Last night was Demo Day for the RookieOven Academy and brought an end to our second cohort. With the Academy the goal is for the young people to come along to RookieOven, form groups and then for each group to come up with product ideas and turn them into the foundations of a solid business.
With the RookieOven Academy we're not looking for academic achievers. We want young people with a natural talent, that relish a challenge and have a passion for tech, design and innovation.
RookieOven is helping Glasgow (and the rest of Scotland) to have a more vibrant community of home grown tech companies. Our meetups are well attended by everything from people with a whiff of an idea up to venture backed startups. Our coworking space in Govan works hard to provide a home for the tech community of the city, we have amazing companies basing themselves in the space and we host a range of meetups and event.
But our community is nothing if we don't continue to produce new talent. Looking to the future we feel strongly that Scottish education is failing out industry. Schools are often a poor learning environment for creativity and for teaching technical subjects but at RookieOven thats exactly what the space is designed for.
In schools we find teachers are so busy keeping doing the job of teaching the (often out of date) curriculum they struggle to keep up to date with industry and a fast changing technology landscape. But the companies in RookieOven have to keep up to date with (and are often at the forefront of) a fast changing industry.
We felt passionate that RookieOven was uniquely positioned to try something new and to deliver a unique, impactful and invaluable learning opportunity to young people.
Since the start of November each week we've called on talent from across the Glasgow tech industry to come to RookieOven and impart their experience, knowledge and top tips with the Academy participants to help them develop their digital products and a valid business model.
Speakers and subjects being:
Each week the speakers would give a 20 minute introduction to the subject area - sharing their industry experience and career advice - and were on hand to give one to one advice to groups. Through the sessions groups were encouraged to use tools and services used in industry.
We had three team, all working on very different concepts.
A offline local information source. Ideal for walkers, tourists and cyclists this product allows you to store offline local information with the business model using premium listing for businesses to advertise and a monthly subscription for users looking for more offline storage.
PA is a personal assistant for your finances aimed at students. As a student you need to manage your own budget for the first time, with PA you can ask for help on how to spend your money to allow to reach goals and it will analyse your outgoings and identify areas you're spending too much.
Aimed at students living on their own for the first time. This app aims to help them reduce food waste and be healthy by providing healthy recipes tied to fitness information. Using barcoding scanning students can keep a track of what they're eating and eat healthier with the suggested recipes.
Over the pervious weeks the groups had been validating, designing, coming up with branding, content strategy and pulling that together into a coherent story they would pitch on to on Demo Day to an industry expert judge. Our judge for Demo Day was Claire Scally joint Managing Director of TRCmedia. TRCmedia run the excellent Cross Creative and Special Edition programmes for tech companies in Scotland do a great job providing world class training and development for tech talent in Scotland.
The three teams had 5 minutes each to communicate their work and share their story. This was followed by questions from Claire and the rest of the audience. Timings were brutal and talks cut off at the 5 minute mark. All the teams did a great job with Claire saying "I was really impressed with the talent, ideas and enthusiasm on show from the participants I met. The RookieOven Academy is a great initiative and TRCmedia is delighted to meet the digital champions of the future."
Judging was close. All the teams has a web presence (either a live site or social media profiles), they all either have mockups and user journeys for their products or high fidelity mock ups and they had all identified a problem they were trying to solve.
The winning team on the night was PA, the personal assistant to help students with their finances, with prizes of an Amazon Kindle Fire tablet.
Demo Day is the end of the Academy programme for this cohort but their engagement with RookieOven doesn't stop there. Going forward the group will very much be part of the RookieOven community and be able to tap into the knowledge and experience of the companies and individuals across it. They will also be able to come by the RookieOven space in Govan and use it as a basis for growing their business.
Additionally the team at Amazon Web Services has a program for startups called AWS Activate, which provides Academy teams with the following benefits:
The three groups now have one of the best foundations for young people wanting to start a tech business in Scotland.
The RookieOven Academy (both the programme from June/July this year and this current one) were funded by Glasgow City Council and Skills Development Scotland as a pilot. Our aim was to validate that our community can give back effectively, to show young people can produce excellent work in a short time scale and to do so in an open and transparent way with the aim of inspiring teachers/schools/colleges across Scotland to implement similar programmes in their schools.
The Academy has been a success but so far it has relied on the good will and support of so many members of the community. From Girl With a Camera doing photography for free to hottinroof giving advice and support for PR and Amazon providing AWS credit to Academy teams. Going forward; for us to reach our full potential we will need further resource:
My challenge to those reading this is to reach out to us, give support and help in anyway you can that will allow us to fulfil our potential with the Academy and help even more young people in Glasgow.
Keep an eye on us in 2017 as we will be continuing the Academy, as members of the Glasgow tech industry we can't afford not to.
We're collating resources used in the Academy into a public Dropbox folder. I would love to see teachers from across Scotland pick this up and use them in their classrooms - if you do please get in touch and let me know how you're getting on.
That offer for help stands for education institutions in Scotland looking to help young people in tech just get in touch - firstname.lastname@example.org