On Sat., Feb. 6, Google’s offices in San Francisco held the annual Teens in Tech Conference and hosted 13 speakers, two of whom were sophomores Daniela Lapidous and Shreya Indukuri. The main focus of the conference was to present and discuss how teenagers have risen from schools and become innovators in online communities.
The meeting boasted an audience filled with prominent entrepreneurs and celebrities of the technology world. Lapidous and Indukuri had their own work to present. They founded SmartPowerEd, a network seeking to connect schools with smart energy-tracking systems to cut carbon emissions and energy costs. Their research revealed a problem: approximately 30 percent of a school’s energy is wasted because appliances, lights and other energy guzzlers are left on even when they are not in use. Their solution involved unique Internet software paired with high tech hardware. The crowd’s response was promising.
“We were getting lots of specific questions on how to get [the program] started at [other] schools. We were sharing with the audience the first steps and what they should do [to get involved],” Indukuri said.
In response to presentations by Lapidous, Indukuri and other now-successful teens, Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple, said he was enthused by the possibilities that teenagers were coming up with. “The experience, the culture, the interaction, the environment – it’s a fascinating, fascinating world. Young people are doing it,” Wozniak said. “What a wonderful thing we have brought to the world. Anyone of any age can build their own startups.”
But the audience was not the only group that gained information from the session. Instead, one of the focuses of the conference was to discover the importance of marketing and the tools that go along with it. Both sophomores took home a list of contacts and valuable lessons in the importance of marketing.
“All the connections we made with people just on Twitter and gmail will be useful,” Lapidous said, after seeing the ways big-time companies like DropBox became successful.
Similarly, her cofounder, Indukuri, praised the power of Twitter and the value of living in the Silicon Valley, calling it “the best place to start a grass roots organization.”
When asked to give advice to teenagers who are battling between schoolwork and developing a product, the consensus in the room of successful million dollar men and women was “Be young. Do stupid,” as was tweeted during the conference and affirmed by both founders of iSocket, a commission-free ad platform.
Lapidous and Indukuri also gave some advice. They learned never to hesitate to take action, to believe that people will support a cause, to be organized from the start, and to recognize that having a strong team is critical for success.
But at the end of the day, as the founders of iSocket put it, “Whatever you want to do, you have to come to terms with the fact that you are going to die, but that you are going to come out of it a better person.”