you tell I’m a PM? I know. Everything I do in the day has to be in a calendar. Even bathroom breaks! Oooops, TMI. Well by Friday night after doing more reading on “good start up ideas”, I was starting to doubt the magnitude of my idea. My vision of making a difference in education is huge, but I needed something more worthy to manifest that vision, especially if I’m embarking on this hard journey of an entrepreneur. …


Jennifer Arguello

Product Manager, Engineer, CSEdK12 Educator and Activist, FUTBOL addict, maker of a better world, destroyer of the status quo!

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