April 21, 2016
We are excited to announce that Estelle Rinaudo, co-founder of LoftyDreams and Managing Director of Girls in Tech Brazil will be speaking at this years 3rd Annual Latam Founders Awards Gala on May 10th on the importance of diversity in innovation and technology. She has been transforming the lives of young girls around the world for the last 7 years, here is our exclusive look into how she brought her dreams to life in order to help others achieve theirs.
Tell us about your company Loftydreams
Loftydreams is the editor of the social network Amuseworld.net, with +65 000 members they have developed the first collaborative magazine Le Mag d'Amuseworld.net, done entirely by girls age 8-14. It is an interactive world which provides an enriching play environment, with intellectually stimulating role models from across the globe, who guide young girls through the ups and downs of daily life, encouraging them to develop positive values such as courage, self-confidence and generosity as well as discovering the world. In addition to the social network and magazine there is a collection of books and dolls.
There are many challenges when starting a company, especially when there is nothing even close to it on the market to compare it to. What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how have you over come them?
Early on we were looking for funding in order to further develop our offerings and expand our reach but we weren’t profitable, following the ‘make it work and focus on monetization later’. We lost a lot of time trying to find investors; we were new, we developed something that had never been done before and investors were trying to make comparisons to other services that weren’t really comparable to what we were creating. The hardest part was being being severely judged for not being addictive enough compared to our competitors, who all disappeared as the time went by, while we stayed strong and firm and developed an enriching long term relationship with our community.
We put the project on ‘pause’ for two years but even while we were focusing on other projects the community continued to grow. We were offering services that no one else was providing so people kept coming back. Then we created the magazine which drew outside attention attracting even more clients including clothing brands, toy companies and resorts looking to attract the parents.
It is seven years later, we are still here, we are profitable and we have yet to take on external investment. In the end, not being able to raise the funding early on was a blessing; we were able to stay true to our values, and run the company in a way that worked for us.
With Loftydreams you are influencing the younger generation of girls, tell us about your work with Girls in Tech and how you are engaging, educating and empowering of girls and women who are passionate about technology.
It started when I was asked to join the board of Girls In Tech, having had experience living and working in Brazil I washappy to jump in the adventure and help them develop the Brazilian chapter.
I developed a pilot project of creating a GIT channel on YouTube to give more exposure to women working in the tech industry and in 2015 received the prize "Mulheres Tech em Sampa".
On May 11th GIT Brazil will be producing the first Lady Pitch Night in Latin America, a pitch competition for women who co-founded tech companies.
With your work focused on creating a positive influence and outlet to girls and women around the world, who was your mentor?
I have had several amazing mentors that helped me during the development of Loftydreams and have been inspired by people such as Sir Richard Branson who included me in B Team initiative. There is a lack of strong inspirational women which was one of the reasons why we created this network. There are tons of inspirational women around the world but they are less talked about. Even when the discussion is about their profession, their industry, there is always a point in the conversation when the subject moves to focus on them being a woman, being a mother, how they ‘juggle it all’, if we asked men the same questions it would a more balanced conversation.
You have been in brazil for 2 years, as a ‘gringo’ what are some of the challenges you faced? What were the surprises?
The hardest thing to deal with in business is that in Brazil, people don’t say ‘no’. They are very enthusiastic and optimistic but then nothing happens. It is the opposite in France so this was something I had to learn about the culture, once you learn (except) this you can move forward. In general, a ‘yes’ takes much longer in Brazil then in France or the US. On the administrative side, as a foreigner it is extremely difficult to deal with the legal aspects and it is hard for foreigners to be protected, many times you will need a Brazilian counterpart in order to accomplish anything.
What motivates you?
When I receive a message from a girl that says ‘Thank you, you have changed my life by helping me over the years, gave me friends when I didn’t have any and inspired me to go after my dreams. I don’t think you realize how helpful this product has been for my life” We receive hundreds of these letters, knowing that I am making a direct positive and positive impact keeps keeps me motivated.