June 12, 2014

Student team pitches mobile app idea to Silicon Valley judges

Young women thrilled by opportunity to take part in Technovation Challenge world finals

A group of engineering and computer science students from the University of Calgary is one of ten teams chosen from hundreds of teams around the world to advance to the world finals of the Technovation Challenge, an entrepreneurship program and competition for young women to imagine, design, develop and pitch a mobile app.

The team, CalgTech, has developed an app called Crop2Community that provides a complete list of where to buy local food in the city along with features such as a clock that indicates what food is in season. The students — the only Canadians and the only ones at the university level — will present their app to the judges, executives from high-tech companies including Dropbox and LinkedIn, in Silicon Valley on June 18.

“Words cannot describe how excited we are,” says Danvy Tran, one of three students from the Schulich School of Engineering on the team. She says learning they had been chosen “was honestly an out-of-body experience…It's not often you get to pitch your mobile application idea in Silicon Valley to a panel of judges consisting of some of the top women in the tech industry.”

The world finals are the culmination of an intensive three-month, 50-hour curriculum that saw the students working with mentor Camille Kotke, a contract services co-ordinator with the Alberta government.

Mea Wang, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science in the Faculty of Science, is the regional co-ordinator of the Technovation program. “I’m really proud of the quality of the work the team pulled together,” says Wang. “They have done a fantastic job.”

The team members admit to being a little nervous but they have a lot of confidence in Crop2Community and they’re working hard — “practice, practice, practice” — to get ready for the final pitch.

When they started working on their app in March, it was just about learning technical, programming and marketing skills. “But as we went through the program, we started to consider releasing this app to the public,” says Tran.

Whether or not they win the grand prize of $5,000, the team is thrilled to be part of the Technovation Challenge. “It's also just a huge honour to be chosen as a finalist, so no matter what the outcome, we'll be proud of our accomplishments.”