Australian and New Zealand schoolgirls as young as nine have pitched their apps to top executives and engineers in Silicon Valley as part of Brisbane founded Tech Girls are Superheroes.
Five teams of school girls from Brisbane, the Gold Coast, NSW Central Coast, Adelaide and Invercargill (NZ) spent a week pitching to top global tech companies including eBay, Salesforce, IBM, Google, Accenture, Facebook, Nvidia, and Nutanix.
The teams were invited to join the once in a lifetime trip based on their success in the 2017 Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero competition, as either state or national winners. The winners, beat out 1000 other girls to take out the top prizes.
The program, created by CEO Dr. Jenine Beekhuyzen, is a 12-week STEM entrepreneurship program, teaching girls how to build apps, business plans, and pitches to solve a local community problem, while growing their technical and business skills.
Dr. Beekhuyzen says the winners pitched their solutions to executives and engineers at the sprawling campuses of eBay, Google and Facebook in Silicon Valley, and the skyscrapers of Salesforce and IBM in San Francisco.
“The girls showed real confidence in pitching their solutions, and the execs were amazed with what they have produced, and how well they pitch and respond to difficult questions,” Dr Beekhuyzen says.
“They are extraordinary STEM ambassadors for Australia and New Zealand and certainly entrepreneurs who will change the world,” says Dr. Beekhuyzen.
She says the girls also met and pitched their solutions to the CEO of Australian startup Skedulo in San Francisco, who explained his successful entrepreneurial startup journey, which led him to the USA.
The Pacific Pines Primary team Sun Fun developed a sun safety app. They were funded by Technology One for the trip and have already partnered with the Queensland Cancer Council and LA-based Suncayr.
“The girls are even forming partnerships to create their app to a wider audience and are really entrepreneurs in the making,” Dr. Beekhuyzen says.
Pacific Pines Primary School teacher Kara Griggs says the experience of visiting some of the world’s biggest tech companies was very inspiring and what the girls have learned through the program has been extraordinary.
“This truly was a trip of a lifetime, and it was invaluable not only for the girls but for us as coaches and teachers with us all getting so much out of it,” Ms. Griggs says.
Chaperone Susanna Anderson from South Australian school St. Peters Girls School commented how Adelaide doesn't have many local tech companies to expose girls to these kinds of opportunities.
“It was such a unique experience, and we are all inspired by tech and have had our eyes opened to the future,” Ms. Anderson says.
It’s the third year Dr. Beekhuyzen has led a trip to Silicon Valley with winners from the annual Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero competition. The 2018 competition has just concluded with more than 1000 girls vying for the top prize and a trip to Silicon Valley in 2019.