Over the last few months, a handful of the awesome and smart women of Knewton have been working as mentors and guest speakers with the NYC Technovation Challenge, a program run by a nonprofit organization called Iridescent. The program encourages high school girls to pursue careers combining technology and entrepreneurship. The goal is to inspire them to see themselves not just as users of technology, but as inventors, designers, builders, and entrepreneurs.
Over the course of 10 weeks, teams of high school girls have been learning the basics of programming and developing Android phone applications using App Inventor. They also have weekly meetings with mentors and guest speakers at Google’s NYC headquarters; the meetings focus on entrepreneurship, marketing, and how to effectively pitch ideas to an audience.
- VP of Business Development Katie Kurtz led a great session with the girls on identifying the needs of target users and marketing a product toward them
- Lead User Experience Designer Jen Cullem walked the girls through what it means to create prototypes of their apps and how to think about the user’s perspective in the design process
- Even a former Knewtonian, front-end developer Ruxy Staicut, kicked off the guest speaker sessions by introducing the girls to mobile app development and what the current market looks like
We’re currently in the 9th of 10 weeks of the program, and the girls are all making some great progress (a few are even committing to meet up and work during their school vacations!). On April 25th, they’ll be making their final presentations at Google NYC to a panel of real venture capitalists who will choose a regional winning team from NYC to move on to the national competition in San Francisco.
Working with this program has been incredibly rewarding for all of us involved. And by the way, if you’re interested in attending Pitch Night, tickets are available on Eventbrite. And if you’re interested in learning more about the Technovation Challenge and Iridescent, here are a few other links to visit:
- a TechCrunch article about the 2010 pitch night event
- Huffington post article about their research-based approach
- a Forbes article about Iridescent’s Stories of Leadership event at Andreessen Horowitz last fall
- short video from the Spring 2011 Technovation program
- the apps from Technovation 2011
- the Technovation curriculum