Being an entrepreneur is never easy. But being an entrepreneur while also juggling the demands of being an undergraduate is definitely an extra challenge that most would shy away from. But not Katlyn Grasso. While a student at University of Pennsylvania, Grasso started GenHERation—a network for high school girls that provides them the opportunity to advocate for community issues important to them. Talk about serious girl power!
We here at CollegeFashionista are all about empowerment and community. So we couldn’t be more excited to catch up with another young entrepreneur making waves with these shared values.
Read on toe learn more about GenHERation, Grasso and what drives her to do it all!
CollegeFashionista: Tell us the story behind creating GenHERation and its purpose.
Katlyn Grasso: After conducting international research about leadership development in high school girls, I learned that girls needed an experiential learning platform to help them explore different community service and career paths. As digital natives, I realized that girls could use the Internet as a transformative tool to create a synergistic relationship between their online and offline communities. With insights from my research and passion for technology, we launched GenHERation on March 1, 2014.
CF: What inspired you to start GenHERation?
KG: I grew up in an environment that nurtured female leaders and have never thought that gender dictates success. Women now outnumber men in earning advanced degrees in the United States, but there are still so few women in positions of political, academic, and corporate power. The solution to closing this leadership gap begins with girls. GenHERation allows girls to develop confidence in their abilities at a young age so that they are more likely to pursue leadership positions in their collegiate and professional lives.
CF: Have you always thought about becoming an entrepreneur?
KG: Yes, I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur and have started several companies in high school and college. I am fascinated with the spontaneity of entrepreneurship and like to live every day different from the last. The best part of being an entrepreneur is having the ability to impact people’s lives in a positive way by changing the way girls’ perceive themselves as leaders.
CF: What are your plans once you graduate?
KG: Due to the support of the President’s Engagement Prize, I will be working on GenHERation full-time after graduation. We will soon be announcing the dates of our second Summer Leadership Series, during which my team and I will visit 10 cities across the United States to hold workshops for high school girls. I hope to reach 15,000 girls next year through partnerships with schools, corporations, and professional development groups. I cannot wait to see what the next year will bring!
CF: Where do you see yourself and your business in the next five years?
KG: I am building my company with the goal of GenHERation domination. I believe that GenHERation will become a global company that transcends different media to empower girls. As I grow as an entrepreneur, I plan to start many businesses that are committed to inspiring societal innovation in different industries and hope to work in technology, media and politics.
CF: Who is one female entrepreneur that you look up to?
KG: I am inspired by people who are radical disruptors that create seismic change for the positive advancement of society. Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and CEO of Theranos, is my entrepreneurial role model. She is the youngest female billionaire and her company is shaping the future of medical lab testing.
CF: During your journey as a social entrepreneur, what has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
KG: The biggest challenge I have faced is balancing my time as a student and entrepreneur. I could spend all of my time working on GenHERation, but doing well in school is also important to me. Although finding a balance can be difficult at times, starting a business has been the most rewarding part of my college experience. The benefits of being a student entrepreneur far outweigh the costs.
CF: What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
KG: Never let anyone tell you that you cannot do something. There will always be people that try to get in your way, but you should never give up on your dream.