Imagine Cup: The Final Stretch!


If you are a Canadian Student and not participating in the Global Student Technology Competition, you are missing out! In this blog post, I will discuss specific details about the World Citizenship Category

The end is near, hope the vision is clear and the zeal high! Deadline for submission is on April 4th, 8pm GMT. We are eagerly waiting to see all the fantastic entries for the challenge. In this post I will focus on what our sponsor had to share with us in terms of best practices and ensure that your entry excels.

In case you have no idea what I am talking about, I have been blogging about the World Citizenship Category in Imagine Cup, a global competition which hosts students from around the world to build technology solutions with maximum impact. Here is a list of the posts:

Heal the World - Make it a better place: Imagine Cup Announced!
Imagine Cup: How did Haters Hater win an Honorable Mention in the World Citizenship category?
Imagine Cup: Team Eye 3 from Queen’s wins Project BluePrint by providing an integrative assistance experience for color blind individuals

I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Furdyk a couple of months ago and he was kind enough to share his insights and perspectives about how to do well in Imagine Cup. Who is he you ask? He is kind of a rock-star in the space of World Citizenship!

MichaelFurdyk 

Michael Furdyk is the Co-founder of TakingITGlobal (www.tigweb.org), which provides innovative global education programs that empower youth to understand and act on the world's greatest challenges. In the past, he turned his interest in technology into several successful online companies, including MyDesktop.com, which sold to Internet.com in 1999. In 2008, he was named by Contribute Magazine as one of 10 Tech Revolutionaries Redefining the Power and Face of Philanthropy. Michael has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, presented at TED, and was named one of Teen People's "Twenty Teens that will Change the World". Over the last decade, he has keynoted over 100 events across sectors, sharing his social media expertise and insights on youth engagement and educational reform to audiences in over 30 countries. He sits on several non-profit boards, including the Re-Inventing Schools Coalition, and on the International Advisory Council for Microsoft's Partners in Learning program.

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We also thank TakingItGlobal for sponsoring the World Citizenship Category for Imagine Cup Canada 2015. The 1st place team in the Citizenship Competition will win one (1) 30 minute Skype Call with a recruiter from Microsoft Corporate, AND one (1) 30 minute Skype Call with Michael Furdyk.

Michael was kind enough to answer the following questions which are relevant to you as a participant and something that is important for you to keep in mind during your submissions.

Where do you see the most areas where technology can have an impact on improving others’ lives?

I think one of the biggest enablers technology provides us is voice - blurring the lines between consumers and creators, as recognized by Time Magazine when they named the Person of the Year as "You". The ability for us to communicate and construct our ideas using digital tools - to create web sites, mobile apps, and all kinds of new ideas is unique and powerful, and it gives everyone a way to bring their ideas to life. One big area where I think innovation is exploding currently is in health - both health and fitness monitoring today and in the near future, intervention through nano-technology.

What is the most common mistake made by developers trying to help others with technology?

I think one common mistake is not aligning your product with a concrete problem or need that your "customer" has. The best ideas and most successful businesses have come from solving real needs that people have.

Any advice on how a student can bring their idea to market? (i.e. go from proof of concept to sharing it with the intended users so it has the desired impact) What’s a good way to get feedback on your project (beta-test? Focus group?)

I think creating a MVP - minimum viable product - is the best answer to both of these questions. Create a mock up, prototype, or even ugly working version of your idea and get people to try it. See how they react - maybe it's not beautiful, but does it get them excited? Can they see themselves using it? You should know once you hear their feedback!

What is the most challenging aspect of bringing a software product to market (funding? Awareness of the product?)

I think getting attention above all the noise these days can be quite challenging, with so many products and ideas launching every day. Creating built-in ways for your customers to market and promote your product for you is key. That could be a discount for each friend they refer, a contest to reward those who spread the word, or even creating fun marketing materials featuring your product that your customers share for you - but this is an important area to invest time and effort.

I thank Michael for sharing his insights with us. We wish you all the very best for the submissions and please reach out to us if you need any further clarifications. You can email us at ImagineCupCanada@microsoft.com or tweet at me directly @AdarshaDatta.

 


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