Featured Founder: Breaking Barriers Through Entrepreneurship

“Featured Founder” is a series that profiles founders and entrepreneurs connected to The Ohio State University. Today, we are featuring Maggie Barrie, a graduate of The Ohio State University, and her company, In Your Skin Virtual Reality. Read how this entrepreneur started her business and is using her own experiences to help others.

Tell us about your business or organization.

My business is called In Your Skin Virtual Reality. It is a virtual reality application that has the purpose of breaking stereotypes and biases by putting users in the shoes (or skin) of another person who is a member of a marginalized group, such as African Americans or members of the LGBT community.

Why did you decide to take a leap and become a founder? How did you reach that decision?

Starting my business was an idea that I had for a long time. As an African American female, it can be hard to avoid the reality of what is going on around our nation right now. But, I also realized that some people don’t see that reality. It’s hard to understand something when you don’t experience it. So, I wanted to create an application where other individuals could experience the world from a different perspective and understand what it’s like to be a member of a marginalized group, like male or female African Americans or members of the LGBT community, in present day America.

How have you had to develop your leadership skills as a founder? What leadership lessons have you learned through leading your organization? 

At first, a founder’s job is almost everything, especially when you are a small start-up. As a leader, you have to find the right team, keep the vision of the project intact and make sure that progress Is happening. It can feel like a lot. But, I feel like once you find the right people, day-to-day business operations become a lot smoother. From these experiences,  I’ve definitely learned the value of patience and hard work.

Describe a success that has been made possible through your leadership skills.

One of the most important leadership skills is having mentors. I’ve heard it said that you are the average of the five people you surround yourself with. Having people to confide in and get a second opinion from was a big success to me. I was able to meet many big companies and pitch my product to them because of my mentors. Having the right people believe in me and support me is a big secret to my success.

Based on your experiences as a founder, what is the most important leadership trait that founders must possess? How did you foster that trait in yourself?

Ambition, time management and the ability to stay up late and wake up early. You have to really want it and invest time into your idea. I am an athlete at Ohio State, so these traits were fostered in me through my business and athletic career. I have become very ambitious and don’t really believe in limitations. I believe that, with the right strategy and work ethic, anything is possible.

What other advice would you give a current or future founder about leading others? 

My advice to others is to find what you are good at and what will help people, and make that your business. If you aren’t passionate about and it isn’t solving other people’s problems, then it’s not a good business idea.

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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.