The 2017 Season Begins! Code for Change

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“What would the world look like if only 20 percent of women knew how to write?” That’s the question YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki poses at the start of her recent post on Google’s blog announcing Google’s partnership with Global Citizens for the Global Citizen Fest – and their partnership with Iridescent and UN Women for the 2017 season.

As Wojcicki points out in her post, we lose out immeasurably when only a fraction of people have developed a skill, and as technology transforms our world more and more, a great deal is at stake when the majority of women don’t know how to write code. 

As registration opens for the 2017 season and we begin another year of inviting girls around the world to share their visions for change and then create that change using code, we are proud to be doing so in partnership with Google’s Made with Code and UN Women.

This year you’ll notice that we’re asking teams to solve problems that align with some key Global Goals as identified by the United Nation (poverty, environment, peace, and equality). Join us to Lead the Change in 2017 and help create the blueprint for a better world through code.

Register for the 2017 Technovation season here, or learn more about how you can participate and add your voice to the global movement through Made with Code.

Do you feel the same?

This piece was composed by Tara Chklovski, founder and CEO of Iridescent, to recognize the achievements of all Technovation program participants

Do you feel the same?

Tara Chklovski

I failed at something that I had worked all my life to try to accomplish.
Has that ever happened to you?
It shakes your confidence. You don’t know what is real anymore.
You don’t have a foundation.
Your image of yourself is shattered.

I went under a shell. It was warm.
But I got restless.
I wanted to do something big, something larger than myself
Something that would help improve the lives of others.

I decided to start something new — a nonprofit
That would inspire children all over the world
To change their own worlds for the better
Because children often know best

But starting is so hard.
I had never started anything before in my life.
I didn’t know how to.
Would I be successful?
What is success anyway?
Does success even matter?
Who defines success and labels it as such?
Have you ever wondered that?

I was scared to start.
But then my husband dared me to start.
And I did.

That was ten years ago.
Iridescent is a global education nonprofit now
Helping thousands of young people
Change their worlds around them
By innovating and being brave.

I needed a little push, even if it was just a trivial dare.

Did Technovation give you that little push?
To program a mobile app?
To launch a startup?

If someone asked you last year, “Are you a technology entrepreneur?”
What would you have said then?
What would you say today?

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Alumni Spotlight: Nathalia Goes

 

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We recently had the chance to talk with Natalia Goes, a 2013 Technovation alumni and an active ambassador for Technovation Brazil. We wanted to hear about what she’s been up to since participating in the program in 2013, and what advice she has for young women interested in tech. 

Tell us about yourself!

Today I am a chemistry student at the hackday22largest university in Brasil (University od São Paulo) and I work in the operations of Technovation in Brazil. Technovation changed my life 3 years ago, so when I had the opportunity to give back and help change the life of the girls in Brasil I had to help! The program grew a lot in the past years and to be a part of this is a really intense learning experience in my life!
I’m really lucky to work with something that I’m passionate about!!

Since I participated in Technovation I started a few courses about coding, but I really focused in learning more about AppInventor, so today I can help not only the girls participating in Technovation but also anyone who wants to start learning how to code.

Who or what inspired you to pursue tech/Technovation? Who is your role model in tech?
Participating in Technovation in 2013 I met my mentor, who was a big inspiration (and help) during the competition, but still is a big inspiration in my life for everything she has done and for her story.

And in tech I’m really inspired by Sheryl Sandberg, for all her positioning as a strong woman and her struggle for women in tech and business carreirars.

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IBM hosts Technovation students from across the Bay Area for a day of innovation and technology

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On January 23rd, high school students flocked to the TechLAB Innovation Center for a day-long workshop for Technovation participants, sponsored by IBM. Students were treated to hands-on activities that explored the IBM Bluemix platform, which provides users with all the components necessary to build a functioning app in the Cloud.

The day started with a tutorial by JeanCarl Bisson, Technical Evangelist for IBM Cloud, on how to build an app that could test the temperature of a room and adjust a thermostat accordingly. Then, the students were challenged to think of their own app ideas and develop them using the Bluemix platform.

Students came with varying coding experience and were equally successful at developing ideas for their new apps. One group of students developed an idea for an app that alerts users if there is a fire in their home. Another group of girls identified the problem of keeping track of all their homework assignments. In order to address this problem, their app would not only keep a running list of the student’s assignments, but it would also alert the student each hour to give her an update on her progress. That way, the student would be able to stay on track and insure that all of her assignments are completed by the end of the night.

“The students amazed us with their innovative ideas. They were having fun and realizing that app design isn’t just for guys. If we can work with organizations like Technovation to get this message across to girls everywhere, it could go a long way in closing the gender gap,” said Kristina Vasquez, IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs

“Technovation is proud to partner with IBM to bring innovative technology to our participants,” said Allie Holmes, Events and Engagement Director at Technovation. “The skills developed at today’s workshop will help these students as they continue to develop their apps and navigate technology beyond the Technovation Challenge,”

Technovation’s registration is still open for the 2016 season, which takes place from February to April. Interested students and mentors can register at my.technovationchallenge.org.

Alumni Spotlight: Emma Yang

We recently had the chance to talk with Emma Yang, who was a 2015 finalist and as part of team AAT pitched the Concussion Checker app at World Pitch last summer. We caught up with Emma and talked about what inspires her, how code can be a superpower, and her advice for other girls in tech.

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Tell us about yourself!

My name is Emma Yang, I’m eleven years old and a seventh grader at The Brearley School in New York. I was born in Hong Kong and spent ten years there before moving to New York City in August 2014. I come from a family with a diverse background. My father was born in Beijing, China, my Mom grew up in Vietnam, my paternal grandparents were from Indonesia, and I travel to the US almost every 10 months to visit my maternal grandparents and have since I was 6 months old. Because of that I was exposed to multicultural traditions and customs and developed a love for many different cuisines. Chinese dumplings, Vietnamese Pho, Hainanese chicken rice, and lasagna were among my favorites.

My Dad is a Computer Scientist and my Mom is a Mathematician. One might think I might be a math or computer whiz right from the beginning because of this. Much to the contrary, when I was a young child, I was always more inclined toward literature and writing. I loved to read and write. When I was eight, my Dad introduced me to Scratch and I picked it up right away. After learning Scratch, I learned HTML and CSS to develop web pages, and Mindstorms NXT to program robots. It was almost like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, I suddenly felt that I could have a super power through coding, it was magical! I started to realize that coding can really change the world, whether it’s a tool, an education app or a health tracking device. All of them have the potential to change people’s lives.

We came across Technovation in the Winter of 2015. I always know that diversity is a problem and girls and women are still a minority in the tech world. I know through my own experience that ability is not a problem. It’s the stereotypical mindset that we need to change. It’s cool to be a “geek” and there is nothing wrong for girls to be “geeks”. Technovation gives us an opportunity to demonstrate that to the world. I know I have found something really special.

Who or what inspired you to pursue tech? Who is your role model in tech?

I was inspired to pursue tech by how the advancement of technology has the

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Emma at the 2015 GEMtech awards

potential to make a huge impact on the way we solve issues that we face now and in the future. I realized that something as simple as a faster way to evaluate concussions has the power to prevent people from getting seriously hurt and even save lives.

My role model in tech is my Dad, who has not only guided me through the process of learning how to code, and also the discipline needed. During Technovation, I faced many challenges. One of them was I had to learn how to code the entire app using MIT App Inventor by myself, having very limited knowledge in programming mobile applications. This pushed me to further pursue tech by learning how to code in Java and Swift. My favorite programming language is Swift, a new language from Apple for developing iOS apps. Swift not only combines a lot of good characteristics from different popular languages and also some new powerful features.

What advice would you give to young women interested in going into tech?

For other young women interested in going into technology, I would tell them to never stop trying. If you have an idea, don’t be afraid to pursue it, even if people keep telling you that it is hard and impossible. If this is what you like, don’t make up excuses for not trying, because there are always opportunities out there.

Speaking of opportunities, I would strongly suggest girls who are interested in coding to participate in Technovation. Not only will you get the invaluable end-to-end “start-up like” experience of ideation, coding, business plan development, and pitching, but equally importantly you will be able to connect with other girls of the same interest and ambition in your school, city, country, and even the world! You will find out that there are so many of “us” out there, so many people are around to support you, and it is just so cool to be a “geek”!

Girls Using Technology to Solve Important Community Problems Girls Make Apps with Salesforce

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At 9:00am on Saturday, January 16th, while many girls were probably just getting out of bed, more than 40 dedicated and enthusiastic young women flocked to Salesforce in San Francisco. The middle school and high school students spent five hours working alongside Salesforce volunteers to learn the basics of
App Inventor, a block-based coding program. The young women also began brainstorming potential problems in their communities that could be addressed through a mobile app solution. 

These girls are all participating in the Technovation Challenge, a global technology entrepreneurship program for young women. Through a 12-week curriculum, teams of girls (age 10 to 18) work together with professional mentors to imagine, design, and develop a mobile app and business plan to address a need within their community, then pitch their “startup” business to judges. The top ten Technovation teams from around the world are invited to Silicon Valley to pitch their apps live to a panel of judges for the chance to win $10,000 in seed funding.

As a part of Salesforce’s 1-1-1 model, Technovation was treated to a wonderful space, passionate volunteers, and a delicious lunch (and snacks!) to make this day possible for the participants.

At the workshop, girls were treated to an overview of App Inventor by David Wolber, a computer science professor at USF and a member of the MIT App Inventor Board of Advisors. Professor Wolber taught the basic components needed to build a successful app with App Inventor — a block based coding program that’s easy for beginners to catch onto quickly yet robust enough for experts to use to build complex applications. Then, the girls were taught how to make their very own Raffle App, which collected phone numbers via text message and called a random winning number. The girls had the opportunity to explore App Inventor and the Raffle App further by building out their own features. Professor Wolber took the time to answer specific questions from the girls in order to help them debug their own apps!

Following a delicious lunch generously donated by Andrea Leszek’s team, the girls were treated to a panel of engaging female technology professionals, including Salesforce’s own Lead Software Engineer, Stephanie Ortiz, and Senior Director, Global Events, Joan Yanabu. The panel shared information about their roles as tech entrepreneurs, researchers, and engagement managers. They talked about the skills that helped them be successful in their roles, such as collaboration, risk taking, patience with themselves, accepting failure, and being open-minded. The panelists touched on how their major in college related to their career today. Many discussed how their college major did not necessarily define their career. College was more of a time of finding their voice, finding a great mentor, and joining a collegiate team that helped prepare them for success later in life.

The afternoon was chock-full of brainstorming community problems, like coping with the drought, helping people with financial problems, and keeping pedestrians safe. The problem identification led to some impressive potential mobile application solutions, which each team presented to the audience at the end of the day. One team is planning a mobile app that would use sensors to tell pedestrians how fast a car or moving object was heading towards them to warn them of the danger. It would also report an incident to police or 911.

When asked what they thought of the day, one student responded, “Everything went really well! I was excited prior to the event and it exceeded my expectations.”

Another student simply exclaimed, “LOVED IT!”

In addition to this workshop, Salesforce supports Technovation in a number of ways, both financially and through volunteer support. Salesforce supported Technovation in piloting a Mentor Training Program with 35 Salesforce volunteers this November and December. The feedback received from Salesforce employees led to key improvements to the training. In the end, more than 500 Technovation mentors and coaches registered to take part in the online training webinar series in January and are now set-up for success in leading Technovation teams this season. Over the past two years, 16 Salesforce judges and 27 mentors have volunteered to support Technovation. Salesforce is also funding Technovation’s expansion into Toronto. Thanks to their support Toronto has 49 students, 7 mentors and 4 coaches participating in Technovation in 2016.

 

Save the date for Technovation’s World Pitch Event on July 13th and 14th, where you will have the chance to hear from Technovation teams from around the world as they pitch their apps live to a panel of judges!

 

If you are interested in volunteering or learning more about Technovation, please complete this brief form and someone from the Technovation team will be in touch.

Alumni Spotlight: Victoria Adetuyi

We had the chance to talk to Victoria Adetuyi, who participated in Technovation in 2011, and is currently the Program Development Fellow at Empower Generation, an intern at the Tory Burch Foundation and working towards her Masters of Science in Sustainability Management at Columbia University. Victoria took time from her very busy schedule to answer some of our questions and share her insight with the Technovation community.

Tell us about yourself!

Currently, I am interning at the Tory Burch Foundation, the Screen-Shot-2015-11-23-at-8.24.10-PMmission of the foundation is to provide women with access to tools and resources that allow them to thrive in the business world. The foundation understands that when women have access to capital, education, and resources they are more equipped to succeed.  We have a variety of partnerships that provide women with the tools that improve their business acumen. In parallel I am also the Program Development Fellow of a social enterprise called Empower Generation. Empower Generation works primarily in Nepal to support women micro-entrepreneurs who distribute solar technology in the region. This not only gives the community access to energy but it also empowers women as they drive their own businesses.

These two internships and fellowships have been great as I work on a masters of science in the area of Sustainability Management at Columbia University.  An interest area of mine has always been women’s empowerment and ways to create more opportunities for women in a changing global environment.  Being a California native, I have found that New York has provided the right atmosphere for me to jump outside of my comfort zone and learn at a new pace about an area I am really passionate about.

What’s your favorite part of being an entrepreneur?

Although I am not an entrepreneur, my previous role was a Program Assistant for the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship based in Silicon Valley.  At the Miller Center, our flagship program is the GSBI Accelerator Program.  This accelerator program brings in mezzanine cohorts of entrepreneurs and pairs them with Silicon Valley mentors who aid them in improving their businesses through capacity building. Not too different from Technovation, after 8 months of program development and training these social entrepreneurs pitch their businesses in search for investment, additional funding, or partnerships. My favorite part of being a part of the Miller Center was engaging with passionate, driven, talented entrepreneurs whose technology and creations are changing the world.  These social enterprises are working with the base of the pyramid, changing lives through their work.  Our mission at the Center is to impact 1 billion lives by 2020, and to me that is such a remarkable goal that no matter where you land you never fall short.

 

Who or what inspired you to become an entrepreneur? Who is your role model?

My inspirations to one day become an entrepreneur stem from our planetary status. The global environmental problems that exist today should inspire us to choose a new framework of action and an alternative paradigm. With climate change increasing, food shortages, and the overall changes we are and will be experiencing we need new technology, innovative minds, and forward thinking individuals to make these changes happen faster.  My role model and sources of inspiration I would say are women in various parts of the world who are thriving despite difficulties and adversities they face on a daily basis. Despite the difficulties in accessing education or the threats to their homes and environment, the women that still push forward to achieve their hopes and dreams serve as my inspiration.

 

What advice would you give to young women interested in going into technology or entrepreneurship?

My advice would be to never give up. Although you will face challenges and maybe the idea you start off with isn’t what you end with, but at the end of the day fail, but then get up, and try again.  A remarkable part of entrepreneurship is the ability to start from scratch and to persevere.

Creation and innovation will always present challenges but an important part of the journey is how you cope and your attitude through it all. Also, utilize the resources around you, from programs like Technovation to people around you, who are more willing to help than we think. At the end of the day as long as you stay true to yourself and are willing to work hard you would be surprised at how great the outcomes turn out to be!

 

Has Technovation shaped your career in any way?

Through Technovation, my eyes were opened to the vast amount of opportunities that exist for women in the tech world.  In a traditional high school academic route we focus on “basic” subjects which are extremely useful but we often are not exposed to the world of tech. Technovation provided me with skills that I have used in my most recent work experiences. Understanding business plans, pitching, marketing research, target market, product development, competition, are all topics that were covered in Technovation and are all items that I encounter on a daily basis in my professional career.  Technovation provides women with a leg-up in the industry and helps to illuminate what is out there, opening new doors for the career paths of women and girls.

"Just start somewhere, and start today" Advice from Stacey Ferreira

We recently had the chance to talk to Stacey Ferreira, the author of 2 Billion Under 20, a 2015 Thiel Fellow, and the founder of Forrge. She has excellent advice to offer to young women interested in becoming entrepreneurs stemming from first-hand experience building two businesses.

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Tell us about yourself!

I grew up in Arizona. At 18, I moved out of the house to Los Angeles and started my first business with my brother, Scott and our friend, Shiv Prakash. When I was 20, we sold the business to Reputation.com, where I worked as a product marketing manager. Last year, I went to NYU and while I was there, St. Martin’s Press published my first book, 2 Billion Under 20: How Millennials Are Breaking Down Age Barriers and Changing the World.  This year, with the Fellowship, I stopped college to build Forrge, an on-demand hourly workforce for retail.

 

What’s your favorite part of being an entrepreneur?

Learning by doing. There is no textbook that tells you the steps to follow. Every day is an experiment and our success as a company depends on our ability to learn as fast as possible and map those learnings with market opportunities, market timing and our gut.

 

Who or what inspired you to become an entrepreneur? Who is your role model?

Video games are what inspired me to get involved in technology. I eventually fell in love with the concept that anyone could essentially build a fictional world that others could live in. In middle school, my brother and I decided we wanted to build our own game, so we started learning to code. Once I graduated high school, my brother and I realized we didn’t quite have the skill or manpower needed to build a game, but wanted to build something regardless. We asked our parents if we could start a company with our programming skills, rather than get an internship and it all snowballed from there.
My biggest role models are, first and foremost, my parents. I’m fortunate to have parents who recognize that an education is the most valuable investment parents can make in their child’s life, and that “education” doesn’t always mean a four year degree. Over the past 23 years of my life, I’ve seen them work endlessly to try to provide every opportunity for my brother and me to learn. From a young age, they began teaching me the importance of hard-work and balance by living it in practice. This leading by example is how I strive to live my life today.

 

Tell us about a challenge you’ve faced with your business, and how you’ve overcome it.

Challenges come in all shapes and sizes when you’re starting a business. But once you get to a certain point, most of your challenges revolve around people (or lack-thereof). Running your own company involves getting feedback from potential customers about your idea and prototype, fielding questions from parents and friends who wonder why you’re not working a “normal job,” selling your idea and vision to your team members to keep people motivated and selling your idea and vision to your investors so you can help your team members be the kind of parents I had when I was growing up.

And when you’re running a company, the biggest person you have to deal with is yourself and your own mindset. Right now, I’m in the middle of fundraising and hiring, so it means taking a lot of meetings to try to identify the right people who understand the vision to partner with or bring onto the team. My general philosophy on meetings is that most of the time they deter people from being productive, so I try not to schedule any meetings that don’t absolutely need to happen. So the biggest challenge I’m facing personally in work is recognizing that these meetings are vital to the success of the business because funding and hiring are two of the most important items at this stage in the business.

 

What advice would you give to young women interested in going into technology or entrepreneurship?

There is never a “right time,” so just start reading blogs, talking to people and start learning and building. Today, more than ever, there are endless resources, so just start somewhere and start today.

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

When you’re starting a business, your support system and the people you surround yourself with are some of the most important factors in success. I’d encourage all young entrepreneurs to seek out organizations like the Thiel Fellowship Summits and to reach out to role models on social media (I met Richard Branson, who invested in my first company, through Twitter). Today, more than ever, it’s easy to get yourself in a room with people you look up to — and sometimes those people can make all the difference.

 

Stacey Ferreira is the author of 2 Billion Under 20 and the founder of Forrge. Ferreira is a 2015 Thiel Fellow.

Dharavi Girls Create Mobile Apps Through Technovation

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Six years ago, Slumdog Millionaire attracted international attention to the challenges of slum life in India, and was one of several attempts to capture the grit of the slum dwellers in India. More recently, Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers has also attracted a great deal of attention for its exploration of similar themes—juxtaposing the impressive 21st century developments in Mumbai with the expectations and hopes of those living in the slums.

These and many other narratives continue to tell the story of hope simmering in the hearts of millions of Indians.

The socio-economic divide in India has long been appalling, but the advent of new technology (cable television, access to internet, affordable mobile phones, mushrooming availability of crash courses in English language and expansion of BPO job opportunities) is changing the centuries old rich/poor dynamic in India. India’s social landscape is a living testimonial to Technology’s equalizing power as youth from the challenged community sections are using technology in myriad ways to break away from the cycle of poverty and create a new future for themselves and their families. Technovation, a technology entrepreneurship program for young girls (10-18 years), has allowed a group of girls from the slums of Dharavi in Mumbai to develop and apply their problem solving and technical skills within a technological context. Offered through the Dharavi Diary, a slum innovation project, Technovation is impacting the lives of young girls in the slums, encouraging them to become creators and users of technology.

Girls from 2015 Technovation in Dharavi share what this program means for them:

Sapna (13 years old) – I never ever dreamt that I will be able to work on laptops and learn coding as my parents earn very little. My mother works as a laborer at construction site and my father is a house interior painter. Through Dharavi Diary Leadership skills workshop and Technovation I have learnt so much about power of technology. Now I dream to improve my family income by learning news digital tools to break the cycle of poverty.

Ansuja (14 years old) – Through Technovation Dharavi program run by Dharavi Diary, i am inspired to make a difference in my community. I am learning digital tools and leadership skills. My father died in a road accident last year. I was depressed but when this program started in my neighborhood, I got new hope, zeal, courage to fight, learn and share new tools with my community.

Deepali (12 years old) – My father doesn’t work after his head injury. My mother is a housewife. Our economic situation is always an issue. I am learning how to make mobile apps from this program. I will learn all things needed to make my family financial situation better.

 

Learning to Empower

 

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Guest Post by Veena Basavaraj, Engineer at Cloudera and Technovation 2015 Mentor.

I am Veena and I live in the bay area and been coding since 12 years. Since a few years I felt the need to grow and explore roles beyond just been an engineer or coder. I was introduced to the Techwomen mentorship via LinkedIn and realized how enriching and rewarding a mentorship can be. In the past 2 years I have met women from diverse fields and cultures, not just computer programming but other equally challenging fields of product ideation, business development, marketing, operations management etc. It made me realize that coding and building is just one small part of this fascinating experience of creating, building and executing an idea. It took me this long in my career to realize this, but thanks to the very thoughtfully designed Technovation program, I get to be a mentor to some amazing girls globally and help them understand all these aspects of ideation, coding and execution at their young age in the span of 3 months. This year I took up mentoring high school girls from Palestine – Team Archons and in one month of my mentorship I have seen them embrace this program and the excitement of building and owning their idea. I am learning to empower and help nurture their passion to create and execute on their idea. When I see them succeed every day it is an amazing feeling, thanks to Technovation.