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Allyson downey

CEO, Stellar; CEO, Weespring 

 

And - Writer and MBA

I love being able to build: I've always felt like problems are just puzzles waiting to be solved.

What do you do?

I run a tech start-up called Stellar that helps brands get their earliest authentic consumer reviews on new product launches.

 

We also run a social network called WeeSpring where new and expecting parents can collect advice from their friends about the best gear for new babies and toddlers.

Why did you choose this field?

I've always felt an entrepreneurial drive; I started my first small business when I was nine years old. (I did face-painting at kids' birthday parties, and I advertised my services on the bulletin board at the gym my mum went to.)  In school, I studied English literature and psychology, then I got a masters degree in creative writing; seven years after that, I got an MBA at Columbia University. 

 

Professionally in my early career, I had jobs in a lot of different fields: I was a cookbook editor, a political fundraiser, a Wall Street banker, and an executive at a non-profit. While all of those things may seem disparate, I use skills I developed in all of them in running this business. Much of our work at Stellar depends on writing compelling product descriptions; our marketing work is all based in psychology; and my fundraising background set me up for success in sales. I could go on.

I run a tech start-up called Stellar that helps brands get their earliest authentic consumer reviews on new product launches.

 

We also run a social network called WeeSpring where new and expecting parents can collect advice from their friends about the best gear for new babies and toddlers.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

"You can build a successful career without having a linear career path."

I worried a lot in my early career about making the "right" choices to set myself up for long-term success. I wish I had understood then that you can allow your career to turn and twist (and sometimes double back on itself), and still come out where you want to be.

Why do you love working in STEM?

"Problems are just puzzles waiting to be solved."

I love being able to build: I've always felt like problems are just puzzles waiting to be solved, and I love having the toolkit I need to solve those big problems. And if I don't have the tools I need, I know where to turn to find them. 

Best advice for the next generation

Get comfortable with being a generalist! Learn as much as you can about as many different things as you can... you'll someday be able to merge all of that knowledge together in unexpected ways.

Fave tool

TextExpander; it's made me realize how many times I type the same things over and over, and using its hotkeys for different phrases, text blocks, and paragraphs that I use often has saved me more time that I can measure.