This past weekend, I had the honor of judging MassTLC 2017 Technovation Challenge. Saturday’s event was a regional pitch event, part of a larger global challenge that arms girls 10-18 years old with the necessary skills and know-how to become entrepreneurs and leaders within the tech and startup industries. Teams came from Massachusetts and Rhode Island eager to present new mobile app ideas ranging from bullying prevention to lobster trap tracking. All of their ideas identified a solution to better the world we live in today and boy, was I inspired.
Of course, when you spend a day seeing strong, intelligent girls from New England talking about mobile apps and business plans rather than prom dates and Tiger Beat (who knew this still existed?!?), you can’t help but feel all the feels!
The program has had more than 10,000 girls from 78 countries participate globally over the last 7 years, which has resulted in 26% of its alumnae going on to major in Computer Science in college.
There were several lessons that Technovation teaches young women in today’s unpredictable and competitive world that are good
for us all:
1. Become actively involved in the world around you (early and often)
It’s no wonder one of the sayings at Technovation is “Love the Problem.” These girls immerse themselves in a problem the world currently faces in order to address it in a meaningful way. Being truly passionate about change and finding unpredictable solutions is at the heart of what separates the good from the great – and we could certainly use more female leaders like this in the years to come.
2. The best ideas come when you step outside your own bubble
This year’s junior and senior winners of the regional pitch event in Boston both stood out to us because their idea wasn’t necessarily expected from a group of teenage girls, building an app for lobster trap and beehive tracking (respectively). What sold us on their mobile apps was how it empathized with an audience unrelated to their own familiar circle. They talked to fishermen/beekeepers and rooted their idea in others’ needs. Marketers with even decades of experience can lose sight of this principle and fall prey to “me”-search (“I think _____ therefore everyone else does, too.”)
3. Have confidence and conviction in your idea (it’s really all that matters)
Knowing how hard it is to be confident as a young girl, there is no bigger pressure test for confidence than pitching your own ideas in front of a room full of people and a judging panel. But, these girls had no trouble sharing their research, rationale and getting us on board. Believing in what you have to say and delivering messages with impact is a learned skill and these young ladies really stepped up.
4. Inspire everyone around you (it’s not just about you)
Courtesy and encouragement is expected at an event like this, but we were truly inspired by how the participants really backed each other up throughout the pitch process. Each girl clearly had their own specialty, and the others respected them for it. It’s a great reminder from these talented young ladies that we don’t always need to be at the center of discussion; lift each other up and everyone comes out on top.
It was an honor to be a judge at this year’s regional pitch event — shout outs to the middle school and high school girls kicking a** and taking names as the Technovation challenge continues worldwide!
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