If you’re a business leader thinking about your future workforce, you should pay attention to organizations like Technovation, who are fostering and shaping skills that you will need — and even already need — as your business grows and technology evolves.
Technovation is the largest global technology entrepreneurship program for girls ages 10 – 18. It was created to help close the gender gap in STEM fields. They make sure that girls feel empowered to solve problems in their community with technology and mentorship. In the eight years Technovation has been on this mission, it has had quite an impact, helping over 15,000 girls go through the program, many of whom have gone on to study in STEM fields.
This year I had the honor of serving as a judgmise for the annual Technovation Challenge, through the local chapter, Technovation[MN]. Before I could review any of the teams’ projects, I had to complete a training to understand the expectations for language, tone, and type of feedback to give. Technovation is committed to creating an empowering experience for these girls, regardless of the results of their projects. They often see girls coming back to the program year after year improving their skills each time, which can’t happen if they have an intimidating or overwhelming experience.
As I dug into the projects, I found that the teams had worked really hard to do research about real problems in their local communities. There were themes around huge human problems to solve – like the inclusion of immigrants and minorities and supporting victims of sex trafficking and violence. They did user research and interviews and made connections with organizations already working to solve some of these issues to inform and strengthen their solutions. They put together business plans and go-to-market strategies, because they are already learning that building an app is so much more than a development effort – you have to create a business model and a way to achieve sustainable growth in order to keep doing the meaningful work that the app is intended for. These junior high and high school girls are already learning how to solve so many of the challenges that mature businesses are facing as technology accelerates and user expectations become more sophisticated.
At GoKart Labs, we go to work every day to help our clients operate for growth at the intersection of business, technology, and human experiences. It was exciting and inspiring to see that the younger generation is already getting so aptly prepared to run the businesses they create – and yours, if you’re lucky.