Since we launched Marvel in 2013, there have been so many amazing stories of how it’s being used out there in the ether. Marvel was created with the vision of democratising design, enabling creatives who perhaps hadn’t given themselves a chance and the professionals alike to create high fidelity, interactive digital mockups.
But the impact it’s had with the younger generation has been something of dreams. UK education businesses like the Freeformers and General Assembly have been fans of using Marvel in workshops to teach students about prototyping. Now, the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles (GSGLA) organised a TechStars Startup Weekend which included prototyping, using none other than yours truly.
So, what exactly is Startup Weekend?
Bethany Wylie, Program Specialist for GSGLA, felt inspired to pursue more entrepreneurial programs focused on areas where we see very few women. For example, 7% of partners at top 100 venture capital firms are women, only 17.9% of companies founded in 2014 had a female founder.
She soon found inspiration in a program by Techstars, called Startup Weekend – an experiential program suited for people of all different ages, races, genders and backgrounds. They even have a platform for youth-focused events and since their values align with Girl Scouts it was a meaningful partnership for Techstars and GSGLA.
“Wherever I have lived throughout my life I have always volunteered for women’s empowerment organisations. Having been a Girl Scout myself for eight years then volunteering as a Troop Leader in Hawaii, I have seen for myself what kinds of incredible experiences and opportunities Girl Scouting provides.”
The Girl Scouts have a strong mission of ‘building girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place’. Startup Weekend was an exciting opportunity to teach the girls about the steps to starting a business and developing their own companies in a safe and fun environment.
“We wanted the key takeaways for the girls to be that they gain an understanding that they have the ability to be entrepreneurs and that they belong in the startup industry,” Bethany explains. “This event really proves that Girl Scouting prepares girls to work well in teams and take on new challenges.”
The event had 26 girls attend, with 6 teams competing – aimed at grades 9-12 (called Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts), but they had one Cadette (6-8 grade) and one Junior (4-5 grade) join too! Over the course of two and a half days, they took an idea from nothing to something, from pitch to product. The girls pitched and formed teams around the top ideas, researched their customers, and worked intensely as teams to build prototypes that demonstrated the potential of their business.
The event ended with a “Shark Tank” style pitch competition where teams present their business and demonstrate their prototype to a panel of local, high profile entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and designers.
“Over the course of two and a half days, they took an idea from nothing to something, from pitch to product.”
This is where Marvel comes into the picture.
“One of the keys to a successful Startup Weekend is having a Minimal Viable Product and prototyping goes a long way to achieving this,” Bethany explains. “Additionally, it allowed the girls to show a functional product in a way that just drawing it out could not do.”
“Marvel allowed the girls to create interactive apps, something that few other programs seemed to offer. They could present their ideas and their interactive design skills without needing to know anything about coding.”
“The keys to a successful Startup Weekend is having a Minimal Viable Product and prototyping goes a long way to achieving this”
Two of the six teams used Marvel to prototype their idea. One of which was the team that came in first place, with their idea ‘Line Up’ and also the team that won both ‘Best Design’ and ‘Best Presentation’ with ‘Save Our Soles’.
Line Up Prototype
An app that encourages fun social interaction between people waiting in line at amusement parks.
Save our Soles Prototype
An app that translates shoe sizes between different companies.
“My favourite moment was the final presentations. It was stunning to see how much the girls were able to get done and to see how much confidence they had developed in 48 hours. I was incredibly proud of their hard work and dedication.”
Outside of organizing Startup Weekend, Bethany helps girls develop Silver and Gold Awards, the two highest awards a Girl Scout can earn. Her monthly workshops teach girls how to address the root cause of a community issue, work with community partners, and develop a measurable and sustainable project. She tells us after the success of this Startup Weekend they’ll be planning many more for the Girl Scouts.
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