Sara Chipps and Brooke Moreland are on a mission to change the way young girls think, through the toys they play with.
The duo co-founded their New York City-based start-up,
"I was five years into my career before I worked with another woman, and another five years before I worked with another one," Chipps, 36, said. "I really just wanted to change that environment."
Chipps began coding at age 11 and dropped out of Penn State, where she was studying computer science, to head into the workforce, going on to co-found Girl Develop It in 2010. The nonprofit provides affordable opportunities for adult women to learn how to code via in-person classes, now in 50 cities nationwide, with more than 60,000 women served. She met Moreland that same year, after being hired to do some programming for Moreland's start-up Fashism, a fashion photo-sharing app for teenage girls.
"I thought it was really great to work with an engineer who was a woman," Moreland said. The two stayed friends, and when Chipps had the idea for
The friendship bracelets are equipped with four LED lights and a button and connect with one another over Bluetooth.
To test the idea for
"It was a great way for us to show, in a short period of time, that this is something people want and are willing to pay for before it even exists," Moreland said.
From there, they set their sights on Techstars in New York City, knowing the pitch may be a long shot. But they were accepted, and the co-founders graduated the elite accelerator program in December 2015. They've gone on to raise $1.3 million from angels and venture capital investors, including Techstars, Homebrew and Brand Foundry Ventures.
Chipps and Moreland also pitched a contact at Target, getting placed on Target.com in November 2016 in time for the holiday rush. To date, 7,000
"Right now the toys we make for girls are consumables, and the toys we make for boys teach them to be builders,