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Shirin  Laor-Raz Salemnia

Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia

Founder & CEO of PlayWerks

Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia

Founder & CEO of PlayWerks


Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia is the Founder and CEO of PlayWerks, an independent interactive media company that creates high-quality, innovative, multi-platform immersive experiences for children and adults. She is also the Founder of WhizGirls Academy, where students engage in exciting projects that help them acquire tech and digital literacy skills including coding, developing as entrepreneurs, and learning about healthy balanced lifestyles. They become more confident and engaged as members of the community. WhizGirls Academy has currently reached over 5000 students and continues to grow and thrive.

Blame it on Pac-Man — and those Super Mario Brothers, too. Shirin's entré to tech as child was through gaming, but it was really seeing the movie "Big" that set her on her path. Inspired by Josh, the character played by Tom Hanks, she was determined to find a way to make a difference in the world through toys and play.

Shirin began her professional career at Mattel working on Barbie, then at MGA Entertainment as the Brand Manager for the billion dollar Bratz brand. She analyzed industry trends, consumer motivations and competitor activity. At MGA, she was also responsible for designing the Play Lab, where children would gather for in-house research.

She is actively involved in Women in Gaming, an advisor to the LA Film School Video Game Department, Woodbury University, Santa Monica College, USC, Girls in Tech, and the White House Council on Women and Girls.

In 2013, Shirin hosted the first Hackathon for Women and Girls in collaboration with the White House Council on Women and Girls. In 2014, she hosted Kids Hack for LA in collaboration with Mayor Garcetti, the White House, and will.i.am's i.am.angel Foundation. She also presented at the TedxYouth conference in Los Angeles, CA: “Are You a Gamer or a Gardener?”

In March 2015, she was honored by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin as LA City Pioneer Woman of the Year. Shirin is a Disruptor Foundation (Tribeca) Innovation Fellow.

She has been identified as a thought leader in the area of tech inclusion, gaming, education, edtech and innovation, and has spoken on the topic at events such as Google Business Leaders, TedX, Digital Hollywood, KIN Global, Singularity University Global Summit, Colorado Innovation Network, Donnell Kay Foundation, Game Developers Conference, Milken Institute Global Conference and many others.

Speaker Videos

TEDTalk: Are you a Gamer or a Gardener?

Getting Girls Excited About STEM

Code Games: From Idea to Game Concept

Shake up the Gaming Space

Time Warner Interview

Speech Topics

Education Metaverse

The metaverse is a digital universe that can be accessed through virtual and augmented reality. Not only does it involve entire VR or virtual reality spaces, it also allows a layer of digital information to be overlaid on to the real world though digital headsets or glasses. This will change education systems across the world because, simply, the metaverse will allow anything to become a learning opportunity. Herein lies a key benefit of learning in the metaverse; it can "gamify" learning. In other words, the virtual, collaborative and task-oriented nature of the metaverse will allow children to learn without them realizing it, which is the holy grail of education.

Companies like Roblox have gone all in with a new $10 million fund to support the creation of online learning experiences that take advantage of its platform’s unique way of letting users play, explore, and socialize in an endlessly evolving virtual world. Remember the movie Ready Player One? Imagine how education can be immersive when you pick your avatar and explore your life and learn in the virtual world. Within the new world of web3 it is all about connectivity and interactive experiences.


NFT's are non fungible tokens, prove ownership of a digital item that you can charge as much as you want for. Education NFT’s a system of accrediting becomes more democratized. Education can become more equitable and open. Instructors can be compensated in accordance with the value they provide. They start to become their own brand or “institution.” Students create demand, take more ownership of their education and can get more excited about learning and actively seek out ways to “collect” experiences. In terms of career, this system allows for a more robust and effective résumé but also allows for more opportunities to interface with companies. Education Dao -(Decentralized Autonomous Organization) education platform where kids have a say in what they learn. Coming to a community near you. Even Virtual lands are selling for millions of dollars. Are you ready to be a part of the digital revolution?

From Ideation to Product

You get a spark of inspiration and you follow your journey to create from scratch. JK Rowling came up with Harry Potter from a hit of inspiration on a train delay. Sara Blakely created Spanx because she needed to look good in her white pants. Hedy Lamarr was an actress and inventor who pioneered the technology that would one day form the basis for today’s WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth communication systems. Learn how you can take your inspiration into a new innovation on the market. Inspiration can come from anywhere you can learn what tools you need to launch a product from a spark of an idea to a line of items.