By Aaron London The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Krystal Hagi shares how she took a leap of faith from working on computers and studying computer science at college to opening her own computer repair and IT business.
The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Krystal Hagi describes herself as "one of the weird ones" when it comes to the so-called STEM subjects.
While getting young girls interested in science, technology, engineering or math is a goal of educators, for Hagi, "math makes sense to me." That affinity for technology and mathematics led Hagi to open her own business, KRH Technologies.
Situated in a small storefront in the Marvin Gardens complex on State Road 100 in Bunnell, Hagi opened the computer repair and IT store in August. As a woman entrepreneur in a technology field, that makes her something of a rarity -- as well as a role model.
"I hope I'm a role model," she said. "I have a daughter and I hope she can look up to me and know she can do anything you want if you put your mind to it."
For Hagi, that meant taking the risk to open a new business on her own in a field typically dominated by men.
"I got into computers when my mom worked on them," she said.
Taking that leap of faith from working on computers and studying computer science at Daytona State College to opening a business was something that Hagi was determined to do.
"I had the guts to do it," she said. "I had already passed up one or two opportunities and I wasn't going to do that again."
While she has taken on the role of entrepreneur, Hagi said she got a lot of help on the business side of things from her father and uncle, both business owners.
"I used to help my dad with his business," she said.
Hagi said she also sought help from SCORE, the organization of retired executives that offers guidance and advice for small-business owners.
"You can never have too much advice," she said.
Since opening her shop in August, Hagi said business has been slow, "but it's picking up." She recognizes it will take time to build a clientele, but she is working to get her name out in the community and has participated in business events such as Entrepreneur Night and a networking group known as the Hammock Island Team.
"It's been helpful," she said of her efforts to connect with other business owners. "A lot of the businesses in the area are really cool and they help each other out with more than just advice."
Even with guidance and support, Hagi said there were some things that surprised her when she began the process of opening a small business.
"One of the few unexpected things was the cost of all the licensing fees," she said. "On the other hand, advertising is a little easier than I thought."
While she is mostly occupied these days doing screen repairs for smart phones, Hagi said she eventually wants to focus more on network setup and web design. She even hopes someday to hire a few employees, but is taking it one step at a time.
"I'd like to not overwhelm myself with things that are complicated," she said.
While Hagi is just starting down the path of business ownership in a high-tech field, there may be a lot more young girls and women coming behind her, especially as the Flagler County school district's Flagship Program opens up more opportunities for students.
Martin Evans, director of the Flagler County STEM Academy at Wadsworth Elementary School, said while the opportunities are there for women in STEM fields, "most girls are not looking at science as an option for a career."
Evans said entrepreneurs like Hagi are an important component for getting more girls interested in science and engineering fields.
"Female role models in engineering, medicine, computer programming and physics are the only figures that will truly effect the status quo," he said. "Change will occur when girls can picture themselves as scientists."