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Kids get tips at entrepreneurship bootcamp

Kids get tips at entrepreneurship bootcamp
July 12
11:21 2017

The winners team Bkey and team Solar with founder Shivaum Kumar

SAN JOSE, CA: On a sunny Saturday afternoon, hundreds of tech-enthusiasts and wannabe entrepreneurs gathered at the Seven Trees Community Center in San Jose to witness young entrepreneurs pitch their best ideas to a panel of venture capitalists, all in hope of winning the grand prize – seed funding for their startups. Teams comprised middle school and high school students – what is their secret sauce for getting this entrepreneurship bug so early?

The 3rd Annual Youth Tech Day was held last month, hosted by San Jose Library and Silicon Valley Young Coders Club, a non-profit organization founded by a young student, Shivaum Kumar of Saratoga California. The Silicon Valley Young Coders club runs a semester long entrepreneurship program in eight California cities with the goal of creating opportunities for young students of California to learn the ins and outs of coding, technology, and entrepreneurship, to take a creative idea, turn it into a business plan, into a project plan and ultimately a finished prototype .

The annual Tech Day is an opportunity for all the locations to converge under one roof for a day of collaborative learning and education. The San Jose location was held every Saturday at the San Jose location of Bibliotech Library where more than 50 students had gained entrepreneurship skills via classroom learning and collaborative hands-on learning.

From Left: Congressman Ro Khanna’s district director Chris Moylan, Assemblymember Kansen Chu, Founder Shivaum Kumar, Assemblymember Ash Kalra, Saratoga Councilmember Rishi Kumar

Two teams from San Jose were picked to be at the Tech Day pitch fest, and they were bringing their A-game as they looked to compete with two teams from each of the locations. Many of these teams were testing the entrepreneurship waters for the very first time, getting familiar with the basic concepts of pricing and programming, sans a role model in their community who they could look up to.

The club seeks to do exactly that; provide an opportunity for all to be part of the innovation economy. The club was conducted at 8 California locations that included San Jose, Saratoga, Livermore, Fremont, Dinuba, East Palo Alto, San Leandro and Pleasanton/Dublin.

This year’s Youth Tech Day encompassed a multitude of offerings, from a Women in Technology Panel to an Industry Executive Panel, a Silicon Valley elected leaders policy panel to the marquee event, a “pitch fest” for startup teams from all the locations of Silicon Valley Coders club. Teams hoping to be a part of the “pitch fest” took part in a semester-long boot camp, learning about the necessary steps to successfully launch a startup, and from these locations, up to two teams were selected to pitch their prototypes, to win seed funding for their startup.

Shivaum Kumar, a rising Senior at Saratoga High School, kicked off the event. “I founded this club in 2015. Software is king in Silicon Valley, so I was thinking what’s a good way for all the youth to learn software and code? So we began this club, coding in three sections, different languages – python, java, iOS development, all of that – but then we realized for young kids this can actually be kind of boring, so we decided to include an entrepreneurship aspect to this program. Take an idea and learn step by step how to turn that idea into a product via programming and coding”

Following a warm, welcoming speech delivered by Mayor Sam Liccardo, panelists such as CEO of Unitive Dr. Laura Mather, California Assemblymember D-27 Kansen Chu, Vipin Jain, CEO of 6dBytes and many more addressed numerous topics ranging from women’s representation in tech industries to the strong contribution of science and engineering in Silicon Valley success.

Mayor Sam Liccardo of San Jose in his key note address mentioned, “We want to invite you in to innovate with us because we think this project of becoming the most innovative city in the country by 2020, this is not going to be a spectator sport. We’re going to need everybody on the field; nobody can sit in the stands watching, and we really want you a be a part of it.”

As part of the Women in Technology panel, the speakers were Dr. Laura Mather, CEO Unitive, Reena Gupta, CEO Target Recruit, Shalini Govi-Pai, Director and Global Head, Product Solutions, YouTube. Shruthi Rao, VP Strategic Alliances, FeedzAI. The topic, “Girls in STEM. Why not!” was moderated by Dr Ranu Sinha, former Professor of Santa Clara University.

As part of the Industry executives panel, the speakers were Guy Brundson, Cisco Systems, Director, Product Management & Technical Marketing at Cisco, Sudhakar Ramakrishna, CEO Pulse Secure, Ellen Brigham, VP Product Marketing, Ghangor Cloud, Vipin Jain, Founder CEO 6dBytes and moderated by Amit Seth, CEO Affinity Solutions. The topic was, “What is exciting about hi-tech in Silicon Valley”
Silicon Valley elected leaders panel discussion featured Assemblymember Kansen Chu (AD-25), Assemblymember Ash Kalra (AD-27), Councilmember Rishi Kumar, Saratoga, along with District Director of Congressman Ro Khanna (CD-17) Chris Moylan and was moderated by John Comiskey, President of the Dean Democratic Club of Silicon Valley.

The pitch fest was the grand finale. Each team introduced themselves, pitched, and demoed their products, delving deep into the technical aspects, as well as the financial aspects, marketing tactics, and business plans associated with each product – all in 5 minutes. A panel of 10 judges evaluated and graded the teams. A variety of innovative ideas were presented, comprising of both mobile applications and mechanical devices.

Some of the mobile applications included: a tutoring app catered to those unable to afford expensive tutors and classes, and a QR scanning app designed to reduce prices of foods nearing expiration. Some of the mechanical devices included: a mechanized pill dispenser to mitigate pharmaceutical abuse of prescribed drugs, and a trash-collecting robot to roam parks and reduce litter.

At the end of the pitch fest, the team of judges selected Team SolarClean to receive the prize money, seed funding for their SolarClean startup.

This team, consisting of Daniel Binoy, Francis Indaheng, Jinwoo Park, and Sriya Bairy, proposed to implement an automated cleaning device for solar panels, hoping to save homeowners both time and money while maintaining clean panels for maximal efficiency.

Francis Indaheng a member of Team SolarClean was thrilled at the win and was emphatic about youth staying engaged with technology. “The Youth Tech Day is important because it acts as a medium through which young people can get involved in technology and entrepreneurship. In the modern day, being involved in technology is critical because it’s all around us, and to not be up to speed with it simply puts you at a great disadvantage.”

Jinwoo Park, Team SolarClean: “When our idea received recognitions from multiple CEOs/VCs, I gained confidence in myself to seriously pursue the path of an entrepreneur.”

Team B-key, consisting of Grace Boulos, Elena Boulos, and Reva Gupta, came in second place with their hi-tech key lockboxes that utilize a biometric sensor and a powerful backend analytics engine. Team JRH, consisting of Joshua Rayan, Hannah Rayan, and Rhema Dadala, came in third place with a phone application allowing drivers to create a “call list” prior to driving, ridding of the need to handle one’s phone while driving. Hannah Rayan, Team JRH: “Since there are 1.6 million accidents caused by phone usage while driving, according to the National Safety Council, we built CallNow, an app that promotes safe calling for all and accelerated daily follow up calls for salespeople.”

Daniel Binoy from Team SolarClean had these words of advice for other youth entrepreneurs. Don’t think about what can happen in a month. Don’t think about what you can do in a year. Just focus on the 24 hours in front of you, and do what you can to be closer to where you want to be. That’s the mindset that wins. Until the last 2 weeks, all we had was an idea. To have taken that and molded it into something worth investing in has completely shifted my mindset. Before ever attempting this test, hopefulness assisted to prevent unenergetic slumps.”

Events such as the Silicon Valley Youth Tech Day are a driving force to ignite creativity in the youth, inspire innovation and encourage team works and collaboration.

Next year, the cycle of innovation will repeat, as aspiring entrepreneurs hustle for their chance to win at the next Annual Youth Tech Day. Visit www.siliconvalleycoders.org for more information on the semester long entrepreneurship bootcamp for kids. With eight current locations, expect to see many more locations launched during the Fall semester.

Daniel Binoy, Francis Indaheng, Jinwoo Park

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