A sophomore software engineering major at Johnson & Wales University, Frances Mulligan was a member of the all-female team with the most entrepreneurial hack at the SheHacks Boston competition in January. Mulligan was awarded a chance to pitch the team’s idea to venture capitalists and receive $25,000 in startup funding.
PBN: How did it feel to be a member of the team with the most entrepreneurial design?
MULLIGAN: It was surreal because we had submitted [our app] for this prize thinking it was going to be a long shot, especially because of how impressive the other teams’ ideas were. When they called our team, we were in shock because we had just won the Best use of Amazon Web Services award [too]. We were proud and amazed that we were chosen.
PBN: What was the app designed to do?
MULLIGAN: We thought about dogs that do not get enough socialization, and that’s where our idea for PuppyTime originated. The app is designed to allow users to connect with shelter dogs in their area and aims to help socialize dogs that were abused and neglected. Through the easy installation of a tablet or camera-operated device, the user can see and talk to the dog while the dog can hear the voice of the user. It also allows for user interactivity, such as giving the dog a treat with a built-in dispenser.
PBN: What about SheHacks Boston enthused you the most in terms of pursuing a career in technology?
MULLIGAN: What enthused me most about SheHacks Boston was the acceptance of women in tech and team-building strategies. There are so many stigmas for women to overcome in this field, and SheHacks allowed our voices to be heard and our skills to be highlighted. I also learned new strategies as part of a tech group, which increased my eagerness and passion to move forward in technology.
PBN: Why do you think it’s important for more young women [such as] yourself to become involved in the technology sector?
MULLIGAN: I believe that it’s important for more young women to become involved in the technology sector because young women are often told that the technology industry is not a women-friendly space, but that is completely false.
As a child, I was told repeatedly that girls aren’t good at math and I believed it – my math grades reflected that doubt. Then, when I was introduced to coding in my junior year of high school, I immediately found something I enjoyed and could foresee [as a career]. The technology sector can be intimidating, but there’s so much potential young women can bring to the table.
PBN: You’re a sophomore this year, what are your plans for the rest of your time at JWU and do you know what you’d like to do after graduation?
MULLIGAN: I am looking forward to attending developer conventions and was just accepted to F8, the Facebook developer’s conference in San Jose, Calif. I also plan to continue attending hackathons as a way to hone my programming skills. After graduation, I hope to pursue a master’s degree in cybersecurity and run my company, PuppyTime, while hopefully inspiring more young women to go into STEM careers.