The Silicon Valley is hacking away.
“When I was young, I never imagined I could become a hacker. It seemed lonely and somehow unappealing, and I didn’t know any girls who did it. I stumbled into a computer science course at MIT by accident, and it wasn’t until I discovered Leah Buechley’s lab at MIT that I realized: hacking, engineering, computer science — it’s not about solving problems using some algorithm — it’s about gaining the freedom to create whatever you decide the world needs, to solve otherwise unsolvable problems.
I wanted to show other young kids — especially girls who thought like me — that programming is fundamentally about creation, which is why Leah and I wrote Sew Electric. Sew Electric speaks to kids in their language, teaching them how to build electronics and code through a series of creative projects, including an interactive plush monster and a touch-sensitive fabric piano. 
My hope is that Sew Electric will expand the culture of computer science, and make it less intimidating and more appealing to diverse kids from all backgrounds who want to create.”
Kanjun Qiu | Sew Electric

“When I was young, I never imagined I could become a hacker. It seemed lonely and somehow unappealing, and I didn’t know any girls who did it. I stumbled into a computer science course at MIT by accident, and it wasn’t until I discovered Leah Buechley’s lab at MIT that I realized: hacking, engineering, computer science — it’s not about solving problems using some algorithm — it’s about gaining the freedom to create whatever you decide the world needs, to solve otherwise unsolvable problems.

I wanted to show other young kids — especially girls who thought like me — that programming is fundamentally about creation, which is why Leah and I wrote Sew Electric. Sew Electric speaks to kids in their language, teaching them how to build electronics and code through a series of creative projects, including an interactive plush monster and a touch-sensitive fabric piano. 

My hope is that Sew Electric will expand the culture of computer science, and make it less intimidating and more appealing to diverse kids from all backgrounds who want to create.”

Kanjun Qiu | Sew Electric

“In high school, I refused to take Intro to Programming. I didn’t want to be one of those high school nerds. Finally, in my last quarter of 9th grade, I took the class, and it was incredible. I was coming home after school every day and re-implementing simple games. Tic Tac Toe, Tetris, Snake, Space Invaders. It was so easy to get something I could send to my friends right away - Visual Basic was a fantastic tool for that.
I ended up taking the rest of the CS Curriculum (AP Computer Science, etc) but it wasn’t nearly as exciting - all these data structures and C++. I drifted away and focused on other interests. By the time I went to college, I was undeclared. I didn’t take a single programming class my first semester there.
Then, as Israelis will, I got drafted into the Israeli military.  They had me doing manual QA for this giant defense project. My Hebrew was barely passable, like follow the line with your finger Hebrew.  In order to test, I had to read hundreds of pages of specs. I was pretty horrible at it, but they found out I knew Java. After that, I became the engineer for the testing team, building lots of test automation scripts. I was bored, so I started reading this new blog that had just come out, TechCrunch.
By the time I came back to school in 2009, it was obvious to me that I was going to study computer science. It was so mentally stimulating to have to think hard about problems, rather than just writing and maintaining scripts in the army. College was heaven for me.
I assumed when I got to college that there would be a bunch of students excited about making things, but that turned out not to be the case at all. Starting PennApps, I tried really hard to make it so. Now PennApps has become this giant, 100-schools, 1,000 students, six-figure event, and it’s helped inspire similar events at tens of other schools, there’s even a Hackathon League now - It’s not just me ranting anymore. As an entrepreneur, there’s no greater pleasure than causing this little micro-change in reality. It’s incredibly addicting once you realize you can turn your rants about ‘how things should be’ into reality.”
Alexey Komissarouk

“In high school, I refused to take Intro to Programming. I didn’t want to be one of those high school nerds. Finally, in my last quarter of 9th grade, I took the class, and it was incredible. I was coming home after school every day and re-implementing simple games. Tic Tac Toe, Tetris, Snake, Space Invaders. It was so easy to get something I could send to my friends right away - Visual Basic was a fantastic tool for that.

I ended up taking the rest of the CS Curriculum (AP Computer Science, etc) but it wasn’t nearly as exciting - all these data structures and C++. I drifted away and focused on other interests. By the time I went to college, I was undeclared. I didn’t take a single programming class my first semester there.

Then, as Israelis will, I got drafted into the Israeli military.  They had me doing manual QA for this giant defense project. My Hebrew was barely passable, like follow the line with your finger Hebrew.  In order to test, I had to read hundreds of pages of specs. I was pretty horrible at it, but they found out I knew Java. After that, I became the engineer for the testing team, building lots of test automation scripts. I was bored, so I started reading this new blog that had just come out, TechCrunch.

By the time I came back to school in 2009, it was obvious to me that I was going to study computer science. It was so mentally stimulating to have to think hard about problems, rather than just writing and maintaining scripts in the army. College was heaven for me.

I assumed when I got to college that there would be a bunch of students excited about making things, but that turned out not to be the case at all. Starting PennApps, I tried really hard to make it so. Now PennApps has become this giant, 100-schools, 1,000 students, six-figure event, and it’s helped inspire similar events at tens of other schools, there’s even a Hackathon League now - It’s not just me ranting anymore. As an entrepreneur, there’s no greater pleasure than causing this little micro-change in reality. It’s incredibly addicting once you realize you can turn your rants about ‘how things should be’ into reality.”

Alexey Komissarouk

​”We were at the crossroads of our careers. We were thinking, we should work on something exciting, and at the time, we were all working on products that we weren’t the primary users of. We’ve always thought that if we were working on developer tools, it would be so great. We wouldn’t even need product managers because we know what’s wrong with the product because we’d be using it everyday. 
We saw development environments as a problem that we all face but hadn’t been solved yet. We were confident that if we put our minds to it, we’d be able to solve it once and forever. People wouldn’t be talking about developer environment problems, similar to how people don’t talk about web app hosting problems anymore because of Heroku. We wanted to be that company to solve it.”
Arun Thampi | Nitrous.io

​”We were at the crossroads of our careers. We were thinking, we should work on something exciting, and at the time, we were all working on products that we weren’t the primary users of. We’ve always thought that if we were working on developer tools, it would be so great. We wouldn’t even need product managers because we know what’s wrong with the product because we’d be using it everyday. 

We saw development environments as a problem that we all face but hadn’t been solved yet. We were confident that if we put our minds to it, we’d be able to solve it once and forever. People wouldn’t be talking about developer environment problems, similar to how people don’t talk about web app hosting problems anymore because of Heroku. We wanted to be that company to solve it.”

Arun Thampi | Nitrous.io

“I love being on the frontier of what’s happening. DNA is everything, it’s us, it’s the code for every living creature on the planet. It’s solar power, medicine, everything. The fact that we can now manipulate it at will, that we can sell maker kits and random people can do genetic engineering at home is so exciting. What’s already possible blows my mind, but it’s nothing compared to what’s coming in the next years and I love being a part of that.
Cells can be thought of a little bit like compilers. They run DNA instructions as code. We download sample code from the internet for genes from glowing bacteria, and rewrite that in such a way that it’s readable by a plant. That then gives us a nice DNA sequence, and when we’re ready, we press print. We email the file, this file of ACT and G’s, and boom, there’s an outsourced company that makes the DNA. It takes two weeks, and they ship it back to you in Fedex. It’s kind of crazy if you imagine there’s always pieces of DNA whizzing around in the mail.”
Antony Evans and Kyle Taylor | Glowing Plant

I love being on the frontier of what’s happening. DNA is everything, it’s us, it’s the code for every living creature on the planet. It’s solar power, medicine, everything. The fact that we can now manipulate it at will, that we can sell maker kits and random people can do genetic engineering at home is so exciting. What’s already possible blows my mind, but it’s nothing compared to what’s coming in the next years and I love being a part of that.

Cells can be thought of a little bit like compilers. They run DNA instructions as code. We download sample code from the internet for genes from glowing bacteria, and rewrite that in such a way that it’s readable by a plant. That then gives us a nice DNA sequence, and when we’re ready, we press print. We email the file, this file of ACT and G’s, and boom, there’s an outsourced company that makes the DNA. It takes two weeks, and they ship it back to you in Fedex. It’s kind of crazy if you imagine there’s always pieces of DNA whizzing around in the mail.”

Antony Evans and Kyle Taylor | Glowing Plant

"​When I learned to fly in Chicago, it was 65 bucks to rent a plane for an hour. Out here, it’s triple that. I couldn’t pay that much. I was grounded for a year, and flying is my favorite thing to do. I wanted to get out in the sky and couldn’t pay for it.I had to come up with some way of being able to fly. I thought, what if someone that wanted to go flying could pay for a seat on a flight with an existing pilot? After launching Flytenow, I was able to fly every other week. It was great. I got to go down to Martha’s Vineyard, fly up to Maine, all over the place, it was so much fun.​”​Matt Voska | Flytenow

"​When I learned to fly in Chicago, it was 65 bucks to rent a plane for an hour. Out here, it’s triple that. I couldn’t pay that much. I was grounded for a year, and flying is my favorite thing to do. I wanted to get out in the sky and couldn’t pay for it.

I had to come up with some way of being able to fly. I thought, what if someone that wanted to go flying could pay for a seat on a flight with an existing pilot? After launching Flytenow, I was able to fly every other week. It was great. I got to go down to Martha’s Vineyard, fly up to Maine, all over the place, it was so much fun.​”​

Matt Voska | Flytenow

"My parents never let me realize that I’m a girl and that it’s any different from being a boy, but my everyday reality is so different from how my cousins and friends live. One of my cousins has two MBA’s, the other one was a Civil Services finalist, which is a big deal in India, but now they’re married and they’re asked not to work. There are so many women like them who are deprived of their identity because they are not economically independent. I have the resources to help them, especially at LinkedIn or even through the Internet. The first step is telling their stories through Being A Modern Indian Woman.Here at LinkedIn, there’s this three thousand dollar transformational grant that employees can apply for. If I get it, that will help start free self defense classes for women in India. I’ve been such an advocate of self defense training for women. When I was 9 years old, I was in a robbery accident where my mother and I were attacked in the ladies’ compartment of the train. I had been taking karate and tae kwon do lessons - I’m actually a black belt in both the martial art forms. I didn’t use those stunts per se, but it just gives so much confidence. If you can protect yourself, then you can be self sufficient, then you can think about doing so many other things.”Charu Sharma | Being A Modern Indian Woman

"My parents never let me realize that I’m a girl and that it’s any different from being a boy, but my everyday reality is so different from how my cousins and friends live. One of my cousins has two MBA’s, the other one was a Civil Services finalist, which is a big deal in India, but now they’re married and they’re asked not to work. There are so many women like them who are deprived of their identity because they are not economically independent. I have the resources to help them, especially at LinkedIn or even through the Internet. The first step is telling their stories through Being A Modern Indian Woman.

Here at LinkedIn, there’s this three thousand dollar transformational grant that employees can apply for. If I get it, that will help start free self defense classes for women in India. I’ve been such an advocate of self defense training for women. When I was 9 years old, I was in a robbery accident where my mother and I were attacked in the ladies’ compartment of the train. I had been taking karate and tae kwon do lessons - I’m actually a black belt in both the martial art forms. I didn’t use those stunts per se, but it just gives so much confidence. If you can protect yourself, then you can be self sufficient, then you can think about doing so many other things.”

Charu Sharma | Being A Modern Indian Woman

"Bots are smart enough to solve CAPTCHAs. Bots are able to come from reputable IPs and mimic the speed of a human being. Bots are capable of doing things human beings would never be capable of doing, like monetizing very small amounts of money through gift card fraud or promotion fraud. When they do it a million times, that eventually adds up.I’m a real huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, I love anything written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Here at Shape I get to be a part of the murder mystery without being too dangerously close to the murder itself. I get to see how companies are being defrauded and help them stop the fraud. What’s great about being at Shape is we’re the only game in town for defending websites against sophisticated bots, which means we get to see the most interesting crooks. The most sophisticated crooks out there are all using advanced bots that traditional security can’t block.”Neal Mueller, Tim Peacock and Wesley Hales | Shape Security

"Bots are smart enough to solve CAPTCHAs. Bots are able to come from reputable IPs and mimic the speed of a human being. Bots are capable of doing things human beings would never be capable of doing, like monetizing very small amounts of money through gift card fraud or promotion fraud. When they do it a million times, that eventually adds up.

I’m a real huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, I love anything written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Here at Shape I get to be a part of the murder mystery without being too dangerously close to the murder itself. I get to see how companies are being defrauded and help them stop the fraud. What’s great about being at Shape is we’re the only game in town for defending websites against sophisticated bots, which means we get to see the most interesting crooks. The most sophisticated crooks out there are all using advanced bots that traditional security can’t block.”

Neal Mueller, Tim Peacock and Wesley Hales | Shape Security

"​Right before I graduated, I was thinking a lot about how social barriers between communities at Penn were starting to dissolve as we were leaving. Instead of using differences to keep groups separate, the commonality of graduating — and the four years we just spent at the same school — brought people closer together. It’s kind of unbelievable how people would open up to each other so beautifully. I was meeting such cool people then that I wished I had met three and a half years ago, but time was running out and I wanted to do it more.That’s when the first idea for Tea With Strangers started. I thought five people would sign up. I really did not think anyone was going to sign up, because what’s the premise? It turns out, a lot of people were thinking what I was thinking. So I told everyone, from  8pm​ to 11pm every night, between the day the first website, “Let’s get tea!” launched and graduation, I would be sitting at the same cafe, and I’d host 6 people a night.  No one ever left until they kicked us out of the cafe. It never ended on time.I recreated it in the Bay Area. The difference here was the context of our lives. People here are, well, adults – living real lives. They were talking about being responsible for themselves, about fear, insecurity, pride, motivation, culture and family relationships — not family relationships like ‘I’m going to go home and see my family over winter break,’ family relationships like ‘I haven’t seen my family in a year and a half.’ Those kinds of family relationships.”​
Ankit Shah | Tea With Strangers

"​Right before I graduated, I was thinking a lot about how social barriers between communities at Penn were starting to dissolve as we were leaving. Instead of using differences to keep groups separate, the commonality of graduating — and the four years we just spent at the same school — brought people closer together. It’s kind of unbelievable how people would open up to each other so beautifully. I was meeting such cool people then that I wished I had met three and a half years ago, but time was running out and I wanted to do it more.

That’s when the first idea for Tea With Strangers started. I thought five people would sign up. I really did not think anyone was going to sign up, because what’s the premise? It turns out, a lot of people were thinking what I was thinking. So I told everyone, from  8pm​ to 11pm every night, between the day the first website, “Let’s get tea!” launched and graduation, I would be sitting at the same cafe, and I’d host 6 people a night.  No one ever left until they kicked us out of the cafe. It never ended on time.

I recreated it in the Bay Area. The difference here was the context of our lives. People here are, well, adults – living real lives. They were talking about being responsible for themselves, about fear, insecurity, pride, motivation, culture and family relationships — not family relationships like ‘I’m going to go home and see my family over winter break,’ family relationships like ‘I haven’t seen my family in a year and a half.’ Those kinds of family relationships.”​

Ankit Shah | Tea With Strangers

"They say at startups you end up wearing many hats, and that was definitely true of my experience at Stripe. When I worked on Stripe Connect, I was both the engineer and the PM, and for a while even the designer, until one of the actual designers came in and fixed everything up. I was on the phone trying to sell people on the product and when it came time to launch, I was writing the marketing copy, for better or for worse.Stripe has a really core emphasis that the people building things should have a lot of end-to-end ownership. What I work on here and what every engineer works on is a little bit of everything. You conceive the product, you build it, you launch it.
I wasn’t even sure I wanted to work in payments when I first joined, but it turned out to be a lot more interesting than I originally thought. If you think about it, we didn’t really have crowd-funding or things like Uber, Lyft or Homejoy five years ago. Payments is so core for all these new startups and business models. What are people going to think of in the next five years? We don’t know, but we want to make it easier for them to exist.”
Amber Feng | Stripe

"They say at startups you end up wearing many hats, and that was definitely true of my experience at Stripe. When I worked on Stripe Connect, I was both the engineer and the PM, and for a while even the designer, until one of the actual designers came in and fixed everything up. I was on the phone trying to sell people on the product and when it came time to launch, I was writing the marketing copy, for better or for worse.

Stripe has a really core emphasis that the people building things should have a lot of end-to-end ownership. What I work on here and what every engineer works on is a little bit of everything. You conceive the product, you build it, you launch it.

I wasn’t even sure I wanted to work in payments when I first joined, but it turned out to be a lot more interesting than I originally thought. If you think about it, we didn’t really have crowd-funding or things like Uber, Lyft or Homejoy five years ago. Payments is so core for all these new startups and business models. What are people going to think of in the next five years? We don’t know, but we want to make it easier for them to exist.”

Amber Feng | Stripe

"Our son was about to be born, and on my 29th birthday - knowing my weakness for gadgets and electronics, my wife gave me a present - a small RC controlled indoor helicopter with a note: ‘Edgar, your son is about to be born soon and you will have to buy toys for him so let this be your last toy before you become a father’. In one month, I had a 3D helicopter 5 times larger which I crashed on its first flight. I got hooked on building and flying helicopters as a hobby. I have always been an adrenaline and speed junkie. From the age of 15 I started windsurfing. We designed AirDog for those passionate about their favorite sports and being able to capture their activity. Until now, it was possible to put a camera on your helmet, chest or in your hands to get a close up of yourself in action. GoPro revolutionized the way we shoot video in action sports. But in these POV type videos, you cannot show how big that kicker or wave really was or how epic that nature view was in the background. AirDog is your cameraman. It’s your airborne sidekick.”Edgar Rozentals | AirDog

"Our son was about to be born, and on my 29th birthday - knowing my weakness for gadgets and electronics, my wife gave me a present - a small RC controlled indoor helicopter with a note: ‘Edgar, your son is about to be born soon and you will have to buy toys for him so let this be your last toy before you become a father’.

In one month, I had a 3D helicopter 5 times larger which I crashed on its first flight. I got hooked on building and flying helicopters as a hobby.

I have always been an adrenaline and speed junkie. From the age of 15 I started windsurfing. We designed AirDog for those passionate about their favorite sports and being able to capture their activity. Until now, it was possible to put a camera on your helmet, chest or in your hands to get a close up of yourself in action. GoPro revolutionized the way we shoot video in action sports. But in these POV type videos, you cannot show how big that kicker or wave really was or how epic that nature view was in the background. AirDog is your cameraman. It’s your airborne sidekick.”

Edgar Rozentals | AirDog

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