When we asked Rebecca Rachmany, CEO of Gangly Sister, why there are so few women in the technology field, she said “The fundamental problem is that girls don’t imagine themselves as being tech workers when they grow up.” A major part of the problem, she explained, is cultural, and it stems from the content girls interact with at a young age.
Enter Gangly Sister, a production company out to engage young girls (ages 8-12) through an animated series with relatable role models. The stars of the series, Purple and Nine, are multi-dimensional characters that interact with technology, tackle problems at home with innovative ideas, and care about what is going on in the world. They’re new superheroes that have the power to inspire girls to pursue a career in technology.
During our interview, Rebecca not only spoke about her remarkable cartoon series project, but also gave valuable advice for female entrepreneurs.
You can view Gangly Sister’s pilot episode below:
Her Agenda: Out of curiosity, how long did it take for you to create the pilot episode?
Rebecca Rachmany: It depends. My co-founder, Miriam, and I originally thought of the idea about 12 years ago, when we created a 30-second pilot to show to investors. There was no such thing as YouTube, so we pitched to Hollywood for a while. Unfortunately, we didn’t find anyone to take up the program. Then, about 10 or 11 years passed, and I was still working with the same business partner. When a couple of very big companies came to us with a startup idea, we asked ourselves, “Do we really want to spend the next 5 years doing that?” In the back of our minds, we remembered that 30-second video, and we decided that that was what we wanted to do. We spent the next few months convincing the old team to get back together, rewriting the scripts, and familiarizing ourselves with the current animation technology. So, in one sense you can say it took us 12 years to create that episode. In another sense, you can say it took 6 months, including getting everybody on board. But once we had the script finalized, it took us 6-8 weeks to produce the video.
Her Agenda: You’ve created the pilot episode. What’s next?
Rebecca Rachmany: We’ve decided to create an app, so that when a new episode comes out, children will be able to look at the episode and create something of their own around the theme. Our main focus is building a community for girls where they can create and share ideas. For us, it’s all about inspiring girls and making sure that they have a safe space to become makers.
Her Agenda: Why are the characters of the show called Purple and Nine?
Rebecca Rachmany: Miriam and I were talking about the girls we wanted to create, and we just thought Purple and Nine were great names. Purple, of course, is a person of color (the color being Purple), and Nine is 9 years old.
Her Agenda: What advice would you give millennial women looking to start their own business?
Rebecca Rachmany: The first thing you need to ask yourself is, “Why?” In fact, that’s also the second, third, fourth, and fifth thing you need to ask yourself. You also need to think of things in terms of outcome. If you think about your plans in terms of the outcome you want, it’s much easier to figure out what to do. Gangly Sister’s outcome is that we want to influence a million girls. So, every time I look at the hundred ideas I have every week, I’m able to distill them within the context of why am I doing this—I’m doing this to inspire girls to get excited about technology.
Her Agenda: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve gotten?
Rebecca Rachmany: For me, the best piece of career advice I got was “Treat people in a way that they can hear your constructive advice.” For some women, it’s hard to give their critique because they’re trying to be nice, and for others like myself, it’s hard to be gentle when giving feedback. In general, it’s difficult for people to hear criticism no matter how accurate it is, but you need to because the only way to work in a team is to be able to share your perspectives in a constructive way.