MINNEAPOLIS – A team of five young women from Century and Mayo high schools was awarded $2,500 last night at the awards ceremony of the 15th annual Minnesota Cup business startup competition held by the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. They finished third in the youth division.
The team of juniors, called Sh.A.U.C.K., developed a cell phone app named DiscoverMe to help young people grapple with mental health issues. The app makes it easy for users to track their moods and sleep, offers soothing music and meditation sounds, and points them to local counseling resources.
The team initially coded its app for Minnesota’s sixth annual Technovation “Appapalooza” meet, a competition for middle and high school girls that is part of a global program. Rochester-area schools have had considerable success at and after Appapaloozas, beginning with a Kasson-Mantorville middle school team that qualified for the 2015 global finals in San Francisco.
Rochester Technovation teams have also done very well in recent Minnesota Cup competitions. One year ago a team of three middle school and two high school girls from Rochester Public Schools won the $10,000 Sunrise Banks prize of the Minnesota Cup, and in 2017 a team of high school girls sponsored by the local chapter of the Black Data Processing Associates was a finalist in the 2017 Minnesota Cup youth division as well as in the Women-Led teams division, in which they competed against adult teams. In 2016, a team of girls from St. Francis Catholic School in Rochester had the highest middle school division score at that year’s Appapalooza and thus qualified automatically as a Minnesota Cup semifinalist.
The Minnesota Cup is the largest statewide startup competition in the country. For more information, see https://carlsonschool.umn.edu/mn-cup/the-competition/2019divwinners.
What is Technovation [MN]? A 12-week program that connects professional mentors to all-girl teams to enable girls to dream up, design, and code mobile phone apps. Coaches keep the teams on track with the support of a few professional mentors. Each team of up to five girls develops a real-world combination of technical and entrepreneurial skills as they code an app and prepare to pitch their idea at Minnesota's statewide event each May, the Appapalooza. Selected teams have the opportunity to advance and compete in the global Technovation Challenge, as did a middle school team from Kasson-Mantorville in 2015 (which also led to participating in the 2016 White House Science Fair). At the Appapalooza in 2017, an RPS high school team sponsored by the local chapter of the Black Data Processing Associates became a first runner-up globally and thus was awarded $5,000 in scholarship money.
Technovation was brought to Southeastern MN by Code Savvy, Technovation[MN], Preventice Technologies (Rochester office), and STEM Forward (formerly the Rochester Area Math Science Partnership), a program of the Southeast Service Cooperative. Among Rochester area businesses it has received financial support from IBM and the Mayo Clinic.