By Jeri Countryman

The Technovation Challenge, a program to promote women in technology by giving girls the skills and confidence they need to be successful in computer science and entrepreneurship, will be held on Saturday, April 28th and the National Pitch Night will be held on Thursday, May 3rd from 6-9PM.

The challenge asks young women to develop a mobile phone app prototype, writing a business plan and pitching their idea to a panel of venture capital and technology start-up judges.  During the ten-week program, girls are supported by high school teachers and female mentors in the technology industry. This Spring over 500 girls will participate in programs across the country in the San Francisco, Mountain View, Berkeley, San Jose, Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles.

“I’ve learned how to actually make a game that goes on a phone. It’s really interesting to learn how a developer actually programs apps. I’m excited to be behind the scenes as an app maker. Science is my worst subject, but Technovation is fun!” said one Technovation Challenge student.

The Technovation Challenge culminates with regional pitch events when teams of girls pitch their ideas to leaders from venture capital firms and the technology industry. The winning teams then move on the National Pitch Night. These events will include a poster session where the girls demo the phone app prototypes, a keynote speaker, pitches by the girls and questions from the judges, and the announcement of the Technovation Challenge winner.

Some of the judges and speakers include Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz, Adeo Ressi of the Founder Institute, Eva Ho of Factual, David Lee of SV Angel, Angela Benton of NewME Accelerator, and Sandy Jen of Meebo.

Iridescent, the science education non-profit that runs the Technovation Challenge, has invited guest speakers from leading technology startups to share their stories of a path to a career in technology and their lessons learned along the way.  These videos and many more are available for you to learn from, on the Technovation Challenge website.

Preview from some of Technovation Challenge leaders in the videos below:

Anu Tewary, Founder Technovation Challenge, shared what inspired her to start the Technovation Challenge and that success is the journey along a bumpy road.

Janice Fraser, Founder & CEO LUXr, talked about how being an entrepreneur is the ability to reinvent the world.

Eric Ries, Founder The Lean Startup, discussed that programming is magic and how the Lean Startup can help find out if your idea is as good as you think it is.

Angie Chang, Co-founder & Editor-in-Chief Women 2.0, encourages girls to get excited and make things.  Her three tips for entrepreneurs are 1.Have a business model 2. Know your numbers.  Math counts.  3. Try try again.  No one gets it right the first time.

Leah Busque, Founder and CPO TaskRabbit, shared her story of founding TaskRabbit.  She tells the girls to follow their passion, trust themselves and be confident in what you bring to the table.

This work has been made possible because of the generous support of the Office of Naval Research. Register for regional and national pitch events here.


Jeri Countryman is the Director of Curriculum and Assessment at Iridescent, a science-education nonprofit that helps engineers, scientists and high-tech professionals bring cutting edge science, technology and engineering to high school girls and underprivileged minority children and their families. Jeri has graduate degrees from Mills College in Interdisciplinary Science and UC Santa Cruz in Education and has over a decade of experience encouraging girls to pursue science, technology and engineering careers.

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