The TechLadies Bootcamp is a 10-week part-time accelerated learning program designed to help women with some basic programming background become professional programmers. Participants are guided by industry experts, creating products for non-profit organizations. 9 ladies were chosen for the first batch of the TechLadies Bootcamp. In this blog series, we will be sharing more about the background and learning journey of these ladies. Hopefully that’ll inspire you to start learning how to code too!
If you could tell a story about yourself in one sentence, what would it be?
Compassion meets curiosity standing on her hands.
Psst… I often do impromptu handstands, I do them everywhere!
What is your current day job?
I’m currently the Program Director and Head Gymnastics Coach at the Singapore American School and have developed a curriculum on gymnastics that gives success to all ages and ability levels. I am a high performance coach and have coached many Singapore national champions.
I also consult for the Ministry of Education and travel to schools across Asia sharing my curriculum so that the schools can develop amazing programs for their communities.
What made you interested in programming?
I began blogging about gymnastics when I moved to Singapore from China in 2010. I learned basic HTML and CSS when my blog was on Blogger and then taught myself to customize it on WordPress.
Thereafter I started writing about my other passions like DJing and teaching other DJs how to get gigs on websites that I had coded. From that point on, I realised how much power there was in taking technology into my own hands and not only using it for changing the websites aesthetically.
I got really interested in the tech space last year and started Googling and asking lots of questions about tech to friends and on Twitter. I also started to read a lot of books and blogs, and did practice tutorials online. I wanted to learn a programming language so I picked the one that I thought had the cutest name – Ruby.
Deep down inside, I think it is because I’ve always wanted to be like my big sister who is a UX designer back home in Wisconsin. Some things never change.
What was your first thought or reaction when you heard about TechLadies?
YES! Finally, something I have been looking for! I had always been looking at different programs available specifically for females but could not find anything in Singapore that would fit into my schedule as a mother, wife and founder. I believe TechLadies will help create parity for women in the tech ecosystem here in Singapore.
When I went to the TechLadies launch party, I met many women who, like me, were not right out of school. Many of them are very successful in their current positions but are really interested in tech, they just do not know where to start. I see TechLadies as the bridge for these women to cross over and make an impact in the world through technology.
Why did you want to apply to the TechLadies Coding Programme?
I am insanely curious about finding solutions to problems.
Mostly to problems that I have, like being a mother with 2 children under the age of 5 and not being able to find quality classes for them to participate.
Some parents, including myself, find classes or activities online that have high ratings reflected on their Facebook Fan pages and trust their credibility. We signed our child up, paid his/her fees and brought our child to the class. However, we feel cheated when the teachers are not knowledgeable, when the space used is not clean, or when there are too many kids in one class. What is worse is that we feel like we have somehow failed as parents too.
I tried to solve this problem on my own by trying to clone a Product Hunt with Ruby on Rails because I wanted a way for parents to rate child-activity businesses in Singapore. But I never launch this project because I did not feel confident that it would actually work. And to be honest, the resulting interface was quite ugly. That’s why I applied for TechLadies.
The Universe handed me loads of high-fives in February when I was accepted into the TechLadies Coding Program. My own project also evolved into LeelaPass. My startup, LeelaPass, is a web app to help parents discover and book unlimited classes and boutique workshops for their kids with one low monthly subscription fee. It is the GuavaPass for child activities. I started this because I believe that all children should be given the opportunity to explore and develop their interests at a young age so that they can become the pillars of a healthy, happy and fulfilled society.
Because it happened to me. My mother took me to a ‘mommy-and-me’ class (just like the ones I teach) when I was 2 years old and I was an elite gymnast by the age of 12 and continued to train when I went to college at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I have been coaching gymnastics for over 18 years in US, China, Bermuda and Singapore and this journey in life has been due to the opportunity my mother gave me, allowing me to discover my passion and develop my interest.
I was so filled with confidence and the belief that I can make LeelaPass a reality that I managed to code the landing page in a day and turned it into a revenue generating business in under 10 days.
What do you hope to gain out of the TechLadies Coding Programme?
I want to be a part of the change in the Singapore technology landscape.
According to Female Founders, Singapore has only 5% of women entrepreneurs in tech startups. That’s not even half of what it is in Silicon Valley!
I want to be able to help bring up that measly percentage by being one of the first participants in the TechLadies Coding Program. However, my true value is to give another woman, after she hears about my story, the confidence to follow her own light within.
I also want to be able to prototype LeelaPass with Rails. I really want my contributions to be more than the voice and vision of the company. I want to have my code inside the software we build for LeelaPass from the very start. This is extremely important to me. My aim is to have a full grasp of concepts to be able to communicate with my technical team, set realistic goals and when bringing our product to market, be able to execute the goals knowing that I have enough tech knowledge.
Describe the TechLadies project you’re working on!
Our team is working on making a non-profit’s existing site better. The non-profit documents the Singapore tech and startup scene by recording videos of conferences, meetups and workshops, uploading them to YouTube as well as embedding them on their site – Engineers.sg. Right now we are adding code to allow visitors to sign up to a mailing list so that they can be notified when something awesome happens on the site. Like when a new video was uploaded of a workshop that they could not attend because they wanted to be home with their family for dinner.
What do you see yourself using your coding skills?
In the future, I will share what I learn. I believe harnessing knowledge solely for the sake of knowing is selfish, as doing that does not leave the world in a better state compared to before the knowledge was obtained. Therefore we must all teach what we have learnt. I know I will start to share what I have learnt by teaching my daughters how to build their own games and apps and perhaps I will also teach other children and other change-makers to code.