How to increase your chances of winning the Technovation Coding Challenge 2019? | Prajwal Shetty

technovation-world-pitch

If you are reading this post, it implies one of the below 3 things,

  1. You have already participated in this year’s Technovation Challenge
  2. You are interested in participating
  3. You just stumbled upon my post.Thanks to the power of Google 😛

Participating in Technovation is the best decision that you have taken. It is a great experience and you will learn a lot of life lessons along the journey.

Before we deep dive into the tips, let me give you a brief introduction to Technovation.

A little about Technovation

Technovation offers girls around the world the opportunity to learn the skills they need to emerge as tech entrepreneurs and leaders. Every year Technovation invites girls to identify a problem in their community, and then challenge them to solve it.

Girls work in teams to build both a mobile app and a business plan to launch that app, supported by mentors (you) and guided by their curriculum.

Who are mentors?

Mentors are professionals who feel comfortable supporting teams of girls to participate in the program and helping their teams become leaders. They learn with their teams and help them problem solve, while also supervising girls through their journey.

A little about myself : Prajwal Shetty (Mentor 2018)

In short, I had mentored my team (“Team Cantavits”) this year and we won Technovation 2018 by defeating all the teams in 115 countries across the Globe.

Tips for the Technovation 2019 participants

Everyone of you will go through the below 5 phase in the competition.You success will depend greatly on how well you do in each phase.The 5 phase are:

  1. Training
  2. Ideation
  3. App Development
  4. Pitch Video/Demo Video
  5. Business Plan

Lets look at each phase in detail. I will also share what we did differently in each phase.

Training

Once you have your team ready, there are two possibilities.

  1. Your team knows how to use MIT app inventor to develop the app
  2. Your team does not know how to use MIT app inventor

You are in luck if you fall in the first category, as you can directly dive into the next phase (Ideation).

Most of you will fall into the second category. So, you have to first learn the tool yourself and then teach it to the students. Make sure that every student is able to code the app screens in MIT app inventor.

Do not create the app all by yourself, the students should build the app on their own.

Technovation is all about enabling the girls in technology. This will empower them to turn any idea into an app in the future.

You have to invest quality time in training as this phase will decide the fate of the other 4 phase and your app. If the students are well trained, they will be able to come up with innovative solutions in the app development process.

We knew that 90% of the participants across the globe will be using MIT app inventor to develop the app, so we decided not to use MIT app inventor. After some research, we decided to use the tool called “Thunkable” .This tool has all the capabilities of MIT app inventor. If your team knows how to use MIT app inventor, then it will take just 10 minutes to start coding in Thunkable. It also has some additional features that set us apart from 90% of the competition. This was our first step towards the title.

You can also use android studios (for android apps) and swift (for iOS apps). These tools are advance, so use them only if the students are already aware of the tool. It took me 3 months to learn and develop a personal android app. The learning curve of these tools is long and you will have to spend a lot of time in the training phase.

My suggestion would be “Thunkable, if your team does not have any development background.

Ideation

This is where you decide the social problem that you are going to solve through your app.

From my experience, your idea should definitely have the following characteristics:

  1. The app should target a global issue and should solve the problem of a large population. This will give you an edge in the competition. Especially in the final judging round. We were very confident in the final round as our app was targeting a huge population problem compare to our competitors.
  2. The idea should be innovative and new. It should not be a copy past of an existing app. There are a lot of problems across the globe which can be solved through a mobile app. Look around and you will find your idea out there. (or google it) 
  3. Money!! The app should have the potential to make money. If it does have this feature, your chances of winning will be higher.

Make sure that all the team members and mentors are all in for the idea. Everyone should be on the same page as you will be working together on the idea. Brainstorm the idea with all the team member and select the best idea.

App Development

You have trained the students on the tool and also decide the social problem that you are going to solve using the app. This is where you get the results of your hard work in the “Training” and “Ideation” phase.

We followed the agile methodology for your app development.Those who are from the software development background will be aware of this methodology.You can google it in case you are not aware of it.

In this methodology you divide the complete project into many parts and then start working on one phase at a time.One step at a time.

Keep a constant interaction with the students as it will help in completing the development in time. Let the students know that they can ping you anytime they get stuck.

If they get stuck, do not just provide the solution but explain to them how you came up with the solution. Also, explain the solution. Your goal is to make the students capable enough to solve such problems on their own in the future.

This will help them in the final face to face pitch event, when they are asked questions on the project.

Meetup once or twice in a week to discuss the progress. Create a whatsapp group so that you are in touch with them.

We identified the strengths of each student in our team and delegated the work accordingly. There were 2 students who were good at coding, 2 who had great writing skills and one who was great at speaking. We made sure that the students were doing the tasks that they loved doing and are the best at it. Also, we made sure that every student was coding for the app.

Even in your corporate life, your team will be very successful, if you as a manager identify individual employee strength and then use that to drive your team forward. This is the management style that I followed and believe me it works like a charm once the wheels were set into motion.

Pitch Video/Demo Video

This is the important phase of Technovation. The pitch video should encapsulate everything from the app idea, the business model, the strategy, the goal of your app and the market research that you have done so far.Everything compressed in a 5 minute video.

During the initial judging rounds, it will be the mentors around the globe who will judge your app. The pitch video has the highest impact in your final submission. Try to create an awesome pitch video that has the potential to attract the viewer in the first view.

Many teams have a great app but they do not give much importance to the pitch video.This is why many teams are filtered out in the initial judging rounds.This is a fierce competition and you have to delivery your best in all the 5 phases.You cannot expect just your app to get you to the finals.Every phase has to be executed with lot of dedication and creativity.  

I never used Adobe After effects and Adobe Premier Pro, but I trained myself on that tool by going through hours and hours of YouTube tutorial video and edited our pitch video.

Most important, make sure that there is a flow in the pitch video. It should not bombard the viewer with information and statistics. Use your creativity to enhance the video. This was also another skill that I learned in Technovation.

The pitch video should not be more than 5 minutes.Marks will be deducted in case it exceeds.

Business Plan

Last but not the least is your business plan.If you have a senior division team, then the business plan is mandatory.

The business plan should have all the market research, the app idea, the business model, the strategy, the goal of your app and the app working models.

Do not create a 100 pages business plan. In the initial judging rounds, your app will be judged by mentors around the world. Every active mentor will judge 2-3 projects. Most of them will not like to read a 100 pages business plan. Do not make it too small as well.

Provide the statistics that you have collected during your market research. This will show that you have done your homework.

Also, add some color theme to your app, business plan, and pitch video. This gives a brand image to the app. In our case, we chose green as the theme color. Our logo was green, the business plan has a green theme (headings) also the video had a green theme.

Your success depends on how good you sell and market your app in the business plan

As I was designing the business plan, I decided to give it an emotional human touch to it. I wrote that our app is founded on two values (Innovation and Collaboration). We will try to innovate at every step of our journey to deliver the best experience to the end users. Also, we will collaborate with all the stake holder to come up with better solutions.These values gives your business plan an edge over the others.

Also, most of the startups that are successful today have a purpose to their existence. They are not just chasing money but they are trying to solve a problem out there in the world. Reflect this in your business plan too.

This was some of the tips that I wanted to share with all you amazing people out there. Remember at the end it is not the end result but the journey that will stay with you forever.

All the best to everyone out there. Let’s come up with more innovative and out of the box solutions in Technovation 2019.

If you have a query, drop me a message on Linkedin

My Experience of Technovation 2018

This was my first time as a Technovation mentor and I have learned a lot from this journey. You have an opportunity to mentor 5 students who could become future technology innovators.

It feels amazing when the students are looking up to you and consider you their role model.

As a mentor, you have to be the student’s confidant and motivate them at every step of the journey. You must encourage them and make them believe that any problem can be solved through a “Never Give Up” attitude.

Along the journey, you will also learn some great skills and lessons that will help you in your career and life.

One tip that I can give you all is to identify the strengths of each student in your team and use it in the best way possible.

It is a big-time commitment to become a Technovation mentor as you are giving 12 weeks of your life, but it is the most rewarding feeling at the end of it. The moment when you see that shift in them where they have gone from “oh this was just a challenge I thought I was doing”  to   “I can win it and I see myself as a winner”

To experience that, there is no words for it. You just gotta do it.

Believe me, at the end of thejourney, you will be very proud of yourself and the girls.

To motivate you all, I have uploaded my Technovation 2018 gold medal.

All the best and rock it people!!!

technovation-2018-champion-prajwal-shetty

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About Prajwal Shetty 54 Articles
Prajwal Shetty is the founder of Techonol Consulting. He started Techonol with a vision to introduce the best parts of marketing automation to the brands around the globe. He is also an Adobe Certified Campaign Architect, Developer, and BP. A few words that describe him are passionate, innovative and loves to make the impossible possible using technology.