Flor Serna started her non-profit, Electric Girls, from a senior thesis paper. Electric Girls allows her to work with young girls who are interested in technology and coding. Flor tells us about the importance of mentorship and how hard work turned an abstract idea into a successful non-profit.
Location: New Orleans, LA
Occupation: Executive Director, Electric Girls
School: BS grad from Loyola University '15
Secretly Obsessed With: Learning how to do new braids in my hair.
On My Nightstand: A million bobby pins
Last Thing You Read: Everest
How did you get started?
I founded Electric Girls after my experience as the sole female audio engineer at Loyola. It started out as a small project that was tied to my honors thesis paper, and gradually (and quickly) became a full-functioning non-profit.
What is one of the most meaningful things a student has told you after participating in Electric Girls?
This is a hard one because there are so many. One girl recently told me... "You should be proud of my grades. I got As in math and science and Bs in English and history!" But every time a girl tells me how much she love Electric Girls, my heart soars.
What key elements played into your success?
Well, not paying myself for starters. Electric Girls is only where it is today because of the amount of time and money that Maya Ramos (my business partner) and I have invested into it. And aside from that, I'd say some pretty robust mentorship and guidance from education and startup gurus.
What’s the best piece of advice you received?
The best piece of advice I've received is to fail early and fail often. As cliche as it sounds, I've completely adopted this mindset when approaching challenges with Electric Girls. Everything is a learning experience; it has to be.
What struggles did you face getting to this point?
As an entrepreneur, the largest struggles I face are managing my time and money. As a college graduate, I struggle financially, but I'm also used to that. I find myself having to sacrifice a lot of my time in order to get by financially. All of it is strategic and quite fun, actually.
Who was the biggest influence in your professional life?
The biggest influence in my professional life is probably Staacy Cannon, a fellow fearless, female tech entrepreneur.
What accomplishment are you most proud of? When do you feel most successful?
I am most proud of seemingly mundane, trivial tasks like learning how to form a board of directors, or writing certain portions of grants, or figuring out how to do Electric Girls taxes. These are things that I was never taught in school and always felt mysterious and unknown to me. Tackling them makes me feel more and more knowledgeable. I certainly feel most successful when I am learning from the Electric Girls that I teach - hearing what they love, and what they don't. Never underestimate the power of a 12-year-old girls' observations.
What advice would you give to girls looking to enter your industry/space?
To girls looking to start a career in technology, I would encourage you to find a mentor and to keep on going. Find someone to mentor, and be a role model to others looking to work in the same field. To girls looking to become entrepreneurs, find your passion. Start a business only if it is one you believe in at its core, and only if you are ready to dedicate yourself to that cause.