Anne-Laure Le Cunff is an ex-Googler and the founder of Ness Labs, an award-winning product studio based in London. Her work, which focuses on wellness, creativity, and culture, has been featured in mainstream publications such as Forbes, WIRED, Rolling Stone, and Cosmopolitan, with awards from Product Hunt, Women in IT, Tech Women, The Drum, and more.
In addition to running her company, she studies neuroscience at King’s College. Passionate about the weird ways our mind works, her goal is to build products and create content that helps us become better humans.
Half-French, half-Algerian, and living in the UK, she feels strongly about diversity in tech, and runs #diversity30, a project celebrating the work and stories of diverse makers and creators. She also created Maker Mag, a participatory magazine for indie makers.
WITH GROUPS CREATING PROGRAMS TO ENCOURAGE FEMALES TO CONSIDER STEM, WHAT IS THE BIGGEST BARRIER TO ENTRY THAT IS STILL PREVALENT TODAY?
One of the major barriers is the lack of visible women in STEM. You can’t be what you can see, and aspirations are still very much shaped by social norms. We need more non-stereotypical role models to show women and other minorities that there is a place for them in STEM.
There is research showing that young girls have internalised beliefs that boys are better in math and science. I was one of these girls. I absolutely loved science and technology as a kid but never considered it a career path. I’m now learning how to code and I’m pursuing an MSc in neuroscience, but it took years to find the confidence.
WHAT OR WHO INSPIRES YOU?
I’m inspired by people who use science and technology to create their own unique path. Tae'lur Alexis going from fast-food server to UX Engineer in six months. She’s now working on a project to inspire more people to learn how to code. Greg Dunn, who is both a neuroscientist and an artist, crafting beautiful visuals of the brain. Indie makers coming together to organise a fixathon to tackle climate change.
What they have in common is that they broke free of the usual fixed mindset and started imagining a world where they could do whatever they want. And what they’re doing is pretty awesome.
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT/ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Leaving Google to start my own company was one of the scariest but also one of the proudest moments of my adult life. It wasn’t easy to leave a great team behind and to try and start something of my own. I still haven’t figured everything out, and it will probably never be the case, but I have never looked back.