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Young Innovators Awards 2017

YIA was started in 2013 with one big idea: CREATING TOMORROW'S INNOVATORS

In the first 3 years of YIA, there was just a single winner and that person or team was awarded a 2 week internship to further develop their idea. Last year, the number of winners increased to 4 - a senior winner and a junior winner who each received a 2 week internship and a day's internship for runners-up who had submitted a technology idea. Cucumber offered to host these single day internships and they took place in mid-January 2017. 

The 2 junior runners-up who won Cucumber internships were the teams from Terminal and Pet Partners - and this is the story of what they achieved at Cucumber.

The team of 4 from Mount Maunganui College called Terminal had a business idea for a website that could help to teach young people how to write code. Although there are some existing websites that do this, Terminal's point of difference was to make it much more fun for young people to become familiar with code so that they can learn without noticing that they were learning. By engaging with fun games and activities, and then by playing to reach higher levels, their expertise would increase the longer they used the website.

Cucumber Young Innovators Awards 2017Pet Partners is the brainchild of Sasha, and is a website and app where people who have pets that need looking after can contact people who love animals. Sasha's idea sprang from trying to find someone to "dog-sit" for her family while they went on holiday. This is a real problem to solve as there is a large market of busy people with pets and many people who do not own a pet but really like to care for them.

On the first morning, all of the winners gathered at the Beca office for a chat about what to expect. The senior and junior winners were off for a 2 week internship with Locus, Woods Creative, Bluelab and Beca. At lunchtime, all of the 4 teams went off to begin their internships.

Both teams, Terminal and Pet Partners, spent the afternoon in the Cucumber Boardroom talking through their ideas with the Cucumber General Manager Clare Swallow and Graphic Designer Kyle Turner.

Cucumber Young Innovators Awards 2017

This was an accelerated version of the approach we usually take with new business ideas - we started with a Lean Canvas and then moved on to mapping out some user journeys which could be used for the prototype. Both teams had validated their idea prior to their entry into the awards. 

Cucumber Young Innovators Awards 2017

Both teams had a second day in the Cucumber office in order to build a prototype of their website/application. Kyle is an expert at putting together a prototype and there is a lot to cram into a short time - each team needed something that they could take away and use to demonstrate their idea. There was just a small amount of time to create a brand, a logo and a look for the website.

Team Terminal were fuelled by morning tea from the award winning pie shop 50 metres away and their main issue was to contain all the many ideas they had into just a couple that could be developed for the prototype. They wanted the prototype to show how much fun the website would be for younger kids and that they would start by playing simple and fun games. They also needed a new name as "Terminal" was thought to be too geeky and with a mixed message relating to an illness! So Toast was born ....

Cucumber Young Innovators Awards 2017

This is a screenshot of "Toast" from the prototype.

Cucumber Young Innovators Awards 2017

Sasha from Pet Partners wanted to build a prototype to show a sample of the interactions that could take place in the Pet Partners website, from pets being promoted to somebody who liked to walk dogs. Using features like ratings, comments and history, potential users of the website would be able to see information on the people who would be looking after their pets and make contact with someone who is suitable.

Cucumber Young Innovators Awards 2017

This is a screenshot of "Pet Partners" from the prototype.

Cucumber Young Innovators Awards 2017

We were very impressed with the standard of the winners of the 2 internships. At 15 and under, they had obviously thought a great deal about their business idea and were keen to develop their solution with Cucumber. The final part of the internship was for all teams to present at the Ignition Co-working Space in front of the YIA organisers, the companies who ran the internships along with teachers and families of the students. Both Terminal and Pet Partners presented exceptionally well, showed very few signs of nerves and the audience were impressed with what they had achieved in such a short time.

If you're interested in entering the Young Innovators Awards in 2017, subscribe to their newsletter at www.yia.co.nz