What happens when you put 115 scientists with a load of entrepreneurial nous in a house in for three weeks? Ideas multiply. Since late July, Outbox Incubator has been a nesting ground for some of the freshest plans in London. Businesswomen from the ages of 12 – 22 have spent three weeks sharing insight, revenue models and hastags to come up with the most spot-on start-ups on the internet.
What happens when all the scientists are women? The cohort teach themselves- TIME magazine’s most influential people chat to 12-year-olds desperate to keep battery in their dad’s car; university graduates mentor school leavers through A-Level results and innovation-mad international competition winners share their expertise. None of the proposals are only in it for £$£€ (nb: no ¥). These girls want to teach you about how ethical your kitchen towel is, they want to diversify the workforce and they want to send you stress balls in the post.
The Outbox Incubator team taught the girls about ideation, scale-up and business operations. They ‘tweak’ the girl’s ideas of successful web presence and they help them shape their projects into pitches. I had the absolute pleasure of attending Demo Day this Saturday when the students took to the stage in Hoxton Square in an attempt to convince big names to back them. There were groups in co-ordinated, branded clothing, one-girl companies with more twitter followers than I’ve said the words ‘plastic electronics’ and more realistic costings than you ever get on Dragon’s Den. There was definitely an air of excitement inside O2’s ‘Think Big Hub’- with parents, supporters and business people gathered around a flickering projector (nice to know they exist in the real world and not just universities!) to hear about what we should invest in. The girls were confident without being arrogant and had refined their schemes into jargon-free two-minute masterpieces. Honestly: I would have backed them all. Even over lunch whilst the judges deliberated over who to award prizes and sponsorship to, the group were nothing but supportive of one another- “I’ve learnt so much from ..” / “How brilliant is she?!”. The parents were loving it: their daughters were happy, sure, but they were interested in the presentations of other children (…I’m not lying, these ideas were genuinely awesome, I kept feeling we shouldn’t be allowed to hear them for fear of stealing IP).
Next on the student’s itinerary is heading back South East, for another three weeks of incubation: making prototypes, working with customers and building traction. I don’t think anyone in Shoreditch on Saturday could doubt we were with some of the most switched on young minds in the country- it just so happens they were all girls.
I’ll be a STEMette for life. 😀