In the previous installment of the Women in Tech series, we spoke to Colette D’Alessandro, an account manager at Ping Identity. In the current installment, our special guest is Sheena Allen, a serial entrepreneur.
Born in Terry, Mississippi, Sheena is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, where she received a dual degree in psychology and film. Despite not having a formal background in technology, in 2011, she started her first venture – Sheena Allen Apps, a media tech company.
It’s been a whirlwind few years for the Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneur. In 2015, Sheena launched her second company, CapWay, which makes essential financial services available to underserved and financially excluded groups.
In 2016, Sheena was featured in She Started It, a documentary that followed five women on their startup journey. The following year she released her first book, The Starting Guide, which based on her entrepreneurial journey.
Keen to learn more, we spoke to her about her milestones, her ambitions, and her experience in the Money20/20 Rise Up program.
Trulioo: You’ve forged a very exciting career for yourself in a very short period of time. Were you always interested in becoming an entrepreneur?
Sheena: I have always somewhat had that entrepreneurial spirit. It started in middle school when I was selling lollipops out of my backpack; in high school, I used to do artwork on shoes as a business. However, it was after starting my first tech company in college that I knew I was meant to be an entrepreneur. I love being in charge of my own destiny. Being an entrepreneur has its pros and cons, but I absolutely love it. The journey of it all is absolutely amazing.
Trulioo: What is the best career advice you’ve received?
Sheena: Stay true to who you are and remember why you started.
Trulioo: If you had to advise other entrepreneurs, what would you say?
Sheena: It would be similar. However, I would add in to not be afraid to do things your own way. There is nothing wrong with studying the blueprint left by the successful ones before us, but do things your own way. That’s how you leave a legacy. That’s being innovative.
Trulioo: Can you tell me a little about the Money20/20 Rise Up Leadership Program? How did you become involved with it?
Sheena: The Money20/20 Rise Up Leadership Program is about providing support, connections, and skills for women in the fintech industry. There was an application process that everyone had to go through and Money20/20 chose 30 women. I have to say the program was absolutely amazing and we are all still active in a group chat even today.
Trulioo: What’s your personal mission or current goals?
Sheena: My personal mission is to provide opportunity. That word is so huge to me – OPPORTUNITY. A lot of people in this world are either not afforded an opportunity or are in an unfortunate position where they haven’t been exposed to opportunity. That has to change. My personal mission is to change that and provide opportunity.
Trulioo: What is the biggest challenge that women are currently facing within the technology industry?
Sheena: We are still being doubted. We are questioned on whether we can lead, if we are emotionally stable enough, can we raise a family and still be dedicated enough to our company? I could write a book on the things we are doubted on. As a result of that doubt, we don’t receive the same amount of funding or we don’t get positions that we are well qualified for. There have been some steps taken in the right direction, but we’re talking a marathon here, not a sprint.
Trulioo: Lastly, if you gave a Ted Talk about tech, what would the title be?
Sheena: This is How to Build a Table.
To learn more about Sheena, follow her on Twitter.
If there’s a female trailblazer that you’d like to see featured in our Women in Tech blog series, please send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out our previous posts here and stay tuned for the next installment!