words | Elie Carlo
The first time I heard 24-year-old Stacey Ferreira speak was when she came to my school to share with us her path to co-creating the web application MySocialCloud, and later her own company, Forge. Upon graduating from high school in 2011, Stacey decided to spend the summer helping her brother, Scott, write code for an application idea he devised after losing all of his passwords when his computer crashed. This idea would become MySocialCloud, a cloud-based web application to manage users’ bookmarks and passwords. The siblings would end up borrowing $4000 dollars from their parents (which they later paid back) to buy two charity tickets to meet Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin. Because of this meeting, Mr. Branson later invested in their company and they successfully sold MySocialCloud in 2013. Stacey, who had postponed college to focus on MySocialCloud, then found herself back at NYU when she was awarded the Thiel Fellowship, a grant program offered to visionaries under the age of 22. She packed up and left New York once again and relocated to Northern California to develop her own company, Forge, an online demand work force. Last year, she was honored to be on Forbes' List of 30 under 30 - the brightest young entrepreneurs and leaders in the US.
Recently, I had the great joy of sitting down with her to discuss her inspirations and share some words of wisdom for young aspiring entrepreneurs:
Stacey credits her parents for helping her develop her strong work ethic. “I think that the best thing that my parents did is have the attitude of ‘you get exactly what you work for and nothing more.’ So, growing up, I never had a free handout. My parents didn't just give me stuff. If I wanted something, I would have to work for it,” says Stacey. “In life, you have to work for everything that you get. And sometimes, even if you work hard, you don't get it.”
Additionally, Stacey believes attending Xavier College Preparatory helped her prioritize her work and organize her time. “Honestly, I think that it helped because there weren't distractions. For me, it was nice to be in an environment where there wasn't outside pressure from anyone and it was just up to me to push hard, learn as much as I can learn, get my work done, and have a fun time doing it. …the relationships I built with a lot of girls there are ones that last, even today, five years later,” explains Stacey.
Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin and investor in MySocialCloud, and Kristen Madsen, former Vice President of the Grammys and creator of the Grammy camp that Stacey attended, were two other inspirations on Stacey’s path to where she is today. One thing she learned from them was to not give up easily: “Things that are worth doing take time and a lot of people will give up when it gets hard but if you just keep on pushing forward and you're persistent towards your goals, you'll eventually get there,” said Stacey. Another piece of advice she received was to focus on things you are passionate about: “Something that I try to live by is that I try to pick projects to work on that are worth ‘unbalancing’ my life for. What are things that I go to bed at night thinking about and waking up in the morning thinking about? How can I spend my time and energy doing those things? …everything else is noise. So I would say pick things thatyou are passionate about and pursue those things relentlessly.”
Another one of her influences is actress Talulah Riley, who also happens to be one of Stacey’s best friends. “She's also just an amazing role model of someone who is extremely talented and creative. She has an idea of what she wants to and goes out and does it. She's been a big influence to me just because of that. A girl boss who's going at it.”
When I asked Stacey what she likes to do for fun, she jokingly said, “Work.” However, she added that traveling around the world allows her to do what she likes to do the most: “Being able to share my story and share my journey and then talk to other people and learn about the things that they're working on and the things that they're excited about.” In addition, she watches VICE news and enjoys keeping up to date with what's happening in the world. And of course, she does 'normal stuff' such as going to the gym and hiking.
Stacey offered one last key piece of advice for young people who want to become entrepreneurs: “The biggest thing that I want to leave people with is, you don't have to be some wildly special snowflake to do it. As long as you are passionate, you have a vision, and you're willing to do what it takes to get there, you can do it, too.”
Looking towards the future, Stacey plans to focus on Forge, which has just launched a redesign in January. If you’d like to see what else she has worked on, check out her book, 2 Billion Under 20, which is about young people and the difference that they have made in the world despite their age. Stacey was also featured in She Started It, a documentary about female entrepreneurs in the tech industry.