“It has been a bucket list dream of mine to speak at Chapin’s Upper School News!” Alumna Zoë Barry ’03 said affectionately after a warm introduction from senior Alexia Embiricos, President of News.
She went on to tell a quick anecdote about a time in her 8th grade year when she skipped News to catch up on homework. “When I got in trouble, I said, ‘the speakers are so boring!’ and ended up being invited to join the News team to help find engaging speakers.” From then on, Zoë decided to do something worthwhile enough to come back and speak about.
Certainly, Ms. Barry has. She is the Founder and CEO of Zingeroo, her second venture-backed tech startup. The company is currently operating in stealth mode and has raised over $5.5 million to date. In her spare time, Ms. Barry enjoys mentoring first time founders. She co-founded an angel investment group called xxAngels, which primarily leads rounds for formation-stage tech companies with female founders at the helm. She has invested in over 20 startups to date.
Ms. Barry has received many noteworthy accolades, including being named as one of Inc. Magazine’s 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30 in 2015, Boston Business Journal’s 40 under 40 in 2015 and Medtech Boston’s 40 under 40 Healthcare Innovators in 2016.
In 2012, after a brief stint on Wall Street, Ms. Barry was inspired to start her own company, ZappRx, when a family member was diagnosed with a severe condition that required specialized therapy. At the mere age of 26, she was described as the “Amazon Prime for $100K/year specialty medication.” As a sole-founder, Barry raised over $42M for ZappRx before the company was acquired by Allscripts in June of 2019.
“Does anyone aspire to be a founder/CEO?” Ms. Barry asked her Zoom audience of over 200 Upper School students and faculty. “Awesome!” She cheered as she scanned the many boxes sporting raised hands. She continued by explaining that when her family member got sick, it took six months for them to receive the lifesaving therapy they needed. Luckily, once the therapy was provided, her family member made a full recovery.
“I kept asking why? Why couldn’t we get it sooner? I was so frustrated that I started a company dedicated to this.” Determined, Ms. Barry began seeking out entrepreneurs and investors and it snowballed into an actual product. “Patients were able to get on therapy in 3 days – down from the industry standard of two months,” she explained.
“It can be really hard to be a woman founder,” Ms. Barry shared. “96% of Venture Capital funds are disrupted to male founder/CEOs annually — just 3% of capital goes to women fund women run startups.”
She continued to tell the captivated students that they may enter fields where there aren’t many women – and that’s okay. Reflecting on a tough time in her career, she said, “You get tested a lot as a CEO. Having gone to Chapin, I know my worth and I advocated for myself.”
The virtual room then opened up for questions, which came flooding in from the curious scholars.
“What do you wish you knew while you were at Chapin?” one student wondered.
“I didn’t appreciate the sense of community and culture,” Ms. Barry said. “[Faculty and staff] check on you. They really care and those are values I’ve brought to my own company.”
Another student asked how you negotiate salary, especially as a woman in a male-dominated field. “You want to anchor high and have a list of points of what you will give. You want both parties to feel good at the end of a deal,” Ms. Barry noted.
“What was the most valuable lesson you learned at Chapin that has helped you in your career?” one Upper Schooler asked to which Ms. Barry answered: writing.
“It may sound simple or obvious, but as an employer, it’s incredible to see that not many people have this strength. I rewrote my essays constantly in 8th grade, which really helped me,” she explained.
Others asked questions on topics including managing a work/life balance; workplace advice; what she would tell her younger Chapin self; and guidance for how to deal with men who talk over you in the workplace. Ms. Barry provided encouraging, thoughtful and helpful responses.
“Please join me in thanking Ms. Barry,” concluded Alexia as they reached the end of their time together. After an abundance of applause, Ms. Barry smiled graciously, telling students to always reach out to her if they have any questions.
“It was really meaningful to hear from you,” one student said. “To see what you have achieved as a woman and how you build up other women – thank you!”