Over the course of this year, we piloted an exciting new ICT project Innovate IT, developed with the support of The Forward Foundation and Forward Internet Group. The project places the entrepreneurial and innovative nature of technology at the centre of ICT lessons, and guides students through setting up their own enterprise using technology at every stage. To celebrate it being available to all secondary schools from 2013-14, we interviewed one Year 9 team involved in the pilot, to see what they had got up to over the course of the project.

School: Cardinal Pole
Company Name: Optic²
Product Name: SnapShop

SnapShop is an innovative new app from the entrepreneurs at Optic². The open-source app will trace products online through photo-recognition, and then take you to a price comparison page, where you can compare and buy similar products across a range of brands. The app will also notify you about any price drops for your marked products, allowing you to find the best possible price. SnapShop aims to be a non-profit organisation.

Tell me about your project idea, what do you like most about it?
We like the image recognition element of the app – it’s a fun idea and easy to see. We would want this app to be open-source, so we will need to find ways of funding it. We thought we could maybe fund it through advertising – for example, recommending certain product brands, in exchange for sponsorships. We think this app has a lot of potential and could really happen. Could you give us some money please?

What was your favourite part of the Innovate IT programme?
We really enjoyed exploring all the software you could use to start up your company – especially when it came to designing the logo. We also enjoyed doing the research – finding out about different apps and looking into our competitors – it was really interesting.

What skills have you learnt during the Innovate IT programme?
We learnt a lot about calculating finances and the different challenges faced by start-up companies. The programme also improved our multi-tasking – there was lots to do – but you also had to remember to keep a record of it. We did a lot of blog updates!

What did it teach you about ICT? Has it changed your view of it?
It made me realise how much potential there is in ICT – there are so many businesses working in tech at the moment. It also showed me the importance of teamwork – a company doesn’t work if it’s just one person sitting alone, you need to work together.

Any advice for someone starting their own tech company?
Think carefully about your product and do your research – you want to know what your consumer wants. It’s also important to check to see if there is anything similar out there – it makes you think about how you can make your idea even better!

What did you think of the trips to Forward?
They were awesome! The atmosphere was professional, but also felt relaxed. We found out about all the different kind of jobs there are in IT – it was really surprising – more than we expected. I would definitely work in the place like that.

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