How One Teen Built a Tech Company That Inspired Thousands of Girls
Two years ago, Brooke Yoakam took the stage at Rev1 Ventures Demo Day to talk about her startup, GiftPocket. At 12 years-old, Brooke was the youngest graduate of Customer Learning Lab.
After two years and, to quote Brooke, thousands of iterations, GiftPocket, a mobile shopping app that helps teens easily store and manage all their gift cards, is in the iTunes store in beta testing. Now Brooke is speaking out about what she’s learned about being an entrepreneur. (Watch Brooke’s TEDx Talks: Challenges of Being a Teen Entrepreneur).
Earlier this month, Brooke spoke at G.I.R.L. 2017, the largest girl-led event for girls and young women
in the world. Hosted by Girl Scouts of the USA, the event featured public figures Chelsea Clinton, Gabby Douglas, and Barbara Pierce Bush and others. More than 10,000 girls and women attended this event, which comes only once every three years.
Brooke was on a featured panel with Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and Jane Grote Abell, board chairwoman of Donatos Pizza and Jane’s Dough Foods.
Between her soccer practice, studies, and designing “thousands of wireframes,” we caught up with Brooke after G.I.R.L. 2017.
REV1: So, what was it like being on a panel with two of Columbus’ amazing entrepreneurs?
BY: It was inspiring to be on the panel. Some of the answers that Jeni and Jane gave and their stories were so incredible. I was a little nervous at being on stage with these two amazing women, and then their confidence gave me confidence. We worked together on our answers and hopefully were able to inspire some of the girls to follow their dreams and to persevere, to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes.
REV1: What kinds of questions did you get from the girls and mothers in the audience?
BY: What made you stick through this? When did you know what you wanted to do? I was really excited to speak in front of all those girls and to tell them that hard work will help them accomplish their dreams.
REV1: You are a sophomore in high school, and you’ve already logged three years as a company founder and entrepreneur. What have you learned?
BY: GiftPocket was an idea but to make it a reality, I had to go through thousands of prototype iterations. I’ve had to face the fear of failure every day. I’ve learned that staying calm and cool and taking everyone’s insight in the project helps. The power of teamwork and working together can make so many things a reality.
It never really hit me that as a teenager, I would be the head of a company and in charge of people, even though I didn’t have any business experience. Most people think that a 15-year-old is not capable of starting a company; I’m proving them wrong. Age doesn’t stop people from following their dreams.