On June 25, Team Pentechan won the middle school division of this year’s Technovation World Pitch Event, along with $10,000 to develop and market its mobile application. The winning app, Sellixo—an online market for users to sell their dry waste to recycling agencies—was created within the Institute of International Education’s WeTech India Afterschool Program in Bengaluru, a 12-week intensive mentorship program that works toward bridging the gender gap in STEM fields.
Through the program, mentors from Qualcomm, Inc.; Goldman Sachs; and Target are teamed up with groups of girls in both Bangalore, India and San Diego, California guiding the students in app design and startup launches.
Since 2014, students who participate in the WeTech Afterschool Program follow the Technovation curriculum, aiming to draw out their inner engineer and entrepreneur. During the program, teams design mobile applications that address specific problems in their community with the help of their mentors from Qualcomm, Inc.; Goldman Sachs; and Target. After developing their apps, teams create business plans and pitches that are then submitted to the Technovation World Pitch Event in the San Francisco Bay Area.
It’s a learning experience for all involved, including the mentors. “I feel proud of all their little achievements—from the first piece of code to the elaborate business plan they put together,” said Swapna Divya Potluri, a software engineer for Qualcomm Technologies’ Multimedia R&D Audio Team in San Diego and one of fifteen Qualcomm, Inc. mentors in the Afterschool Program.
“Lots of us have ‘been there and done that,’ so, they should try to take advantage of the path laid out for them by all the pioneering women,” Potluri said. “And of course, pay it forward!”