Inspiring Juniors Q&A: Rose Dyson

Meet UK Inspiring Juniors 2018 winner Rose Dyson, from Barnsley.

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1. How did you first get into technology?

My first experience of utilising technology was the exercise of social media for business. At the age of 15, when I created my business Pura Cosmetics, being a start-up enterprise, I was very very limited in terms of my marketing budget. Therefore, in order to spread the word about my venture and being part of the internet-savvy generation, I automatically set up Facebook, Instagram and Twitter business pages. Simply by posting just a couple of updates a day, the following across the networks increased significantly day by day. I remember looking online one day and seeing that the Pura page had something around 250 followers on Twitter and thinking wow – that’s amazing! I thought it was crazy how 250 people knew about my business. Now, the pages have thousands of followers – thousands of potential and existing, loyal customers. However, I really got into technology when I set live my e-commerce website back in March 2016. I love being able to edit my site and look at new orders coming through straight from my phone when I’m on the go! I love having the ability to fully control the set up of my website and making it’s look/image perfect for the target audience.  

2. Tell us about your project.

My project is my cosmetics business, Pura Cosmetics, which is now my full-time job having completed my A levels and sixth form this summer! My business means that much to me – I feel married to it in a way but this is something I feel all entrepreneurs can relate to! 

At the age of 15, I decided to take part in my high school’s enterprise competition whilst studying for my GCSE qualifications. I identified a gap in the cosmetics market and came up with the idea for Pura based on my love of quality, ethical beauty products and my frustration when my pocket money as a teen could never stretch to their often extortionate prices. So I set out creating recipes for my lip products in my kitchen. I invested just £25 as that was all I would part with in case it went wrong! I went on to win the school business contest back in June 2015 and the rest is history! 

I now sell my pout-pleasing range through my e-commerce website (of course!) as well as via a range of independent department stores, gift shops and salons across the North of England. The brand has also been featured in nationwide beauty subscription boxes after being so popular on social media. I’m proud to have established a nationally recognisable brand whilst being in full-time sixth form education for the past two years.

3. What do you love about technology?

I love how technology’s a free, accessible tool for accelerating business growth! It’s unbelievable how I can use the internet to reach and make leads all over the world at the click of a button. I’m fortunate to know technology inside out being part of the generation that has grown up not knowing any different and this has certainly benefitted me immensely with my business venture. Technology is a great way to start up from scratch and young people with ideas for businesses should definitely give them a go and maximise tech to their advantage!

4. Who inspires you?

Umar Kamani of PrettyLittleThing.com is a huge inspiration to me. He founded an online fashion retailer with his brother Adam at the age of 24 and his success has been unbelievable with his current net worth standing at £250 million. Pretty Little Thing has grown drastically year on year since it’s creation in 2012. In 2014 the company was fulfilling around 20 orders daily; whereas, by 2015, the workforce was shipping over 20,000 orders a day! He created such success and growth through the power of social media and e-tailing by having a target audience of 12 – 25 year olds - the internet savvy generation. He also managed to get A list celebrities such as Nicki Minaj, Rita Ora and Miley Cyrus wearing his clothing range and posting photos of themselves on Instagram.

Being in a similar female-orientated field to Umar and being an online retailer myself, I would love to follow in his footsteps. Now I continue to increase my social media activity and seek exposure from celebrities and influencers just like he did. It’s just proof that age doesn’t define you and young entrepreneurs can go against the odds and becomes extremely successful, even millionaires by the end of their twenties! Hard work certainly pays off!

5. What is your ultimate dream for the future?

My ultimate dream is to conquer the worldwide lip care market and I know the way to do this is through technology! Technology in many ways – from more efficient manufacturing processes to the distribution to customers, global marketing strategies to connecting with new stockists and firms to work and collaborate with. I hope that one day Pura Cosmetics will be an internationally recognisable brand and the go-to lip care product for consumers all around the globe. 

Inspiring Juniors Q&A: Avye Couloute

Meet UK Inspiring Juniors 2018 winner Avye Couloute, from London.

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1. How did you first get into technology?

I first became interested in tech when I was seven after attending a coding class. It was fun and I wanted to explore more. Soon after I began going to the Raspberry Jams in Covent Garden & then different Coder dojos in London.

2. Tell us about your project.

I wanted to help get more girls involved in coding and tech so I organised my own Girls Into Coding event for 15 girls, delivering three different workshops – and I gave each girl a kit to continue coding and physical computing at home and beyond. I also shared with them some of the books that I’ve found inspiring. To help me do this, I reached out to some of the people that I know in the tech and digital making community and they agreed to be part of the event - helping to deliver workshops, lightning talks and to help with the smooth running of the event on the day. The event took place on Sunday 8th July and it was a success. The next step would be to build upon the success of this event & use it as a launch pad to develop & deliver a series of similar events throughout the year.

3. What do you love about technology?

I love coding and physical computing. I’ve had a lot of fun using the Micro: bit and Raspberry Pi to control robots that I make out of upcycled objects. It’s great using different components and new types of technology. When I’m stuck or just don’t understand something, there’s always someone from the tech and digital making community that is willing to help - it’s a really great network. The things that I make & projects that I have worked on have given me opportunities to experiment, invent, discover, share, network, collaborate, challenge myself & grow.

4. Who inspires you?

There are lots of people that inspire me. Sometimes it’s their ideas; their determination; their passion; their drive; their energy; their mission; their entrepreneurialism; their attitude or their courage. The people below have all inspired me in some way. Some of them I have read or heard about, while others I have met or reached out to.

5. What is your ultimate dream for the future?

To create more opportunities to bring more and more girls to the STEM table, who will, in turn, do the same - and maybe together enter STEM careers & start businesses.

Inspiring Juniors Q&A: Joana Baptista

Meet UK Inspiring Juniors 2018 winner Joana Baptista, from Oxford.

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1. How did you first get into technology?

I’ve always been acutely aware of everything in the tech space, but I’d say the time I really got involved with programming to a point where I never looked back was during a summer coding camp called Young Rewired State. I did this at RAL in Didcot for the first time aged 12, but kept coming back year after year because I loved it so much. Here I learnt some of the very basics of programming, and through building projects and then presenting them in front of hundreds of people at their culminating conference at the end of the week I began to develop a deeper understanding of what it meant to be in STEM.

From here I attended a business hackathon at Oxford Brookes University for students and adults, which I won. I ended up developing this business further, with investment from O2, the WMG group (sponsored by the European Union) and Natural Motion. The business itself, an attachment to your toothbrush to help and incentivise young children to improve their brushing, required a lot of technology, and proved a huge personal learning curve for me. I also had the opportunity to pitch this business to HRH Princess Anne in the Salesforce tower with STEMettes, as part of a flagship team of members for Outbox Incubator, a STEM business incubator that I attended over the summer of my 14th birthday. With these foundations in technology I’ve began helping others too, launching a code club, delivering internet safety workshops, and educating teachers on what they can do, to name a few. But if I was to pick a pivotal point in my life for where my passion for tech/programming began, I would say it was as soon as I discovered all the incredibly cool things that could be done with it.

2. Tell us about your project.

I describe my life a bit like a Pick ’n’ Mix, I like to do a little bit of everything. My latest project has been creating a series is children’s picture books tackling social issues. Each story takes a modern twist on a classic tale, such as Rapunzel, to bring more openminded views surrounding topics such as feminism, disabled rights and racism, to name a few. My first big project was creating an attachment to your toothbrush to help young children improve their brushing and motivate them. Since then, I've been opened up to a huge range of opportunities business wise, but what I most enjoy doing is giving back and igniting a love for tech in others. I set up a free-to-attend code club with Barclays, and run a whole range of coding and internet safety workshops in primary schools. I also attend panel events and talks, such as with Facebook for International Women’s Day, and with GirlGuiding at Cambridge University to discuss STEM careers. I also love to work with Schools and Universities, advising teachers on how to deal with misogyny and promoting entrepreneurship amongst students. To sum up, I’d probably describe myself as an entrepreneur with a conscious, I’m determined to not only create a business that everyone recognises, but also help others to be recognised.

3. What do you love about technology?

I love many things about tech, but one of my favourites is how I can create something really complex from absolutely nothing. The idea of being able to code a program to do something crazy that started off with just a few words on a page and an idea in my head really excites me. I love solving complex problems, figuring out the maths behind it and feeling the satisfaction when I’ve solved it. Another thing I love about tech is being able to share it with other people. There’s such an inclusive and inspiring atmosphere around tech and I love working on something with people from all walks of life, united under the common interest of doing something great with technology.

4. Who inspires you?

My two biggest idols have to be Michelle Obama and Beyoncé, they both are the picture of inner confidence and strength, which are so important for women to have. One of my biggest role models doesn’t actually come from the tech world, but actually somewhere in-between the tech and the football world - Karren Brady. I really admire her drive and tenacity, and her dedication to stick to her morals. Within tech, I’ve always admired Cheryl Sandberg, and of course, Ada Lovelace. I admire how pioneering they both were in their respective time periods.

5. What is your ultimate dream for the future?

This might either come across as very cheesy, or very selfish, but I promise you it’s neither. I know I’ve achieved success in my life when two people in a random part of the world have a conversation about a 'Joana Baptista' and they both know who I am. I want people to know my name, and I want them to recognise me as an inspirational woman who changed the world in her own right. I want to leave a positive mark on society that my children, grandchildren and everyone else can be proud of. If I could do just one thing in the world, it would be unlocking the power of girls from underprivileged communities and giving them the chance they deserve to thrive.

Inspiring Juniors Q&A: Sara Conejo Cervantes

Meet our UK Inspiring Juniors 2018 winners! First up, Sara Conejo Cervantes from London. 

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1. How did you first get into technology?

From a young age I have been really into problem solving and technology was one way that led me to gaining solutions. This encouraged me greatly to attend hackathons where I could collaborate with others to create mini projects such as an Alexa studying Skill. 

2. Tell us about your project.

The project that I have been working on for the last 8 months, in collaboration with 3 other colleagues, has been making a robot which plays mobile games such as Piano Tiles and 2048, using neural networks. As well as this at UN and EU AI conferences, I have spoken about the importance of transforming the education system so that it fits well with the technological world we are living in.

3. What do you love about technology?

I believe that technology really has the ability to transform our world in positive ways if we have people that want to create new advancements for the benefit of humankind. It fascinates me to see how this era has changed so quickly due to technology. I love the fact that technology has greatly impacted the medical sector in positive ways, whether that is in research or in treatment itself.

4. Who inspires you?

I personally do not have a role model per say, but I do admire many people's work in the technological sector. One example in particular is the work that Juliana Rotich has done to develop free open-source software. Her story has inspired me to really get the most out of myself and pursue what I want.

5. What is your ultimate dream for the future?

In the future I aspire to make a change and influence the way people see technology, show them that it can really be used to do great things and help the people around us. 

Women In Tech: Sofie Lindblom

Throughout our crowdfunding campaign we'll be interviewing leaders and upcoming women in the tech industry, asking how they got involved in tech and the importance of role models.

In this interview we speak to Sofie Lindblom, CEO and co-founder of a company called ideation360.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you're working on? 

My name is Sofie Lindblom, I’m 27 years old but some people mistake me for being 17. I was born in Stockholm, Sweden and am currently based here again after moving between different cities for a couple of years. I love adventures. Therefore I’ve spent most of the money I’ve earned on traveling the world. Because for every country you go to you learn a little bit more about the world and about yourself. You broaden your perspectives and develop empathy for cultures and lives different from your own. This addiction to adventures and seeing the world has helped me a lot in my professional life working with innovation and technological development. Since last year I’m the CEO and co-founder of a company called ideation360. Our mission is to empower organizations to innovate through modern platforms and methods. It is the journey of a lifetime to build a company from the ground up. I hope more women dare to make the jump because the learnings are invaluable even if it is hard work too.

 Sophie Lindblom speaking at TEDx (photo credit: August Dellert)

Sophie Lindblom speaking at TEDx (photo credit: August Dellert)

How did you first get involved in tech?

As a kid I was curious and loved to play. Most kids love to play but I LOVED to play. When growing up that curiosity and creativity translated to several different hobbies, adventures, jobs and educations. I ended up studying engineering by coincidence. I didn’t think it was something for me but after switching programs from focusing on hardware to software I fell in love with it. I also had no idea you could work with Innovation Management until my third year at university when I found a course about it outside my curriculum. I was studying for a master in Computer Science and Media Technology but decided to take the Innovation Management course on the side. Since then I’ve been obsessed with creativity and how it transforms into innovation. Technology is a very important driver and enabler for innovation so I’m happy I also finished my Master in Computer Science and Media Technology.

 Sofie Lindblom moderating a panel at Intraprenuership Conference (photo credit: Intraprenuership Conference)

Sofie Lindblom moderating a panel at Intraprenuership Conference (photo credit: Intraprenuership Conference)

Why are role models so important?

I believe it is important to create a wide variety of role models within different industries and fields. Taking engineers as an example you don’t have to love jolt cola and be like the guys in the TV show “Silicon Valley” to become great at math or programming. You can love high heels and parties and still rock those algorithms. I even did a TED talk on this topic called “IT girls are the new it girls”. We need role models that are world famous to lead the way but we also need role models closer by that we can identify with. Growing up you might have a hard time to identify with a CEO of Fortune 500 company but the 30 year old female engineer across the street who has cool job, a nice apartment, goes on holiday to amazing destinations and can take care of herself – her you might have an easier time to identify with and be inspired by. I really believe a more diverse set of role models is the one answer to the lack of diversity we see in so many companies, board rooms, CEO and founder positions.

Can you give us an example of how a role model has influenced you and your career?

I get inspired by people who have the guts to go their own way and speak up. People who dare to break structures, question inequalities and challenge how it has always been. No matter if it is a CEO of a big company or someone in the line at the gas station. The woman who has had the biggest influence on me so far in my career is my first manager at Spotify. She took a chance in hiring me and then supported me through five different roles in three years at Spotify. I learned a lot from her and have a lot to thank her for. I called her Batman, she called me Robin.

You can find Sofie on Twitter as @SosLindblom