Celebrations & Lessons Learned from Technovation Challenge

I want to introduce you to four inspiring and creative girls that I have gotten to know over the past 3-4 months.

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Meet Team Pandicorn from Balti, Moldova! Cami, Catalina, Olga, Sara (mentor), and Alexandra

We had been meeting about once or twice a week to work through the Technovation Challenge curriculum. Technovation Challenge is a world-wide technology entrepreneurship program where girls from middle school or high school form teams from all over the world to work through a 12 week course learning about entrepreneurship and how to build a phone app. I worked with these girls as their mentor guiding them through the content and their ideas during this competition.

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The girls working together on building their app during a hack event in Chisinau for Technovation Challenge. They got to meet some of the other teams from Moldova, get some feedback about their idea and meet some women who work in the IT field in Moldova.

The theme this year was for teams to develop a phone app and business plan to address a problem or issue in their community. Once teams determine an issue in their community, they must come up with a way to address this problem and create a business plan, pitch video, and phone app using the AppInventor program. Plus, this whole 12 week course is done in English and the project must be submitted in English as well. This is pretty challenging for teams whose second or third language is English… but my team was up for the challenge.

I have to say that this was one of the most challenging things that I have done so far… and also the most rewarding. These girls are hardworking, persistent, determined, smart, and very creative. They encouraged one another through the whole process and I got to see their confidence grow and their English improve. We all learned a whole lot during this process…probably more than I can even begin to explain.

The girls are presenting during the pitch event in Chisinau where they pitched their idea and presented to some of the other teams and tech professionals from Moldova.
The girls presenting during the pitch event in Chisinau where they pitched their idea and presented to some of the other teams and tech professionals from Moldova. The documentary crew from the #girlsintech film were there filming that day as well.

Even with all the obstacles we faced leading up to the deadline, the girls submitted their project with 30 minutes to spare at 2:30 AM (since the deadline was at 5 pm PST which was 3 am here in Moldova).

We met up a week after they submitted their project to celebrate and I wanted to debrief what we had just went through over the past couple of months. I asked them a few questions to follow up on the impact Technovation Challenge had on them, and I am happy to share that the results were quite positive.

To give a brief synopsis of their responses… they were all glad they participated and agreed that they learned a lot of new things and had fun. When I asked them what they liked most about Technovation Challenge, two of the girls replied that they liked making their pitch video (which I will share next week), one girl liked “building” the app part in AppInventor while another liked the new experience and things she learned and the support from their mentor (yay!). When I asked what they liked the least, one girl replied “there were times I wanted to sleep but I knew I had to go to Technovation” while another one said that the hardest part was choosing one community issue — which took them about 3-4 weeks to decide and agree upon.

What went well with your Technovation Challenge project?
Cami: “All went well except for the ‘presenting’ the app part on pitch day”
Alexandra: 2. “The ‘brainstorm’ part.”
Catalina: “The business plan.”
Olga: “Everything went well.”

What was the biggest challenge for you personally?
Catalina: “Building the blocks part in the AppInventor for the making the mobile app part sometimes.”
Alexandra & Cami: “Speaking English!”
Olga: “The biggest challenge for me was the “design of the app” part and sending the whole information to the Technovation site.”

What did you learn about yourself through this competition with your team?
Catalina: “I learned about myself that I can code.”
Cami: “I learned that I can reach goals if I want to.”
Alexandra: “I learned that I can improve my skills like speaking English.”
Olga: “I learned about myself that I like to work in a team and that I am capable to realize such a project.”

I asked them if they would do it again and they all agreed with a resounding YES! Then I asked them… now what? Now that they have learned some new skills, did they want to continue to learn more about IT and technology? … and the girls told me they wanted to continue to work on building their app and work on this idea to see if they could make it a reality regardless if they won or not. They have exceeded my expectations and they should be proud of the things they have learned and accomplished thus far.

So here’s some very exciting news… this past Saturday Technovation Challenge announced the semi-finalists for each region. Our team was one of 8 teams from Moldova that submitted complete projects in the Europe/Asia/Australia/New Zealand division… and they were selected as one of the semi-finalists!!! 

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Team Pandicorn made it into the semi-finals!! (What is a Pandicorn, you ask? Don’t worry, I had to ask too – it’s a panda bear and a unicorn together)

So now we wait until this weekend when they will announce the finalists of this world-wide competition. The judges will select 10 finalists who will then present their business idea and app in the world pitch event in San Francisco, CA in June.

I am so proud of these girls and all the hard work they put into their project to make a difference in their community. I will share the results next week along with their app idea and videos they submitted. Stay tuned!

[You can now read more about Team Pandicorn & their Technovation Challenge project here >> Meet Team Pandicorn]

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