Aniyia Williams-CEO and Founder of Tinsel
Q: What is your current job?
A: I just started my own company, Tinsel, which is a wearable tech company for women. We make tech jewelry to help women embrace technology without sacrificing their style.
Q: What is your educational/professional background?
A: When I graduated from Penn State, I had spent the majority of my life in music. I am a singer and started to train classically when I was in high school. I entered college as a business major and realized that I was missing the musical aspect of my life, so I decided to switch back to music and minored in business and Italian. After graduating, I worked in fundraising for arts nonprofits. I moved to San Francisco a few years ago and worked at the tech startup Voxer, which makes a walkie talkie app for team communication. I started as the office manager and then moved on to the community team to manage content. As the company grew, I joined the marketing team and was running it by the time I left to start Tinsel.
Q: What led you to start your own company?
A: I really liked my experience at Voxer, but I felt that it was time for me to move on and do something different. I wanted to dedicate my time to developing this product I’d been wanting to see in the market. It has been a very exciting experience so far. I am empowered by the knowledge of the new things I learn every day.
Q: What is it like to be a woman in the tech industry?
A: In general, I feel that I have to be more prepared than most people in the room to be taken seriously. I feel that I always have to be the best so that people don’t question my ability, especially in an industry dominated by men. Whether it is based on being a woman or not, I am just going to try to be the absolute best I can be.
Q: How can more girls get involved in the tech community?
A: It depends on what they want to do. There is a wide array of roles in the industry and there are varying levels of technical expertise required. There are a lot of great organizations that teach women how to code and there are hackathons and meetups in almost every major city, like Girl Develop It and Black Girls Code. I recently joined the board of Women’s Audio Mission, which does amazing work training women and girls to help them get jobs in sound engineering. They found that one of the most effective ways to get girls involved in tech and engineering is for them to see and be taught by women in the industry.
Q: Who is a female tech leader that you admire?
A: I admire the work of many different tech leaders, but since starting Tinsel and trying to get it off the ground, I have been following a company, called Ringly, which was founded by Christina Mercando. I admire and am inspired by what she has done and built today. They are still a fairly young company, but she started exploring fashion technology before it was a trend. I hope that Tinsel can follow a similar path.