Five ninth graders from Bengaluru take the global tech stage by storm

9th Jul 2015
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Five girls, 400 teams, 60 countries, ONE winner!

Five young girls from Bengaluru made India proud at the Technovation challenge held in San Francisco recently.

yourstory-Pentechan
L-R (in pink) -Mahima, Navyasree, Swasthi , Sanjana and Anupama

Technovation is a global entrepreneurship program for young women in technology. It aims to introduce young girls globally to learn coding and pick up entrepreneurial skills.

We Tech (Women Enhancing Technology), led by Institute of International Education, supports an after school program for young girls in high school in India where they learn how to build mobile applications and present them on the global stage at Technovation.

The global competition goes through three rounds. In the preliminary round, this year, teams from 60 countries signed up with a total of 400 teams globally. And from 25 semi-finalists, 10 finalists made it to the global final in San Francisco. This year out of the four We Tech teams, two made it to the finals. This is a first ever from India and the team also qualified over the European and Australian regions.

The girls- Mahima, Navyasree, Swasthi , Sanjana and Anupama study in the ninth grade at New Horizon Public School in Bengaluru and are all 14 year olds. They call themselves Team Pentechans.

Their app is called Sellixo and this is what they had to say about it-

“Sellixo provides an easily accessible market place which helps people to get rid of their waste in the right manner by making it profitable to them. It provides the platform to connect the dry waste generators to the consumers.

Now users can buy and sell dry waste like any other commodity.

It targets local shopkeepers, apartment complexes, party halls and among the buyers, the scrap paper dealers and recyclers.

Sellixo provides an effective solution to the dumping of dry waste in India and also lessons the burden of the raddiwallas and the recyclers.”

The girls took up this issue as they realized that waste management is a widespread and relevant problem not only in India but also in any developing economy. They were also motivated by the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by our Prime Minister.

HerStory spoke with the young girls to know more about their Silicon Valley experience, what technology means to them and where do they see themselves a few years down the line:

Mahima Mehendale

Technology is the wonderful and exciting invention that is constantly being upgraded and can help to solve any problems in the society and can transform the world.

“At San Francisco, we pitched our idea in front of the judges and the audience and we also set up our poster explaining our theme and solution of our App to them.

It was a new and wonderful experience. It taught us how to work as a team and how productive we can be

L-R - Sanjana, Navyasree, Anupama, Swasthi and Mahima
L-R – Sanjana, Navyasree, Anupama, Swasthi and Mahima

as a team. We got to meet people from all over the globe and visit many technology companies like Twitter and Amazon. Interesting workshops and a great event were we were part of it.

This competition has taught me how to become an entrepreneur and how to pitch successfully.”

Sanjana Vasanth

 Sanjana has taken up Science, Maths and Computer Applications.

Technology is a platform to help realise your dream quicker.

“It has been an exhilarating experience. It has taught me to deal with unexpected situations and strengthened my resolve to pursue a career in technology. It was amazing, the exposure we got. We also met so many people from the corners of the globe. We learnt how to stay away from our parents.

I see my self in a prominent college, taking my masters in Computer sciences and making the big decision of whether I want to take Sellixo forward or not.”

Navyasree B

Navyasree has taken up Science and Computers.

Technology is an important part in our lives. We all depend on it, one way or another. Technology is our future and we must take it forward to achieve the so called ‘impossible’.

“We went to SF to pitch our app idea—live! We did it before tech professionals and judges. We had to convince them that our app was the best and in return get $10,000 as seed funding for our app. The

Navyasree
Navyasree

experience proved to be a great exposure for me, a glimpse into the world of business. I learnt a lot and at the same time had a lot of fun.

There were some stressful situations but we managed to keep up with the deadline. I want to go ahead with our app, but I don’t want to give up on my academics. I want to go to college, but for which field, I have not yet decided.

We got to meet a lot of people passionate about tech, just like us. Though we got to go to the Golden Gate bridge and Pier 39. Ours was more of an educational trip.

We also got to meet many women technologists who work there. They spoke about how they got into tech and what they were doing when they were of our age. We also got to attend workshops by LinkedIn, YouTube, workshops on Networking and Machine Learning.”

Swasthi Rao

Swasthi’s favourite subjects are Maths and Computers.

Technology means a lot to me as it does not have a definite answer.
A model released today will go there through a lot of modifications and improvisations in the next three months. So whatever you do isn’t final. You can keep working on your idea and make it better and better by coming up with new and exciting features, more effective pricing strategies, business models, etc. I guess that what I admire about technology is that you get paid to do the work you love.

“For the Technovation World Pitch, which was held at San Francisco, we had an app expo along with the main pitch competition, for which we had to create a poster that provides adequate and necessary information about our app at a single glance. We had to revise our pitch and presentation, pricing strategies and business plan for the finals of the competition.

yourstory-Pentechan-InsideArticle5
Swasthi

The experience that my teammates and I have shared through Technovation has brought us closer. Now, we understand each other’s talents and capacity and are more comfortable working with each other. We realized that ‘two heads are definitely better than one’. Also, what really amazes me is the prospect of learning new and exciting things, things that I thought I could learn only in after I completed my studies.

Before Technovation, I didn’t know was a business plan or sales pitch was. But now, I am a lot more knowledgeable.

Within five years, I hope to see myself graduated with good scores and scholarships and probably the managing director of my own company. I would also like to work upon Sellixo more and take our current prototype to the next level and make it fully functioning, with a loyal fan base of at least 10000 users in the first fifteen days of launching it into the commercial market.

All of us had an enriching and fun learning experience in the Silicon Valley of the world, San Francisco. People will readily agree to stand in a queue so that they can take selfies outside the Amazon and Twitter buildings, so I think myself fortunate to have gotten an opportunity to actually explore the work-space of the two great firms (and of course, take selfies!!).

Also we got to really know and interact with the other finalist teams who had come from all over the world i.e from Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, etc. We also got a wonderful exposure that I would like to term as ‘a sneak peek into our future!’

We were also interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and got featured in the Business and Tech section of the paper the day after the results were announced though they had actually interviewed us even before the results were announced.”

Anupama N Nair

Anupam’s favourite subjects are computers and math.

Anupama
Anupama

San Francisco was an Amazing place.

This has been a huge learning experience. We got to learn things that people would learn during college, like how to pitch ideas, how to sell a product, how to code, how to make a business plan and so much more.

I also go to make some new friends and did quite a bit of networking with the other teams.

In 5 years time I’d like to see myself in college, doing engineering or something related to technology and computers.

Technology is method of innovation to me, it is a medium through which our ideas can be portrayed in a manner we want it to be. It is the pleasure of seeing something that you created actually working and its affects actually impacting something. Technology is the perfect platform for a person like me to make their dreams a reality.

Do you know any women in tech? Tell us their story here.

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