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Sharon Lobo

IWB Blogger

9 Y.O. Techpreneur, Samaira Mehta, Uses The Army Of ‘CoderBunnyz’ To Help Girls Conquer Leadership In Tech

  • IWB Post
  •  November 14, 2017

What was I doing when I was 9? Playing board games.

What is Samaria doing? Creating high-tech board games.

Samaira Mehta, an American Indian girl from Santa Clara, California, felt the need to teach other kids coding. She went ahead and created CoderBunnyz. Yeah! She built a company when she was 8.

CoderBunnyz Board Game empowers girls and boys to learn to code and become leaders in tech. Started in 2015, Samaira hosts workshops in libraries, schools, communities and tech events. The “Girls U Code” arm of CoderBunnyz organizes workshops for underprivileged girls and helps create a national community that amplifies the role of girls and women in tech.Scroll down to read our Skype chat with a little business lady.

One rule every girl dreaming of making big in tech should learn to break, according to you?

A very good opening question. (Her light-hearted remark definitely boosted my confidence in front of this smart kid.) From very young age girls are taught to behave like princesses from Disney Movies. It doesn’t have to be that way. Girls can be as smart as boys in the tech field, too. This is one thing every girl dreaming of making big in tech should learn!

What did you learn from Sheryl Sandberg, whom you admire?

Sheryl Sandberg is such a big powerhouse for girl inspiration. From her, I learned that girls CAN become big business leaders. She is doing so much for girls and women to take positions in government and business leadership.

Your advice to parents of girls who dream to make it big in tech?

Do not force things on them, but give them enough opportunities to explore. They would latch on to something they like and take it very far. The most fun of doing anything is the journey. My 2-year journey of CoderBunnyz has been such a pleasing experience of working with my parents. I will cherish those moments all my life. Having fun is the most important part of achieving anything!

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You are so wise! What do you think how girl leadership can change the world?

Girls can bring more creativity to any projects including software, computer science, business, politics and pretty much anything else. They have the power to change the world for good.

Tell us about your parents. What role do they hold in your business?

My parents have supported me so much throughout my journey, and they are my biggest inspiration. They always give me directions and also sign my cheque when we have to make payments. (Laughs)  Jokes apart, when I have to get in touch with a graphic designer, when I have to get the game manufactured when I have to do big presentations that I have been doing at Microsoft, Google, Intel, TIBCO and various other conferences, my parents are there to support me and provide guidance.

By the way, do you have a pet bunny?  

I do not have a pet bunny, but I would really really enjoy having one.

What is your day like?

Weekdays are typical school days. Going to school, doing homework, play, and work a little bit on business progress for the day. For weekends, I may have events lined up like workshops, speaker events, Maker Fairs or Science Fairs. If not, it’s all fun, after all, I am just a kid.

Thank you for reminding me, because I started getting an inferiority complex.

(We both giggle)

What do you think girls need to change their perception of STEM field to have breakthrough success?

Just to remember that they can code, create things, innovate, build companies and lead the world. It’s all about your mind when it comes to breaking barriers.

Tell us about the moment you received the letter from Michelle Obama.

It was probably the most amazing moment of my life. She told me about how I was doing a great job in the community and how it’s essential nowadays for girls to play leadership roles. Michelle has her own initiative “Let girls learn.” It feels very accomplished to receive the appreciation and note from her.

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What is your hobby?

I enjoy coding, singing, dancing, acting (stage drama), ice skating, playing guitar and tennis.

One life lesson you think Coderbunnyz can teach girls

CoderBunnyz is a fun board game that helps girls learn problem-solving and critical thinking skills in the process of acquiring all the concepts that they would ever need in coding. They realize their potential as the next generation of tech leaders of such companies like Google and Facebook.

Go to the day one of the CoderBunnyz?

My story starts out one day in the summer. I had a huge stack of board games that we played all together! My parents soon got bored and stopped playing. I started spending more time at the computer desk. I thought what if I make a board game that teaches kids to code! Wow! I remember being very excited! I told my parents about my idea, and they were amazed! Their mouths were wide open! They told me I could do it! I was so happy!

And so with the help of my parents and graphic designers from all over the world, I brought my imagination to life. It took many mail exchanges before we finally did it! Now I am giving workshops at libraries, schools, and tech events.

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What is your dream?

To become the President of USA.

Accomplishments you want to share.

I received the letter from “The White House,” had an interview with NBC, was a part of Nasdaq Closing Bell ceremony.

Whoa! That’s much! What are you reading now?

I am reading “Matilda” by Roald Dahl.

How does it feel to be an entrepreneur at such a young age?

I just feel like a normal kid. It does give me a sense of pride connecting to community and kids and making a small difference by getting everyone started on their coding journey early. It’s a lot of fun!

Does managing school with business get challenging?

Yes, it does, but I have learned two things, if you have a passion for something then you would find time for it. Time expands. Also, most of my events are on the weekend, so it works out.

Where do you see Coderbunnyz in a few years?

I see Coderbunnyz in the hands of every kid in the world. From America to Asia to Europe, Australia, Africa, just everywhere. This will help all kids explore computational skills, become a better thinker and a successful human being.

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We read your father had introduced you to coding. Tell us about your relationship with him.

He is a hero, awesome and the best. He supports me a lot and always makes me feel better when I lose or fail. He is always there for me, no matter what.

And, what is ‘Cookies with CoderBunnyz’ about?

It is an interview series and talk show by CoderBunnyz. Kids need to learn a lot on their journey to become a fantastic adult, from those who have been there. In this series, I ask simple questions to Entrepreneurs, Educators, Leaders, Librarians, Technologists, and Individuals, who are making an impact. Kids can learn a lot from their experience. Not only I learn a lot myself, but I also try to work as a conduit for conveying those message for every kid out there, through these series of interviews.

You also have an initiative called ‘Yes, a billion kids to code!’ Will you tell me more?

Many amazing philanthropists like Bill and Melinda Gates, Mark and Priscilla Zuckerberg and others are working towards making this world a better place for all those people in the world who do not have access to basic needs. I thought I could contribute, too. After all, coding is the future.

If there was a way to gravitate these kids to coding and computational thinking, as their early interest, they could grow into someone who could stand on their own feet. And as one of our presidents once said, “For kids who want to be the leaders of tomorrow, there is perhaps no skill as important as learning to program. While not every student will become a coder when they grow but a basic coding understanding can make them better thinkers.” And, I believe in it! That’s how “Yes, a billion kids to code” started.

Isn’t she growing into an amazing leader of tomorrow?

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