From Coding to Pitching

A Coder’s Journey into the world of Entrepreneurship

By Gefen Skolnick, Excel Ventures 2018

I come from a world of hackathons, overwhelming loads of work from STEM classes, and coding until the morning to fix bugs. Most of this work is done independently and in a highly competitive setting, and it’s been quite the journey.

Systemic Inventive Thinking Workshop

It all began around 3 years ago when I discovered computer science and decided to delve into the topic to figure out what exactly interested me about it. I have taken steps in so many different directions since then, and I occasionally feel ridden with imposter syndrome because of it. It seems that I keep getting interested in different aspects of technology without ever honing in on one.

Nonetheless, I am passionate about the power that I have when I code. I am able to seamlessly type away and create the reality I wish to conjure up — which I believe is magic in itself. I quickly realized my potential as I casually flew by computer science courses in college and began to gain momentum and understanding with my involvement in different tech communities. This includes LGBT centered diversity efforts as well women/non-binary centric organizations. Once I started to grasp different narratives in technology, I became fiery about making change. Change to me means creating more inclusive environments within technology as a sector but ultimately diversifying tech itself. So, I decided to veer off my technical journey into the world of entrepreneurship through Birthright Israel Excel.

This summer, I am participating in a business fellowship that has a startup pre-accelerator within it called Excel Ventures. There are 108 fellows, 54 from America and 54 from Israel and the Americans are housed in a prime location in Tel Aviv. I’ve been able to connect and learn from the other fellows in the program through ventures as well as the business fellows (who interned at companies like EY, Deloitte, Facebook, and more) and got introduced to a diverse set of perspectives by truly awe-inspiring individuals. I formed connections with people I am not regularly exposed to, and this forced me to understand myself through the eyes of others.

I am no longer wearing whatever I want in the office (opposed to my previous startup experiences) and the hours are long. However, I’m surrounded by highly influential individuals that I can interact and share ideas with. Over the past 8 weeks, I’ve been learning about business development, understanding that entrepreneurship is not about products but in fact about people and how psychology plays into every aspect of the product management process — I could go on forever. Everyday I wake up early and get prepared for a day filled with critical thought encompassing my research on my dream product to solve some critical problems for my peers. I can no longer hack away a product or solution but in fact have to very consciously peel all the layers of a problem I want to solve, and live, breathe, and eat the necessities of building something smart for smart reasons.

Entrepreneurship has methodologies and intricacies and loops of bugs that get in the way of the process of shipping a product into the world. However, those aren’t obstacles, they are stepping stones into the land of bliss, when you finally release your MVP into the wild to get eaten up by the public. I am almost at the phase where I can show the world what I’ve been working at all summer and am in the midst of sharpening my skill set as a technical co-founder to ultimately be a sensible, powerful leader one day.

Post pitch feedback from investors and managing partners in VC

All in all, transitioning from startup t-shirts and flip flops to business casual professionalism has been enlightening and has shown me where I really want to be down the line, and I intend to keep working on myself in order to lead others in the best way possible when I get the chance. If anyone has any questions about lean startup methodologies, pitch decks, problem discovery, ideation, UX design, and more, please feel free to reach out with any questions!

P.S. if you want to chat about Excel Ventures and want to learn more about it, and be considered for next summer’s fellowship contact me via LinkedIn.

Check out my product and let me know what you think, constructive criticism welcome as well as feedback!

Gefen Skolnick participated in Excel Ventures in 2018, and became a co-founder of Schollab. She is Co-Director of Technology at @SheHacks, a Rewriting the Code Fellow, and a Linguistics & Computer Science major at @UCLA. In her free time, Gefen enjoys writing poetry and coding.

**This blog was originally posted by Gefen Skolnick on SheHacks Boston.**

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