She Started It is a documentary film on women tech entrepreneurs directed by Nora Poggi & Insiyah Saeed. It follows five women over a period of five years as they pitch their idea to VCs, create teams to build products and bring them to market. The documentary takes viewers on a global rollercoaster ride from San Francisco to Mississippi, France, and Vietnam as the women fail and start again to achieve their aims. The documentary premieres at the Mill Valley Film Festival in California on October 8th at 1:30 pm.
The documentary film also features perspectives from women in the tech industry such as White House CTO Megan Smith, investor Joanne Wilson, GoldieBlox CEO Debbie Sterling and Ruchi Sanghvi who was the first female engineer at Facebook. You can check out the event page for She Started It on Facebook and get ticket information here.
Q&A with film directors Nora Poggi & Insiyah Saeed
How did you meet and how did you come up with the idea to produce and create the movie “She Started It?”
We met at a Women 2.0 event in 2013, which, funnily enough, was about finding a co-founder. (Women 2.0 is an organization supporting female entrepreneurship). After spending some time covering tech in the Valley, we realized that women who were starting companies were not household names – far from it and hardly anyone was talking about their achievements. After we met we decided it was high time to show the stories of real women who were making it happen – which would in turn encourage more women to take the leap. We wanted to them to think, “if she could do, I could do it too!”
– Nora & Insiyah
What were the challenges you had to overcome during production?
One of the most difficult things we faced as documentary filmmakers was trying to follow an entrepreneur 24/7. These young women are beyond busy, and their schedules are incredibly packed. The process of fundraising and meeting with investors is a very taxing process, and many people would prefer to not being filmed during this time. There were times we waited for hours before we could get to film – other times we could not get permission to film or use the footage from some of our shoots due to the need for privacy around certain matters. That’s pretty hard for the average documentary filmmaker who normally get access to their subjects for years – in our case it was a lot harder. That being said, the girls we filmed trusted us, and were incredibly generous with their time and were really a strong part of our mission!
What were the most exhilarating moments?
The moment you get that one scene that is so raw and authentic, and you are so glad the camera captured it… Traveling with the protagonists that we filmed across Asia, Europe or Mississippi, and getting to know them deeply, creating that trust and that bond was the most exhilarating part. We will cherish these moments forever. Also, when we would be editing for hours with our editor and we finally started to get to a point where it felt like a movie – that was a great moment. After so many rushes and false starts, finally seeing the result becoming an actual film, that was incredible.
What were the most valuable lessons you learned while making “She Started It”?
Keep going and don’t give up! We became entrepreneurs along the way, life imitating art – we learned a lot from these young women. Grit, resilience, perseverance – all those are necessary for anyone pursuing anything.
– Nora & Insiyah
From all the interviews, what are the key advice for success you can give to young women?
See above!:) Don’t give up and believe in yourself, that’s what we heard from every entrepreneur we met, men or women. Young women should also take time to nurture their networks and their support system. It can start with family, friends, colleagues, other women at work, try to look for a mentor and to sustain strong relationships with the people around you.
Why should we go and watch the movie?
If you want to see what it means to be an entrepreneur, especially a woman founder in the male-dominated tech industry, if you want to learn what an entrepreneur does, and see first-hand incredibly inspiring stories about persistence and resilience, and witness the failures and successes of young women who stopped at nothing to pursue their startup dreams, then SHE STARTED IT is for you!