Author: Technovation MN

Being an Appapalooza judge: No CS experience required

Guest post by Angie Kalthoff, a Technology Integrationist in for the St. Cloud Area School District 742. She consults with organizations that want to understand the why, what and how behind Computer Science in the K-12 setting, with a focus on elementary education.

I am excited to see how girls, right here in Minnesota, will change the world.

I volunteered to be a to judge at Technovation 2017 because I am passionate about making a difference. I look forward to seeing the creative projects girls create to help solve real-world issues. This is how I show them my support and you can too!

I believe we need to empower our students at a young age through educational activities with real-world application. “Technovation offers girls around the world the opportunity to learn the necessary skills to become tech entrepreneurs and leaders.” I am driven to helping girls and underrepresented populations gain access to Computer Science (CS) education.

My background as an English Language teacher, not one that you would think of for a judge in a CS competition. But you do not have to have a background in CS to help! I learned about Technovation through an educational program three years ago. Over the past few years, I have been learning why CS education at an early age is vital, what it looks like, and how to implement.

Since the beginning of Technovation eight years ago, 15,000 girls have participated in the competition worldwide and developed mobile apps and startups that solved problems. The fields impacted include a diverse range including food waste, nutrition, women’s safety and much more. Someday, I hope to coach a team in Central Minnesota. Until that day, I will do my part as a judge. You can be involved too. Here are a few options:

Do you know someone who would be interested in helping? Share this post with them!

The Beginning of a Journey in Technology: SKeMAS at 2017 MN Cup

Guest post from Keerthi Manikonda, 2017 Technovation[MN] participant

The MN Cup experience is something that I am truly grateful for. It has been something that has taught me various life skills and has brought me closer to my teammates. It taught me to learn how to be a strong and reliable leader and it also taught me how to find support within my team [the SKeMAS].

One of the main reasons why I’m glad to have participated is because I wanted to inspire girls out there to take a problem in their communities and use technology and entrepreneurial skills to solve it or make the problem less prevalent. I want to look back fifty years from now and be proud that I did something or made something that others benefitted from. I know there are a lot of programs out there that teens can take advantage of to solve problems in their community. And I hope teens do take advantage of those programs. MN Cup and Technovation are the programs that have given me a great deal of opportunities. A word of advice I have to other teens in start there. Start with MN Cup or Technovation. Get good contacts. Meet new people. Use all the resources you’ve got to become successful. It will help you in the long run.

My journey has had its highs and its lows, and I am appreciative of experiencing it all. I knew I could always rely on my team members and my team members knew that they could rely on me. That is why when we had a pitch for the MN Cup for the minority division on a school day, and my other teammates could not go, I went and delivered the pitch on my own so that my team could have a chance at winning. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to represent Via at the pitch, as well as to participate in the MN Cup. Hopefully, in the near future, my team and I will push forward and make Via very successful. We have done a great deal so far, and I can’t wait to see where the rest of my journey will take me!

Be a part of something great and join us in 2018. Discover the many ways you can be part of Technovation[MN] and get involved!

Do Big Things: SKeMAS at 2017 MN Cup

Guest post from Sophia Fulton, 2017 Technovation[MN] participant

Do big things.
Do epic things.
Do things people don’t think you can do.
Do things that you don’t think you can do.
We’re rooting for you.

That’s what I felt as my team participated in Technovation, and most recently, MN Cup: the largest startup competition in Minnesota. My team, lovingly referred to as SKeMAS (a combination of our first names: Sophia, Keerthi, Maurine, Anushri, and Stela), created a safe driving app called Via. We were a first runner-up to compete in Technovation’s global finals and were named finalists in the MN Cup.

As we competed through MN Cup, every single mentor and judge I spoke to was incredibly encouraging and willing to help. In fact, at a pitch event, my mom mentioned the challenge of me being in school in Texas and having to fly back for the competition. One of the mentors mentioned they would try to help in any way, even if they had to help fund a trip back. That wasn’t needed, but the image was clear: the judges and mentors were rooting for us.

Even among our MN Cup competitors, there was a feeling that we were all cheering for each other. After all, we are all young entrepreneurs doing amazing things: can’t we create more good in our world by working together, instead of against each other? I had the opportunity to speak with and hear the stories of Green Garden Bakery, who placed first in the youth category in MN Cup, and Crimson Cafe, a fellow competitor. It astounds me that there are so many young people who desire to create a better future through entrepreneurship, and I’m so glad MN Cup gave us this opportunity to meet each other not only as competitors but as fellow visionaries in entrepreneurship.

After the competition, even though we didn’t win first place, we had numerous mentors and judges come up to our team and tell us they were there for us. We had judges, incredibly talented and experienced entrepreneurs, offer their mentorship and help if we needed it. We had people suggesting resources and future events to participate in to make Via successful. That was the best part of MN Cup: discovering that there was an incredible community ready to help young entrepreneurs like us succeed.

There were points in this journey with Via that we weren’t sure if we could do it. Creating Via and competing against incredibly strong competition, we didn’t know if we’d make it past the first round, let alone into finals. But we did. We did the epic things. We did the big things. We did it: not because of our own talent, but because of the people around us. We did it because of our mentors, our families, our friends, and even our competitors, who told us we could do it, and who told us they were there supporting us.

Through this experience creating Via, I’ve realized that this captures the beauty of Technovation. Technovation empowers girls to do big, epic things, and gives them the mentors and resources to make it possible. Technovation tells girls that they can do amazing things, and we hope our journey with Via inspires you to do the same:

You can do big things.
You can do epic things.
You can do things no one thought you could, maybe you even thought you couldn’t.
We did it, and we’re rooting for you.

Be a part of something great and join us in 2018. Discover the many ways you can be part of Technovation[MN] and get involved!

Give to the Max Day is coming!

Give to the Max Day 2017 is coming up! Be a part of getting more girls like Tien involved in STEM!  To keep our program completely cost-free for girls like Tien, we rely on your support!

Donate to Technovation[MN] this Give to the Max Day!

“Through Technovation and Aspirations I met role models already in technology and made concrete what I wanted to work toward after high school. Everyone I met along this journey showed me how to be unapologetic, showed me what it means to be unapologetically female, be unapologetically intelligent, be unapologetically assertive, be an unapologetic leader. And now, I want to major in Biomedical Engineering, and work toward helping girls bridge the gender gap, particularly in STEM.”

-Tien VoNguyen, Technovation[MN] participant

Donate to Technovation[MN] this Give to the Max Day!

2018 Registration is Open

2018 mentor and team registration is now open! We are so looking forward to a fantastic season! Expect more teams, more fun, and an even bigger Appapalooza, scheduled for Saturday, May 12 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Register your Technovation[MN] team so that we can give you all the support you need throughout the season.

VIA team reaches finals of MN Cup

Originally posted by the Rochester Post Bulletin

A group of Rochester girls are finalists in a Minnesota business competition, thanks to an app they created that discourages texting and driving.

The team of five from Rochester Public Schools are finalists in two categories of the 2017 Minnesota Cup, a competition for the best new business idea. The girls created the app, which prevents teens from texting and driving, through a separate competition, after they were alarmed to find that 11 teens die daily while texting and driving.

The team’s app, called VIA, prevents texting by reminding drivers to mute their phone notifications while in a vehicle. When put in driving mode, the app sends an automatic text to the user’s contact when she begins and finishes driving.

The statewide Minnesota Cup, an entrepreneurial competition, announced the team as one of 24 chosen in the third round of the challenge, from an initial pool of 520. The girls are finalists in the Youth Division of the competition, which puts them in the running for up to $10,000.

The competition kicked off this spring with business ideas submitted in eight divisions: Energy/Clean Tech/Water, Food/Agriculture/Beverage, General, High Tech, Life Science/Health IT, Impact Ventures, Student (for enrolled graduate school or undergraduate students ages 19-30) and Youth (age 18 and younger).

They’re among the 37 percent of teams led by women, and 29 percent led by minorities in the competition, according to Minnesota Cup.

“Minnesota Cup is dedicated to expanding the field of entrepreneurs in our state, and we’re working to unleash the economic power of underrepresented groups while building a strong culture of innovation,” said Minnesota Cup executive director Melissa Kjolsing Lynch.

As semifinalists, they spent the the summer meeting with mentors to perfect their business plan and learned how to pitch it to a larger audience.

The app was originally create for Technovation, a 12-week program that pairs professional mentors with all-girl teams to help them design and code mobile phone apps. In that competition, the girls were a runner up to the finalist at the international Technovation Challenge in the competition’s health category — a designation that came with $5,000 in scholarship money.

“It’s always exciting when girls find outlets for their Technovation apps in other competitions and arenas,” said Rich Bogovich, a program organizer with Technovation. “Success in other venues not only validates their Technovation achievement but helps to reinforce the appeal of coding as a career for young women.”

It’s not the first time a Technovation team from the region has had success in another competition, Bogovich said. Byron’s team won the 2016 Rochester Youth Startup Weekend competition and a Kasson-Mantorville team took that app to the White House Science Fair.

The final winner and recipients of prizes for the Minnesota Cup will be announced on Oct. 9 at the Carlson School of Management.

Most important, Be the Next YOU

Guest post by Keerthi Manikonda, a Technovation[MN] participant and Appapalooza Guest Speaker

Approximately three and a half years ago, one of my instructors from a program called BDPA approached me and a couple other girls, and told us about this cool new program that encourages girls to try mobile app development. I went home that day and I told my father about it, who told me to join. Upon hearing my disapproval of his decision, he proceeded to strike a deal with me. I think it was early October when this happened, and I had been pestering my dad about letting me have a Halloween party for quite some time. He told me if I joined Technovation, he would let me have my Halloween party.

I may have joined Technovation for a small Halloween party, but it gave me so much more. It taught me to be a capable leader, a confident speaker, and a better coder.

Technovation challenges young girls to not only make a difference in their community, but it also challenges them to expand their horizons. Being a team player as well as a leader is crucial in being an effective communicator and learner. It teaches you to be an open listener as well as an effective contributor. I was not the same speaker I was three years ago. Being able to stand in front of a room with people and give a pitch was not something I was comfortable with. But over time and practice, I was able to present and vocalize in a way that projected a confident and intelligent personality. Every girl deserves to feel confident and intelligent. That confidence helped me the most during interviews for internships and other things. Towards the end of my first internship, I was introduced to Mike Rolih, who gave me my next internship. I remember him asking me what my superpower is. I thought for a while, and the first thing that came into my mind was ‘my words’. My words, my voice, that is what got me here. One of the main reasons why I am up here today, is because my words can make a difference. Just as your words and your voices can! That is something that this program taught me. And that is also something that I will use for the rest of my life. Your words, your voice is what is going to solve problems in our world. Without Technovation, I truly could not have gotten these internships. I could not have gotten this amazing opportunity to speak to all of you here today. Another interesting thing that I found, was that mobile app development helped me get a mentorship at Mayo Clinic. More particularly, it helped me get a mentorship in a research lab where I would not be working on anything that was technology related. The mentorship was in the Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. The reason I got the mentorship, was because during the interview, I told my mentor that I participated in a program called Technovation. After telling her that the apps were indeed on the app store for Android, she promptly took out her phone and proceeded to look the apps up. She was impressed that both of the apps that I created were health related, and saw that I was willing to use my skills in technology to solve problems in medicine. I proceeded to tell her that I wanted to go into medicine and use my coding skills to create a program or app that will allow physicians to perform their jobs better. She was thoroughly impressed and I was offered the mentorship.

My message to all the young girls here: you don’t have to commit to a technology related career. By participating in a program that encourages mobile app development, you are not tied down to that field. You can use the skills gained from this program to help better other fields, may that be the health sciences, the environment, or something else. By doing that you are going to make a bigger impact. Expand your horizons. Be the person that people talk about for generations. Be the one that other young girls aspire to be.

You don’t have to be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerburg. Be the next you!

And that’s all that matters.

Two MN Teams are Runners Up in Global Competition

We are extremely excited and proud to announce that TWO (2) Technovation[MN] teams are Runners Up in the Global Technovation Challenge.  Each team will receive a scholarship to continue their work and/or studies in business, technology or computer science. See the 2017 Award Structure.

VIA by BDPA SKeMAS – Senior Division
Via is a safe driving app that increases peace in parents and teens by creating safer roads and healthier lives.
Pitch Video | Demo Video

The Power of You by The 4 Musketeers – Junior Division
Power of You allows you to research worldwide issues such as poverty, health, equality, and environment to learn why it’s a problem, how you can take a stand, and what’s happening currently.
Pitch Video | Demo Video

Congratulations to BDPA SKeMas and The 4 Musketeers!  And congratulations to everyone who participated in Technovation this year.  You are part of the Technovation community and we know you will continue to do great things.  We hope that you will encourage other girls to join the program…and, of course, that you participate again next year.  You have deeply impressed us and inspired us this season, and we know that you’re going to keep up your amazing work.

Full list of 2017 Technovation Challenge finalists

Three teams advance to the MN Cup Semi-Finals

MN Cup announced today it has advanced 3 Technovation[MN] teams to the semifinals of the 2017 competition.

Eye on Walleye
Technovation Junior semi-finalist team and the Top Scoring Technovation[MN] team
Eye on Walleye was developed to provide a more accurate and real-time track of the fishing population
Pitch Video | Demo Video

Technovation Senior semi-finalist team
Via is a safe driving app that increases peace in parents and teens by creating safer roads and healthier lives.
Pitch Video | Demo Video

Pocket Pollinator
Technovation Senior Division team
As the bee population plummets around the world, Pocket Pollinator alerts the general public on this crisis and utilizes the masses in order to obtain information that can aid organizations such as Pollinate Minnesota and the Minnesota DNR in adjusting their education and advocacy work for pollinators as it pertains to the crisis trend in Minnesota
Pitch Video | Demo Video

Congratulations Technovation[MN] teams and thank you MN Cup for your support and partnership! It is  very exciting to see your latest numbers of minority and women-led teams.  Out of the 520 teams in the 2017 competition, 29 percent are led by minorities, and 37 percent are led by women. Participation is also record breaking for their youngest business-builders, with a new high — 12 percent of the teams are led by students. Check out the full list of Semi-Finalists.

Biggest Appapalooza Ever!

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, 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!