Most female entrepreneurs I’ve met are incredibly humble about their stories despite being trailblazers and sources of inspiration for us startup women entrepreneurs — you are our womenspiration and you touch more lives with your stories and words than you may know. By Jane Wu (Co-Founder & Chief Happiness Officer, Penyo Pal)
Let’s get the elephant out of the room – this is not a typical entrepreneurial story. My journey with Penyo Pal began last fall when I walked into a room of three strangers and was given seed money to start a venture.
What might sound like a social experiment was actually the Next 36, an innovative business incubator that focuses on creating solid, diverse teams. Surprisingly there was no awkward “first date” feel to the team and the four of us, all recent grads with the same appetite for risk, decided to satiate those startup dreams we all held so dear.
Fast forward through late nights of caffeine-powered ideation, countless Google+ hangouts and nights spent bonding in basements, we created Penyo Pal, an edtech venture that combines research in education, design and games to create engaging language learning experiences.
How we settled on this “Zynga for Language Learning” concept stemmed from the serendipitous team composition. All four co-founders were extremely passionate about education and using technology to improve its accessibility. Growing up as a Chinese-Canadian, I had struggled with trying to learn the language of my heritage. Classes, books, and podcasts – I had tried them all to little avail, and as we hit the streets to talk to potential customers I quickly realized I was not alone.
Every year, Americans and Canadians sink over $2 billion dollars into learning second languages with little success. Penyo Pal focuses on creating games that are not only effective at teaching language, but also bring out the joy in learning – we like to call it edu-play-tion.
As many of you may know the startup life has been a hyper rollercoaster of emotion, and I’ve been grateful to the Women 2.0 community for providing words of encouragement and shared frustration at the right moment.
Most female entrepreneurs I’ve met are incredibly humble about their stories despite being trailblazers and sources of inspiration for us startup women entrepreneurs — you are our womenspiration and you touch more lives with your stories and words than you may know.
I wanted to take a moment to thank you and some of the womenspirations I’ve had in my life -
- Sarah Prevette, Founder & CEO of Sprouter and Betakit - taught me to think big and then think even bigger
- Claudia Hepburn, Co-Founder of Next 36 - taught me to never shy away from a big problem you are passionate about
- Jessica Fan, Co-Founder of Penyo Pal - taught me to love the MBTI test
- the list truly goes on and on.
I’m lucky but certainly not unique – all the new women entrepreneurs I know tell me about their womenspirations. Your stories, your passion and perseverance and your words of advice do not fall on deaf ears. You are the reason why us women have the guts to take a leap of faith with starting our own ventures, and leaving a positive impact on the world.
For other women just starting their ventures, my advice for what it’s worth, is to reach out! Sometimes a 15 minute coffee or Skype with another women entrepreneur is the best form of refueling during the startup journey. I know as I move forward with Penyo Pal, there will be many more highs and lows beyond anything I can fathom now, but armed with the support of my womenspirations, both in person and anonymous through Women 2.0, I am ready for this adventure!
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Jane Wu is the Co-Founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Penyo Pal, one of Canada’s most innovative edtech startups. Penyo Pal combines research in education, technology and design to create immersive games that teach kids language. Winner of the “Best Overall 1.0 Startup” at the LAUNCH Conference, a feature in Forbes and the National Post and over 6000+ games of their first product, Food Frenzy. Jane can be reached via jane[at]penyopal.com. Follow her on Twitter at @wu_jane.