This post was written in august 2015, before the creation of Because I’m appy. as part of some other website maintenance i’ve decided it would be better for it to be relocated to because I’m Appy. enjoy!
Have your ever heard of Outbox Incubator?
Outbox Incubator is a 6 week long summer course which is designed to help and encourage girls from the age of 11-22 into STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and develop their startup ideas. Girls from across the EU stay in a house somewhere in London for as many weeks as they like to take part in sessions with successful business women and men to expand their STEM knowledge and business skills.
So how did I end up here? Well, throughout this school year I was lucky enough to take part in Apps for Good. A course where groups design an app to solve a problem. My Computing teacher, Mr Aitken, had seen how passionate I had become about Computing over the year. He found out about Outbox through Apps for Good and nominated me for a place.
Waiting to hear if I’d got a place was, well, it was a long day. The course is open to the EU, so I had no idea what my chances would be. I spent the whole school day looking down at my phone and constantly refreshing my emails (don’t worry, I did get work done!). It wasn’t until 7 o’clock that evening that I got the email. If I hadn’t been sitting in the audience of our annual Caithness Music Festival concert I probably would have screamed. Good job I didn’t.
So now I’m here, in London!
Some girls had been there since the launch the week before but it only took me a day to figure out the slightly chaotic routine. Our daily sessions were even better than I hoped they would be (and I knew they were bound to be good!). I started coding html (yay! coding!), spoke to inspirational women who have started businesses and learned important skills for developing Envirocache. On Wednesday we visited Goldman Sachs investment bank (it was a very very tight squeeze on the train there) where we learned eggcellent* pitching skills.
Then on Saturday we built dens out of STIXX (reinforced rolled up newspaper) and designed a new item for IKEA; well we tried to anyway. Our chill out time in the evening is some of the best fun I’ve had. So far I’ve modelled in a bin bag fashion show (classy, right?), painted abstract art with a professional artist, done numerous yoga sessions, had my nails painted with an upcoming UK nail brand, Little Ondine (I’m now an ambassador of Little Ondine) and watched ‘Pretty Little Liars’ outside in the dark. Do you know what else was fun? Staying up till stupid o’clock in the morning, loads of us crammed into one room and reading One Direction fan fiction because it was so bad it was good. And I still have a week to go! Finally, I ended a busy week with cake. Why cake? It was my 15th birthday! At midnight I was presented with a waffle cake and then in the evening a red velvet cake, yummy! It was a birthday I certainly won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
*When instructed to re-design the shopping cart, one team took the idea of broken eggs and turned their pitch into just egg puns the whole way through. They really cracked us up.
Week 2 was slightly different to any other week of Outbox. The only thing on everyone’s mind was the fast approaching Outbox Incubator Demo Day, a chance to pitch to angel investors and showcase our start-ups. Aside from a beauty night, spaghetti bolognese and some films, downtime was out the window as everyone worked diligently on their pitch decks and those not pitching were helping. Yet, as faithful Outbox Execs, we still took part in sessions. That week there was marketing, mindfulness and… more coding! We all felt antisocial tapping away at our laptops making sure our pitch deck was perfect, but we were all in the same boat and as we sat watching each other practice our pitches, I really saw what a lovely family we had all become.
*Cue dramatic music* Pitch Day. Everyone was up by 6:30am, dressed smart and ready to go. After a quick unscheduled morning sprint to the train we were on our way. Despite living at the other end of the UK, my dad managed to come down the day before collecting me to watch me pitch and my uncle came too. We were all stood outside in the park before we went one by one inside to pitch. Everyone was dotted around the park, pacing back and forth reciting their pitches to themselves, it was quite funny to watch but also showed how much this meant to everyone and how passionate we all are. I have to say my pitch went brilliantly and I have definitely done my team proud (I pitched on their behalf). How do I know this? Because Envirocache won Outstanding Design and now we have an extra boost of funding to help us along the way. The whole day was amazing and everyone was proud of everyone. We celebrated in different ways afterwards, some went to the Olympic Park, others went to McDonalds and Sainsbury’s.
My final day was really rather eventful. I postponed my drop off to the train station to get the sleeper train home after a spontaneous decision to go and see the Sherlock BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. The concert was great although we were late getting back to the house so eventually the rather stressed James family arrived at Euston with 2 minutes to run to the train. Waiting for a lift when you’re in a hurry is painful and in my haste I left my slippers at the Outbox House. Woops! I wonder what we would have done during the 24 hours we would have had to wait for the next train? I don’t regret going to the Sherlock Proms. Even though it made me late, I am now super obsessed with Sherlock!
I have honestly never met a group of such friendly and funny girls. I felt welcomed into the ‘Outbox Family’ immediately and I know that I’m going to be in contact with the girls for a long time after this. It’s so nice to find a girls who are like me and where I don’t feel constantly judged for being different; geeky. Not that that’s ever bothered me 😉
The Stemettes have really hit the nail on the head with the Outbox Incubator. It just works. They’re promoting young entrepreneurs and students in STEM and showing that there are successful business women out there and it can be done.
Apps for Good and Outbox Incubator have changed my life – If I hadn’t done Apps for Good I wouldn’t have considering even taking Computer Science as a subject, and now I want a career in it! I never thought about how far we would come with our idea Envirocache and what opportunities would arise from it. It just goes to show that if you’re passionate about something and willing to step outside the box, the world is your oyster.