Episode 11: Iman Oubou

Former Miss NY Shatters Stereotype That Beauty and Brains Can’t Coexist

After immigrating to the U.S. from Morocco as a teenager, Iman Oubou had to learn not only a new language, but also a new culture. She quickly adapted and went on to earn degrees in biochemistry and biomedical engineering, as well as to become Miss New York. When a pageant judge asked her if she’d rather have beauty or brains, it spurred Oubou’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Fast forward to today, and Oubou is cultivating an online community, Swaay, for women to celebrate prowess in business and beauty — however they define both — without having to compromise either. Want to find out more? You’ll get it all on this episode of SheVentures.


Key Moments

  • 03:23 The American dream is alive and well. Learn how Iman Oubou’s parents sacrificed everything to bring her and her brother to the “land of opportunity.”
  • 06:00 — Oubou discusses how being “all the minorities in one person” has affected her and her career.
  • 9:21 Find out what drew this biomedical engineer to a STEM career in the first place, and why she thinks women are often discouraged from pursuing this field.
  • 12:05 When a beauty pageant judge asked Oubou if she would rather be beautiful or smart, how did she react?
  • 15:41 — Oubou delves into why she started her latest venture, Swaay Media, and the importance of creating an online community for women to share their personal stories and questions via a curated medium.
  • 27:56  In 2017, only 2.2 percent of women had successfully raised venture capital for their businesses today. Oubou talks about the struggles of getting funds and dealing with angel investors.
  • 31:00 — A meeting in L.A. was followed by an email to Oubou that read, “You don’t have to wear heels, you could wear sneakers.” First of all, who says she wore the heels for the investor? Oubou observes that a VC would never judge a man on his looks.  
  • 39:56 — Oubou reveals the characteristics of successful women.
  • 44:02 #MeToo: Oubou has dealt with sexual harassment in the business world and has advice for other women who are going through something similar right now.
  • 53:20 Oubou, an introvert, gives suggestions about how to be more confident.

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