Black In America 4: A Profile Of Tech Entrepreneur Tiffani Bell

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Company: Pencil You In
Age: 26
Hometown: Fayetteville, N.C.

I’ve been programming ever since I was a little kid. When I was about six, my parents got me a V-Tech Precomputer 1000, a computer-type toy. I got bored with the games and checked out the manual, which explained ways to program with QBasic. Many years later, I ended up getting a full ride to Howard University for computer science.

I interned at IBM, then twice at HP. At IBM it was a team of all white guys. I could tell they had never worked with a woman, or a minority. They would make little jokes. It’s never everybody, but it’s always a few. By the end of my internship, they said I fit in because I learned to talk about Porsches and golf.

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I graduated from school in 2008 and took about 18 months off. Then I picked up a job as a Web developer for my uncle’s company, a government contractor. It was fun, but I always thought about doing my own thing. I kept coming back to an idea I had in college. During my senior year, I was really busy and it was tough to make an appointment with my hairstylist. First he missed the call, then I missed the call and we were playing phone tag for a while.

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