Alison Alvarez is the Co-Founder of BlastPoint, which provides businesses with realtime geographic insights. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
1. When did you learn how to code?
The first time I coded was in the third grade in 1989 when we learned simple BASIC commands. I *hated* it because we had to copy the code from the board and then take turns typing it into the one computer in the classroom (a monochrome Apple IIe). I hated copying things, and by extension hated the whole exercise, but there was something that stuck with me. I eventually fell in love with computers and started teaching myself programming, which really took off once the internet happened and I had a community to learn from. One of the first things I built from scratch was an interactive Jeopardy-like program with questions tailored to one of my classes.
2. How did you come up with the idea for BlastPoint?
I was working on data systems for big companies and realized that there was a total lack of data tools built for non-experts, especially when it came to maps. We designed BlastPoint to make geographic data more accessible and affordable, especially in smaller organizations where people might wear more than one hat during the workday.
3. What was your favorite experience in AlphaLab?
I loved the little office we had as a part of the program. The first day we moved in, Tomer, my CTO and Co-Founder, and I were completely giddy to be working from a real office instead of a dining room table. We finally felt like we had a real business!
4. What advice do you have for other moms looking to start a business in tech?
I guess my advice would be to not take too much advice? You know yourself and your kid better than anyone, and you know what's best for your family. Sometimes I get criticism from someone for not matching their image of what a mom should be. I could feel guilty, but I know my child is happy, healthy, and having her needs met. My mom didn't reliably have shoes while growing up, and from that perspective, we're doing fine. One thing that works for me is bringing my kid into the office on the weekend so that we can be together while I still get work tasks done. I have special office-only toys and a cheap pop-up tent that makes this possible. This works because of my kid's personality and her extreme dedication to coloring. But I would not fault any tech mom if this didn't work from them because every mom and every kid is different.
5. What is the most important thing you hope your daughter learns from you as a tech mom?
I hope she learns grit. If she reaches an obstacle or a point of failure, I don't want her to give up. Instead, I hope she is able to brush herself off, learn from her mistakes, and try again.