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November 4, 2010 / TechFemme

Leah Culver Creatively Solves Challenging Puzzles For a Living

Leah Culver wasn’t the first young (I’m talking early 20s here) person to co-found an internet startup shortly after college.  She also wasn’t the first one to sell her startup to a larger conglomerate a few short years later.  A self-proclaimed perfectionist, Leah humbly refuses to take any credit for being pioneering.

I’m from the camp that believes there are no differences between girls and guys in terms of what they can do.  The individual differences between people far outweigh any differences related to gender.

Amen sister.  But I’m still impressed.  Read on to see why.

TechFemme:  How did you become interested in computers?

Leah Culver:  As a kid, I ruled my family’s computer.  Back then, families typically had only one computer.  Even though I have sisters, our family’s was pretty much mine.

TF: Did you go to college for Computer Science?

LC:  I started out majoring in Art. I thought I would be a graphic designer. We had to take a really basic programming class as part of our major and it was really fun.  Turns out I was better at programming.  And it was nice to create something and see it appear right away.  So I switched to Computer Science.

TF:  What would you say to get a young girl interested in possibly pursuing a Computer Science or tech-related degree?

LC:  It might seem boring but it’s super creative.  You’re figuring out how to solve problems creatively.  If you like to do puzzles or play a musical instrument or do anything that’s creative and challenging, you should consider it.  Programming is like getting paid to solve puzzles.

TF:  Why do you think there aren’t more girls in technology-type disciplines and careers?

LC:  When you’re a kid, you don’t really have all your options laid out before you.  You only know what’s taught to you.  I don’t have a clue what a surgeon does in a typical day.  It’s about having all the options presented before them.

TF: Did you start Pownce right out of College?

LC: I worked for a couple of startups right out of school.  I was at one for 3 months and then left to join another one. I was there for 3 months and then left. I wouldn’t say anything bad about them.  I just didn’t want to work at a startup as an employee.

TF: So where did the idea for Pownce come from and how did you build it?

LC:  I met Kevin and Daniel, my co-founders, at a party and everything kinda just fell into place.  Kevin was a business guy and Daniel was a designer so we made a good team.  I got immersed in the startup culture here and wanted to do something social that involved sharing things.  I love social apps and wanted to build something that I could use every day.  I figured it was good to take this kind of risk, starting a startup, while I was still young.

TF: When you started Pownce, was the plan always to sell it as soon as possible?

LC:  There wasn’t really a plan.  We just kinda went with the flow and it worked out.

TF:  That’s hilarious.  The startup experts have turned ‘how to build a successful startup’ into a science.  And you guys just went with the flow.

LC: Yeah it’s interesting to read the different pieces of wisdom but each startup is completely different.  This isn’t a factory for making startups.  There’s no formula for success.  Each startup takes a life of it’s own and that’s a good thing.

Leah  has a happy, friendly voice that can make anyone feel better about anything. Citing that it’s common for people to have their own computers and smartphones now,  Leah is wildly optimistic that the lack of women in technology will change.  And I completely believe her and agree with her.  She doesn’t say that this definite change-to-come excites her but I can hear it in her already-energetic voice.  No matter what she says, though, I firmly believe she’s one of the amazing women that’s leading this change.

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