Founder & CEO of littleBits
Through Ayah’s passion for STEM and through her company, littleBits, she is empowering future generations to embrace creativity, innovation, and challenging them to understand the world around them. She’s helping to lead a movement that allows, especially young girls, more accessibility to the necessary tools to advance innovation in the tech space. A courageous feat to take on.
Ayah Bdeir is the founder and CEO of littleBits, an award-winning platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks that is empowering kids everywhere to create inventions, large and small. Ayah is an engineer, interactive artist and one of the leaders of the open source hardware movement. She has lectured extensively and taught numerous workshops to get non-engineers, and particularly young girls, interested in STEM and STEAM.
Ayah’s career has centered on making education and innovation more accessible to people around the world. An alumna of the MIT Media Lab, Ayah founded littleBits in 2011, after exhibiting a prototype at World Maker Faire in New York City.
She has received copious amounts of awards, including the highly prestigious TED fellowship, Business Insider’s 26 Most Powerful Women Engineers, Inc. Magazine’s 35 Under 35, New York Business Journal’s Women of Influence, CNBC Next List, and more.
How do you define courage?
We’re living in a time when technology has permeated almost every area of our lives, but most people are content to be only passive consumers of it. We spend more than 11 hours with electronic devices every single day, but most of us don’t know how they work, or how to make our own. Courage is inventing something new, not being afraid to fail and try again.
I want the next generation of inventors to be equipped with the technology literacy, critical thinking skills, and the creative confidence to develop solutions for 21st century problems.
What inspired your passion for advocating gender neutrality?
I want to encourage boys and girls to create things that will change the world by exposing them to things they may not have known they were interested in. Creating a gender neutral product is just one of the ways that we’ve been able to do this at littleBits. From the color of our circuit boards to our packaging, each of our products are deliberately designed to appeal to both girls and boys. This level of accessibility helps everyone to unleash creativity and instill a love of STEAM through the cycle of inventing.
What's the most rewarding and the most challenging aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Developing something new, something that never existed before, takes time. Solving real problems takes time. In order to be successful, you need to devote time to your passion. That’s why entrepreneurs should not start a company just for the sake of starting a company. Only start a company if you are obsessed with a specific problem and starting a company is the only way to solve it.