Big Ideas: “Imagine a world where no woman has to live in silence anymore. Where we all know that our story and our voice matters, where we are believed” with Ana Pompa Rawls of findSisterhood

Imagine a world where no woman has to live in silence anymore. Where we all know that our story and our voice matters, where we are believed. As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Ana Pompa Alarcón […]

Imagine a world where no woman has to live in silence anymore. Where we all know that our story and our voice matters, where we are believed.

As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Ana Pompa Alarcón Rawls​, founder, and CEO of findSisterhood, the only social network app founded by women, for everyone identifying as a woman.

Launched in 2018, the findSisterhood community comprises women across 23 countries. The light speed growth has attracted the attention of the international start-up and media communities as well: in its short time, findSisterhood was a finalist for MassChallenge, won Atech, and has been profiled in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Thrive Global, to name a few. A mother of two, Ana shares Mexican and Austrian heritage and is fluent in 3 languages. Splitting her time between California and the East Coast, Ana is passionate about all things having to do with the reality of women’s lived experiences. Ana is a frequent panelist on women’s issues, including gender-based violence. However, she is most passionate about playing her role in making this world a better place for our next generation of leaders.

Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was a new immigrant to the United States, new mother and living in NYC trying to find my way. Similar to many new moms, most of my time was spent with my infant daughter outside of the company of other adults. That isolation was compounded by the fact that I was new to the country and hadn’t yet made many friends and had no family around. I spent a lot of time online during endless hours of breastfeeding and almost all motherhood posts I saw pictures these beautiful, put together women in clean houses with peaceful babies. And there was I, sleep deprived, experiencing postpartum depression and loneliness on a scale I have never experienced before. The picture social media showed me of this chapter in a woman’s life was not even close to my own experience.

I realized that if I wanted a safe place to talk about the real messiness of life, I’d have to create it. And so, findSisterhood was born.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

There are too many to narrow it down to one. But one of the most impactful ones was a woman who had posted in findSisterhood about her childhood abuse. This woman has lived in silence her whole life and only opened up 17 years later after she found our app in the app store. She was finally able to discuss in findSisterhood with other women what her father had done to her as a teenager. She received so much love, advice, and feedback to her story that after all these years she went back and told her mother and together they reported him. When she reached out to me to share the outcome to her story I knew for a fact, that I had to make findSisterhood known to every woman in this world. Until none of us have to live in silence anymore. That story and many more would change my life and give me the strength to start my own company.

Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

findSisterhood, an anonymous social network for everyone identifying as a woman.

How do you think this will change the world?

Imagine a world where no woman has to live in silence anymore. Where we all know that our story and our voice matters, where we are believed.

Imagine a place where women can go to discuss their lives without judgment. This has the potential to change the way we view the community and the way we interact with each other online. Social media doesn’t have to affect our mental health in a negative way, we don’t have to always just post the highlights of life, no one has to pretend that our life is just filled with travels, love, and glitter. And if we compare ourselves to others out there, why don’t we compare ourselves to the fact that we are all struggling and no one has it all figured out? How about we do something new and different that no social network has done before? Let’s celebrate the beautiful messiness of life together!

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

What if everything we thought we knew about women was wrong? A lot has been written about how women are taught to obfuscate their true feelings and motivations from birth. An unintended consequence of findSisterhood would be discovering that women’s true sentiments are shockingly different from the cultural picture painted today. That could change everything, from marketing to product development to politics.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

So many tipping points leading up to this company, one was me posting in a Brooklyn Mommy Facebook group about how disconnected I felt to the picture of motherhood that I am seeing online and that I needed friends that could be vulnerable and messy with me together. That’s how I made some of my best friends and learned that we are all struggling one way or another.

Another milestone was realizing that my kids are getting older and more aware of how I feel about myself, my life, my happiness. If I wanted to raise resilient kids that take their happiness into their own hands and while doing so help others, I had to lead by example. Getting out of the clouds of postpartum depression and the early baby days that were extremely isolating and lonely I knew that I wanted them to see a happy and strong mom growing up, someone that chases her dreams and enjoys time with her kids. But it took me lots of strength to rebuild myself and let go of that picture I had about my life and learn to embrace the messiness and imperfection of my new reality and not just being ok with it, but loving it.

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

I want every person identifying as a woman to know about findSisterhood. And I need women to come in the app and share kindness with others that are struggling. Sometimes the smallest comment on a post can change a woman’s life. The power of spreading kindness is so strong, not just for others but also for ourselves. I love it whenever women tell me that they check on findSisterhood before going to sleep to share some advice and give some kindness to other women and how that makes them finish their day a bit happier knowing that somewhere in the world another woman just needed to know that she is not alone.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

Getting the first few users for your app is going to be much harder than growing into the thousands, don’t give up!

If you realize that there is no room on the table for you, build your own table. And build it big enough to make room for other women.

Find something or someone that will be there on bad days, the days when you feel like giving up. You will need something to hold onto because entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster like no other ride.

Find your tribe and don’t try to do it all yourself. You need people that believe in your mission and see the bigger picture. Family, friends, employees, investors, and mentors. You will need more people than you might ever have pictured to make this dream come true.

Never give up. We all sometimes feel like we are in it over our heads, like we want to give up like we are too exhausted to keep going. But your life and your idea are worth it, so keep pushing and if you are too tired, get people that carry you over the finish life.

The future of work is a common theme. What can one do to “future proof” their career?

The key is to lean into the technology. History has shown time and again that waves of technology are inexorable, and refusing to bend leads to obsolescence. The only way to future proof your career is to engage with the changes early, and also identify the whitespaces in between.

As for the white spaces in the new wave of work, I’ve consistently been interested in and passionate about ideas that by nature require human interaction. As technology continues to evolve, there will always be a place for basic human connection; however, the expectations of those experiences will be high and only continue to rise.

Based on the future trends in your industry, if you had a million dollars, what would you invest in?

Machine learning and sentiment analysis. We have seen vulnerabilities to manipulation in several large social media companies that have led to large negative consequences. Making your network proof against technological assault requires a keen understanding of the technologies at play and proactive implementation of countermeasures.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

Loyalty, integrity, optimism, openness, and hustle. I want to think that the reason I was able to hire my rockstar team is that I am a very loyal and honest person. And those are qualities that I want to implement into my companies heartbeat. If we want to change the world by creating a safe space for women than that starts with us. My team is not just colleagues, we are a family and we are there for each other. Most of our founding team members are immigrants like myself, and neither one of us has any family in this country. We all understand the hustle, pain, heartache, and challenges of not having a tribe, so we build our own one and we make sure to hold space for other people like ourselves.

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

Never give up and never take “no” for an answer. And remember that the way people treat you is a statement about themselves, not about who you are. Every successful person will encounter jealousy, naysayers, people that will call you crazy, tell you it can’t be done. But that shows their own limitations, not yours.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say?

We at findSisterhood will change the conversation for women all around the world. We have the right team, at the right time, in the right place and we are more resilient than any other force. Because if women support each other, incredible things happen. I launched our new product 5 months ago and have collected already over 170,000 stories from women all over the world. It is finally time for a social media company to think sustainable and with the interests of their users in mind. We are proof that it can be done!

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