Work Career Advice Now + Beyond

According to Auntie-ji, having big dreams makes me a capitalist pig

Dear Auntie-ji,

I’ve wanted to write to you for some time, in hopes that explaining myself will bring us closer together again. We are not so different, you and I.

I know that you have struggled with finding the balance between work and life and that you had to make some difficult decisions. Our gender always seems to get the short end of the stick, doesn’t it? Like many women, I cast my lot with entrepreneurship as a solution. It seems, on the surface, like the ideal opportunity to prove ourselves, take leadership roles, and actively build our skillsets, while having the flexibility to give attention to other goals as well. But misconceptions and challenges abound.

Am I money hungry? HA! I had to invest my savings into this business and work for a long time without a salary before I started to see any return. I gave up a high paying job to take this risk. If I was in it just for the money, I would have quit a long time ago. There are easier paths towards wealth, like accepting a rishta from a rich family.

Don’t I care about my family? Yes, and that’s half of my motivation for doing this. It lets me aspire towards the highest sense of leadership in my field while giving me the flexibility to take care of a family’s needs. I might fail, but the potential reward of being able to provide for my family in a way that also provides for my own happiness and well-being is worth it.

How will I survive if I fail? I’ve thought a lot about this. Failure never seems far enough away. All the revenues I earn have associated costs as well. I miss getting a clean check every couple of weeks. Having my business taxes audited by the IRS wasn’t fun either. But here’s the thing, why make problems today in fear of problems tomorrow? Plus this business builds my resume, so that mitigates the risk.

Shouldn’t I be doing more appropriate and proper things with my time? I mean, I got a master’s. I got married. I did a lot of the “right stuff.” I no longer feel like there are right and wrong answers. It’s not like I’m gambling away all of my savings in a casino, or shooting up heroin. I’m just not doing something with a straightforward path. It’s scary, so it makes sense if it scares the ones who love us the most, too. Let’s talk about the reality, and maybe it won’t seem so scary anymore.

If I’m not going to make a consistent salary, shouldn’t I at least keep my home clean? This is the hardest part of being a woman entrepreneur for me. When men start businesses, they would also not bring home a consistent salary, but no one would ask them why they don’t manage to make fresh parathas (fried bread) at night for their families. I’m helping my family achieve their goals, but I need my family to support me, too. We all need a dream to survive.

Who am I to think that I’m so special? I don’t think I’m so special. I just do what I do anyway. Sometimes it may seem intimidating that I’m pursuing seemingly lofty goals, but I think it just irritates you because, in your heart, you know that you could be doing this too. And Auntie-ji? It’s 100% true.

Join me.

I need you along with me on this journey.

In order to make our paths viable, we need the buy-in of our support system. Entrepreneurship is contagious, and one of my cousins has already started her own immigration law firm, and another her own PR firm. If you want to join us, I believe that your success will eclipse ours. Even if you do not choose entrepreneurship as your path, let us support you in the path that you do choose, as you support your daughters and me in our paths.

Let our love for each other be a driving force for a circle of shared success.

Always yours,



Laila Alawa speaks to Entrepreneur Before 25 podcast about the story behind The Tempest

The Tempest’s CEO Laila Alawa spoke with Chelann Gienger from the Entrepreneur Before 25 (EB25) podcast. EB25 interviews inspiring and empowering entrepreneurs like Laila who began their journey whilst aged 25 or under.

[bctt tweet=”I found that I started being put in situations where my people pleasing hurt me. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

Laila talked about her background, her family, why she started The Tempest, and life as an entrepreneur.

Whilst explaining the realities of chasing your dreams, Laila also divulged some gems of advice for budding entrepreneurs. She dived in deep and discussed why being a people pleaser has the potential to destroy freedom.

“I used to live my life very afraid of hurting others, I found that I started being put in situations where my people pleasing hurt me.”

Listen to the entire podcast here.

Tech Now + Beyond Interviews

Age Doesn’t Stop this Coder: An Interview with CoderBunnyz Founder Samaira Mehta


Samaira Mehta is quite the accomplished young lady – at just 8 years old, she’s already created a board game, held workshops, and spoken to various communities in an effort to teach young kids the fundamentals of coding. “I first played [my game] CoderBunnyz with my 4 year old brother and saw him get very excited,” Samaira says. “I saw that I could really teach young kids and get them excited about coding; that’s when I started taking workshops and teaching kids using my game.”

Her board game, CoderBunnyz, is a smash hit with her peers. Simply put, it’s a board game “to get young kids excited about coding in a fun way.”

We asked Samaira to give us a little background on CoderBunnyz and the inspiration behind it.

The Tempest: What inspired you to start Coder Bunnyz?

Samaira Mehta: Creating CoderBunnyz has been quite a journey. My love for coding, playing board games, bunnies, and my younger brother have all played part in inspiring and shaping CoderBunnyz.

First, let me tell you how the seeds of CoderBunnyz were sown. One day, I finished playing board games with my parents, and when they got bored (actually, they just kept losing and didn’t want to play anymore), I went to the computer to do a little coding. I thought to myself, “today has been an amazingly cool day. I’ve done two of my most favorite things – coding and board games – and if I mix these two, I’m sure I could create something really cool.” After all, there are so many people who learn real estate ideas from Monopoly, and spelling from Scrabble. So I thought – why not teach other people how to code?

I added my favorite animal – a bunny – to the name, and that’s where I got “Coderbunnyz!”

So, how does CoderBunnyz teach kids about coding and algorithms?

SamairaSimple. Kids roll the dice and pick up CoderBunnyz code cards to help the bunny reach the destination. Advanced-level kids also observe and write their algorithms after the game. In the process, they learn the fundamentals of coding: sequencing, conditional, loop, iterations, functions, debugging and more.

CoderBunnyz is created by a kid, for kids. I  mixed my love for board games and passion for coding to create CoderBunnyz. I’m spreading my love for coding by conducting workshops at libraries and tech events all over Silicon Valley. So far, I’ve done over 30 workshops teaching over 1,100 kids.


What kind of problems does Coder Bunnyz solve?

Coding is starting to become an important part of life. Coding is everywhere – in your phone, microwave, TV and even satellite. CoderBunnyz helps get kids started early on coding with a playful board game. Kids don’t necessarily know they’re learning coding, but the board game is building their problem solving and programming fundamentals.

Coding is especially becoming an important part of STEM (Science Technology Engineering + Math) learning. CoderBunnyz helps in STEM by teaching all of the logic behind basic programming and coding under the guise of the playful board game. Within no time, kids will learn coding fundamentals (basic and advanced) while having family fun. Turns out all programming language like Scratch, Python and Java use the same concepts. Once a kid learns the fundamentals, it becomes much easier for them to learn any coding language.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a girl your age interested in technology/science, what would it be?

My advice would be for all my fellow girls to explore, observe and ask questions. Logical thinking and problem solving is very important and that’s something that we do every day. If you are interested in technology and science there are so many programs to get involved with today. Companies like Facebook, Google, Oracle, Microsoft and others are doing so much to help girls in technology.

I personally had the opportunity to do multiple workshops at Google, and I see so many girls excited about STEM. So go ahead, explore STEM programs in your area! I guarantee that you will find groups and programs in your local libraries, clubs in school and in the communities. Find the one that matches your interests and pursue it. 


Where do you see Coder Bunnyz headed in the future?

I have been doing workshops at schools, libraries, and tech events in order to get young kids excited about coding. I want to see CoderBunnyz in the hands of every young kid at home and in schools all over the world! It’s a playful way of introducing them to STEM and programming that their parents and teachers would love to get them started with.

If you had a day completely free and to yourself, what would you do?

Well, I would do some coding, study with my dad, play with my brother, take a short nap with my mom, and then read, draw, write, and watch TV. I have to keep myself busy! 🙂

You can support Samaira and CoderBunnyz by visiting her website and Facebook page. This interview has been edited lightly for length and clarity.