#ACORNHACKWOW — 24–25 SEPTEMBER, 2016 @ ENTREPRENEUR FIRST

Technology is embedded in our everyday lives. A global technology revolution is taking place. But if women and girls aren’t a part of it, the future for women’s rights and a more equal, balanced society, is bleak. We seek to empower and enhance female representation in technology.

On 24–25th Sept, forty teenage girls who have never coded before were inspired to take their first steps into tech entrepreneurship and to turn their original ideas into working prototypes.

At a hackathon event over 48 hours, teenage girls created six working technology prototypes designed to help them improve their studying and revision. All have subsequently secured work experiences in tech companies across London as a result of their prototypes.

Teenage girls, who would not normally consider tech or computer science, were inspired to get creative with digital technology, as well as attending masterclass workshops in ideation, prototyping, APIs, lean UX, coding and Business Model Canvas . The purpose of this event was to equip young women with the tools that will enable them to become change-makers and entrepreneurs of their own lives.

#AcornHackWow was designed to compliment a Women in Tech event held at Royal Geographical Society, organised by WOW Talks in partnership with Acorn Aspirations, Empiric and AppsForGood. Female founders and tech entrepreneurs shared their journeys and stories with the mission to inspire the next generation of female tech entrepreneurs.

Judges of the hackathon included Alice Bentinck, MBE, co-founder of Entrepreneur First, Aftab Malhutra, CEO of Growth Enabler, Kim Arazi, CEO of WOW Talks and Darryll Bannon, head of business at Virtually Reality.

After the jam-packed weekend all teams have been offered work experience in tech companies through NextTechGirls, Virtually Reality cardboards, discounts on VR Experience workshops courtesy of Virtually Reality; the winning team received Dear Female Founder books by Blooming Founders, 1:1 mentoring and a career development coaching as well as FREE immersive VR workshop by Virtually Reality.

The following tech start-ups have been created within 48 hours:

Fineline: A reference image finder for creatives with filters to sort through images.

RevisionHack: A revision planner that helps students to manage their study and their social time and ensuring that they still get enough sleep

London College Finder: A website allowing GCSE and A-level students to select the right college for them.

Findography: An app that helps photo-enthusiasts to easily find and share interesting locations for photography shoots.

StyleObsessUK: A website that allows the user to compare the prices/styles/reviews/quality of similar high street brand items, all in one place.

ReviseIt: an app designed to help students revise for exams using a system of flashcards and swipe screens

Elena Sinel, founder of Acorn Aspirations said:

What we cannot see we cannot be — WOWTalks have offered 1,000 young girls an opportunity to meet some of the most accomplished women in tech. Some then took the chance to turn their ideas into digital prototypes within a matter of 48 hours. We know that when girls are equipped with the right tools and surrounded by strong female role-models, it gives them the confidence to architect their own futures.

Savanna Sullivan, age 19 from Elstree UTC said:

“I took a really wide variety of things away from AcornHackWOW …One of the best things about it was that everyone there no matter how successful or skillful, were really approachable and offered so much great advice. Just to be in a room full of people with common interests all excited about what they do gives you a lot of confidence and hope that you can do something that makes you happy too.

Elliott Denhem, from GrowthEnabler said:

“Acorn Aspirations is comprehensively serving a niche and a gap in our education system. The rates at which these girls developed left me gobsmacked. The relevance of the practical applied teachings made me question my Masters qualification. And the solutions were so well developed that they could easily giving the app stores’ most popular apps a run for their money.” More in his LinkedIn Pulse post.

Danny Hearn, former UX consultant at John Lewis, said:

“I believe that using the hackathon format as a tool of education is a really powerful way of teaching. During the event young women, were practicing in collaboration, drawing on each others strengths and weakness and creating something they all believed in. They were exposed to the principles of scrum and agile, using techniques I’d gleaned straight out of some of the best design agencies.” More in his Blog post.

Originally published at Acorn Aspirations.

Powering the Next Generation of Thought Leaders, Innovators and Technologists in #AI @teensinai #TeensInAI #GirlsinAI #MCStartup2016 Founder @elenasinel

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