Written by: Barrie Ladipo
Ever wanted to take something back after it was sent or mistakenly sent something to the wrong person? Well, believe that all your troubles have vanished with the help from Ms. Maci Peterson, creator of On Second Thought. Maci Peterson, who is the co-founder and CEO of On Second Thought, a messaging app that lets users take back text messages before they get to the other person’s phone! She grew the company from having the initial idea to launching it on the international stage. She won First Place for the idea of On Second Thought in March 2014 at #StartupOasis, UP Global and Kauffman Foundation’s annual pitch competition at South by Southwest (SXSW). On Second Thought has been called “The Texting Savior” by AT&T and was named one of the “Top 5 Apps Beating Uber and Tinder” by Vice Magazine. It was also the 1st Place winner of the national Women Who Tech Startup Challenge sponsored by Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, and New York investors Fred and Joanne Wilson.
With Peterson’s new fast popularity, I wondered who the woman behind this magically wand of erasing your tech mistakes. I had a little chat with this rising entrepreneur and her journey to who she is today.
Barrie Ladipo: Before the idea of On Second Thought emerge, what did you aspire to bring to the world?
Maci Peterson: Before On Second Thought, my goal was to always to do great work and fulfill the purpose God has for my life. I believe On Second Thought is one of many great things I will bring to the world. Prior to that, there was always the potential for something great to come from me.
BL: Where does Ms. Maci Peterson hail from?
MP: I am originally from Chicago, the suburbs. I’ve been in San Francisco since September, but I’ve lived in Southern California while I was completing my undergrad.
BL: Was the app inspired from personal experience?
MP: Of course it was! (laughs)
Just like everyone else, I sent the text I wanted to take back. What happened was my ex boyfriend kept calling me and I kept missing his call, so I text him and told him “Hey, I keep missing your call”, but autotext changed “call” to the part of the anatomy that rhymes with call. Of course that is not what I wanted to say, but the embarrassment led to the inspiration.
BL: Being an African American woman in the tech world, what adversity do you face?
MP: I don’t necessarily know the adversity I face because I only know the experience as being a black woman. I don’t know how it feels to be a white man. The only experience I have to go on is what I know so I can’t compare. I will say this, being unfamiliarity is extremely eye opening. For instance, I went to this conference for a prominent investor, who was hosting a conference for all of the CEO’s and they invited a group of women and I as well. When I went to the restroom, I noticed the line for the men’s restroom was queued around the corner, but there was no line to the women’s line ever. I first thought “Wow, these guys have really weak bladders”. I had discussion with someone about it and realize that wasn’t the fact they had weak bladder, there are no women here. Out of 300 people, they may have been about 12 women. Majority of the women was part of the group I was part or the employees of the fund, meaning out of the hundreds of people there, maybe a couple of them women were actual investors and I was the only black woman. So, things like that are more telling in the tech world. It isn’t about African Americans don’t have great ideas, Black women don’t have great ideas, it is just that there’s something is leaving us out the room and I thank God for the opportunity to be in these rooms and experiences where many women haven’t been.
BL: Even speaking on that experience, do you offer any internships or mentorships for those aspiring women?
MP: I do mentor. I mentor college students mostly. I believe that mentor is such a personal relationship, it is a lot to be someone’s mentor. My mentors are the closet people in my life and those relationships weren’t forced. We’ve established a close relationship through the years so the mentorship was organic. it also goes both ways, I think a lot of people miss that. I can help advise them the same way the help advise me. It really more like dating, it is a lot to find a great connection through mentors and mentees. Especially for me, because I’m such an introvert.
BL: I would have never guessed you was an introvert. How does that help with your ideas and you embarking on them?
MP: Yea, for me, my introversion is where I get my energy. At least once a year, I do a personal retreat where I go off to the country or the middle of nowhere for a weekend, where I read, pray, and journal which energizes me for the rest of the year. I mostly get visions of the year ahead. During that time I usually get a word and vision, which have been coming true since I’ve been doing these retreats for the past four years.
BL: With your new lifestyle, how do you keep yourself grounded? How has your life changes?
MP: I pray a whole lot more. My life is so different, it literally turned in the last nine months. What really keeps me focused and grounded is prayer. I had to realize it is not about me. The purpose is to inspire little girls, women, African women, especially not having a background in technology. The real purpose is inspiration. This platform is to inspire more people that look like me and companies to invest more people that look like me.
BL: Were you always tech savy?
MP: No. (laughs)
My brothers and I have this joke that “I am an analytical girl living in a digital world”. So I am tech savy now. I mean I’ve always known technology, but not at a technical standpoint. One of my New Years resolution is to learn how to code because it would make me a better leader.
BL: Who or what inspires you ?
MP: I am inspired by those parents and teachers who send messages telling me that they shared my story to their kids and class and it emerged an interest for them to aspire to take part in this world of technology.
A. I am fulfilling my purpose. B. There is potential for us to have that diversity in these fields. There are arguments that there aren’t a lot of African Americans in predominant roles at these tech or engineering companies because there isn’t a strong talent pool of African Americans in those fields simply because technology wasn’t something that was encouraged in our generation. As children are developing more at an earlier age today, I think there will be a larger talent pool for African American and women. So hearing that kids want to be entrepreneurs truly inspires me. This is bigger than me.
BL:What top 5 apps do you utilize everyday on your phone?
MP: Everyday? Of course, On Second Thought, Uber, Instagram, Twitter, Raid. Raid is more than a gps app, it actually helps you detect where the police are. Sometimes you just never know. (laughs)
BL: What can we expect next from Ms. Maci Peterson?
MP: More awesome things for On Second Thought. We are still working on it for Iphone, adding more features than we originally planned. We are looking into internationally expansion to Kenya, India and Latin America. We are also looking into a webseries for On Second Thought, awkward text messages exchanges, very excited about that. What is so cool about this business, everything I have learned throughout my past career paths I have been able to utilize those skills into my tech company, making it even bigger than I imagined.
Make sure you download On Second Thought, available on GooglePlay and coming soon on iTunes.