Never let the setbacks stop you from reaching your goals. An interview with Siena & India
I was very, very excited to talk to these two inspirational young girls having followed them since they started making waves towards the end of last year. They are an example to all the young ladies out there that anything is possible and for me, they are one the many reasons I decided to create ‘Women Rock.’ They are going to be helping me promote the next generation of young women into technology and also going to be young ambassadors for Women Rock!
Siena and India are the co-founders of Eat Me App which is an IOT solution which tells you when the food in your fridge is about to go out of date. It alerts you when it’s about to go out of date but also provides recipes for what is left over. So, yeah no more omelettes !! 🙂
EatMe has been widely recognised and applauded – they were given the Junior Engineer of the Year title in 2017 & the engineering award for years 7-9 at the Big Bang Fair. An incredible feat for two girls who, when they started, didn’t really consider themselves engineers!
YOU WON JUNIOR ENGINEERS OF THE YEAR AWARD AT THE BIG BANG FAIR LAST YEAR, FIRSTLY CONGRATULATIONS. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE EATME APP?
Eat Me is an IOT solution that helps transform the relationship between the consumer and the amount of food they waste in their homes. We have built a working prototype that turns any fridge into a smart fridge. It scans best before dates, optimises menus, orders food or even alerts another user if you are running out of certain products in your fridge.
It does this by connecting to a scanner secured inside your fridge. You scan the barcode located on the product, or at the end of your receipt, and the data is then sent to the app. It then alerts you when your food is about to go off and you can earn small rewards for saving food.
YOUR SCHOOL WAS UNABLE TO COVER YOUR EXPENSES TO MOVE FORWARD WITH THE IDEA, HOW DID YOU APPROACH INVESTORS AND START RAISING MONEY?
To start off with we collected a list of people and organisations in Bristol who support technology. After scouring the web for contacts we wrote a lot of letters and emails and amazing we managed to raise over £1000 in support. Going into each meeting was terrifying but so exciting. Our first meeting to talk about funding was with Mike Jackson from Webstart Bristol. We rushed from our maths class to the science lab where our science teacher had said we could meet. Maybe a little unsure of what we were meant to be doing we got out all our handmade charts and posters, pitched Eat Me explained our USP and listened to the great advice he gave. I think we were both ecstatic when Mike agreed to sponsor us and continue to be a mentor to us if we needed any advice. Another very influential person was Mark Panay from Simpleweb, from the very beginning made it clear although we were young we had to present our idea as if we were adults and make everyone who we talked to saw us as having a good idea before they saw our age. The contacts he gave us were amazing and the help he gave was invaluable.
YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR THE APP WAS NOT KNOWING THE RIGHT TECHNICAL LANGUAGE TO EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA. I READ THAT OTHER KIDS IN YOUR CLASS (MAINLY BOYS) HAD DONE A BIT OF CODING AND NOT BEING CODERS YOURSELF YOU WERE NERVOUS TO DO YOUR IDEA JUSTICE. WHO HELPED YOU AND WHAT DID YOU NEED TO LEARN?
When we were approaching different companies about gaining support Watersheds pervasive media studios were one of the people who replied. We had designed the system that we wanted and after the amazing materials skills and advice from the team at Pervasive media studios we managed to have a slicker working fridge and scanner they managed to bring the ideas we had when we were sitting on our bedroom floors with a cardboard fridge in front of us surrounded by pages of sketches. Their advice, support and materials they suggested were amazing and made our first prototype better than we could have imagined.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE APP MOVING FORWARD?
We are now looking for food industry partners and investment to help make prototypes to start our user testing. We are also very enthusiastic about promoting STEM to younger generations and educating young girls why it is so important for everyone to be involved in changing our planet by creating solutions to the problems we will be left with. We are already going into a couple of local schools in Bristol to talk about being young entrepreneurs and this is something we want to do continue to promote.
WHAT HAD BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE SO FAR?
Our age has sometimes been see as a weakness. We have had to always assert ourselves in any situation, making sure that in the pitch or meeting we can make people look past our age and see our product for what it is. In some cases people haven’t believed in us but that just makes us want to work harder and win them round.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG GIRLS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN STEM?
We would truly encourage them to go for what they are passionate about and never let anyone undermine you for your age, gender or anything else that defines you for who you are. All ideas have setbacks but what stands behind any idea are not the numerous setbacks but the recovery you make from these setbacks and that is what proves the idea is worth pursuing. Never let the setbacks stop you from reaching your goals.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Our most recent win a Pitch@Palce 8.0 was unbelievable. The process is so nerve racking but exhilarating. We learnt so much about developing our business how to take it to the next steps and about gaining investment. Viva Tech was also a very proud moment for us. We were selected when they had no idea of our age only our business idea and pan. This was something that really boosted our confidence in our idea and the support, connections and opportunities Viva Tech gave us were out of this world.
WHAT CAN SCHOOLS DO TO PROMOTE GIRLS IN STEM?
Putting girls forward to amazing schemes like the Big Bang fair can really boost young women’s confidence. The Big Bang fair has so many inspiring speakers that it can start the ball rolling for the next generation of women in STEM careers and if schools make this available to them it can really showcase their talents.
Thank you girls.
You can follow them on twitter @eatmeapp and meet the girls at the first Women Rock event on the 22nd March.