You are a founder at Bixa Media. Tell us a little about your life and how you came to start your business?
How do many come to start their own business? Like many, I was working in an industry, with high demand, where I saw an opportunity to go out on my own and attempt to do it better.
At the time that I made my decision, I had been working in Europe for almost 4 years and had recently made a career change. After seeing firsthand what my career growth would be if I stayed at my job (very little advancement), I decided to take a leap of faith and move back to the US and start my own company.
Since then, I haven’t looked back. While founding my own company required much change and involved some risk, I have found it truly rewarding. Plus, I’ve learned more in 4 years than I would have learned in 10 working for someone else.
What is the biggest challenge for the women nowadays?
I believe that the biggest challenge for women today varies greatly based on location and industry. However, as an entrepreneur in tech, there does seem to be a lack of female role models in technical and entrepreneurial positions. Without many females to inspire the younger generation of women and girls, it becomes harder to picture yourself in a leadership or technical role. I’d love to see more (qualified) women present in these male-dominated sectors.
How did you overcome the challenges?
Honestly? I never considered my gender as an obstacle to overcoming my dreams. For me, it was always a question of whether I was capable and, more importantly, willing. In my opinion, if you question whether you CAN do something, then you won’t get very far. If you tell yourself you are going to accomplish your goal no matter what, you will get there even if there are some bumps in the road along the way.
I’m a big believer in working hard, demonstrating your abilities and helping others along the way. If you do so, there is nothing you cannot accomplish.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I believe the answer is twofold, especially in the tech industry: confidence and training.
Confidence: Generally speaking, women tend to be more modest and more cautious than men. Often, leadership roles require the opposite qualities. You have to be willing to toot your own horn without sounding like a braggart. You also have to be willing to take risks and make gambles.
Training: Technical industries tend to be male-dominated, partially because the educational avenues are also male-dominated. Creating more programs aimed at teaching women the skills and qualities needed to succeed in a technical world will result in a larger pool of female applicants. With more qualified women to choose from, the greater the likelihood of increasing the numbers of females in leadership roles.
What are some of your favorite web or mobile apps?
I have so many! I’ve listed some below, for both business and personal use.
- Evernote: I use Evernote anytime I need to write something down. You can even include pictures and it syncs across all your devices.
- Meet Edgar: This app allows you to recycle your social media posts and spend less time on scheduling. Why should all that hard work only get seen one time by part of your audience? While MeetEdgar is still in early phases, by the time they refine their product, it will be indispensible.
- Goodwerp: While I don’t use Goodwerp for software Agile project management (I use Pivotal Tracker), it’s great for managing the softer aspects of a project. My favorite part as a business owner is that I can track profitability of a project at a glance.
- Toggl: The easiest way for my team and I to keep track of time spent on projects.
- Slack: I hate emails; I get so many a day that if I answered them all, I’d never get any work done. Slack allows me to communicate internally and with clients in an efficient manner and reduce the time I spend on emails.
- Github: No software project should be started without using GitHub. Manage all code through this indespensible tool.
- Google Analytics, KISSmetrics, & Mixpanel: You shouldn’t be making any changes to your website without having hard data to justify the modification. These tools help me do so.
- Dropbox: Access to all my files on all my devices. When I am out of the office for meetings or am traveling, this is especially useful.
- Waze: When I want to avoid traffic in Los Angeles (always).
- Uber: When I need a ride and don’t have my car.
- Airbnb: I love finding gems here when looking for accommodation while traveling.
- Hipmunk: An app I use to plugin places I want to travel to and then get notified when cheap fares are available.
- 1Password: For secure passwords that I can access on all my devices.
- ToDoist: To manage my personal to do list.
- Yelp: I love finding new restaurants on Yelp.
- Instagram: Inspiring images for quick attention spans. I love finding new places I want to vacation to on Instagram.
Based on your experiences, what advice would you give to a young entrepreneur starting their first business today?
Be true to yourself, be kind and never give up.
Be true to yourself: When you are your own boss, you have the liberty of making choices the way you want to make them. Don’t let circumstances or people sway you to do otherwise. If you are genuine and authentic, even if it means telling others something they don’t want to hear, you will be happier in the long-run.
Be kind: Every individual you encounter will always have a hardship, either in their personal or professional life. If you choose to treat everyone with kindness, as you would want to be treated, more often than not, the same courtesy will be extended to you.
Your business often depends on the network you have cultivated and you want to be known as an individual that others WANT to be around, not one then HAVE to tolerate.
Never give up: As a business owner, you will encounter challenges on a daily basis and you will no longer have the option to pass these along to your boss. YOU will have to be the one to come up with a solution. Keeping a positive and persistent attitude is imperative.
No one gets it perfect every time, least of all when you are starting your own business and trying to do something no one has ever done before. If each and every day you recognize what you could have done better and improve upon it, even by just 1%, the aggregate advancement you make will be significant. This, as entrepreneurial spirits is what we should strive for.
What woman inspires you and why?
Do I have to choose just one? There are so many women who inspire me.
- Lori Greiner: Not only is Lori a successful entrepreneur, but she helps other entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. I love what she stands for and admire her business acumen.
- Emma Watson:Her “He For She” speech was inspiring and very courageous. I love how she is contributing to the gender equality movement.
- Lizzie Velasquez: A TED speaker and all-around inspiring woman, Lizzie’s story is one of bravery and persistence. Lizzie has overcome numerous personal challenges to make the world a better place for all.
- Jennifer Pahlka: This Internet activist has a powerful vision for the future of the US government, which could be applied to other regions. Her program, Code For America, takes talented software developers and places them in government positions for 1 year, helping them to improve government processes.
What’s next for Lauren Pawell?
This is a question I am constantly asking myself. Recently, I have spent some time teaching students who want to enter the digital marketing and web development world, which I have really enjoyed.
Training the next generation of talent has been incredibly rewarding. They have so much potential and access to opportunities we never had. With the right education, there will not be any door they cannot open.
I am hoping to free up some time in the near future to continue this type of work, while continuing to grow Bixa Media.
Lauren Pawell, the founder of Bixa Media, has a diverse background: American by birth, she spent extensive time studying and working abroad in Spain, England, France, and Belgium. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a BA in Spanish and then went on to get a trilingual European MBA through the Universidad de Deusto, Audencia Ecole de Commerce, and Bradford School of Management. Although English is her native language, Lauren is fluent in Spanish and an advanced French speaker.