An inspiring group of dreamers, designers and doers gathered yesterday at the Minneapolis Convention Center as over 60 teams of high school and middle school girls came together in celebration of their hard work with Technovation[MN]. Teams of young women pitched mobile apps they have been building over the past 3 months to business professionals. Each app aims to solve a problem in the community that aligns with one of six UN Sustainable Development Goals: poverty, the environment, peace, equality, education or health.

Teams were judged on the demonstration of their idea, technical functionality of the app, the pitch presentation and overall business plan. Each team presented and celebrated their hard work not only to judges, but to over 900 guests!

“I didn’t know anything about programming coming into this, and going from knowing nothing to building a huge app was an incredible experience.” -Appapalooza participant, Annie Chen

Ann Ulrich, Founder of Do1boldthing.com, was the Grand Emcee and music was provided by Be-Lo, a DJ company launched by girls at Appapalooza.  Several organizations, including PeopleNet, MultiTech, Amazon, U.S. Bank, A.W.E, were present to entertain the girls while scores were finalized. Stratasys created 3D printed jewelry, designed by Tien VoNguyen, for the event and the girls flocked to SciGirls to create locker decorations. And, of course, there was a photo booth from The Traveling Photo Booth so girls could capture the moment.

Keynote speakers included Keerthi Manikonda, a Junior at John Marshall High School in Rochester, who has earned internships as a Coder at TechStars and in Marketing at GoRout, a wearable sports tech company and Tien VoNguyen, a Senior at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis.  Tien is Student Ambassador for the Global Technovation Challenge and serves on the Technovation[MN] Board of Directors.  She recently received an Aspirations in Computing Award and plans to attend Loyola University to pursue her education in Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science.  Key sponsors also joined Ann on stage to share why they and their organization supports Technovation[MN].  They each brought an icon that represented their ‘why’.  Stephanie Hamme-Betti from U.S. Bank brought a rocket, Ari Silkey from Amazon brought a globe, Bryant Noice from Target wore a hard hat, Sara Brown from MultiTech wore sunglasses and Mona Phaff from PeopleNet brought a picture of Rosie the Riveter.  

Technovation[MN] announced 7 middle school and 2 high school winners who will advance to the global semi-finals for the chance to receive $5,000-$15,000 to take their app to market.  In addition, the G.I.R.L.S. can H.A.C.K. team from Maple Grove Middle School, who built the Eye on the Walleye app, will advance to the second round of the MN Cup Youth Division.

Finally David Amor, CEO of Medgineering, sponsored the Pitch the Sharks competition where three health-related app teams had an opportunity to ‘pitch’ to his panel of judges for the chance to win $1,000. The winner of the $1000 pitch was MDH Eat Safe! developed by Hillcrest Tech Girls 2.0 from Hillcrest Community Schools.  This app allows individuals to submit information about their foodborne illnesses. 

What’s next?  World Pitch 2017 will take place August 7-11 in Silicon Valley. Students from around the world will come together for a summit of workshops, technology company visits and a live pitch competition. Each bright young woman will be celebrated for their accomplishments toward solving global issues.

Congratulations to all of our amazing participants and thank you to all of our mentors, judges, volunteers, sponsors and supporters!