J. Kelly Hoey

Innovator Insights: CEO of NTWC, LLC, Amy Galland @amygalland

Name: Amy Galland Title: CEO of NTWC, LLC Twitter: @amygalland

Can a former professor of art history and women’s studies pursue entrepreneurship and have a career in tech? Absolutely as far as Amy Galland is concerned. Amy is the Founder and CEO of NTWC — creator of flirtyQWERTY and Plume. Amy drew upon her research on representations of women and immigrants in American art to create flirtyQWERTY, an app to help smartphone users spice up their text life with images that are playful, sophisticated, and sexy. Amy holds a PhD in art history, an MA in anthropology, a BA in philosophy and art history, and an MBA — the lack of computer science degree is not holding this empowered entrepreneur back from a career in tech. Amy is also a member of Dreamers // Doers, a highly curated community of high-achieving trailblazing women who come together to support each other on their entrepreneurial paths. The community encompasses a diverse mix of female founders, women working at startups, and other female creators, change-makers, and influencers.

Me: Why are you an entrepreneur?

Amy: I’m an entrepreneur because I wanted something that didn’t exist and decided to make it for myself. I was flirting with a guy on my phone and wanted to give him (jokingly) the finger. There was no emoji for that (at the time) so I looked online for an option. All of the flirty emojis that I found were not empowering for women. There was nothing that I could send that said, “I’m fun, I’m sexy, I respect myself — respect me, too.” So I drew on my background in art history and women’s studies and created two apps, Plume, a private messaging app, and flirtyQWERTY, a keyboard app with flirty emojis that are respectful and empowering for everyone.

Me: What problem would you like solved?

Amy: Climate change, war, and inequality based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation, size, religion (or lack of religion).

NTWC exists not only to create fun apps that people love — but equally to normalize respectful sensual imagery and, in turn, reduce body shaming and sexual violence. Before I started NTWC, I was working on climate and labor issues at As You Sow. I take these considerations into account when making decisions for my company — and look forward to again having more of an impact on these issues as well.

Me: Advice you’d wished you’d had or had followed?

Amy: My mother is very social. I’m happiest at home alone with my dog. Throughout my life, my mother always told me to get out more, make more friends, to meet people. It always felt like criticism. Once I started NTWC, I learned firsthand how much of my and my company’s success was dependent upon the people I knew, the people to whom I had access, and the people I was meeting through doing my job. I wish that I had been able to hear what my mother had been saying as the caring, helpful message she meant it to be and had had all of those years of learning how to build and building relationships with people because it is invaluable.

Me: What does success look like for you?

Amy: Creating wealth while doing good. For me, success is being able to work on issues that are important to me in a way that enables me to earn money and increase the standard of living of both those with whom I’m working and the people who are affected by the challenges we address.

Me: Who are your heroes?

Amy: My hero is Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (best known as the founder of the Whitney Museum of American Art). In the early 20th century, Whitney single-handedly supported approximately 30% of the artists in New York City. She didn’t have a foundation — she bought a painting/sculpture/drawing so that an artist could pay their rent, bought them supplies or materials, let them use hers, provided food at openings and gatherings which were often the artists’ one good meal that week … Whitney met the artists at their needs and did so with respect. And, in turn, afforded hundreds of talented people the opportunity to create art and to live their lives as their true selves.

Me: What is your best discovery?

Amy: My best discovery is that my intuition doesn’t mislead me. Each time I have overthought a problem (and ignored that “gut feeling”), life has shown me that my gut was right. So now I collect the data, do the analysis, and take a step back to see what the options with seemingly equal values “feel” like — and go with the one that my gut tells me is the way to go. So far, it’s been good for me.

Me: What would the title of your biography be?

Amy: Amy Galland: A Neiman Marxist with a side of fries

Me: What is your biggest regret?

Amy: Running this company, I learned not to process things as regrets. Regrets are like a ball and chain, and you can’t move without focusing on them. Instead, I learned to process events that could be experienced as a regret (I should have done x instead of y, etc.) as a lesson. That enables me to keep moving forward.

Me: Anything else we should know about?

Amy: Plume and flirtyQWERTY are new — we’d love for people to check them out, tell their friends, and let us know what they think and how we can improve them. We are currently looking for a technical lead to direct adding additional functionality to the iOS apps and developing the apps for Android.

This post originally appeared on Kelly Hoey’s website. Keep up to date with Kelly’s latest Insights by signing up for her Innovator Insights newsletter.

 

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