Makeda talks about how her code-able bracelet engages women in STEM education and takes us through the iterative process of producing consumer hardware.
Today’s guest, Makeda Ricketts, is the Founder and CEO of PinkThink. PinkThink is an interest-oriented and peer-supported web and mobile platform that makes (S)cience, (T)echnology, (E)ngineering, and (M)ath education powerful, relevant, and engaging for girls.
PinkThink is known for creating cStyle Bracelets, a wearable that kids can code to change colors based on things like ambient light and body temperature. PinkThink has won numerous awards, and Makeda was recently named Maker of the Year by the International Alley Awards. PinkThink has also been featured in several publications including Digital Trends, Edsurge, FW Magazine, and Chicago Inno.
Prior to starting PinkThink, Makeda worked in business management at Citadel, where she created solutions to strategic business needs. Previously, she worked at Citigroup, implementing innovative projects and programs. On a personal note, Makeda has a passion for education and has taught in Ethiopia and Harlem, New York. Makeda graduated from Wellesley College, with a degree in Political Science and Economics, and is currently an MBA candidate at Chicago Booth with a concentration in Entrepreneurship.
We’re going to learn how PinkThink works to improve girls’ confidence & engagement in STEM education, how to create a consumer product for your target audience, and what goes into the iterative process of creating consumer hardware.
In this episode, you’ll learn from Makeda:
- Why PinkThink decided to integrate a wearable product into their STEM education program
- Why it’s important to survey customers before making a product, not after
- If you listen to your target audience, they will tell you what they want in a product
- Why coding and computer science are not an innately masculine discipline
- That improving engagement and confidence in STEM education programs is key
- How wrong the bias against women’s competency in STEM fields is
- The benefit of the cStyle Bracelet is that it is a tangible translation of coding and creativity
- Hardware design begins with functionality, followed by design and repeated iteration
- You need to be hands-on, prepared and knowledgeable in hardware production – Makeda 3D-printed the bracelet’s first prototype, and personally soldered the first hand-built prototype
- How PinkThink is trying to expand the cStyle Bracelet into the consumer market of wearable technology
- How marketing messages need to change as you transition to different markets
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Resources mentioned in this episode:
Answers to Quickfire Q&A:
- If you could chat with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
- Nelson Mandela
- Angelina Jolie
- Bill Clinton
- Barack Obama (Makeda was prepared with four answers, so we let her slide).
- Name a tool, app, or website that you can’t live without and why.
- “I cannot live without my [iPhone] … my phone is like my boyfriend, I have to have it.”
- Tell us something unique and interesting about you that not many may know.
- I had my first poem published when I was like six.
- What are the top three skills or characteristics that you look for in people you work with?
- Passion, “Because we have a mission-oriented business.
- Accountability, people who are more rigid than I am to help balance me out.
- What is something you believe, but few others agree with you?
- “I really believe that you can actually change your reality … not like Harry Potter, but every day life and world … your thoughts are very reflective of what happens in your life … Whatever you believe is what happens, whatever you think, is what is created in the world around you.”
How to contact Makeda:
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