Jillian A., 31 – FUNDED

Jillian A. is a former ride-share driver who saw a problem with the industry and decided to fix it. As founder and CTO of HERide, a female-friendly ride-share service in Atlanta and Athens, Georgia, she’s passionate about female empowerment and striving for excellence in everything she does.

Equipped with a Computer Science degree from Albany State University, this New Face of Tech winner continues to be driven by inspiring young women to pursue their tech interests. It’s one reason she also wants to become a motivational speaker!

What does being the New Face of Tech mean to you?

It means being a role model for aspiring female entrepreneurs and tech professionals. It’s about showing that with determination, creativity, and resilience, women can not only excel in tech but also drive meaningful change and innovation.

Women are underrepresented in STEAM. How can we change this?

By showing the cool side of STEAM to more women at a young age!

The underrepresentation of women in STEAM is a multifaceted issue that requires a multipronged approach to address. We need to start early by fostering interest and confidence in STEAM subjects among young girls. This can be achieved through educational initiatives, mentorship programs, and providing positive role models in these fields.

Encouraging girls from a young age to explore and engage with STEAM subjects is crucial in breaking down the stereotypes and perceived barriers.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

One of the primary challenges has been ensuring the safety and security of both our drivers and passengers at HERide. As a female-friendly ride-share company, we put a lot of emphasis on creating a safe environment. This required developing robust safety protocols and integrating advanced technology for real-time monitoring and support, which was both time-consuming and expensive.

Another significant challenge has been the recruitment and retention of drivers. Building a network of reliable, dedicated drivers who align with our vision and values is crucial. We’ve had to work hard to establish trust and credibility in a competitive gig economy, where drivers have many options.

Funding has also been a challenge. As with any startup, securing sufficient capital to grow and expand — especially in the early stages — was difficult. We had to be very strategic and efficient with our resources, ensuring we deliver the best service possible while maintaining financial stability.

Additionally, the regulatory landscape for ride-sharing companies is complex and often varies significantly from one location to another. Navigating these regulations and ensuring compliance while advocating for rules that consider the uniqueness of HERide has been challenging.

Lastly, building brand recognition in a market dominated by well-established players required innovative marketing strategies and a strong focus on the unique value propositions of HERide, such as our commitment to female empowerment and safety.

Despite these challenges, the journey has been incredibly rewarding. Every obstacle has provided valuable lessons and opportunities for growth, helping us to refine our business model and strengthen our commitment to our mission.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

I work out every day and making sure I’m eating right and getting enough rest. People tend to think that you have to work yourself to death in order to reach your goals and all you have to do is be consistent.

How will funding from the 1,000 Dreams Fund and HARMAN help you reach your goals?

One of our primary objectives is to have 1,000 drivers completing a minimum of 10 rides per week. The funding directly contribute to this by allowing us to enhance our recruitment and training processes.

We plan to invest in targeted outreach programs to attract more female drivers to HERide, emphasizing the safety and community aspects that set us apart in the gig economy.