Tuesday, 5 August 2014


Hi All, In this post I would like to share my experience as mentor for mentoring more than 200 girls in my native place Madurai for Technovation challenge 2014. The journey of 12 weeks with these young talents were really unforgettable in my life. I felt that my knowledge got enlightened during this mentoring program.

Motivation behind mentoring
God creates human with imbalance mean someone has more knowledge, high IQ someone struggle to learn new thing. Someone is reach forever, someone is poor by birth. I believe this inequality is to make sure that humans balance themselves and live a better life. So if your are geek by nature make sure that your knowledge is equally shared with everyone. If you are rich by birth make sure that your money is equally distributed to everyone.

About Me
This is Senthilkumar working as a Research engineer in Qualcomm Inc Bangalore. I was born and brought up from Madurai. I did my graduation in electronics and communication engineering from KLN College of engineer Madurai and passed out from 2010. I am basically mentor who love to motivate young girls in technological and research field. The main objective is to make them a future entrepreneurs. To know more about me check out here www.allaboutsenthil.appspot.com

About Technovation
Technovation is the global technology entrepreneurship program for girls, with over 1,300 alumnae from 19 countries. Middle school, high school, and university students work in teams to research, design, build, and launch a mobile app prototype through a 50-hour curriculum over 3 months, with guidance from dedicated teachers and female mentors who are professionals in STEM and business careers. Then they pitch their mobile app "startups" to real investors via YouTube and compete for a chance to travel to Silicon Valley to make live pitches for $20k in awards. No prior app development experience is necessary and it’s free to participate. Learn more at http://technovationchallenge.org

Technovation Challenge in India
WeTech(Women Enhancing in Technology) is an NGO which brought this Technovation program to India this year. They have partnered with companies like Qualcomm, Google and Goldman Sach, to execute the program in India to give opportunity to young girls. I was invited to be a Mentor representing QUALCOMM to mentor one team based on Bangalore NPS (National public School).

Conducting Technovation in Madurai
But I was born and brought up from Madurai I would like to bring this opportunity to Madurai. I know girls in Madurai have lots of potential to create execute new ideas and compete with teams in world wide.
To recruit young girls for this program I started composing mail to all the Women College in Madurai. I collected their mail id from college website and send a mail about Technovation program. But unfortunately I didn't get any response from any college. So I requested my sister ManiMala to create awareness about this program. I asked her to register as a regional coordinator. She was alumni of Madura and Thaigarajar College. She went to those colleges and gave a presentation about this program. As a result she recruited more than 200 girls from these two colleges.

Initial thoughts of mentoring
After recruiting the mass 200 girls we started registering the student’s team names in Technovation official site to get the study materials and other stuffs. The initial thought of my mentoring is to have Hangout session or Skype call to all the team on every weekend to prepare them for the contest. But later I realized most of them don’t have access to internet. But it doesn't stop me I started executing the plan B mentor them face to face.
Weekends in Madurai
To organize the face to face mentoring the biggest problem is a common place where we can bring these girls and teach the Technovation Curriculum. We requested Madura College to give the permission to conduct this program on weekend. The most challenging task in the entire journey is to convince the college to get the place in their campus, But Principal of Madura college and Latha mam professor Zoology department, Madura College made it easy. We have to say a big thank to Pricipal and Latha mam, without them Technovation in Madurai is one of my dream I use to have. I started travelling to Madurai on every weekend to teach the Technovation curriculum.

Organizing the Classes
Mani Mala work on weekdays with Latha mam writing the letter for the permission, schedule the class timing and inform the girls about the class. The interesting part here is passing the class information to these girls. Basically they don’t have access to internet, so we can’t send a single mail to all the register girls about the class timing. The next only option is to send a SMS to them as they all have basic phone. We have 200 register girls which mean we have to send 200 SMS. But as per the TRAI regulation in India you can only send 100 SMS per day. So we split into two groups first 100 ManiMala will send SMS and next 100 students I will send from my number. We have class on both Saturday and Sunday morning 10AM to 1PM. The purpose of having class on two day is if student who missed the class on Saturday due to some personal reason still can attend the same on Sunday.

Life changing 12 weeks
These are the Technovation curriculum for the 12 week program which I taught to these girls for the past three month
Week Lesson
  • Learn about App Inventor and complete and hack tutorials
  • Complete Mole Mash 2 before lesson 2
  • Brainstorm your app idea with your team
  • Complete the Videowall2 tutorial before lesson 3
  • Create a survey and ask 20 friends to take it
  • Outline a plan for completing prototype.
  • Complete the ColoredDots tutorial before lesson 4
Week 4
  • Analyze competition by testing usability of similar
  • Finish paper prototype and bring to class next week.
  • Test your paper prototype and incorporate feedback from peers
  • Finish skeleton of screens in App Inventor.
  • Complete business model worksheet in Student
  • Continue to work on app prototype-- implement all transitions in the locks editor to help the user move from one screen to another
  • Complete Business Plan template draft
  • Update your personal brand on social media
  • Logo and color scheme for your app
  • 100-word app description
  • Collect feedback on your app description
  • Finalize your Business Plan – type it up
  • Show at least 3 functional screens of your app
  • Beautify your app look
  • Complete 50% of your PowerPoint slide deck
  • Plan for your pitch presentation
  • Test your app with a user and make adjustments
  • Collect evidence/images from social media promoting your app for your presentation
  • Work on final deliverables
  • Assign a team member to each deliverable that needs to be completed
  • Make sure the team is in agreement on who is working on which deliverable
  • Insert at least 3 functional screen shots of your app prototype into your presentation.
  • Practice your pitch and record feedback.
  • Shoot your pitch video and edit the video
  • Make a plan to upload final deliverable by May 2nd

Deliverable submission
The 12 weeks mentoring 6 hackathons finally these girls able to give life to their ideas. The deadline for deliveralbe submission is May 2 2014. As end of the 12 week curriculum this girls has to submit the below deliverable to Technovation.

  • Presentation PPT
  • Business plan
  • Product description 100 words
  • App pitch video 4mins
  • App Demo video 2mins
  • App screen short (3)
  • App inventor source code.

Mentor to director
Pitch video is an one of the important deliverable in the contest. But the challenge is taking the pitch video and uploading it to YouTube. As most of the team have basic phone they are not able to record their pitch video. So our last week hackathon we decided to have pitch recording for all the teams. I used my digital camera and Nexus phone to shoot their pitch video. This is the funniest part of my mentoring experience me and my sister literally become a movie directory and dialog writers. These girls will give their pitch script in Tamil and we translate it to English and give a practice to them to make sure they talk the entire 4 mins in English. This is really different experience for them. There are multiple retakes yeah it is really fun we enjoyed the weekend a lot.

Wrap up and Submit 
The have completed their paper and ppt prototype of the idea. They completed their android app in app inventor. They prepared their business plan with app demo video and pitch video. These deliverables are submitted to Technovation forum on May 2, 2014. All the teams deliverable went to different level of judging from mentors all around the world as a result three teams from Madurai got selected for best idea in Regional category .Other team got selected for different category.

Girls in Bangalore 
Top three teams from Madurai invited to attend the WeTech Pitch event in 19th July Bangalore. I have booked ticket for all the team from Madurai to Bangalore. This task not really easy as i expected. Because all these girls are first time travelling outside Tamil Nadu. So their parents are not ready to send them alone. I called all the parents and convinced them that how important this trip for these girls career. That weekend i made more than 65 calls from my phone to convince their parents to send them to Bangalore. Finally they agreed to send them, they boarded bus at 9:30 PM Friday 18, July from Madurai and reached Bangalore at 7:30 AM Saturday 19, July. I went to bus stop to receive all the girls. In Saturday morning i am able to see more excited faces, for them visiting Bangalore is like visiting US at first time. All are more excited and happy. Here i want share one thing i am somewhat good in mentoring but completely Zero in organizing i felt that organizing is the toughest job. The entire 12 weeks my sister take care of organizing events i just went their and start sharing my experience with them. But this time my sister did't come with these girls due to some personal reason. I am really clueless how i am going to manage all the 15 girls. I have to arrange place for refreshment, breakfast, transport facility to reach the event. I planned everything perfectly but i don't know how i am going to execute as a single person. Then i asked help from my colleagues Vijay and Suganya. They immediately accepted my last minute request and stayed with me a whole day. Here i have to thank them that you people made it.   As the plan is that Wetech event starts at 2PM. So i thought of giving lab tour to these girls in our Qualcomm Bangalore in Morning and afternoon i can bring this girls to the auditorium.

Girls Visit Qualcomm
I have to thank my colleague and mentor Dhana who helped me to get permission to visit our lab from security team. I brought this girls inside our RF LAB and demonstrated some of the board and wireless chips. I have explained them how we works and what product we are making. I hope all of them got some inside of  Tech companies.

Winning Moment
The Top three winners from Madurai team was invited to Bangalore WeTech pitch event to collect their prize and form the networking with industry top people. The pitch event happened on July 19, 2014. Two teams from Madura College and one team from Thiagarajar College got selected for the WeTech pitch event. For remaining team there is next Pitch event will be happening in Chennai on second week of September

What Next

  • Let Start a company
  • Me2Mentor
  • MentorSpace
  • Connect More
  • Teaching Open source Technology

Let Start a company
Technovation is not just a contest where girls will develop their android application and winner will get prize. This is more than a contest, the whole objective of the program is to motivate these girls to start a technological company using their idea. They will pitch their ideas to Venture capitals and investor for funding. To enable this dream i am working with these girls to develop a platform called Me2Mentor and MentorSpace. Technovation got over but still i am travelling in weekend to teach opensource technology such as Linux and python to these girls.

As a end result young girls (technovation participants)  from Madurai started their own company TheScreenInc and applied for startup programs 10000startups, Google Fast track and citrix startup accelerator. They are waiting for the result. I pray god that they should selected for this program to make their idea into a product to touch people lives.

About Me2Mentor
Me2mentor is a software platform which provides opportunity to everyone irrespective of Geo location and internet facility. The idea is anyone who having passionate about technology and want to pursue their career in research field can use this platform. A basic phone with SMS facility is more than enough to get everything Me with these girls are developing this platform using Python, Google app engine and twilio voice and SMS API.It will be great if some googlers ready to help us to bring this platform.up and running in Google cloud.

How it is working

  • To Register in Me2mentor platform just send an SMS with REG <your name> <interest> <institution> to Me2mentor platform
  • After successful registration you will get a unique Id for further communication.
  • If you have idea want to validate with right people send an SMS IDEA <uniqid > <idea description>
  • If your idea is really good Me2Mentor will tweets your idea to celebrity twitter page to get more visibility
  •  If you want to connect to mentor send an SMS MENTOR <<uniqid > <area of interest>
  • Student can use the MentorSpace to have live hangout with mentors.

What is MentorSpace
Mentorspace is a physical location or class room with one projector, one Laptop with 3G dongle and sufficient space to accommodate 30 students. where we connect the young girls with right mentor. we are talking with Colleges and Schools in Madurai to create a Mentor Space in their campus. We need companies support to arrange this stuff in mentor space to connect these girls with a right mentor anywhere in the world.

Connect More

  • We are really working hard to connect more girls with WeTech and Technovation. 
  • We hope Technology challenge 2015 the girls list grow up from 3digit to 4 digit. 
  • I am translating all the Technovation curriculum to Tamil to avoid the language barrier and make sure this curriculum should reach every one. 
  • App inventor demo in Tamil. I am making some of the basic app inventor tutorials in Tamil and plan to upload it to YouTube.
Teaching open source Technology

We are working with Firefox team Larissa Brown Shapiro and Priyanga NG(Firefox India Women Representation) to conduct a Firefox Webmaker workshop in Madurai. Created a Madurai Ubuntu Loco to create awarness about open source technology

1 comment:

  1. Hi, thank you very much for help. I am going to test that in the near future. Cheers

    Ionic Framework Development Company India