Over 500 people converged at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Sunday for the 2nd Annual Appapalooza, which serves as the live pitch portion of the Technovation Challenge.
The 12 week curriculum gives teams consisting of middle school to high school aged women the opportunity to see their mobile app idea through from start to finish.
According to Shawn Stavseth, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Technovation MN, the goal of the challenge is “to have girls understand how they can use technology to solve the problems that they’re facing.”
Operating under the Code Savvy nonprofit umbrella, Technovation’s challenge started in Minnesota last year, with 12 teams participating. This year, 6 high school and 22 middle school teams completed their projects on time to be considered for the next step in the competition.
As one of the largest sites, Minneapolis was able to send one high school, and three middle school teams on to the next level. These Regional Winners are now one step away from the Global Finals held in San Francisco. In those finals, one team from each category will receive $10,000 in seed money for their app idea.
This year’s judging rubric included multiple factors in both objective and subjective categories. The objective score contained items related to ideation, technical, and entrepreneurial performance, whereas the subjective portion qualified the overall appeal of the application and pitch.
The participants from the high school level team that will be advancing to the semi-final rounds were from Trinity School at River Ridge and Connections Academy. Ivy Liu (R) and Tracey Treat (L) named their team TechnovationMN-IT. Their application, AbroadNet, provides information about foreign schools, and gives students a platform to connect with these schools, and other students, both at home, and abroad. The goal is to help students find out more about studying abroad, and help them establish a network of contacts prior to arriving in that country.
Both young women appreciated the help they received from their mentors. “I thought it was going to be easy, but I learned a lot, and now I can teach others,” Tracey said of the experience. Ivy echoed that sentiment, “I learned about teamwork and how to express your ideas.”
The support doesn’t end with the close of the competition. Technovation MN also helps the alumni from the program to integrate into the technology community by making connections and assisting them with finding internships, getting them access to conventions or conferences and ensuring that they are aware of other ongoing educational opportunities.
Abbie Tuckner further emphasized the importance of events like Technovation in her keynote speech: “We need young women in technology, and we needed them there yesterday.”
The Technovation Challenge, and other events centered on women in technology continue to grow, and provide young women the tools necessary to compete in technology careers.