5 Minutes With Julia, Harvard
May 14, 2021
In the past, I have found myself following a never ending cycle of overconsumption when it comes to social media; it always begins with a mindless scroll through platforms, which then leads to media fatigue. This is followed by me deleting my apps for a few weeks, and despite feeling proud about doing so, I redownload the apps soon after. And the cycle begins again.
During the pandemic though, this cycle came to a fast stop. When socializing and screen time became synonymous, I had no incentive to delete the most used icons off my phone.
I’m not alone in this line of thinking, and in Julia Mongomery’s case, she wanted to do something about it. Opting to defer her freshman year at Harvard, she spent the past year developing Capsula, an ethical platform that focuses on what social media should be.
For this week’s MMXXI story series, I had the chance to interview Julia about her gap year, the development of her app, and advice she has for other young women hoping to take on an entrepreneurial role.
Could you explain what exactly Capsula is?
Since we started working on Capsula in June 2020, The concept has evolved quite a bit. Simply put, Capsula is a private social media platform where all people, regardless of lifestyle, age, or background, can store their memories, both physical and digital.
Unlike popular photo sharing platforms, Capsula is against the mass consumption of photos. We don’t want to lose the meaning behind photos. Rather, we want to stay connected to the memories that happened behind the camera lens, tell that story, and live in the moment. It’s a platform for everything you want to remember, and be remembered for.
Rather, we want to stay connected to the memories that happened behind the camera lens, tell that story, and live in the moment.
How did you develop the idea for Capsula? And what is your role as Co-founder?
I have developed the idea for Capsula with my mom, and as co-founders, we each contribute unique perspectives that shape this multi-generational platform. We wanted to create a platform that focused on what technology should be, not what it can be.
For me, I witnessed the decline of mental health and overall quality of life that social media caused in my generation. My mom wanted to evoke the nostalgia of scrapbooking, written stories on the back of photos, and a return to genuine connections. We both have a content overload with no effective way to organize -much less appreciate, our memories. And we wanted to change that.
Currently, I am CEO, right now I'm wearing a lot of hats but moving forward it will be more defined.
How has your experience been as a young woman in tech? Any advice for other women if they are considering the field?
I have taken computer science classes, but I am by no means proficient enough to build out the whole back end of the app by myself. But my experience does provide me the perspective of what tech should be and not what it is. My focus is more on the front end.
The advice I would give other women in my position would be to surround yourself with a good team. Don’t let any doubt that you don't fit the mold for what you want to do hold you back. If you have the passion, an idea to execute, and good people behind you, then you're setting yourself up for success.
If you have the passion, an idea to execute, and good people behind you, then you're setting yourself up for success.
I saw that you graduated highschool during a pandemic, but took a gap year before going to school. I would love to hear about how you handled that experience, what you learned from it.
It all started when I was on spring break, and one week's delay turned into two, and we never went back. I expected to see everyone again, and it was really difficult that I could not. I kept up with my good friends, but still missed out on that goodbye experience. I know this has been an extremely difficult year for so many people and business, so instead of dwelling on regrets or ‘what ifs’, I’m embracing the positives of being with my family.
I had always felt ready for college, to move on and be independent. When I realized this wasn't going away any time soon, I decided to make the best of the situation, and started to map out Capsula with my mom.
Our Little Luxuries campaign focuses on celebrating small victories with the level of enthusiasm typically reserved for big accompaniments. What is a ‘small victory moment’ you’ve had recently?
I think hindsight makes it easier to define milestones; reflecting on the past has helped me define my successes, failures, and ultimately, how I evolve going forward. I think my ‘small victory’ is that we are almost done with the beta version of Capsula, but the whole process has been so rewarding!
Thank you Julia for taking the time to interview!