Blog

Hack It Back at Demo Day

By Patricia R. Zablah

It has been 2 weeks and 5 days since Demo Day took place at the Made in NY Media Center, where we are currently incubating. I have had enough time to reflect on what happened and I want to share that with you.

The experience was more than just a pitch during that day, but an entire process that took about 3 months, where the Media Center assigned me two mentors: Ryan McLaughlin from Tribal Worlwide and Yvonne Shehaan, from Verizon Wireless- a digital marketing expert who was also involved in Verizon’s #InspireHerMind in collaboration with MAKERS. Needles to say, I was thrilled with the choices!

As the months went on, we were encouraged to keep refining our pitch, to understand what we had to bring to the table as a business proposition. “Where is the money going to come from? private funders or public?,” Ryan would ask. Or “what do you have to offer to other brands in a partnership?”.

All of these questions lead me to look at answers not only within those mentors but amongst experts as well. I was able to connect with Ryan Seashore, the CEO and Founder of CodeNow.org and pick his brain about those answers, amongst others.

Ultimately, going through that process lead me to incorporate Hack It Back, apply for the right fiscal sponsors (which I am still waiting to hear on), become a member of Fractured Atlas and the New York Women in Film and Television and I answered the difficult questions I needed to, in order to form the organization Hack It Back is going to be. I also got to meet my third official mentor, Stephanie Venia, who was generous with her time and energy and really helped me refine my pitch and my deck. It was perfect, as far as I was concerned.

But as fate would have it, the projector died in the auditorium the day we were pitching. No more relying on pictures or animations. It was me, my passion for Hack It Back and a room full of people. Before going up there, I told myself: “This is not about me, this is about the millions of teenage girls that Hack It Back has the potential to reach and the partners that we will engage with to make them part of this exciting endeavor”. I was just the messenger. And practicing my presentation beforehand, of course, did not hurt.

And so, I went up there, I spoke- not recited, about Hack It Back, our plans for the summer program of 2015, who we need, what we need and how I believe that we can make a difference. I met extraordinary people from the experience.

I am on the verge of finding the right space partner, have found a tech partner and I am still waiting to hear back on Community funding. But I believe now, more than ever, that people in New York City want teenage girls to have this program- a chance to make their own media, to express themselves through tech tools and to stop waiting around for big industries to change. In today’s world, where technology is democratized and the cost of production has decreased, I can’t think of a better time to teach our girls to speak for themselves through media. We are going to educate the media makers of tomorrow and that will change everything. I truly believe it will.

Thank you to the Media Center for including Hack It Back. We are grateful.