”I think one of the best parts about my job is that it is constantly changing and always full of new challenges – so I never get bored and I never stop learning.”
Dora founded the company imagiLabs with her friend Beatrice Ionascu, with the aim of getting more girls interested in tech and coding at a younger age!
How did you become interested in tech? Has it always been an interest of yours?
”I always liked science and I also had lots of tech gadgets but I never really felt like technology and especially programming was something I could consider for studies and career! I started to code as part of science research I worked on in University – I had to analyse large amounts of data as I was researching how our brain works, how we think!
Then, I remember the moment when I became really excited about programming was when I built my first web app which let students choose different study programs and provide them with a course plan – the idea that I could build something that others find useful was really empowering. From then on I always looked at coding and at technology as a tool that would let me achieve the things I wanted to achieve and as a tool for building something meaningful.”
What inspired you to co-found imagiLabs? What was the idea behind the company?
”Continuing from my previous answer – I believe that technology is our most powerful tool to shape the future! Because of that I also believe that girls and women should be equally involved in creating with technology so that we can use it to solve the problems we face! However, unfortunately today we make up less than 20% of those working with tech in Sweden and the EU! Hence, today we do not have an equal chance to contribute to shaping our future. I want the following logical exercise to become reality:
If: technology = future
And: women = technology
Then: women = future
At imagiLabs we are working with girls between 9-16 to co-create new products and experiences that would make it fun and relevant to learn programming. Our first product, the imagiCharm, which is a smart keychain accessory that can be customized through programming started from building prototypes using paper and clay together with 20 girls here in Stockholm (the first workshop was at KTH in Kista, where I was studying!). Since then we have also had 10 prao interns – some of them became imagiGirls (ambassadors to imagiLabs) who help us making our product ideas better!”
How did the process go from idea to reality when starting imagiLabs?
”Because Beatrice (one of my co-founders) and I both have technical background we first simply just started to design, build, prototype! Then, at KTH we became part of KTH innovation – which is a program for students who are thinking about starting their own businesses. We always just got one step further – then one day we reached an agreement with Tekla festival that they would buy our prototypes and we could arrange a workshop as part of the program! This was a big milestone for us and this is when we decided to register our company. Since then, we have reached many more milestones on the way of making the imagiCharm and the imagiLabs app available – we had a Kickstarter campaign where many people supported us by pre-ordering the imagiCharms and we also got help from a lot of other entrepreneurs and engineers! It’s been very much like a roller coaster journey – full of obstacles, difficulties but also exciting achievements!”
What do you enjoy most about your job? Do you have any fond memories?
”I think one of the best parts about my job is that it is constantly changing and always full of new challenges – so I never get bored and I never stop learning. For example, one day I could be designing what our app looks like, the next day teaching a workshop and then working on recruiting new team mates… the list goes on! Speaking of team mates – that’s probably one of the most important aspects of building our own company – working on something we love with a team that enjoys working together! But my most fond memories are definitely the ones related to our users and seeing how excited they are to learn to code in the app and with the imagiCharm – and seeing girls complement each others’ code and projects in the app!”
Who do you look up to and why?
”My biggest inspiration these days are the other female founders I have gotten to know personally through various startup programs, for example Paulina Olsson the founder of Peppy Pals, or Isabella Palmgren the founder of Mimbly (they are both Swedish startups working on really cool and important topics such as emotional intelligence and sustainability!)
In Sweden there are also so many women who are role models and paving the way for girls and women’s equality! For example – how cool is it that Anna König Jerlmyr, the mayor of Stockholm has initiated a campaign to make Stockholm a woman’s place!”