2022 Most Disruptive Business School Startups: Lovelace, University of Minnesota (Carlson)


University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management

Industry: Education Tech

Founding Student Name(s): Anna Pedrick

Brief Description of Solution: Lovelace combines arts and crafts with coding to increase girls’ interest in STEM. STEM is primarily introduced to kids in a way that aligns with the typical stereotypes (sci-fi, robotics, competitions) which along the way alienates girls from taking an interest. Coding entails so much more than those stereotypes, but it’s not commonly showcased in that light. We rebrand coding to align with what young girls look for in activities: social, fun, creative, and collaboration. Our mission is to break down the stereotypes associated with coding and redefine what coding is and who a coder can be to young girls.

What led you to launch this venture? I started Lovelace through the course Entrepreneurship in Action at the Carlson School of Management. I have always been passionate about female representation in the tech field. At the start of this course, we started researching the reasons for why the gender gap occurs. While other “male-dominated” fields have made great improvements in the last 20 years, the number of females in STEM has decreased. I recognized that to narrow this gender gap, we as a society can’t continue to use the same strategies and expect them to work; we have to approach it in a new way. When reflecting on my coding journey, my parents wanted me to take interest in STEM for as long as I can remember However, I never saw myself or my interests in the opportunities presented to me. Unfortunately, my story is not unique, and many girls don’t relate to the way coding is presented to them. Too many of my female peers never explored coding because they weren’t interested in robotics, gaming, or sci-fi when coding can be so much more than that. I wanted to create a company that shows girls that coding is more than it is stereotyped to be and can align with a lot of their interests. Through this, Lovelace reframes coding in young girls’ minds and shows them the potential opportunities that they too can be a part of.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? This spring, we held 6 workshops to validate our MVP. Girls left these workshops extremely excited about what they created and wanting to learn more. Many of them signed up for coding classes through school, found online learning resources, or continued coding on our products. To me, this has been the greatest accomplishment. Most of the girls came into our workshop unsure of coding or what we were going to be doing, but they left with changed opinions. Knowing how to code is so valuable to any career path, and these simple actions will help all these girls for the rest of their lives, and I am so proud to be a part of that.

How has your business-related major helped you further this startup venture? My Entrepreneurial Management major has allowed me to take a variety of classes covering a wide range of business topics. So many of my Carlson professors challenged me to think deeper than just memorizing definitions and concepts, and to ask the why behind what we were being taught. The ability to think bigger picture and the implications is something I use almost every day with Lovelace.

During my time as an undergrad, I was able to serve as the Carlson School of Management’s Student Body President. Being the President of the business school afforded me the opportunity to learn a tremendous amount regarding identifying student problems and solutions, leading a team of my peers, and setting a strategic direction. There was an entrepreneurial spirit involved in the way we ideated and prototyped initiates that we would later go on to pitch to high-level administration. This role had plenty of challenges, but I was able to learn how to readjust my strategy to best align with the interests of the school. My time as President equipped me with more business skills than any class ever could, and I truly could not thank the undergraduate staff and the Business Board team more for that.

Which business class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? Lovelace was founded in the course Entrepreneurship in Action. At large, the one objective of this class was to start a business by finals week. The course is designed to provide the resources and connections needed to start a venture, but the company we pursue and direction we take it is up to us. Various industry experts in sales, public relations, marketing, and risk assessment frequently spoke in our class, but unlike other courses, we were able to put their lessons to use right away. This course taught me the importance of getting out and talking to customers even if everything isn’t perfect or figured out. We were able to test our MVP with 47 girls, and each time took the feedback and insights to improve Lovelace and validate the concept.

What business professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Without a doubt, it was the director of the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurship in Action professor, John Stavig. To truly summarize how much he has impacted me and Lovelace into a paragraph is nearly impossible. John has an incredible ability to push students to constantly think bigger and take calculated risks, while being a tremendous support system when things don’t go to plan. He has taught me that even in failures there are always lessons to be learned to better yourself and your business if you are willing to learn from it. Though I am no longer his student, he continues to offer advice and help. John’s passion for entrepreneurship is contagious and has an unparalleled ability to leverage his experience, connections, and knowledge to support his students.

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? In my senior year of high school, I was fortunate to compete in the International DECA competition. During my time there, I went to a keynote speech by Brayden Moreno, the founder of a company called Robo3D. This was the first time I was truly exposed to what it means to be an entrepreneur and it was immensely inspiring. I left that presentation with the goal of starting a business within a year. I went on to start a resell thrifting business that I eventually closed, but it triggered a different mindset in me. To this day, I am always thinking of business ideas and recognizing problems we face and if there could be solutions and it all started with his presentation.

What is your long-term goal with your startup? Down the road, I see Lovelace offering a wide range of educational products all achieving our basic idea of combining art with coding. I want our customers to jump from one product to another to gain a concrete understanding of coding fundamentals. More than that though, I want Lovelace to be a strong community where girls have a support system and a place to engage with others. One of the most important aspects of keeping girls in STEM is for them to have a community that allows them to connect with others who share similar interests.


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