Year of the Woman Entrepreneur: Caitria O’Neill
We are pleased to introduce Caitria O’Neill, founder of Pocketknife and March’s woman entrepreneur extraordinaire. Her story marks the second in turnstone’s year-long focus on women blazing trails in the world of business. You can read more about our series here.
Name: Caitria O’Neill
Founder of: Pocketknife (design/prototyping/engineering)
HQ Location: Palo Alto, CA
Contact: @CaitriaONeill , email@example.com
Favorite Quote: “In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus
Background info: I always thought I would be a writer, but realized that being a maker has more instantaneous effect upon the world. I graduated from Harvard in 2011, founded a disaster tech company after a tornado in my hometown. After a successful stint as CEO, I formed my own design and engineering studio (Pocketknife.io) and I am a fellow & adjunct faculty at Stanford University’s d.school (Hasso Plattner Institute of Design). I live in a tiny studio in Palo Alto with my partner Thomas. I read everything, rock climb and grow vegetables.
What made you what you are: My work founding Recovers.org shaped me as a designer and as a person. I helped hundreds of thousands of people connect with local recovery efforts. There were high points, I was honored as a Champion of Change by the White House, and there were low points, hugging survivors on the ground and knowing I couldn’t fix everything. These experiences shape me.
Advice to other entrepreneurs: Make sure you have the right concept before you spend money building it out. You can test this by drawing that app on a piece of paper and talking about it with the people you assume will be your users. Better to learn now, than to build and learn later.
Entrepreneur you most admire and why?: I most admire Khalida Brohi, founder of Sughar. I saw her speak about confronting hostile village leaders in Pakistan about women’s rights – I’ve never seen someone as convinced of their mission, measured and brave.
Most embarrassing moment: I sat in powdered sugar moments before accepting an award from Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Favorite thing about your office: The bread machine. Fresh baked bread while you’re working is pretty magical. I know that it isn’t a typical office feature, but it gives our space a really warm, inviting and fragrant environment.