What has 140 characters, the backing of a celebrity and a $2,000 price tag? Well, it’s either one of two things: the punchline of a bad joke, or a single, life-changing tweet from Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group.
Luckily for entrepreneur Stacey Ferreira, it was the latter. When Branson tweeted about his offer to meet anyone who was willing to donate $2,000 to charity, Ferreira knew she had stumbled onto something special. Indeed, it was something akin to fate that Ferreira – who was in the midst of developing her first company and rarely went on Twitter – would see Branson’s proposition.
Despite not having the requisite money to donate or being old enough to partake in the cocktails Branson described in his tweet, Ferreira recognized that this was her opportunity to get her foot in the door with the famous billionaire. After all, the potential connection with such an influential entrepreneur could change the future of her budding company, MySocialCloud.
The idea for MySocialCloud was conceived when Ferreira was still a senior in high school. Her older brother Scott had come home from USC for the holiday break when his computer unexpectedly crashed. He lost everything on it, including a spreadsheet that contained his login information and passwords for the various sites and accounts he used. Consequently, the siblings decided to create a cloud-based application that would allow users to securely store their information and log onto websites more easily. Along with their friend Shiv Prakash, the pair spent Ferreira’s last summer before college developing their product and company. It was during a break from a long workday that Ferreira saw the tweet that would change the course of her company, and her life, forever.
Like most young adults, the Ferreira siblings didn’t have thousands of dollars in disposable income. So, they borrowed the money – 4,000 dollars total – from their parents with a written plan that detailed how they would pay back their debt. Within days of Ferreira’s initial response to the tweet, they were in Miami.
Despite being only two of eighteen people, the Ferreiras left an impression on Branson. In the coming months, they kept in contact with him as well as investor Jerry Murdock, and that August, Branson and Murdock informed the siblings they would invest nearly $1 million in their company. The investment catalyzed the development of MySocialCloud and they maintained it until they sold it to Reputation.com in 2013.
After successfully selling her first company, Ferreira’s entrepreneurial spirit continued to grow. In 2015, a book she co-authored called 2 Billion Under 20: How Millennials Are Breaking Down Age Barriers and Changing the World was published. Shortly after that, Ferreira became part of the Thiel Fellowship. Designed for young adults who either postpone or drop out of college to develop their entrepreneurial ideas, the Thiel Fellowship offers $100,000 in grant money to each recipient and provides an opportunity for fellows to connect with potential partners and investors. While there, Ferreira teamed up with her brother and actress Talulah Riley, who was formerly married to Elon Musk, to create Forge, a work scheduling application. Ferreira currently serves as the CEO.
In addition to her position at Forge, Ferreira also gives talks on entrepreneurship and building companies on behalf of the U.S. State Department and has presented at several TEDx conferences. Most recently, she was selected as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for 2016.
Despite having accomplished more than most people her age, Ferreira isn’t inspirational solely because of her work products. While MySocialCloud, her book, and her most recent entrepreneurial endeavors are certainly impressive, it is her work ethic that stands out. Ferreira isn’t afraid to take (or make) her own path in order to follow her dreams. When most people see barriers, Ferreira sees opportunities. When her brother’s computer crashed, the pair looked for solutions; they didn’t cut their losses and move on. When neither of them had the money to meet Branson, they came up with a way to borrow from their parents and pay them back within a year. Most recently, when Ferreira postponed finishing college in order to join the Thiel Fellowship, she demonstrated that she wasn’t afraid to deviate from the beaten path and find a creative way to pursue something she was passionate about.
Whether or not you share Ferreira’s passions for technology and entrepreneurship, she is definitely one to watch.