When tasked with the seemingly challenging objective of developing, perfecting and proposing an idea, we were overwhelmed. Meet our team, Jaiden Ratti, Jivan Kesan and Curtis Sinopoli, three grade nines entering the Tech Under 20 Cup for the first time, not knowing what to expect. Although, progressively throughout our Cup journey, we developed fundamental and essential skills in the Technology, Business and Entrepreneurship fields. The learning opportunity presented by the Tech Under 20 Cup is immense and phenomenal. From the wisdom provided from judges and mentors, to connecting with like-minded individuals, the Tech Under 20 Cup is perfect for youth who want to benefit themselves and the community through innovative ways.
After assembling our team, we immediately started constructing ideas centered around the main theme of the cup, charities and youth. Our team was composed of three students interested and involved in the technology field who are productive, responsible and insightful. We all highly anticipated the Tech Under 20 Cup.
Along the way, there were some roadblocks, but we always overcame them and pushed through, wanting to achieve the best we could. A major roadblock we encountered was finalizing an idea. Throughout the beginning stages, we had conceptualized many ideas and thoughts. Although, this creativity quickly became a problem. We needed to focus on one idea, and allocate our time and effort effectively. Having advice from Mark Arteaga, our mentor and industry professional, was surely helpful and he truly played a key role in not only pinpointing an idea but was a key factor in how the final product turned out. With a positive mindset, the right people around us and a good work ethic, we were able to overcome the adversity we faced.
Overcoming Obstacles by Working Together
What was interesting about our group was the different skills we all possessed. Our product revolved entirely around technological information and all of us had dabbled in a branch of it before. Jaiden Ratti had experience with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, while Jivan Kesan had worked with Video Production in the past, with programs like Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro. Curtis Sinopoli was knowledgeable in Audio Production, with experience in FL Studio and Musescore. We came together to learn about other things as well, such as Programming. All of us brought something to the table, which was why we could reach a large audience.
When we first arrived, we walked onto the Sheridan Campus as a team, nervous but prepared. We met with some friends who were also competing in the Cup. We were all friends and our two separate groups had a sense of competition leading into the big day. We sat down at a booth in the Marquee, talking amongst ourselves, wondering how the day would go, and how we would size up compared to the impressive teams we were competing with. The setting of the Marquee was excellent, as it allowed for practicing and rehearsing with your team, and networking and socializing with other teams.
Although being nervous, we couldn’t help being excited as the time passed before we began. Receiving our shirts and name tags for the first time was truly special, and we embraced them. Going into the competition, we knew that regardless of our results or score, we would walk away from the Cup with a positive learning experience.
The first segment was the Technical Interview, which to be honest, we were nervous for. Although, explaining and elaborating on our idea in a technical way to an industry professional, was exciting, allowing us to showcase our creation and put our knowledge to the test. Each of us explained a portion of our product, talking about our journey leading to the TU20 Cup, but also more technical things such as how we centralized information for our website and our process of presenting it to users. This Technical Interview taught us the importance of having an understandable infrastructure on the backend of a website.
Undoubtedly, the pitch in front of the judges was the part that our team was the most eager for. After hours of perfecting our presentation, we were ready to share our innovative solution to a problem youth encounter on a daily basis. The location of our pitch was in a grand auditorium. The environment and atmosphere when presenting felt amazing. The judges we were presenting to were very experienced and we were honoured to have the opportunity to present to them.
Throughout our presentation, we gave insight on what Empowrtech is about, our purpose, future expansion and more. Empowrtech at its core, focuses on centralizing information on technology and displaying it uniquely to maximize the users learning potential. By having credible, digestible and reliable information on advanced topics such as Artificial Intelligence, Programming and more, we are able to enable youth to learn more about technology and its future in our society. By displaying the information through summaries, articles and videos, every type of learner is accounted for. Visit our website here. The judges recognized our efforts to find a solution to a big problem. They asked many thought-provoking questions that we enjoyed answering. From answering questions regarding the OCF Vital Youth Report to our business plan, we were able to elaborate on what Empowrtech truly is.
Once our pitch was over, we felt relieved and satisfied with how we did. We understood that whether we were selected as one of the final six teams or not, it did not matter. We were internally happy with how we did and at the end of the day, that is what matters.
Networking and Relaxing
After our presentation, we went to a relaxing room where the other competitors were. We spoke to our friends and talked about how our pitches went. To pass the time we munched on snacks and played board games. This space allowed our group to meet new people and share about our day so far. The most beneficial part was that this was a stress-free environment and really helped us ease our minds after the pitch.
The moment everyone was waiting for was the announcement of the teams competing in the final six. Although we were not selected to present again, hearing other presentations and pitches was a great experience. We learned about different problems youth faced and innovative ways to find solutions. In our opinion, watching peers and strangers present truly built a sense of community as after all, we are all trying to benefit charities and youth. There were many interesting and insightful presentations which provided motivation to us. We were inspired by what the other teams presented and wanted to think outside the box when we compete in the Cup next year. After the six presentations, the judges privately deliberated as the rest of us waited in suspense. When the judges came back, the winners were announced. The whole auditorium was ecstatic as the winners definitely deserved the reward. Although only one team received a large amount of money, we were all winners. Helping out charities and youth while advancing ourselves in the technology field is amazing.
The Tech Under 20 Cup was a great experience and looking back at it, we learned a lot. Even from the early stages of creating our product, we were constantly developing and learning. Throughout our research, designing our website, and crafting our presentation, we were always gaining resourceful and new skills. Throughout our research we were able to explore different aspects of technology and how they are implemented in our society. When designing our website, we familiarized ourselves with potentially useful programs for the future. Even when building our presentation as a team, we developed necessary public speaking skills that are essential in today’s competitive world.
When reflecting on the beginning process, the challenge we encountered early on taught us a very valuable lesson. By facing the hardship of not being able to narrow in on one idea, we learned that if you are going through something, you are going to achieve something. If you are encountering a roadblock, it is for a reason, and the outcome will be much more rewarding. As long as you keep preserving and have those around you willing to help, a positive mindset, a hard work ethic, any tribulation is surmountable. This beneficial lesson that will help us in our futures, was learned as a result of the Tech Under 20 Cup. Another major lesson learned is that you need to plan in advance. In the process of creating our website, it took us a couple of tries before we created a product that looked visually appealing and well polished. We wasted numerous hours working on our website only to redo it again. We learned that it is extremely important to have a plan or a course of action laid out before you take on anything. Lastly, never be afraid of failure. You should always take risks and step outside your comfort zone and that is what we did. Try new things and embrace the unfamiliar because at the end of the day, if you do not win, it is not the end of the world. What matters is how you internally feel about what you have accomplished.
In conclusion, the entire process of the cup was a fantastic learning experience. Overcoming obstacles while developing our product, presenting at the cup, and reflecting on what we could have done better has improved a variety of our skills. The Tech Under 20 Cup really gives anyone who competes, an entry into the technology and entrepreneurship world. Working with like-minded peers, inheriting wisdom from industry professionals, and pitching to esteemed judges is what makes the Tech Under 20 Cup so unique. We really enjoyed this year’s Cup and cannot wait to start again next year.