Co-authored by Paloma Stafford, NYC High School Student
If you have picked up a copy of the October Seventeen magazine, you will surely have seen this year's Pretty Amazing Winner, Stacey Ferreira, featured on the cover. At the age of 18, Stacey, with her brother Scott, founded MySocialCloud, an online security company that securely stores usernames and passwords for people and companies all across the globe. According to Seventeen, Stacey was chosen from over 23,000 entries from young women for her "Entrepreneurial prowess."
Stacey has an inspiring story, which is evident from MySocialCloud's success, the book in progress, and numerous other accomplishments. Her journey began after her brother Scott's computer crashed and he lost everything. With hard work, strategic social media use, and an investment from Richard Branson, the company grew to where it is today. Oh, and did I mention she is only 21-years-old? However, as an older sister, I was especially interested in how Stacey worked with her brother Scott to build a successful company. I wondered about the benefits, but also the challenges of working along side someone who knows you arguably better than anyone else.
My sister Paloma and I had the opportunity to hear what Stacey had to say about her experiences, her current projects and how social media has played a crucial role. In addition, she offers advice for those of us looking to take our ideas and turn them into realities.
First off, can you share your sibling secrets with us? How has it been to work with your brother?
Working with my brother has been fantastic! We've always gotten along and respected each other growing up, and when we started a business nothing changed. We already knew how to negotiate and compromise with each other, and at the end of the day, we knew we could trust each other 100 percent.
That's awesome! What three words would you use to define entrepreneur?
Hard Working, Dedicated, Passionate
We can see how those qualities helped you get to where you are today. So tell us, do you ever feel like your age ever came in the way of becoming an entrepreneur? If so, how did you go about overcoming the obstacles you faced?
During the beginning days of MySocialCloud, I saw some opposition and questioning looks from not just people older than myself, but peers who I went to school with or talked to on a regular basis. People would say that we were too young, didn't know what we were doing or didn't know enough to start a business.
But through all of this, my brother and I kept learning, working at our vision for MySocialCloud and using those "you can'ts" to fuel our passion into wanting to make our business even more successful. The best thing for us was just to keep our heads down and keep working -- no matter what.
It seems like you have found the key to most effectively leveraging social media. Can you tell us about how you have done this and any tips you may have for us on using it to bring people together?
For my own business, I've leveraged social media in a bit of an untraditional way. In the summer of 2011, Scott, Shiv and I were working out of LA on the first version of MySocialCloud. That June, I saw a tweet on Twitter from Sir Richard Branson that said something along the lines of "Come meet me in Miami for intimate cocktails, donate $2k to charity" and then gave an email address. Immediately, I took the email address and said that my brother and I would love to come meet Sir Richard in Miami. Later that night we got an email from someone on his staff that said if we could donate $4,000 and fly to Miami in 48 hours, we could meet him. To make a long story short, my brother and I loaned the money from our parents, flew to Miami and were able to get Sir Richard Branson's contact information. Once we got back from the events, we followed up and sent him our prototype. Just a couple weeks after that, an investor that he knows, Jerry Murdock, flew out to LA to meet Scott, Shiv and me and ask us questions about MySocialCloud. Later that night, Murdock took us out to dinner and we shook hands for the ~$1million dollar investment from him and Branson. This was all possible because of that one tweet - -so social media definitely can have a huge impact.
I think the thing that's great about social media is that you can make a list of the top 50 people you want to meet/talk to - and because of things like Twitter, Facebook and Google+, you're able to connect with almost all of them. In my opinion, the best way to use social media is not just to blast random tweets/statuses in those respective platforms, but tweet at people or inbox them on Facebook to make a connection. Ultimately, people online will listen more if you put them on the spot for a response (aka reach out to them directly).
What's next for you? We know you are working on a new project and we would love to learn more about it! What's the idea behind 2 Billion Under 20 and how did you get started?
2 Billion Under 20 was an idea that my co-creator, Jared Kleinert, had after we attended the Thiel Fellowship Summit in New York City last year. One of the speakers gave a speech about this idea of there being 2 Billion people on earth right now who are 20 years old or under who could have a positive impact on the world. A couple months after the event, Jared and I started speaking about this idea and that each of these people could have the potential to impact the world in a positive way if they're given the support and resources they need to do so.
So in April we started to build a community of young adults (20 and under) who are working on some of the most amazing, inspiring and awesome projects from around the world that help make the world a better place. Right now, we're working on building a 2 Billion Under 20 book that highlights some of these inspirational young adult's stories so that others from around the globe can see just how much of an impact they can have at a young age.
From talking with Stacey, we realized how important it is to not ignore those inspirations or sparks we sometimes see but never do anything about. We can all attest to the fact that turning ideas into actions is easier said than done, but if we stop being afraid to take risks and put ourselves out there, we may be surprised at the outcomes. We have also come to look at social media in a new light. Yes, we know how useful it can be in staying in touch with friends but Stacey showed us how social media can put the world at our fingertips and allow us to collaborate and share with others.
We have one more question! For all of us teenagers trying to figure out how we can move our ideas forward, what advice would you have for us? How can we get to that next level?
If you visit the 2 Billion Under 20 website, you'll see in the top right hand corner a motto that says, "Start Somewhere. Start Now." My biggest piece of advice would be to just follow this motto and start pursuing your ideas right now. If you want to build a product, sketch it out, ask questions and meet people who have build products before. It's okay to go slow and take it step by step so that you don't get overwhelmed, but just start.