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How This Ambitious 19-Year-Old Female CEO Started At 16

How This Ambitious 19-Year-Old Female CEO Started At 16

Yesterday was one of those days I felt entirely too old. I became acquainted with a female CEO who started her entrepreneurial journey at only 16 years old — while she was still in high school! Today, she’s someone whose successes are bound to inspire many others.

The CEO of SavyDisha Shidham, is an ambitious 19-year-old with many dreams. One of her dreams gave way to Savy, a tool that democratizes your online shopping experience. Savy lets you name your price for any item you love and emails you when your item hits your desired price.

Savy was founded on the tagline: “your style, your price”. They now have 200+ retail partners you can shop from. If you love an item, but it is too expensive simply enter a price you’re willing to pay and your email. As soon as your item hits your price, you’ll be emailed.

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Savy aims to cultivate relationships between businesses and site visitors who are “window shopping” or just browsing. Since price is such an important aspect for both businesses and customers, it seems fitting to get the customer’s input.

An Extract from the Young Female CEO’s Interview

Disha is an inspiration for every aspiring entrepreneur. Her story is not just a success story, but also an enlightening one. I took the time to learn from her and to understand how she leveraged various resources as a young entrepreneur.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, Disha! So tell me, when did your entrepreneurial journey begin?

You are so welcome Saheed, thank you for having me!

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When I was 16, so back in the summer of 2014, I participated in the MIT Launch Summer Program, which is a 4-week entrepreneurship program specifically for high schoolers. Those 4 weeks were truly my introduction to entrepreneurship (my high school didn’t offer classes or any entrepreneurship clubs) and I absolutely loved the idea of building something with your sweat and tears and watching it add value to peoples’ lives. Entrepreneurship was a perfect fit for who I was and who I wanted to be in the future.

What are some resources you came across as a young entrepreneur?

So the MIT Launch Program is obviously one, it gave me a taste of the startup world. My advice to any young entrepreneur would be definitely to start there. After MIT Launch, I decided I wanted to continue with the idea I had developed, so I participated in Catapult Ideas — an incubator for high school startups, which helped hone my startup idea, then called TacBoard, into an actionable and monetizable business.

I would also advise young entrepreneurs, or really any entrepreneurs in general, to reach out to their community. For me specifically, one example of when I did this — I reached out to State Representative Stephanie Kunze, who is part of the Ohio House, and she invited me to the first ever Empower Women Entrepreneurial Event.

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From there, I was able to gain contacts to further my startup. I was even able to speak to  Ohio’s Speaker of the House, Cliff Rosenberger, and the Lieutenant Governor of Ohio, Mary Taylor, about TacBoard and the issue of increasing diversity in business.

What are the obstacles you had to overcome as a young entrepreneur?

In the beginning, it was difficult to overcome that “young entrepreneur” label — many would just dismiss my company as not really being a serious startup. But in the end, if your company is gaining traction and if you know your market, your naysayers will quickly be proven wrong.

Truly, the most important question, which I’m sure countless entrepreneurs have mentioned, is “do your customers love your product?” It takes a lot of work to get to a place where your customers are raving about your product — but once you get there, no one will be able to dismiss you or your company.

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You mentioned to me that you’ve decided to take time before going to college. What made you take the leap?

During my senior year of high school, I was juggling school and my business (which was then called TacBoard) and I often felt like my work was compromised when either school or my business became particularly busy. I hated that feeling of producing subpar work (I’m a perfectionist if you can’t tell already). I knew that the opportunity of school would always be available to me but in a startup, it’s either grow or stagnate, so I knew I couldn’t put my business on hold.

Also, I ended up doing really well in a few programs I participated in: Catapult (which I mentioned earlier) and Draper University (a six-week entrepreneurship program in Silicon Valley run by eclectic billionaire Tim Draper, an investor in Tesla, SpaceX, Skype, and Hotmail). I won Catapult’s Demo Day and placed 5th out of 70 other startups at DraperU’s Demo Day so that validation really strengthened my resolve to take time and not go to college.

Wow, so you’ve pitched in front of a billionaire? How was that experience?

Really nerve-racking. I never considered myself to be a particularly strong public speaker. But ever since that pitch, whenever I’m speaking in front of a crowd I remind myself that I’ve presented in front of a billionaire VC and that he thought I spoke well. It’s all about positive thinking

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    Chloe Chong

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    5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

    5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

    Not being able to stay productive at work is a problem that everyone runs into at some point; no matter how much you like your job, there are certain factors that prevent you from staying at maximum proficiency throughout the whole day.

    A lack of productive focus at work can lead to extra stress on yourself, missed deadlines, passed opportunities, raise denial, demotion and even termination.

    So, if you are someone who has trouble with your productivity, here are five effective tips on how to be productive at work:

    1. Take breaks

    First and foremost, it’s important for you to take regular breaks. Trying to work throughout the whole day will tire your brain, which will then cause you to doze off and think about something else.

    If you keep working your brain, it will fill up and get jumbled with information—sort of like a computer hard drive. Taking a break would be like resetting your computer so that it can start afresh, or de-fragmenting the data so that all the information is in order.

    This is a great thing because it allows you to solve problems you were unable to solve previously, by seeing it differently; if you are able to organize your thoughts properly, you will be able to take in new information more easily.

    There have even been studies about methods of saving time and staying proficient, and taking breaks is one of the leading factors.

    According to Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, eating lunch away from your work area every day will greatly increase your productivity. Eating in your work area will give you the illusion that you are working, but whether you like it or not, your brain will begin to wander and think of something else and then you will be working tirelessly with no progress.

    It’s important to take breaks before and during work too: if you come to work in a rush because you woke up late, your mind will not be mentally prepared for the day ahead, and you will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes trying to get organized and composed before you can actually start working.

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    Instead, you should try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the time it would take you to “just get” to work. Take that time to stare off into space and not worry about anything.

    If you do this, your brain will be empty and ready for all the challenges it has coming for the next few hours.

    If your employer only allows a set amount of breaks during the workday, that doesn’t mean you can’t just get up and walk around for a quick break every now and then.

    Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it will refresh your brain and you will gain renewed energy to do your job.

    Learn more about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    2. Pace yourself and balance your workload

    One problem that most people run into is that they underestimate the amount of work they have to do, and end up doing 50% of the work in the last 20% of the time they have to do it. This is due to an issue of balancing one’s workload.

    When you receive a project, or are doing a job you normally do, take some time to really plan out your work schedule.

    Consider how much time it took you to do this last time; determine how you can break the project into smaller parts and which can only be accomplished on certain days, and whether anything might come up that could interfere with your plan.

    All of these questions are important for starting on a project, and when answered, they will help you stay productive throughout each day.

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    For example, if you needed to design a project to map out the amount of aid offered in various regions after Hurricane Sandy, you can break it up as follows:

    You will need to know what organizations are offering help to begin with, how much aid those organizations gave or plan to give, which regions were hit by Sandy, and which regions suffered the greatest losses.

    You start this project on a Thursday and know you have until Tuesday to gather this information.

    In order to stay productive, you need to plan out your work week—now you know you can find out which organizations are involved in helping the Hurricane Sandy Victims any day since that information is online, but gathering information on the organizations may require you to call them.

    Since phone calls can only be done during week days, you have to plan on gathering all of that information before the weekend comes.

    That is just one example of a situation in which pre-planning your project will help you stay productive; had you researched the affected regions first, you would not have received the info on the organizations until the weekend, and may have missed your chance to call them.

    That, in turn, would have wasted time you could have spent working on this project to finish it.

    Knowing what you need to do, when you can do it, and how long it will take you, is important in balancing your workload and being more productive and efficient.

    3. Put your work first

    This is an issue that usually occurs with young people who are new to the workforce: they’re often tempted with offers to go out at midday, and then come back lost in thought and unfocused on their work-related tasks.

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    While it is important to take breaks, your breaks should consist of you clearing your mind, not loading it up with other less important information—like sports.

    However, that is not the only situation where you need to worry about putting your work first before all else.

    In a work environment, the senior employees will oftentimes push some of their menial tasks onto the newer employees. If you fall into that category, you need to know that their work is not your work, so if you have tasks that need to be done, you need to do it first.

    If you are a new employee, you must learn to say no to other people even when it means you may not be in their good graces anymore. You can help others out once your work is done, but you are paid to do your own work, not anyone else’s.

    4. Don’t open your browser unless you need them

    In this day and age, everyone is constantly monitoring their social network. This is a major pain point for companies, which is why many don’t allow employees to access their social networks on company workstations.

    When you are at work, disconnect the internet from your phone and keep your browsers closed so you’re not tempted to log onto your social media accounts or browse any sites that are not work-related.

    If you keep your browsers closed and phone tucked away, only to be used in an emergency, you will find yourself being a more productive employee right away. 

    5. Try to be happy and optimistic

    If you always have a negative outlook on life, you will be more distracted and less motivated to get work done, so it’s important for you to start your day off right.

    This can be done by having a good breakfast or by taking time in the morning to watch one of your favorite TV shows before work.

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    If you are happy, you will find yourself able to work much more productively as your mind won’t wander into worrying about something else.

    Also, if you stay optimistic and keep telling yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to, the tasks will seem much less daunting and will go by much more quickly.

    Take a look at more effective ways to stay positive at work:

    15 Ways To Stay Positive At Work

    Happiness and optimism are the keys to being a productive and happy employee.

    All in all, heed the five tips above and you will find yourself being one of the most productive people at your company.

    While you do not need to master them all, each and every one of them will help you become a better and more efficient employee.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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