In November we started the search for men and women from around the world who inspire women in all they do and we’re pleased to announce Sarah Fegert as our latest Connects MVC winner.
Last month we asked for your nominations for community members who either spur women to achieve their potential or are themselves an inspirational woman. The nominations for ambitious men and women from around the world came in their droves and after a painstaking deliberation, our judges chose Sarah as December’s MVC winner – and we think they made an excellent choice!
Sarah’s drive to succeed is not limited to only one aspect of her life – she’s an Intellectual Property lawyer, an avid runner, co-founder of The App Cauldron, and the developer of a popular fitness app that many of us know and love called Track Runner. With so many achievements, it’s easy to see how Sarah inspires people in both the world of law and the world of tech. We recently had a chat with Sarah, so read on to meet your December MVC winner and to discover just what makes her so inspiring.
Why do you think the Connects community chose you as the most Inspirational Woman for MVC?
This ultimately is a question for the community, but I’ll take a shot: I think what the community sees in me is a self-starter who turned her passion into a full-time job. I’m a self-taught developer without a science background who pulled off an app as awesome as Track Runner as her first venture into app development. Taking the plunge from the earning prospects and safety net a legal career promises into the tech startup world requires guts.
How do you balance your passion for your professional life with your hobbies like running?
Luckily, and this is the upside of having taken that plunge – I don’t have to choose. Whenever we’re working on new features, I run almost daily to really put the feature to the test. Especially with a fitness app you want to get as hands on as possible to really feel the pain users feel when something goes wrong. The beauty is that I learned running from Track Runner just as much as I taught Track Runner to assist others in running. When the app was in its native stage, I was a novice runner, now look at us.
You’re obviously a very talented attorney, so what sparked your interest in technology and coding?
I always wanted to be an artist’s lawyer which is why I focused on Intellectual Property law early on. I am not sure there was a spark as such. Coding was very alien to me at first having been brought up with much more of a language/arts focus rather than tech. I think what won me over was the realization that app development is an art in and of itself. There are so many highly creative components from having a unique vision to creating the visuals (UI/logos), picking colors, maybe even sounds and music or developing characters. And all of this is brought to life by code which is really just a different kind of language. I guess I have stayed true to my language/art focus after all.
Tell us more about your app Track Runner that is available on Windows Phone and what inspired you to create it?
Track Runner was a direct inspiration from starting out running. I had just bought a Nokia Lumia 521 and was looking into using it to track my progress to motivate myself. The running apps available at the time were fairly basic and often inaccurate so my co-founder, who is an avid runner, and I decided to have a go ourselves. Runners whether professional or hobbyists have this urge to progress and shave off a few seconds every time or go further than before. We really harnessed this spirit of upping your best by including fine-grained run analytics and customizable training options. But most importantly, we are in constant dialogue with our users and many of our features and tweaks were inspired by the Track Runner community. Today, Track Runner is the best rated running app on the Windows Phone platform – it’s packed with features and free, so go and download it!
How do you think technology is empowering women in this digital age?
I think technology has the potential to be a great gender equalizer and can make a huge difference to women’s and girl’s lives. Stereotypically, nerds or coders are male and it has been a challenge for some women to break those ranks. But if you think about it, many qualities typically attributed to 2X’s like diligence, good work ethos, and persistence, really pay off in coding. Turning an idea into a product is very empowering. Thanks to resources like Windows App Studio and thriving communities like stack overflow or git hub it’s much easier to get started. In its leanest form, a tech startup really is a woman or man with a laptop, so go out and create something!
Does anyone inspire you?
It is difficult to settle on a single person as so many people have inspired me in the past in vastly different contexts and for very different reasons. If I had to name one inspiring woman in tech I would probably go with Marissa Mayer. Everybody knows her many accolades – Stanford Grad, one of the first employees of Google, later in leading positions at Google and now Yahoo – but I respect her just as much for working proactively to improve working conditions at Yahoo including maternity leave policy and creating a better office culture. And besides the obvious women in tech connection there is one more thing that unites us that is far less known: our love for ballet. So from ballet dancer turned runner and tech startup founder to former Nutcracker star and Yahoo CEO – I draw my hat.
Lastly, I just have to mention the ex Nokia Dev Champions now Microsoft MVPs I had the privilege of meeting and/or working with since immersing myself in the app development world. You guys do amazing work and I am so grateful to be part of your community!
Big congrats to Sarah for her Connects MVC win and we hope that hearing her story has inspired you to pursue your goals with even more gusto than ever. We’d like to thank both Sarah and everyone who participated in the contest, and be sure to keep checking the Connects MVC hub for updates on the next theme. In the meantime, let us know what you think in the comments below.