On Friday, July 17, weVENTURE and Collegiate Pathways hosted Tech Sassy’preneurs Camp at Canvs, a co-working space centered in Downtown Orlando. The two organizations dedicated the camp to guiding young girls interested in STEM fields to envision their tech ideas become reality.
“I was tired of going to conferences and being the only one; I wanted to create makers not consumers,” Laine Powell said.
Powell is the Founder and Executive Director of Collegiate Pathways, Inc., a college prep program that works with students to improve their standardized testing skills and provide scholarship and career opportunities.
It is through Collegiate Pathways that the Tech Sassy Girlz were born, a program that exposes 6th through 12th grade girls to the STEM field.
At the Tech Sassy’ preneurs Camp, the Tech Sassy Girlz had the opportunity to be mentored by women currently working within the STEM field. Divided into 5 small groups, the girls developed business ideas supported by a pitch.
The professionals guided the girls through their brainstorming, forcing them to think outside the box and approach any possible issues, conflicts and outcomes that may come when starting up a business.
“I not only want the girls to be able to learn from the workshop, but also to know that there are a variety of different paths they can take within the field, it doesn’t have to be that nerdy professor-like path, it can be a mixture of both science and business,” mentor Melissa Kuchma said.
Kuchma is the founder of Revolution Medicine, a DNA analysis service that provides clients a chance to see how they will react to certain medications.
Other mentors at the event include Angela Alban, President and CEO of SIMETRI, Inc., Tomeka Bell, President of Validity Solutions, Jovanna Nelson, Co-Founder and Event Manager of Good2Go Event Management, Inc. and Suneera Madhani, CEO and Founder of Fattmerchant.
The Tech Sassy’preneurs Camp also included a pitch competition judged by the mentors. Pitches ranged from a scholarship matching app to a bug repellent.
The prize for the best pitch went to #onfleek, an online fashion service. Mentored by Alban, the girls received a $15 gift card each and the chance to enter Bright House Networks’ Bright Ideas in STEM competition.
“I am happy Bright House is investing so much effort into our growth,” winner Naia Butler-Craig said.
This isn’t the first opportunity Bright House gave Butler-Craig. She has also received a Future Leaders scholarship from the network which she will use to study aerospace engineering at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
weVENTURE Director, Shea Glenny, was also delighted by the community outreach.
“I was so gratified to see so much community collaboration: weVENTURE, Tech Sassy Girlz, Canvs, Orlando Tech Association, our rockstar mentors, Move2Create, and media outlets. That was the most rewarding part of the event for me personally. We win biggest when we all synergize our work together,” Glenny said.
It is through this extensive community support that Orlando can continue to inspire and motivate the youth to reach their highest potential.
By: Monique Mahabir