Employees volunteering their time and talents to better their communities is an Adobe tradition as old as the company itself. Being involved is at the core of Adobe’s DNA, with employees gladly embracing the opportunities we offer to mentor and volunteer.
Adobe provides our employees mentorship opportunities with Technovation, a program that offers girls around the world the opportunity to learn the necessary skills to become tech entrepreneurs and leaders. The program, which challenges girls to solve real-world problems through technology, is the world’s largest technology entrepreneurship program for girls, active across more than 100 countries and supported by UNESCO, the Peace Corps and UN Women.
This year, a team of five school girls from Vishwa Bharti Public School in India was mentored by Prajwal Shetty, Senior Technical Support Consultant for Adobe Campaign, and Bhavesh Rawal, a former Adobe employee. They were also coached by Archana Jain, a teacher at their school.
Third Time’s the Charm
The girls and their mentors were tasked with creating an app that would solve a problem in their community. They were no strangers to this challenge: the girls had competed in the last two seasons of Technovation but missed their shot at the finals by small margins. Undeterred, they approached this year’s competition with fresh enthusiasm.
“These girls are very ambitious and hard-working,” Prajwal said. “It was amazing to see the drive that these girls had to win the competition.”
Bhavesh added: “We were considering them underdogs in our initial session, but the girls were quick to pick up whatever we taught them. As time passed, they came up with brilliant ideas and prepared a lot on their own.”
After much research and brainstorming, they decided to focus on the problem of e-waste. Why e-waste? For the girls, it was a common issue they faced as a society; they had read about the government of India’s e-waste processing initiatives and they realized that it was a business opportunity. After six months, development of the app was complete, and it had all the features to seamlessly connect people with authorized e-waste recyclers.
E-Waste with Eedo
Eedo addresses two major issues plaguing those who dispose of electronics: unawareness and a “what’s in it for me?” attitude. That attitude comes from the belief that it is not worth their time or effort to turn in cell phones, laptops or other electronics to an organization that will dispose of them properly when they get nothing in return. Eedo solves for both major issues: it connects e-waste disposers with processors and compensates the disposer for their e-waste.
To use the app, individuals or organizations with e-waste simply download Eedo, request a pickup and submit their e-waste in exchange for money. From there, processors collect the e-waste and take it to a processing unit where it’s converted to precious metals. The app is already available on the Android platform. Looking ahead, the team intends to make Eedo functional and provide it on both Android and iOS platforms.
To Silicon Valley They Go
The girls were invited to the Technovation World Pitch finals, which took place earlier this month in Santa Clara, California. Among a crowded field of 20,000 participants and 2,250 apps from 115 countries, they were the sole team from India selected for this year’s finals.
And then … the team won! After delivering their pitch to the judges, the girls beat out the five other Senior Division finalists and won $15,000 to publicize their app and build out the business.
Bhavesh said of the mentors’ roles: “We helped the kids build the app, we streamlined the backend process, we helped them prepare a detailed presentation and we practiced over 200 rebuttal questions that we thought could be asked by the judges.”
“Winning the title this year means the world to them,” Prajwal said. “When they were announced as winners and called up on the stage, three girls had tears of joy in their eyes. It was an amazing feeling to witness that moment.”
“I saw them holding the Indian flag on stage, which meant more than any other accomplishment,” Bhavesh said.
Their mentors are sure that this is the start of even bigger things for each of these girls. “These girls are going places, and I am glad that I get to say that I was part of the journey and knew them way back when.”
A Mentor’s Reflections
As a first-time Technovation mentor, Prajwal shares an important learning from his experience: “As a mentor, my job was to be part of their journey and along the way provide them what I call the four Cs: being their confidant, cheerleader, collaborator and coach.”
Reflecting on the journey, he’s grateful for the support that Adobe has provided him and the team, particularly the motivation from his managers and director in the Digital Marketing organization.
He and Bhavesh also put Adobe’s Individual Volunteer Grant program to good use, accumulating a combined total of 120 volunteer hours, which earned them nearly $3,000 to donate to NGOs in India.
“The foundation of innovative and creative thinking is based on the simple act of serving others,” Prajwal said. “Adobe recognizes this and supports it. That is what separates Adobe from every other company out there.”