Danya is a user experience designer and copywriter at realestate.com.au who has appeared at the last two She Hacks; returning in 2016 as a mentor.  She claims She Hacks has been an incredibly exciting experience which was also ‘a bit stressful.’

“Yet the sense of reward is really fulfilling and keeps bringing me back,” Danya said.

For her first She Hacks in 2015, Danya set up an app for a mentor/mentoree program, focused on women in STEM.

“It’s hard to find women in senior positions and it’s also really difficult to find a mentor.  It means you put your availability in to make it easier to find a time that suits –  but we realised there are a few other products internationally that started to fill that role. We were thrilled to win the overall She Hacks,” Danya said.

“Then, last year we came up with a web app teaching kids the impact of language. It was targeted at primary school kids and a game experience where they followed an alien friend in which gendered language was used,” Danya said.

“An alien comes to earth to learn how people communicate. They use some of the common biases people have ie the saying ‘throw like a girl.’  So, the alien is confused as to why it’s considered to be a bad thing to tell somebody they ‘throw like a girl.”

“The app helps kids find different ways of speaking to each other.  We have an amazing illustrator on the team and while we haven’t progressed very quickly, the three of us definitely still want to do something with it.”

When it comes to start-ups and mentors, Danya is passionate about wanting to help others achieve their goals.

“One thing that has really stuck with me going into an industry where there are not as many women, is that if you don’t see people like you in senior positions it’s harder to imagine yourself one day achieving those. It’s really difficult!”

“I’ve tried to find mentors in two of my work places and it’s hard to find someone who is a woman, who has the time to mentor other women. So that’s what drove my first hackathon project.  So, you look to see if you have time, for example, two hours free on a Wednesday to help someone, and then you just take it from there.”

Danya believes it’s invaluable to have an external voice to help you when you’re working in the start-up space. If you’re very passionate about what you’re working on, sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.

“With all the emotions connected to your start-up, it can be hard to give yourself advice because everything you’re trying to do has a strong personal impact,” Danya said.

“It’s very useful to find someone who is invested in your success rather than having an emotional attachment to your project. Also, we all need somebody in our life who has learnt things that you haven’t yet and they can share their knowledge with you.”

If there’s one thing Danya would like to stress, it’s the importance of women in start-ups being kind to themselves.

“Women also need to be very persistent but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to succeed.  A regular business has to do well but women have a lot of pressure go beyond. For example, it’s not enough to be a developer, you have to be a good female developer,” Danya said.

“It can be hard to feel like your idea is worthy of getting help, but what I’ve found at every women in tech event I’ve attended, is that everyone I’ve met is so keen to help because we know there aren’t as many of us.”

“We genuinely want each other to succeed because then there is even more proof that we can do it. It’s great to inspire younger women to believe they can succeed too. A lot of women leave the tech industry, but for everyone who sticks it out, it makes it a bit easier for others to stay.”