Hillary Yip is not your average 14-year-old. In addition to attending school and surviving grueling academic demands on a daily basis, the ninth grader also runs her own business. Growing up as a digital native, Yip, like many other teens, understands the significance of keeping pace with innovation and the digital transformation. That tech-savvy mindfulness prompted her, at age 10, to launch an online social language learning app: Minor Mynas. The idea came to her after a long struggle to learn Mandarin. As the founder and CEO of Minor Mynas, she is building a global community for kids to learn while having fun on the safest online platform.

Below is a Q&A with Yip, where she elaborates on what motivates her, what her challenges have been, and what her advice to young (or more experienced!) women who might be hesitant to follow their dreams is.

You have achieved a lot at a very young age. Can you tell us how you got here? What was your path?
I’ve been working on MinorMynas from the age of 10, when I participated in a kids’ entrepreneurship competition. After that competition, I was determined to turn my idea into reality after being inspired my mentor, and have been working on it ever since. Our beta app launched in 2017 and our next version is currently under development.

What is it that inspires you to do what you do?
I am driven to do what I am doing by my mission with MinorMynas – to connect the world through kids for us to learn and have fun. In a world with so much conflict, I believe the way to bridge an ever more polarised society, is through kids.

What have you learnt through your experience as a young CEO? What have been some of the challenges? And what have been some of the things that have helped you?
Through my experiences with MinorMynas, I think that my key lessons were to place focus on the work rather than what others say, that collaboration is the means to make any idea a reality, and to manage one’s time consciously.

I think my key challenges were definitely technology and getting investment. While I’m learning to code, I’m definitely not at the stage where I can programme the entire MinorMynas app, so we had to outsource. This meant that when the time came to build v2, we had to spend a lot of time speaking to many different teams and companies to find the right partner. As for investment, it definitely does get a little hard to negotiate when you legally can’t be invested in. To deal with this problem, I’ve started self-funding MinorMynas through speaking fees.

What would you say to other young women who have an ambition or an idea but might not feel confident enough to pursue them?
Go ahead and do it anyway. You can dream about an idea or plan endlessly, but without executing them, they simply remain ideas. No matter what you do and where, there will always be people who tell you that you can’t do it, whether it is based on your gender, race or beliefs. You can’t change what they say, but what you can do is to pursue your ambitions/dreams.

You created your app as a place where children could be safe online. How would you say technology is changing how children interact with the world today? And in turn, how is that changing the world?
Technology has fundamentally changed the way people interact with one another, not to even mention kids. As my generation is the first to grow up with social media since our birth, ensuring our safety and creating a space for us IS the way to change the world. If we can make this generation engage online in ways to actively learn in a fun and supportive community, I think we can change the world of tomorrow.

According to your bio, you enjoy reading. What is your favorite kind of book?
I absolutely love politics, history, and philosophy books. Recently I read the origins of political order, creating freedom, and SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome.