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Kim Taylor acts as female role model in Bravo's 'Silicon Valley'

November 09, 2012|By Jessica Guynn
  • Kim Taylor, cast member of Bravo's new reality show "Start-ups: Silicon Valley," is acting as a role model for young women interested in getting into technology.
Kim Taylor, cast member of Bravo's new reality show "Start-ups:… (Bravo )

After just one episode, Bravo's new reality TV series on Silicon Valley has already gotten a lot of grief for how it portrays women in technology.

Executive producer Randi Zuckerberg said she was aiming to get young women excited about becoming entrepreneurship and technology. Some people feel the show has missed that mark.

But cast member Kim Taylor, 30, seems -- at least at the outset -- to be acting the part of female role model in tech (and less like the Silicon Valley version of "Real Housewives").

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She may not be an engineer in a place that glorifies them. But Taylor says she has an unsung skill in Silicon Valley: She knows how to make money.

The Midwestern transplant with a killer instinct for ringing up sales and bringing in business shows off her sharp tongue and sense of style on "Start-ups: Silicon Valley."

Taylor says she came to Silicon Valley nearly three years ago as the fifth employee for a startup that builds Facebook ads for brands. During filming, she ditches that job to bootstrap her own high-end fashion startup. She says for three years she lived on 30% of her net income to save the money she'd need to help realize her dream of being an entrepreneur.

Taylor says she decided to appear on the show in large part to show women that they can do it too.

"For me one of the main reasons I wanted to do it is that I wanted to give women a road map. I am not saying everyone should quit their job and start their own company. But I think it’s really hard for women to aspire to do something they don’t see," Taylor said.

She also hopes that her take-no-prisoners approach to business will send a message to women that they too can be aggressive.

"I'm not a wallflower by any means," she said. "You'll see that."

For Taylor, life is definitely not a spectator sport.

She has set a goal of visiting every NFL stadium by the time she’s 35 (she’s halfway there) and hangs framed tickets to big sporting events she has attended on her apartment walls. A gymnast in high school (who went on to become an NBA dancer for a year), Taylor named her startup Shonova after her favorite move from gymnast Yelena Shushunova’s floor routine. It launches this winter and she says it will be going after the millennial luxury fashion market and professional women.

"I never wanted to be on a reality show. I think the only reason I wanted to do it is because it was Bravo. I am a huge Bravo fan," she said.

Besides, it was a good business move.

"Some people might say, 'This will hurt you,' or 'This will hurt your career,' but I am entering an industry with a high barrier to entry that loves Bravo," Taylor said. "There’s nothing bigger in the fashion world than Bravo."

She says the reaction to the show so far has been "wildly amusing." And she thinks Silicon Valley might want to get a better sense of humor.

"I think there’s a lot of intellectual integrity in Silicon Valley, that’s one of the best things about it. But I also do think that we take ourselves way too seriously," Taylor said. "We all say we are changing the world, but a lot of people are just making Pinterest clones."

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