The Vault Member Spotlight: Shirin Salemnia
Shirin Salemnia is an entrepreneur and founder of PlayWerks, where she creates games and interactive multimedia focused on STEM. Shirin was inspired by Tom Hanks and the movie BIG to create a dream job for herself as a toy tester.
Shirin tells us, “Losing the passion and having an existential crisis, following the yellow brick road with signs and messages for my mission on this planet, and going back to my gaming roots led me to give back and make a difference by being a tech entrepreneur. I was led to create a business from scratch with technology, gaming, and STEM.”
She also let us know what prompted her to create her business, “I am the first female in my family to start my own business and the first woman to start a tech/gaming startup to make a difference for future generations to come. I am actually writing a book about my story which starts with having a dream job and finding your purpose and mission, and giving back. My story is very similar to Eat, Pray, Love except I did not go to Bali or Italy, nothing super fancy. But it did start with Deepak Chopra telling me to give back and I have been following the yellow brick road ever since.”
We asked Shirin to explain more about her business and here is the intel she gave us, “At PlayWerks, we create original IP that is transmedia and multi-platform for kids of all ages. Our first project is focused on getting girls and boys excited about STEM through interactive media. We are girl focused and boys inclusive. This includes adults. We also do social good in real time with our WhizGirls Academy branded lifestyle hackathons. Our programs have led students to get excited about future careers in STEM fields like computer science programmers or coders. We have speakers from Google, NASA/JPL, SpaceX talk about their journeys to their careers. And the majority of students have been led to continue learning coding languages online, pursue a degree in STEM, etc.”
Shirin also told us why she loves what she does, “Making a difference in the lives of girls is why I started the company and created the brand. I love that we have a social impact component with WhizGirls Academy and the hackathons where kids can use the characters as inspiration for learning how to code, but also how to become innovative entrepreneurs.”
Shirin gave us some advice on how to stay organized with personal endeavors and business, “My life has always been all connected. There are no separate buckets. I have met dear friends at business conferences. I highly recommend that you carve out time in your day for workouts with friends, and walk dates instead of dinners or lunches."
She also told us about struggles she has endured, “I have dealt with challenges, discrimination, and breaking the glass ceiling as a solo entrepreneur. Every time I wanted to give up something happened that led me back to the 'tech yellow brick road.' It’s been a roller coaster ride of extreme highs and lows but so is life. And from what I hear, pretty typical for any entrepreneur in any industry. I have a very big purpose and mission, and to see the kids be empowered and inspired is what keeps me going.”
You can check out Shirin’s Instagram account for the most recent updates on her and her business: @shirinsalemnia