When Evelyn Zoubi applied to the 2012 TechWomen program, she did not believe she would be accepted. As a 25-year-old Jordanian entrepreneur, she faced a myriad of obstacles. Some even laughed at her ideas. But she did not give up.
In 2007, Evelyn was a visionary student at a top Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) university in the Middle East. During her time as a student, she often mulled about the impression she made on people. In her opinion, wardrobe plays a big part in creating lasting imprints on people’s minds. “At the time, I often did not know what to wear and I would take a moment to remember if I had worn something twice in a row with the same person,” said Evelyn. “It was at this time that I began experimenting with digitizing my wardrobe. Most investment panelists underestimated the need women had for clothing related technologies. But to her surprise, the most supportive individuals were the ones that comprehended the concept of digitizing wardrobe the least, her professors. “My professor thought it was a great idea and strongly encouraged me to pursue it,” said Evelyn.
When Evelyn embarked on her entrepreneurial journey, she was already working in a stable career. “I had a job at this time, which mostly revolved around supporting startups in technology,” said Evelyn. “I learned from my job and slowly worked on my idea. One day I decided that I would either do it now or never do it. I left my job for it.” That was when eCloset.me was born. She had found an opportunity in a unique space and she intended to pursue her vision. All that Evelyn needed was the tools and support.
Throughout the process of implementing her idea, Evelyn mused about how those in Silicon Valley, CA made their dreams reality. “Years ago I watched a movie called Pirates of Silicon Valley that really inspired me,” said Evelyn. “Watching it taught me about the history of the technological revolution that was ignited by passionate minds who implemented innovative ideas in garages. This encouraged me to think about going to where they started. But I didn’t know how I would get there. Then one day, I was sitting in the lobby a woman who worked in the incubator I was in, recommended I apply to TechWomen.”
Evelyn applied to the TechWomen program. Having been told frequently by many around her that her ideas were not cemented entirely in reality, she did not believe she would be accepted. But Evelyn had a stronger urge to find the right ecosystem for her project to bloom. A few months later she received life changing news; she had been short-listed at the US Embassy. Evelyn’s dreams grew bolder after the interview. “The committee that interviewed me from the US embassy was clapping after I told them my idea. They charged me with positivity that made me sense that I was stepping into a new phase in my professional life.”
One month later, Evelyn received her acceptance letter to the TechWomen program. Soon after, she was in the United States.
While immersed in the TechWomen program, Evelyn was strongly influenced by a workshop led by Barbara Fittipaldi from Center for New Futures. “Barbara asked me a very simple question about what I wanted my vision to be. About what my dream was,” said Evelyn. “I said I wanted to digitize wardrobes around the world. I spoke my mind for the first time”
Following Barbara’s workshop, Evelyn embraced her dream and transformed it into a mission. “I put that dream in my pitches, I even posted it as my Facebook cover.”
Evelyn’s newfound desire to verbalize her visions led her to develop new relationships through TechWomen. “At one point in the program, I started telling one of the mentors about eCloset.me. I have two versions of how to tell my story: I have a realistic version and my version, which is quite futuristic to some. The mentor thought it was a brilliant concept with high potential. She highly encouraged me to speak out about the futuristic version. She said, ‘Here in Silicon Valley people love to hear about dreams and make the impossible possible.’ Ultimately, in the program, we were inspired by each other and the different fields we came from. The women inspired me in my business. The diversity in technology ignited and triggered great thoughts.”
Evelyn’s connections continue to flourish and develop. “I benefited a lot from my cultural mentor, Kinh DeMaree. It was a great match. We immediately clicked and she knew exactly who I should be talking to in her strong network. Kinh put me on the right track early on in the Valley,” said Evelyn. “I was lucky to see her shortly after the program in Jordan for Geeks on a Plane. She still continues to connect me with prominent founders and innovative startups on the rise. We have developed a strong friendship. It got even better when I showed her around Amman- the city I live in.”
In addition to learning to dream big and building invaluable networks, Evelyn learned practical strategies that are helping her build her business with a solid foundation. “Typically, I am used to seeing companies that have 10 technical engineers and 40 employees working in marketing and sales. In Silicon Valley the patterns show that over 60% of employees is mostly software engineers, focusing on innovation and user experience this indicates the reason the best and most successful tech products come from Silicon Valley.”
During her last week in the United States, Evelyn received news that her pitch was well-received by a US organization. The two are in contract negotiations. And Evelyn is one step closer to digitizing wardrobes around the world. “TechWomen pivoted the direction of eCloset.me, we’re now ready to wow the world with all the inspiration I got from the life-changing experience.”