Monday Motivation from Raine Giorgio, Founder at NerdNest

Mondays can be rough and, sometimes, we can all use some motivation. Our #MondayMotivation blog series brings you tips and life hacks from industry leaders and some of the most creative entrepreneurs out there.

We sat down with Raine Giorgio, Founder of NerdNest, the world’s first social media app and microblogging site that satisfies all the needs and desires of the culturally powerful and growing fandom universe. Raine discusses making dreams a reality, the power of fangirls, and strength in unity.

What inspired you to start your business?
It was during one of those existential conversations that inevitably come up when a group of twenty-somethings stay up late enough. We were talking about the ideal worlds that we wanted to live in. I described a world where there was a better representation of women, fangirls weren’t marginalized and attacked on the internet, and there was a safe place for fandom. The more I talked about it, the more upset I became that this wasn’t a reality. I thought to myself, “Why hasn’t anyone made the necessary changes?” I eventually realized that if no one else was going to do it, I would. There was nothing holding me back from making my dream a reality. I am a lifelong fangirl and I have personally been affected by the injustices in representation and safety in the fandom world. I have seen the way my fangirl sisters have been treated and it is a priority for me to see this dream become a reality.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Definitely finding funding.  It’s an old problem that so many startups have, but it’s true for NerdNest too! We’re certainly not alone in having trouble finding the right funding, but there are so many great resources out there and it’s all about continuing on in the face of rejection. It might not work on the first (or even fiftieth!) try, but I have confidence in the idea and the business to attract the right investor(s).

What’s been the greatest reward?
The biggest reward has definitely been the positive feedback we received after the Beta. Hearing fangirls say that this was the safe space dedicated just for them and that this was what they had been waiting for meant so much to me. NerdNest and fangirls are really my passion.

What is the biggest thing you’d like to see changed in your industry, and how are you working toward making that change happen?
Fandom might seem like it’s just a hobby, a niche culture, but it’s so much more than that. Underrepresentation of women in the media has gone on long enough. We can see a growing movement for this change with the recent investigations into the lack of women directors in Hollywood. Few movies pass the Bechdel test (a simple litmus test to see if women are integral to a piece of media) and sci-fi and fantasy are the genres that are most at fault, despite huge engagement from women. More women than men saw the box-office hit Guardians of the Galaxy and yet the representation of women was sparse. We’re left to wonder if there will ever be a time for the Ms. Marvels of the world. Representation is important, especially representation of minorities and women. It is empowering and positively transformative for women, especially young women, to see themselves represented in powerful and positive roles.

So what does NerdNest have to do with making this change? There is strength in unity and strength in numbers. Fangirls have the power to change the world, they just need a place to be unified. But how can a group of young women have an influence on a world of media that is so powerful? The answer is transformative fandom. There are two kinds of fandom, curative, which has to do with collecting things and has been the traditional male model, and transformative. Transformative fandom was created by women over the last decade. It focuses on the creation of original content. Transformative works like fanart and fanfiction have the power to influence the media in the way we portray women and minorities. We already have an example of this on a small scale. The fan influence in the show Legend of Korra led to the show depicting a lesbian relationship, people with disabilities, and people of color. This is just a small example of the power that fangirls have, but as we can see from history, a movement can’t gain steam until there is unification. NerdNest seeks to be that unifying factor to give fangirls the voice they need to make the change we all need to see.

Who or what motivates you to keep going, even when things get tough?
I think that going back to the passion that started this whole journey for me is the easiest way to continue to stay inspired. I firmly believe that your passions are not random. They are your calling.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to another entrepreneur just starting out?
I would definitely say don’t be intimidated! It’s easy to look down the road and see that it’s long. Instead, make achievable goals; 1-day, 5-day, 30-day, and 1 year are great places to start.

What do you do every Monday morning to prepare and motivate yourself for the coming week?
I definitely have a Monday routine. It’s inspired by what started it all – fandom! Fandom is wonderful because it has so many fictional characters and circumstances from which to draw inspiration. I see the fangirls that I’m working to empower draw inspiration from fandom every day. I start my Monday morning by reminding myself of things that my fictional heroes have overcome from fandom. It’s fun and keeps things light for Monday morning when it’s easy to be intimidated by all of the work ahead for the week.

For more #MondayMotivation, check out our interview with Rachel Bauer, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Gild Collective, a forum for women to gather with purpose: creating inspired objects while creating change. Rachel discusses the unique issues women face in the workplace, creative team building, and the opportunities for women to come together and celebrate one another.