Alumni Spotlight: Sakshi Agarwal

Meet Sakshi Agarwal, who participated in Technovation in 2015! Sakshi is 16 years old and lives in Bangalore, India, where she goes above and beyond supporting students participating in Technovation in rural areas.

Inspired by Technovation Challenge and how it affected her sister during the 2016 season, Sakshi began mentoring students alongside Dhana, her local regional ambassador. Over the last 2 years she has helped mentor over 100+ girls as they participated in Technovation, supporting them and encouraging them to consider career paths in STEM fields.

Sakshi is launching her own app-based startup that tackles food waste, and has been selected to present her app at the 2018 Grace Hopper Celebration, India. She is also interning at Headstart Network Foundation, India’s largest startup community and is launching an initiative to provide mentorship and networking opportunities for student entrepreneurs in India.

Saskshi is an aspiring change-maker and tech-enthusiast who hails entrepreneurship. Her mission is to change the outlook of girls towards STEM fields and to fight illiteracy.

She says that she was just a normal girl following the crowd and doing her homework regularly, until she heard about Technovation. She “blames” Technovation for all the good that has happened to her since 2016 and has changed her outlook and mission in life.

An enormous thank you from the Technovation community for Sakshi’s incredible hard work and her commitment to helping make it girls for a change.

Alumni Spotlight: Briana Berger

We recently had the chance to catch up with Briana Berger, who participated in Technovation in 2016 and was named a semi-finalist for her app SleepBeep. Read on to hear about her early experiences with technology, the challenges she’s faced in tech, and her advice to young women who are interested in technology and entrepreneurship. 

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Briana Berger.  I’m a seventeen year-old Technovation Alumni from Gainesville, FL.  I love to understand the ins and outs of everything. I always ask questions, and I think that my love for code grew out of that. It also probably explains why my toddler-self “researched” why baked cookies taste good by eating the cookie dough. As my yearning to learn grew, I have become a leader in my community for events and in coding.

I founded my own non-profit called SeniorTechNet to encourage seniors to use technology and some I have even taught to code. I also founded a club at my school called coderGirls, where I teach Python and we compete in Verizon’s Innovation Challenge. Under the club, I have created coderKids, a community outreach, to teach young kids to code, and I founded the yearly Florida Hackathons for Floridian high school students to innovate and learn. (Ed note: since we talked to Briana, coderGirls has launched as a national nonprofit organization!)

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Alumni Spotlight: Soumya Tejam

Technovation recently had the chance to reconnect with Soumya who is a 2015 Alumna and hear about her experience with tech, what she’s working on now, and what advice she has to girls interested in technology and entrepreneurship.

My name is Soumya Tejam and I participated in the Technovation Challenge in the 2015 season. My world pitch experience has in the most cliched manner changed my life. In the past two years, I’ve gone from zero coding experience to teaching a group of underprivileged girls in my community how to code, starting my own company and developing my app Cappable.

The app that I built for Technovation is called Cappable and it acts as a bridge connecting physically challenged job aspirants with corporations willing to hire them and NGO’s aiming to help them. It will be available for Android and iOS very soon and through the process of programming it, I’ve enriched my programming skills which I hope to implement in other projects. I’ve got positive feedback from the people who I hope will use this app and I can’t wait to see it in action.

Since World Pitch, I have also founded a business venture — BookBite. Founded in the summer of 2016, BookBite is a subscription box service thats sends out a curated package containing a Young Adult novel, short stories by budding novelists, bookish goodies, and an exciting online experience which gives you access to discussion forums and online downloadables. I started BookBite because I noticed the lack of passionate readers in our community and sought to change that attitude among my peers. Through the process I’ve learnt a good load about running a business, from customer acquisition to engagement and retainment. Through BookBite, I’ve run competitions, BookTalks, donation drives, and reading sessions. I’ve also gotten the opportunity to present my venture to Sandy Carter and speak at the IBM India Onward conference with Vanitha Narayanan in Delhi about the work that I’ve been doing.

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Alumni Spotlight: Houyem Boukthir

Technovation recently had the chance to talk with Houyem Boukthir, a 2015 Technovation participant from Tunisia. We got some great advice for young women interested in tech, learned how Houyem worked though challenges during the program, and what inspires her.

 

Tell us about yourself!HouyemBoukthir

My name is Houyem Boukthir, I’m 18 years old and I live in Ariana, Tunisia.

When I was 8 I dreamt of founding a car manufacturer producing only autonomous and ecofriendly vehicles, therefore reducing stress, car accidents and pollution. When presenting the idea to my father he replied that I needed a huge amount of money in order to fulfill my dream. Thanks to my childhood optimism, that didn’t stop me — on the contrary that’s when my long journey of saving money started.

I first bought a piggy bank and started saving all my pocket money depriving myself of stuff other kids my age would buy. As I grew older I realized that money wasn’t the most important thing I needed. In fact, I needed some skills that neither school could teach me nor money could buy.

I got myself more involved in community services, jumped in every event and training I’ve heard of and with 5 other friends we founded the first club in our school counting more than 50 members.

I was obsessed with the idea of becoming a better version of myself bit by bit each day, and turning into a person who worked for change and success instead of only dreaming of it. That’s when teammate Narmine introduced me to Technovation; an experience that I’ll never forget. It made me more aware of how far I have come as an individual and how hard I will work in order to achieve my goals.

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Alumni Spotlight: Wendy Ho

We recently had the chance to catch up with Wendy Ho, a 2016 Technovation finalist, and hear about what projects she’s working on now, what she’s planning on doing next, and what advice she has for other women interested in technology. Wendy was part of team CodeHAUS which developed the app Ask Ada.

Tell us a little bit about yourself! 
Hello! My name is Wendy Ho, and I’m from Dallas, TX in the USA. I participated in Technovation in 2016.

What was your relationship or experience with tech before Technovation?
Before Technovation, I had always wanted to program or do something with technology, but I didn’t really know where to start. More so, I thought that it was too late for me to start learning about programming on my own, since most people I knew who programmed were boys and they had started learning from summer camps or own their own since middle school. I suppose I always wanted to start programming, but I just didn’t quite believe I could learn on my own and be successful.

What made you join Technovation?

I heard about Technovation from a friend at a summer program who had participated last year. Her app concept sounded amazing, and I was stunned that she knew how to program apps. More importantly, however, I realized that she had made a difference in her school community, and I wanted to do the same to my community. I joined Technovation because I wanted a catalyst to learn how to code and to create apps that solve community issues.

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Alumni Spotlight: Amina Chida

 

Technovation recently had the chance to sit down with Amina Chida, a participant from 2015 and talk about who and what inspires Amina, what advice she has for young women interested in tech, and what tools and strategies she uses to overcome challenges.

Tell us about yourself!AminaChida

I am Amina Chida I am 18 years old and I am from El Kef. I study in the Pioneer secondary school there in the Mathematics section. I am really interested in technology.  I want to become an engineer–I dream of inventing something that will change the world and make it a better place. I dream of being a leader and a global changemaker.

Who or what inspired you to pursue tech? Who is your role model in tech?

What inspired me to pursue tech … I would say that my own curiosity sparkled my interest and got me involved in the tech field. I am really keen on using the computer I use for almost everything : chatting, playing games, reading articles, watching movies, discovering news… and I used to ask myself these questions a lot : What is the secret behind this amazing invention ? How did they do it? How did they create the internet? What lies behind this screen of pictures, videos, chatrooms … I got to the point where being a simple user and consumer wasn’t enough anymore and felt I should find an answer to these questions. That is how I started searching and learning technology.

My role model is Bill Gates, I consider him a legend and I don’t know what the world of tech would be without him. He is really intelligent and I admire him for following his passion and changing humanity. I also worship him because apart from being the biggest business owner on earth he is a philanthropist.

What advice would you give to young women interested in going into tech?

I want to encourage every young woman fond of technology to pursue her interest and to work hard in order to accomplish what she aims for.

If you are a girl and you love tech then don’t ever let people tell you you cannot go into tech because you are not smart enough and tech is too complicated for you. Programming is difficult that is for sure, but you don’t have to be a genius to create something new to learn how to program! If you have the passion and the determination to succeed in tech, then know that you have what it takes to be the next “ Steve Jobs” or the next “bill Gates “ and don’t ever let the fact that men are dominating this field keep you from delving deeper into tech ! You have to show the world you can do it. Have faith in yourself and believe that “when there is a will there is a way.” … Although it may sound cliché, saying this to yourself really helps.

Finally, you don’t have to miss any opportunity ! There are plenty of programs, challenges, competitions, workshops, internships that will help you develop your technological skills. Get involved, participate, learn as much as you can.

Tell us about a challenge you’ve faced with technology or Technovation, and how you overcame it.

The biggest challenge I faced with both technology and Technovation is when my coding doesn’t work. I have spent days trying to program something and no matter what I did my coding still didn’t operate. Sometimes, I was so angry I wanted to switch off my computer  and give up. But, eventually I managed to overcome my anger and to persist till I succeeded to make the right code and the app operated! What led me to this is certainly patience, perseverance, and especially not being ashamed to ask for help and assistance.

Would you like to share your story with the Technovation community? Email Maggie at [email protected]