Debbie Sterling – Founder & CEO of GoldieBlox

GoldieBlox: Using narrative to engage girls in STEM

Founded in 2012, GoldieBlox is an award-winning multimedia company that aims to empower girls with skills in engineering. GoldieBlox’s unique approach combines construction toys with a set of interactive books, apps and videos. It also features the world’s first female engineering character, Goldie, a curious young girl who loves to build and try new things.

GoldieBlox is a media and entertainment company using storytelling to make STEM fun. We educate and empower young girls by creating engaging content, fun toys and interesting resources that will help build their confidence and their dreams. We believe that we can close the gender gap by combining our unique STEAM + FUN formula with what girls love to get more girls interested in these key fields.

– From

The Founder: Debbie Sterling

GoldieBlox was created by Debbie Sterling, is a Stanford-educated engineer. Frustrated by the low numbers of female graduates (only 20% of graduate degrees in technology and science are awarded to women), Debbie launched GoldieBlox.

Prior to conceiving GoldieBlox, Sterling landed at a creative branding and design agency. Finding herself in an unfamiliar field, she worked hard to upskill and, in 3 years, earned the title of Lead Brand Strategist. Driven by a need to do meaningful work, Sterling then spent 6 months volunteering in India and, on her return, followed an old passion and got a job with a small jewelry company. It was at this time that, during an “ideas brunch” with friends she came across the idea of GoldieBlox. Rather than quit her job at the jewelry company, Sterling used this job as an opportunity to save up and learn how to run a small business.

I faced my fair share of challenges when I first started out. I saved up as much as I could to eventually quit my job and go full-time on starting the company. I really believed in my concept – STEM toys for girls – but the toy industry wasn’t as receptive. I kept hearing from industry veterans that my idea was a good cause, but it would never sell. I knew that if I wanted to make GoldieBlox successful, it meant I had to break down the outdated gender stereotypes that plague the industry. To this day, these outdated stereotypes continue to be my biggest challenge.

– Debbie Sterling

She reached her funding goal on Kickstarter in 4 days. GoldieBlox was on shelves in Toys “R” Us 6 months later.

In 2014, Sterling was named as one of Business Insider’s 30 Women Who Are Changing the World.

The Team

“I always look for people who are genuinely passionate about our social mission. They need to have the skills to be able to do the job, or at least demonstrate they are quick learners. I look for people who are self-starters that thrive in uncertainty. In entrepreneurial environments, it’s critical to be able to solve problems on your own. I also look for people who seem like they love to learn and don’t act like they already know everything. Last but not least, I constantly look for diversity and make sure we have a pool of very diverse candidates for every role.”

– Debbie Sterling

  • Debbie Sterling: Founder and CEO
  • Beau Lewis: Co-Founder and VP Content (Emmy-winning producer, writer, and viral media expert; founder of Seedwell Studios which pioneered viral campaigns for brands like Nike, Pepsi, and Google)
  • Shawn Dennis: President (Former head of brand and franchise development at DreamWorks Animation and chief marketing officer at Mattel’s American Girl)
  • Tim Erickson: Executive Vice President, Operations and Partnerships (Previously created original merchandise and brand experiences for DreamWorks and Fox)
  • Melissa Schneider: Chief Content Officer (Former EVP at digital studio New Form)
  • Keith Bencher: Chief Financial and Strategy Officer (Former VP at CNET Networks; EVP at Federated Media; CFO at This Moment marketing technology company)
  • Elizabeth Miller: Creative Director (Former Creative Director at 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Cloudco Studios, Hasbro, DreamWorks Animation, AwesomenessTV and Disney)

Entrepreneur Inspo

Three key things I take away from Debbie’s story:

  1. Perhaps you’re not yet in your dream job, but always look for opportunities to learn and grow.
  2. Find the believers.
  3. Beyond just having a great idea, an entrepreneur must then inspire, form a tribe and build a community around it.

Once you have found a business idea that is your true passion, you need to share that passion with everyone you possibly can. Whether it’s someone you’re sitting next to on an airplane, a waiter at a restaurant, a Lyft driver it doesn’t matter. Share your passion with the world, because as soon as you do, people will start coming out of the woodwork to help you.

– Debbie Sterling

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2 responses to “Debbie Sterling – Founder & CEO of GoldieBlox”

  1. Neal Donegani

    Thanks, Jessica. Debbie Sterling has a lot of insight into the world of entrepreneurism that I took away from the video, and which you wrote down in your sound bites – classic feel good take-aways. First, I love how Sterling describes an entrepreneur as a team builder, not just an inventor; someone who needs to rally people together to jump on board, rather than build it and they will come. And, yes, “find the believers” in the people you sit next to “on an airplane, a waiter at a restaurant, a Lyft driver”- it’s all about the pitch at that point.
    I like the angle that GoldieBlox takes with underrepresented individuals in engineering. The founder that I chose, Hadi Partovi, also created a product that makes computer science more approachable and accessible for girls and underrepresented groups. Also, seems like Sterling has brought a lot of film/entertainment industry folk on the team. Guess that is what you are fortunate enough to have access to when you live in the epicenter of that industry, Los Angeles.

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  2. Grant MacLeod

    Debbie Sterling is a great example of a strong entrepreneur and what she has accomplished is very impressive. She took a well known problem and solved it through hard work and perseverance. Unlike many who thought her idea would never fly or do well in the market she stuck with it and made it happen. What an inspirational person, especially for young girls! As a new parent to a baby girl, I am so happy that there are other toy options out there for her other than the stereotypical “girl toys” like Barbie. Thanks for sharing Jessica!

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