Are You More Innovative Than a Middle Schooler?
On Friday, 26 ambitious young ladies ages 11 to 13 from various Philadelphia middle schools presented app ideas to a panel of mock investors at Villanova University.
“Demo Day” was the culmination of a week-long entrepreneur camp offered by TechGirlz, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering girls to be future leaders in tech. This summer marks the fifth year of camp, and 5,000 girls taught at camps nationally and internationally.
“We are big and we are audacious and we are going to keep making sure that girls understand that they can be part of this industry,” said Tracey Welson-Rossman, founder of TechGirlz.
The girls were hosted by Villanova University in the Idea Accelerator, where they spent the week working on their apps and hearing presentations from industry experts.
“It’s inspiring to see them inspired and exciting to see them excited,” said camp director Becca Refford. “For every girl we teach, we know that she’ll teach four more. It’s a powerful cycle.”
Each team presented their app idea to a panel of potential investors called the “Dolphin Pool,” a gentler version of the “Shark Tank.” Teams had to demonstrate their app and present their marketing strategy, target audience, and financial model.
Team Telegram designed a social media app that allows users to create customizable montages of photos, videos, and music. Other pitches included the the GreenClean app which incentivizes recycling by offering users points toward coupons and discounts and KidCash helps teens spend money more wisely. The SnapFashion team kicked their presentation off with a skit to show how their app comes to the rescue during a fashion emergency.
Keelyn, Dani, Alisha, Calea, Simone, and Emma designed “Circle of Food,” an app that keeps track of the contents of your refrigerator. The idea came from experiences in their own homes.
“A few days ago my mom bought three cartons of eggs because she thought that we didn’t have any,” Alisha told Philadelphia magazine. “And then my dad came home with three cartons of eggs. So now we have six cartons of eggs in our fridge.” A similar situation happened in Calea’s family, with tartar sauce. The girls decided to solve the problem with an app that could be shared amongst family members to avoid unnecessary purchases.
Keelyn and Emma worked together on the coding of the app with the help of a developer. “We got to actually code it, and I’d never really coded before so it was really cool to learn that aspect of it in the camp,” Keelyn said.
Based on their experiences at camp, the girls are excited by careers in different industry fields.
“I love building projects, so I’d like to go into some sort of technology development,” said Emma.
“I’m leaning towards more marketing and advertising,” said Simone.
After a few minutes of deliberation, the Dolphins returned to announce who they chose to invest with.
“I’m 24 years old and it made me feel really old,” said Anthony Nakkache, an investor representing his company Habitat, who chose to back SnapFashion and Circle of Food. “They’re thinking about their futures at such a young age, which is really encouraging.”