How we met
Firstly, I started by asking for help because that really pays off. As soon as I got the idea I started talking about it. To see what other people thought of the idea but also to see who could maybe help me move forward. I knew nothing about publishing a book so a few tips would have come in handy. I also discussed it with my business partner, Joelle, who happened to know a famous Dutch children's book author.
While she probably thought that it was just another person that wants to write a book, luckily for me she agreed to meet to do Joelle a favor. While we were talking about the idea she got enthusiastic as well and actually agreed to write the book. For me that was perfect, while I know a lot about technology and starting and running a company, writing is a totally different skill set and Niki was obviously an amazing writer. My main goal was and stills is to reach as many young girls as possible. A story that is well written will be read more often so that was a very important step.
Then we wanted illustrations to go with the story, to make the story even livelier and give the book an extra fun factor. Niki had seen a great illustrator online who she thought would be a perfect fit. We reached out to her, pitched the idea and she said yes! So then we were a team of 3: Niki, Josselin and me.
About the name
That is when Project New York came to life. At my company we use city names to indicate product development projects that are not yet released and this was going to be my project. I love New York so that was really the only option :) When writing the book 'preppy' soon became an important element, especially the preppy look.
That is when Project New York turned into Project Prep.
Because we all had different jobs and were working in different locations we were a virtual team and decided to setup a virtual office, a group in WhatsApp: Project Prep Headquarters.
Success in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands Project Prep has been an incredible success. Neelie Kroes, former Special Envoy of StartupDelta and EU commissioner and currently board member of different international companies has written the introduction to the book. Then we went to the palace to hand the first copy to Queen Máxima of the Netherlands. The booked turned into a best-seller, there was a lot attention in the press for the book but more importantly the subject and goal of the book: increasing diversity in tech and inspiring young girls to take an interest in technology. We organised awards where girls came up with amazing ideas to start their own tech companies. Famous Dutch people endorsed the book and made videos where they explained how technology was also important to them.
It has been a roller-coaster which has given us a lot of energy but the most important thing is the feedback we got from the girls. Girls that told us they started to learn to code and did everything that was mentioned in the book who were now wondering what the next step could be. Girls that made new plans for their future. Girls that were inspired to start their own company and actually really did.
Written by Janneke Niessen
Subscribe to our newsletter below to get our posts straight to your inbox and receive an exclusive first look at upcoming news!