Self-Taught Coder Builds App for Domestic Abuse Victims: An Interview With Alicia Carr

By Randi Zuckerberg

December 5, 2017 5 min read

I had the pleasure of interviewing Alicia Carr on my weekly business show, "Dot Complicated" on SiriusXM. I was blown away by her determination and innovation as both a female coder and a grandmother.

That's why I support this woman's work.

Alicia V. Carr is the first self-taught African-American female mobile developer to create a domestic violence app dedicated to helping victims escape abuse. Purple Evolution Inc., formerly The Purple Pocketbook, was established as an effort to empower women experiencing domestic violence with the tools required to develop a safe, secure exit plan.

1) What inspired you to learn how to code?

I was standing in line at the Apple store, buying my second-generation iPad, and I met this 16-year-old about to buy his own $800 iPad. I asked him how he got the money, assuming he was going to say washing windows, mowing lawns — you know, chores. Instead, he said he built an app and now has people working for him — a 16-year-old. I asked how he learned to code, and he told me YouTube. I turned to my husband and told him that's what I wanted to do, too.

So I started learning how to code in May 2012. It took me 1 1/2 years to learn Objective-C. In January 2014, I started building my first app.

2) After teaching yourself how to code, you moved on to become the director of Women Who Code's Atlanta chapter. What was that process like?

I joined the Atlanta iOS Meetup group in 2012, which was mostly men at the time. I thought, "Why don't I start a women's group?" So I started the WiOS Meetup group that was connected to the Atlanta iOS group. Sadly, it didn't get the interest I had hoped for, until early 2014, when I joined Women Who Code. I was so excited to be with other ladies wanting to connect and learn from each other. That's when I got the idea to reinvent the WiOS developer group. This time, it was successful with WWCode. I became so active over my two years working with Erica Stanley, founder/director of WWCode Atlanta, and Alaina Percival, CEO/founder of WWCode, that they felt I was an excellent fit for the director of the Atlanta chapter. So now I can put that on my developer resume, to boot.

3) What about the way domestic violence is being treated in Atlanta made you decide to elicit change yourself?

Currently, this nation is home to 1,500 shelters for battered women. Within the next five years, more than 2,000 shelters will open their doors for women to seek refuge — yet with more than 24 million women falling victim to domestic violence each year, there's a number problem. Being a child of domestic violence myself, I felt the need to fight for those who can't fight for themselves. Too many people are in trouble and need help. The app I created provides that help, allowing domestic abuse survivors to get out of their situation safely.

4) Why the name Purple Evolution?

Our original name was The Purple Pocketbook, but it was too similar to Purple Purse. People were getting confused. Now we're Purple Evolution Inc.

Purple is the color of domestic violence, and "Evolution" is for the victims who must evolve from the abuse they have withstood. Purple Evolution is empowering. PEVO is the name of the domestic violence app.

5) How can women help one another to reach their best selves?

We have to be each other's cheerleader, champion and superhero. We have to support each other and in times of defeat say, "Don't give up. You can do it." No matter how old or young we are, we can help each other grow.

We're in this together, and change only happens when we're all on the same team — fighting for each other, not against.

Randi Zuckerberg is the founder of Zuckerberg Media, a best-selling author and the host of a weekly business show on SiriusXM, "Dot Complicated." To find out more about Randi Zuckerberg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

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