On February 10th, Cedarcrest Middle School from Bethel School District joined IGNITE for an Exploring the Capital Markets Workshop with PitchBook Data!
Meredith Foster, Customer Success Manager at PitchBook, kicked off the event by acquainting everyone with what STEM means and how it is everywhere you look. PitchBook provides private market data to companies and investors. Meredith asked students to imagine you have an older sister who is helping you with a subject, and without giving you the answer, she creates an understanding of how it works. That’s Pitchbook!
Pitchbook has a lot of customers that are in Venture Capital. Meredith shared a slide with several companies that started because of venture capital funding, including Twitter, Pinterest, Yelp, and Etsy! A poll asked how many different types of women-owned businesses received funding this way. Unfortunately, women only received about 2.2% of venture capital funding, and we need to change that!
Students then broke out into breakout rooms for their activity. Each group worked with a program called Miro to brainstorm product ideas and then learned about the processes used to expand an idea into a business. Once their picked their products, the groups discussed business names, a business plan, sales and marketing, and ideas for funding:
Group 1 had Pitchbook mentors Lizzie Rice, Product Designer; Jessie Ross, Business Development Associate; and Katie Ho, Associate Machine Learning Engineer. Students came up with ideas of what product to sell, including brownies, and pillows! Pitchbook asked inquiry-based questions, such as can you think of something that everyone in your family would like?
Group 2 PitchBook mentors were Claire Bowman, Product Manager for PitchBook Labs, Jennifer Sam, Senior Design Manager; and David Rudokas, Senior Account Manager. This group decided to make Lava Lamps! They explored where a mentor could be found for this business, and participants suggested finding knowledgeable people within your group, a teacher at school, online, and other self-start businesses.
Group 3 had Pitchbook mentors Lauren Miller, Project Manager; Adrienne Aguilar, Senior Business Systems Operations Analyst; JoAnne Baldwin, Sr. Manager, Customer Marketing; and the event facilitator, Meredith Foster, Customer Success Manager. After the students created their business plan, the mentors shared about their jobs and why knowing what customers need is essential, as well as having a great belief in the product you’re representing!
Students had a great time developing their product plans and seeing a new side of STEM!
After the activity, four PitchBook panelists shared more about themselves and their jobs:
Jennifer Sam, Senior Design Manager, has a background in graphic design and helps PitchBook with advertising. Jennifer came from a huge family and knew that STEM would provide financial stability, which was something that she liked when making her career choice. She loves that she gets to be creative, work with a team, and help make high-impact design projects!
Lizzie Rice, Product Designer, designs what the product looks like on an engagement level – how people interact with it. She thought at a young age she wanted her own business, because her whole family was in business. In high school, Lizzie discovered that she enjoyed the design aspect of fashion. She took UX (User Experience) Design in college and has been doing it ever since!
Katie Ho, Associate Machine Learning Engineer, feels like she has a magical power in her job! Growing up she enjoyed doing a variety of things but put a lot of pressure on herself to be the best, because her parents both worked very had six days a week. Katie admits that she could have focused more on enjoying her time solving problems in classes and shared that it’s okay to not be excellent in everything you do!
Adrienne Aguilar, Senior Business Systems Operations Analyst, said her job is similar to the workshop that the attendees participated in. Growing up she did not see herself in STEM, but she took an economics class that helped her realize that her passions for sports and shopping could align with a STEM career. She learned that everything is a data point, and all these pieces of data tell a story. Adrienne said it feels good to drive business decisions and see the impact you have on a company.
After the speakers shared, students got a chance to ask questions:
- Did COVID affect your job?
- Why did you become a Designer?
- How many of you participated in programs like DECA in HS?
- What options in STEM involve cooking?
- Do you do Science Experiments?
Many panelists said they were involved in STEM programs in school, which helped them try new things and learn a lot. JoAnne shared how cooking is very scientific. Something as small as a cookie can be examined, such as, why it is so soft or crunchy? Meredith mentioned how Beyond Meat was a STEM-related creation, and Venture Capital is involved in that as well. Though PitchBook doesn’t specifically do science experiments, they do follow the scientific process to have a hypothesis and test it out in marketing – which would be one of the next steps for the students’ product activity!
Other advice included to find what you love and be flexible. Students were encouraged to explore all their options, because there is no linear path. STEM is a very diverse field, with room for everyone with every interest and skill!
The speakers all shared some final advice:
- Never underestimate the value of being organized in how you communicate and work with others – it goes a long way.
- I wouldn’t be where I am today (Project Manager!) without friends and mentors. Finding other women with more work experience and who are passionate about helping those just starting off was really helpful on my journey in tech!
- Ask lots of questions and be curious throughout the process, during school, and whenever you meet new people.
- Find a support system of people who encourage you, and network with people who have jobs you are interested in.
- Do what you love and success will follow!
The diversity of skills, interests, and cultures shared at this event helped the students to identify with the volunteers. Through the activity and the panel they were able to see themselves represented and realize that there is a place for everyone in STEM!
A huge thank you to the amazing volunteers from PitchBook Data for hosting such a fun and inspiring event! Thank you Meredith, Lizzie, Lauren, Katie, Jessie, Jennifer, David, Claire, Adrienne, and JoAnne, IGNITE volunteer LaTeefah Johnson, and everyone who attended and furthered their understanding of STEM!
After attending this event:
Here’s what the students thought of the event:
“Now I know that my future is looking bright. Thanks to you I now know my future job!” – 6th grade
“It inspired me because I never knew how many choices there were in STEM but now I see there are a lot of choices I can choose from and how many girls should actually do it because STEM is a part of everyone’s life.” – 6th grade
“This was helpful because I’ve actually been interested in engineering and business stuff and I hopefully want to be in one of those one day.” – 6th grade
“One of the best workshops! My lava lamp group was cool.” – 6th grade
“Very fun and exciting. I really hope we can do more things like this.” – 6th grade
“It was very nice and creative. And awesome!” – 6th grade