Inspirational Influencers: Chloe Taylor
Meet Chloe, Founder of a STEM education consulting company, empowering women and people of color through technology and inspiring technologists of tomorrow.
|Pariss Athena||Aug 27, 2019|| 6|
My name is Chloe Taylor and I am originally from Pittsburgh, PA but have been living in NYC for over 10 years. I founded a STEM education consulting company that specializes in hands-on, engaging tech activities for young learners. I am super passionate about empowering women and people of color through the use of technology. I choose to focus on elementary and middle school education in an effort to spark interest in technology for long term learning. In addition, I have been a Girls Who Code program facilitator for 4 years, and love being able to teach girls about computer science and help boost their confidence in school.
You’re a Carnegie Mellon graduate and also attended graduate school. That’s awesome! Can you tell us about your educational years and how they shaped what you do today?
Carnegie Mellon played a really integral role in my STEM journey and also helped to shape my work ethic. I attended a pre-college program called Summer Academy for Mathematics and Science (SAMS) during my high school summer breaks and eventually enrolled as an undergraduate student. That program was my first exposure to robotics, computer science and advanced mathematics. I got really terrible grades in my classes! I had no clue what I was doing. I literally would just copy lines of code from the boy sitting next to me. That summer experience was very valuable and shapes my work today. Carnegie Mellon is a very rigorous school and my friends and I really struggled to make it through our respective programs. The expectations were high and excuses were rarely tolerated. I went on to get a Master’s Degree in Education from another university, and it was a breeze! Anything is easier than CMU!
Your business, Chloe Taylor Technology, is so cool, inspiring and successful! Tell us all about it and what inspired you to pursue it.
I absolutely love what I do! I started my career in NYC as an elementary school teacher. I’m fascinated by how human beings explore, experiment, and learn. After a few years in the classroom though, I was exhausted! Being a teacher is without a doubt one of the toughest jobs in the world, and I realized the part I loved the most was creating curriculum and designing projects. I wanted to be more innovative and flexible in my career and I knew that many schools were lacking in STEM education. I decided to focus specifically on creating STEM curriculum with impact that was interactive and culturally responsive for schools and organizations in New York City. In a school setting, I typically work with teachers to help them understand why technology is vital in their student’s educational experience. Then, I find opportunities in their existing units of study to introduce technology. Recently, I designed a Tinkercad tutorial for a first grade study of India. Students examined the Taj Mahal and identified basic shapes and patterns to make a replica. We 3D printed the model and it became a great way to further their knowledge of the topic. I had no clue what the Taj Mahal looked like in a 360 degree view, so I learned something new as well! As my business grows, I have plans to open an educational space in NYC for children to learn and experiment with tech. In addition to my work in schools, I collaborate with brands to produce content and events for kids. I have done several brand partnerships, including a creative coding video for BrainPOP and marketing for Sphero Robots among several others.
What do you love about working for yourself and what advice can you offer to future entrepreneurs about the journey of starting your business?
I started my first business in 2013. It was a summer camp for elementary school children and it was a ton of work. It wasn’t glamorous at all. I wore a big red staff t-shirt every day and had to do almost every role in the business in the early years, including mopping the floor or cleaning the bathrooms from time to time. I remember feeling embarrassed when people I knew would see me working. Looking back though, I learned a valuable lesson. The only way to succeed in business is to stay committed and to push through the really difficult times. I did what had to be done, period. I think many of us have unrealistic fantasies about what it is like to be an entrepreneur. It’s not always sexy. The people who succeed stay committed and consistent, even when you have to mop the floor. My business partners and I were able to scale and I made enough money to leave my full time job, and eventually start my current company. Things are a bit easier now but I know I made it this far because I humbled myself and did the work.
I love the freedom and flexibility of working for myself. Though I still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and think, “Oh my god, am I going to make it?”. What matters most to me is that I took the risk. When I left my teaching job, my boss pulled me to the side and said, “If it doesn’t work out, you can always come back.” I needed to hear that, and it motivated me to really go for it. Not taking the chance would have been more painful than failing, so I jumped.
I saw that you were chosen for a campaign with HP. Congratulations! What was your reaction when you found out you were chosen? What was your experience like filming content?
Thank you! I have been an entrepreneur for 6 years but just started my social media accounts and online presence last year. It has been wonderful to connect with people all over the world digitally and it allows for cool opportunities to find me. I was really shocked to get an offer to be sponsored by HP for their #Rulebreakers campaign, and I’m still not sure how exactly how they found me, but I am grateful. When I met their team, they told me that they loved my journey from teacher to entrepreneur, and they spent a lot of time making sure that all my content was authentic to my life. I was camera shy for much of my life, but now I enjoy sharing my story and hope to inspire others.
How can technology positively impact the lives of women and people of color? How do you encourage more people to get into it?
It is very important to me that we are empowered through the knowledge and use of technology. I meet women every day that have business ideas or ideas for new apps, but have absolutely no idea where to start. It kills me to know that so many good ideas have not yet come to life! There are many resources online and alternative education opportunities and it is imperative that we take advantage of them. We can’t afford to be intimidated out of our dreams.
I love following #Blacktechpipeline and reading stories from people who broke into tech careers, especially when they are career changers. But we can’t diversify the industry alone. Tech is notoriously homogenous and unfortunately a lot of the efforts to diversify are solely performative in my opinion. Workplaces can be hostile and retention and promotion rates suffer. I feel somewhat hopeless about the race and gender gap in tech at times but I am grateful to have a mentor that has taken actionable steps to support women and people of color. Brian O’Kelley (founder of AppNexus) has been my mentor for several years, and was an early supporter of the Girls Who Code program, which I have seen positively transform the lives of so many girls across the country. He encouraged me to become involved and has supported me as I have grown my business with his time, encouragement and network. He puts in the effort to connect me with people I would not have met on my own and gives me valuable advice to help me succeed. I want other white allies to know that having a direct impact is possible, I have felt it. But it is so much deeper than putting photos of us on the diversity page of your website. We need you in this fight and it is time to step up.
How do you hope to change or contribute to the technology industry?
When I was still a teacher, one of my students came to me and said “ I like what you are teaching a lot. When I grow up, I’m going to build a big robot, and I’ll come back to school and show all the kids how I built it. Maybe one day they will build one too.” When he said those words I felt a chill go down my spine. I hope my legacy is a ripple effect, and that kids for years to come can feel the magic of technology. I want little black girls in the future to think, “Of course I can be an engineer, why wouldn’t I?”
We loved getting to know you today! Where can people continue to follow you and learn more?
You can find me @chloetaylortech on social media and you can read more about my business on www.chloetaylortech.com.
My website: www.chloetaylortech.com
Get a glimpse of Chloe’s story below!