How Hauwa Yousef fought imposter syndrome to start a company

Hauwa Yousef is a model of success for young minority developers to come into their own in the field of software engineering.

Hauwa’s Bio:

Hauwa is a Montana State University graduate and technology enthusiast with an obsession for entrepreneurship. Also an avid world traveler, Hauwa’s direct experience “DropTripping” items across countries for those in dire need serves as her primary motivation and inspiration in seeing to DropTrip’s success.

Episode Highlights and Show Notes:

Hauwa: My programming career begins a little bit in school… getting an internship. My sophomore year in college was very eye opening and that built up my skills to the point that when I graduated, I took a job as a software developer for a ski resort… I got to program new things every day, develop new concepts… and so working as a developer in that realm was a lot of fun but after about a year, it became monotonous – less adventurous. We started going into code maintenance mode and bug fixes after bug fixes…

Arsalan: So what did you do after that?

Hauwa: So I started a company!

Hauwa: Thankfully, there’s a lot of support on the Internet for whatever problems you run into… But in general, our industry is very collaborative and that’s how I met you. You were helping me solve a problem across the world! There is a lot of support…

Hauwa: Going into college, my intention was never to become a software developer. I wanted to become an entrepreneur. I just wanted the skill set but going through the process… the skills that you learn are fundamental in going through life – the critical thinking, the learning on your own, the working with others…

Hauwa: I try to go to conferences here and there. I participate in Startup Weekend. I think it’s a great avenue for anybody interested in the field to meet other people interested in the field, to bounce ideas off of each other. I actually met some of my partners at a Startup Weekend event.

Arsalan: Say, you want to create a minimum viable product… It could be something that’s built out or partially built out… It could be built using a proper web framework that you would normally use or it could be a WordPress website that you use as a representation of what you would build if you were doing it seriously… because you only have a weekend… is that why you think Startup Weekends work?

Hauwa: Given the 54 hours you have, it’s really hard to sit down and get deep into coding for 54 hours and do a business plan and, and, and… You get two kinds of people at a Startup Weekend event. You get the people who are like “alright I have the next million dollar idea… but there’s no path to it” and you get people who are developers who are like “I am going to use Python and this database and it’s going to be awesome” but then they end up building something that’s awesome but have no idea how to market it…

Hauwa: Probably, one of my biggest psychological blocks in general… I had a great idea for a company when I was abut 19 and I was like “I don’t have the skills to build this thing. I need senior developers to help me build thus stuff. I am 19. How do I get people who are probably 40 or 50 years old with a lot of skills to help me out?”

Hauwa: I speak up and I speak out…. Listening a lot to what people have to say and showing them respect and when I do have something to say, making sure I can back myself up… Recently, I went to a course and it was full of CEOs. I walked in and the first thing they said was “I think you’re in the wrong place!”. I said “No. I am in the right place. I paid for the course like you did.” For the first day, I didn’t say a whole lot… You can tell they were still really confused as to why I was there in the first place. I didn’t speak up until about the second day when I had something to say and it was something really profound questioning some theoretical assumptions that someone had made and I thought weren’t the right set of assumptions…

Hauwa: We can either change the way everyone works and thinks or we can change ourselves for the better…

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