A gang of STEM-loving girls have taken over a 12-bedroom house in London for Outbox Incubator, the world’s first-ever incubator for entrepreneurial girls. Outbox executive Ciara Judge introduces the six-week programme and gives us an exclusive insight into its exciting first week.
‘On the road again’ – the first thought that entered my mind as I boarded my 7am flight to London after a busy summer. This time, my travels were taking me to the Outbox Incubator, a programme founded this year by Stemettes for girls like me with an interest in STEM.
It’s funny how a chance encounter more than a year ago led to me boarding that morning flight.
A chance encounter of the blurred kind
I first met Anne-Marie Imafidon when I was speaking at the EU Innovation Convention in Brussels. She was one of the only people who stood out to me in the blur that I often experience after I have spoken at an event.
I remember her saying how inspirational we were, introducing us to the Stemettes, exchanging business cards and parting ways amid promises to keep in touch, which I assumed would never be kept. Little did I know that we had sparked a partnership that would still be burning bright today.
It’s funny how a chance encounter more than a year ago led to me boarding that morning flight
It was with great surprise that last March I got a DM on Twitter from the head Stemette herself about the upcoming launch of the Outbox Incubator.
The timing was nothing short of perfect, as Émer Hickey and I had just decided to set up our company Germinaid Innovations. We knew straight away that Outbox was the place for us.
Just a few months later, I arrived at the Outbox house with great excitement, ready for our next adventure.
Outbox at the Festival of Code
Outbox Incubator is a six-week long programme specifically for young women in STEM where we are going to learn the skills we need to turn our ideas into a start-up reality. Founded by Anne-Marie and Mary Carty, the initiative offers sessions run by professionals in business and STEM fields to its participants, as well as a lot of enjoyable extra-curriculars.
So far, the sessions have been diverse and engaging, and the experience for us girls has been superb. From sessions titled Biotech and VCs to Resiliency Training, we are being prepared for life outside the box by the most capable of hands.
Our evenings have been kept busy too. Last Friday we used our technical prowess to rig up a movie screen in the garden, something which amused our resident foxes and Pickles the house cat no end!
One event that caused quite a stir this week was Young Rewired State, and many of the girls with an interest in coding formed teams and entered projects in a contest for the Festival of Code 2015. This culminated in a trip to Birmingham for all us Outbox executives, an adventure that involved dancing, a photo booth, Codechella and a lot of cheering!
Under the expert eye of Emma-Ashley Liles, a Stemette team made it to the semi-finals and did us girls proud, only to miss advancing further by a single point! Nevertheless, we left Birmingham’s International Convention Centre that night with smiles all around.
Sound advice for young entrepreneurs
We’re learning a lot about business here at Outbox, and one thing we’ve learned is: If nothing is going right, go left.
We have to be open to constantly reshaping our ideas and changing our path if necessary. This is something I’ve had to do this week.
One thing we’ve learned is: If nothing is going right, go left
Émer and I had originally decided to work on a side project as part of Germinaid Innovations, but I soon realised that, because of the way the programme is structured, this would be much more difficult to do. Therefore, I’ve decided to switch my focus to a different project we’ve been working on with a fantastic team of people from the US, which is finally able to go public: Project Zilkr.
There will be some super-exciting developments coming from that area in the coming weeks as we make more progress on that front, so make sure to follow @projectzilkr on Twitter!
Anyway, duty calls. There is market research to be done, sessions to attend and, of course, craic to be had!
Here’s to another busy week at the Outbox Incubator!
Ciara Judge is co-founder of Germinaid Innovations and CEO of PurchaseMate. She is also a member of Ireland’s Digital Youth Council and a former BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition winner.
Women Invent is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Intel, Eircom, Fidelity Investments, ESB, Accenture and CoderDojo.