A huge congratulations, to year 9 students and founders of EatMe, India and Siena, for winning Junior Engineer of the Year Award at the Big Bang Fair – the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK.

We’ve been so impressed with India and Siena, and their approach so far, often making decisions that far more experienced founders struggle with.

The girls first came to see us a few months back to get some advice on how to move forward with their idea – EatMe, an app that alerts users when food in their fridge is about to go off –  in preparation for the regional rounds of the Big Bang competition.

They ended up getting through to the national finals, only to find that their school didn’t have the funds to cover their expenses. Undeterred, they did what any smart entrepreneur would do and approached some key people in the local tech startup scene and started raising money.

Their biggest concern at the time was not knowing the right technical language to explain their idea. Other kids in their class (boys mainly) had done a bit of coding and made functioning technical prototypes. India and Siena were nervous that, not being coders themselves, they wouldn’t be able to do their idea justice at the national competition.

They pitched us their idea and we were blown away by their approach to startup development. We gave them a bit of a cash to help them get to the competition (although we wish we could have invested for real!) and armed them with the right language to use when they were talking about the tech the app would use.

It wasn’t a case of learning to code or build hardware, it was about understanding what it was they were doing, and practising different ways of talking about it.

Since then they’ve met with a number of other innovative Bristol companies and organisations, raised over £900, and won the Junior Engineer Award at the Big Bang Fair – not bad for a couple of non-technical founders!

We spoke to the girls again to find out more about their journey since we first met them…

Raising money and making connections

We put India and Siena in touch with Marvel – an app for creating interactive prototypes – who showed them how to turn their paper designs into clickable app-style prototypes that would allow judges and potential users to see how the app would work in practice.

At Bristol creative hub, the Pervasive Media Studio, the girls met a couple of developers who made a QR code reader that could read ‘use by’ dates that the girls stuck on food labels. A referral to the Knowle West Media Centre got them some help laser cutting a shelf in a mini fridge where they could insert the scanner.

By getting out and talking to the right people with a smart, problem-focused approach, India and Siena were able to raise the £900 needed to get to the competition and buy the tech needed to demonstrate their idea fully.

“We wrote a letter [to potential funders]” the girls said, “saying what the competition was and what we wanted the money for. [We wrote about] our product and why it would be a good thing to invest in and encourage… it was amazing to see the opportunities we got and the fact we were able to practice talking in a more adult reality.”

The competition

Over 600 young people pitched their science and engineering projects to the judges and over 80,000 attendees.

Pitching at the Big Bang Fair

India and Siena mentioned that there was some amazing competition including “one girl who designed a glove which connects sign language to spoken languages across the world. It manages your movements and changes these into speech through an earpiece and has a motion sensor in the glove.”

For their work on EatMe, they were given the Junior Engineer of the Year title – the engineering award for years 7-9 at the Big Bang Fair. An incredible feat for two girls whose biggest concern at the beginning of this journey was that they didn’t consider themselves engineers!

Lessons learned

The girls learned a lot of lessons that would apply to most early stage startup founders…

“Try everything” they said “and in reality [even] if you don’t make the next stage it will still be a learning process… We were really worried about continuing and it being possible… everyone was telling us that loads of really good people had gone through and don’t get your hopes up. And then we were in the final and it was amazing!”

“Always develop your idea” they added. “At the start we [said we] wanted to ‘be like this’ and when we talked to people they said ‘why don’t you change this or add this’ and actually that was a really good idea.”

The future of EatMe

India and Siena have come so far in the past two months, “so we definitely want to continue it because it’s amazing how much we’ve improved and developed ourselves.”

We’re really excited about what they future holds for them, and they’ll certainly be keeping some of our more experienced entrepreneurial clients on their toes!

We’ll keep you up to date about EatMe here, or you can follow them @EatMeApp1 on Twitter.

If you have a startup or an idea, get in touch today to find out how we can collaborate.

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